A Brief History of Morris Minor 1948-1971

By James Groth for The English Car Company

Perhaps the most impressive fact in the history of the Morris Minor is that it was the first British car company to sell one million cars. To put it in perspective the Morris
Minor was to UK what the VW Bug was to the US and the world. This automotive icon with charming quirks is considered a hallmark of what being ‘British’ is.

In 1961 the One Millionth Morris Minor with built

The first public showing was at Earl’s Court in 1948. Also making its debut at the show was the Jaguar XK 120 Roadster which stole the show. However, Moto magazines called
the Minor “the show sensation”. Morris Minor went on to sell a 1.6 million cars between 1948 to 1971. The Morris Minor was affordable to commoners, reliable and economical to operate returning 40 mpg. This along with its distinctive look has endeared it to generations of fans world wide even today.

1932 Morris Minor 2-door sedan

#3 1932 Morris Minor

The first cars to use the Morris Minor name were produced in 1928. It was produced until 1934 when it fell victim to the Great Depression. The highlight of the original Minor was its 847cc motor that developed into the first MG Midget motor. In 1948 Morris built what was initially call the Mosquito as a two-door sedan model. The styling has been compared to a scaled down 1941 Packard Clipper.

This 1950 Morris Minor Tourer represents the original design of the 1948 Minor

A convertible known as a Tourer was also offered at introduction. So basic were these cars that ta heater was not even offered due to the fact the cars had no water pump. It was not until 1950 that the Minor received a heater and a passenger side sun visor.

An example of the highly sought after Morris Minor Traveller

The four-door MM made its introduction in 1950. In 1952 these models were followed by the stylish Traveller which was an estate with ash wood framing. Some were used commercially but there were also truck variants with a pick-up truce and panel van. These small sized vehicles were ideal for the narrow roads in the county and smaller cities that made up England.

One of the commercial variations of the Morris Minor Pick Up


Sir Alec Issigonis designed the two best recognized cars on England the Morris Minor and the original Mini. Sir Alec’s design goes back to 1943 and was intended to be a mass transportation series vehicles to supply the needs of commuters and small business owners after WW ll. His Morris Minor design was advanced for its time offering unitary body rather than a chassis with a body dropped on it. He was able to provide sure footed handling by placing the motor directly over the front wheels. During WWl ll Sir Alec also designed military vehicles including an amphibious tank.

A UK ad for the Series ll Morris Minor touts it value

#7 Morris Minor Ad 2 door

What dated the car was its Series E 918 cc engine which was first used in 1934 and produced 27.5 hp. The top end was a mere 62 mph but the inherent good handling and sport car rack-and-pinion steering made the Minor a delight on the English roads of its day. The Minor did not get a new motor until the merger of Austin and Morris in 1951. In 1952 the 803cc ‘A’ Series motor was induced with the Series ll model. While it had a smaller displacement it produced 30 hp, slightly more horsepower than the 918cc motor.

An example of the Series ll Tourer now referred to as a Convertible

The most pivotal year was 1956 with the introduction of the 948cc version of the ‘A’ Series motor. This was also the era of massive highway construction in the US and some European countries that allowed for higher causing speeds. This motor produced 37 hp and had a top speed of 74 mph. The extra power was required in order to keep up with the higher speeds now being maintained by the competition. These cars also received a larger fuel tank of 6.5 gallons up for the previous five gallons.

Note the lager taillights apparently taken from the Jaguar XK 140 for use on the Morris Minor 1000 4 door

There were three series of cars, starting in 1948 MM and in 1952 the Series ll and the last series from 1956 to 1971 as known as the 1000 Series.The final development of the motor came in 1962 with the 1098cc motor that also added a taller final drive ratio for increased top end speed. The final Minor was produced in December of 1971 as van, it marked the end of a 22 year production run of 1.6 million cars.

Morris production ended 1971, this 1970 is one of the last cars built.

The Morris Minor was a simple car for simpler times that has stood the test of time in a changing world.