Morris Minor - daily driver? - Rob the Bus
Would a well sorted Morris Minor series 1000 make a decent daily (and only) driver? I'll have maybe about £3k to spend and will be commuting 40 miles per day, all on A-roads. I've always wanted one of these and now I have the chance, would it be a good idea? I have a basic grasp of mechanics and my father-in-law can tackle all the daunting stuff.
Morris Minor - daily driver? - HF
aww I wanted one of those too, I think they're wonderful - but for me circumstances said otherwise!
Morris Minor - daily driver? - DavidHM
I'd be more inclined to get one for £1500, which would be good enough to use as a daily driver, and use the other half of your budget on a mint 9 year old Mondeo.

Classic insurance on the Moggy should be £100 a year, fuel consumption would be high, there'd be no road tax, and parts are cheap, but crash resistance and comfort would be low.
Morris Minor - daily driver? - HF
But a Triumph Dolomite was always my dream! o idea why though!Just thought they looked rather nice.

Goodnight all, have a successful an peacful day tomorrow.
Morris Minor - daily driver? - THe Growler
Great little car but no brakes. I think there might have been a disc conversion at one time. Owners' club would know. Put some decent shocks on as well. I have had two in centuries past. A mate of mine paid 25 quid for a van version and drove it from England to India without a hiccup. Skinny crossplies - don't know if they make them any more. Radials make the steering very heavy. All the trannies whine and the synchro gets a bit noisy - compared with modern cars this will be a new sensation -take no notice, but revel instead in the man-machine relationship denied you by today's blandmobiles. It's 1961 all over again. As for fixing it it's a snap, you can do just about anything yourself. There's tons of room under the hood and you can actually take the engine out all by yourself without a hoist (done it). The big ends will knock after about 30K but ignore that, they're still good for another 30k, likewise it'll smoke well, but chuck some straight SAE40 in there and that will help. Keep the SU carb clean (used Redex in the old days, but I guess aerosol carb cleaner can get the job done too). They run best when neglected and abused, just change the engine oil and filter every 2000. Used to be a Tecalemit cloth one but I'm sure there's a modern equivalent. But they are rustbuckets so take a good poke around with a screwdriver (front wings just ahead of the doors, and along the sills especially).

Probably a lot more reliable than modern stuff in that you won't need a team of nuclear physicists with a computer setup out of NASA to tell you what's wrong and bill you accordingly, you can do it yourself. If it stops it's either no sparks or no gas or the motor's fallen to bits. Any of which can be ascertained in minutes with a Swiss Army knife, a plug spanner and a decent set of pliers... The 998 cc is a bit sweeter than the later 1098, but either will do. The old split screen 883 cc up til about '56 is far too slow to be any use now. Avoid the Traveller with its wood butt like the plague. Provided the body is good it'll go on for ever and be very lo-cost to run. UK equivalent of the old Beetle.

I would think if you want a basic commuter rain or shine you could do a lot worse.

I imagine Richard Hall can add some value to these remarks. Good luck.
Morris Minor - daily driver? - nick
A good choice, I run two as everyday drivers, a 2 door saloon and a van.
Lets kill a few myths about minors.
The brakes. Yes they're not up to a modern car, but they are perfectly adequate, just keep them well adjusted. I do mine every time I change the oil (every 3k) and grease the trunnions at the same time.
The fuel consumption. I get 35mpg from my saloon using LRP. If you want to use unleaded an exchange cylinder head can be had for around £150 and you can diy in a morning.
The longevity of the engine. Keep changing the oil, ignore the timing chain rattle unless it gets REALLY bad, and they'll go on forever. Best to get a spin-on oil filter conversion and then you can use metro filters, much less messy.
The shock absorbers. Again not as bad as people make out, perfectly adequate for every day driving.

I'd buy the very best body I could, £2-3k should get you a minter saloon. Watch out for bodged plated repairs. Get the 1098cc engine, bits are cheaper and the others are too slow. Loads of Dinitrol every year , although you can get plastic liners for the front wings now which helps a lot. GRP wings are fine too for a daily use car. You can diy just about everything, the parts are embarrassingly cheap. Change the points and condenser every autumn and it should start first time, every time.
Best to join the MMOC too.

Enjoy free tax, no depreciation, dirt cheap insurance (mine is £77 unlimited mileage, agreed value), and the pleasure of being out of the clutches of big garages if you want to get anything done. Any local garage with a mechanic over 35 yrs old will be happy to fettle a Minor.

As an everday car for commuting on A roads it can't be bettered costwise, on motorways it can be a bit wearing but it'll sit at 65mph all day.

Go for it!

If you have any questions about running a Minor on a daily basis please feel free to email me.
Morris Minor - daily driver? - Rob the Bus
Thanks, everybody, for your help. I'm convinced!! When I do get round to buying one, I'll want to keep it as original as possible so modifying the brakes, engine (except for unleaded)etc is a big no-no.

Nick - excellent post and very helpful. One thing though - I know that trunnions have to be greased but a)what the heck are trunnions and what do they do? and b)where are they? Forgive my ignorance - I've only ever serviced or maintained newer cars.

Cheers
Morris Minor - daily driver? - nick
There are two trunnions each side. They are what the front wheels pivot on, essentially a big screw thread. They need greasing at a minimum every 3k miles, preferably sooner. You can do them with the wheel on so it's no hassle although it is best to jack up the car to take the weight off them to allow the grease to penetrate better. If you don't grease them they will eventually fail without warning, leaving the front wheel at a funny angle and the car undriveable. They usually fail at a low speed when the load on the steering is highest. Grease them and don't worry about them.
There are also grease nipples on the track rod ends (usually, still available though some replacements don't have them) and wonderfully, a grease nipple on each handbrake cable so no siezed cable, ever!
The steering rack is lubricated with oil via a nipple accessable from inside the car and you check and top up the gearbox from inside too.
The only awkward job is replacing the brake master cylinder which sits inside a chassis section, again accessable from inside the car for checking.
Someone asked about convertibles. Lovely cars. Downsides are extra cost, can rot more due to a leaky hood and easy to steal, otherwise just as easy to live with. Beware of saloons converted to a drophead. Ok if it is done well, but it should cost less and you should be made aware of the conversion. Factory convertibles and good conversions have a strengthening plate under the dash adjacent to the A post. You can also tell by the chassis number but I can't remember how! The club could enlighten you. Excellent support from the Club, incidentally.
Morris Minor - daily driver? - blank
Thanks Nick, that's a really useful post. I've been loosely considering one as a long-term 2nd car. You encourage me that the idea of using one for my (wife's!!) 35 miles/day isn't completely barmy.
I'd like to have a car I could tinker with again.
Cheers
Andy
Morris Minor - daily driver? - blank
Another question. Don't mean to hijack someone else's thread, but I think it's an interesting question. What about convertibles. Are they problematic compared with the saloons, or just more expensive?

Thanks
Andy
Morris Minor - daily driver? - Andrew-T
Hood, Growler? Are you talking about a soft-top, or do you mean Bonnet?
Morris Minor - daily driver? - Clanger
Make sure you are comfortable in the seat if you are going to be using it any distance. I'm 6' 2" and found the seat uncomfortable after 40 mins. For a car of the same age, the VW beetle seat was bliss. Keep up with the maintenance and and the rust and you should be OK.

Me? I hate them, but that's my problem, not the car's.
Darcy.

Morris Minor - daily driver? - Graham
They appear to be a very sensible alternative to an old Landy.
But not so much fun off road I'll bet!
Morris Minor - daily driver? - doug_523i
I regularly see a blue one on the M56, I think it's the woody traveller. I think the Marina 1.3 engine fits in the engine bay, disc brakes from the same fit as well. I don't know if the whole stub axle assembly is used, but I think the Marina had trunnions as well.
Morris Minor - daily driver? - Chris TD
My Mum and Dad got a 4 year old Traveller (the wooden estate) back in 1972. My younger brother (who was not even born then) still drives it today. Don't think it will ever leave the family.

The car holds thousands of memories for us - school runs, me learning to drive, starting it with the handle to show off, trips away. My Mum drove it day in, day out, short and long journeys and it broke down twice (fuel pump stopped working and distributor cap broke) both times next to a phone box!

My younger brother learnt to drive in a salon, and my elder brother got one done up and transferred across to the States, driving it coast to coast from New York to Santa Barbara.

He got the Marina engine and running gear put in (can't remember about disc brakes or not). All cars were converted from positive earth to negative earth to allow for radios to be put in - not difficult. Unleaded heads put on as exchange items - don't think the ignition got altered much though I'd have to check with the chief mechanic (Dad). Stainless steel exhausts as well.

Still does 60 no problem, and will go up to 70 for occasional bursts but the noise goes up a lot more.

A Great car for us but not for everyone.

Chris TD
Morris Minor - daily driver? - jeremyb
I'm 32 and drove a Morris 1000 for the last 13 years. Drove to Glasgow and back twice, Paris and back - the speedo broke but I guess I did over 100k in it on the same engine. I never serviced it - just changed the oil and checked the water. It broke down 3 times in 13 years! Needed welding every MOT.

Like Nick says, the brakes aren't great but adequate - I learnt right from passing my test to look ahead and anticipate my braking. Somebody said the steering is heavy with radials - mine was as light as a feather! The engine weighs so little - I have never driven a car that feels so in touch with the road. It cruises beautifully at 65.

My priority when buying again would be the underbody - that is the only place that ever cost me a penny. Also, the gearboxes vary in feel tremendously - try a few and see what you like. Mine had an incredibly quick change, but others I have driven have been stiff and nasty.

Go for it - you won't regret it!
Morris Minor - daily driver? - nick
Just one other quick thought about using Minor as an everday car. Most classic cars are only used as hobby cars so unless it has been used daily, expect a few gremlins creeping in when you put it into regular use.
Check the water hoses, they may be up to a Sunday drive but not a motorway thrash.
Clean up the fuses (all 3 of them!), they tend to corrode.
My saloon was a Sunday car and I had trouble with the electric fuel pump. This uses points and they tend to stick if not used regularly. No problems once I changed it. You can get non-points ones that look and sound the same though I've never tried one.

For your entertainment, here's a few parts prices taken from traders ads in the latest MMOC magazine. Can your car beat them?
All plus VAT.
Full stainless exhaust £40.95
Full service kit (plugs, both filters, points, rotor arm, distributor cap £11.29
Radiator (exchange) £48.95
Full Borg and Beck clutch £69.95
Unleaded head, ready to bolt on, exchange, £130
Brake replacement kit, all wheel cylinders, set bleed nipples, all shoes, copper brake pipes, £95
Firestone radial tyre, £18.49
Rear spring kit both sides, everything you need, £99

Now you know why I drive a Minor!
Morris Minor - daily driver? - John S
Rob

Some excellent advice so far. We've owned a Minor for over 20 years, but would I use one as a daily driver - No. My wife used ours regularly until about 1987, when it came of the road for 10 years for some serious renovation.

No question they are an excellent classic. Easy to maintain, spares availability is excellent and most items are very reasonably priced. Apart from the earlier cars (up to and including Series 2's with the 803 unit) they are quite 'useable', although realistically 60 plus cruising is only there with the later 1098 models. The key wear items are mentioned - chassis rust and lower trunnions. With the suspension bushes in good condition and with decent dampers handling is excellent for a car which came out in 1948. Steering is lighter than most non-PAS modern superminis, especially on radials. I found that changing to the correct size of radials made the steering lighter than crossplies. Well maintained brakes are adequate, but feel weak compared to servo assisted brakes of modern cars.

So, why don't I suggest it as a daily driver? They key items are safety, reliability and durability. The car will be at least 30 years old, and won't be as safe in an accident as a modern car. It hasn't the demisting of a modern car and can be a pain in the wet weather. The rush hour is not the time to be on the road in a Minor. You'll find some other drivers desparate to get past and get to work and will drive on your bumper on principle. With the best will in the world it will need considerably more maintenance than a modern car to keep it reliable on a daily basis.

The other factor is durability. For £3k you'll buy a really top class Minor, probably too good to use in all weathers. It won't stay that way if you use it every day year in year out. They don't have the rust proofing of a modern car.

My suggestion - buy a Minor for half that money. It will still get you a good car. Zero road tax, classic car insurance for about £70/year and no depreciation. Keep it in a garage, and by all means use it to go to work on sunny days. When I commuted to work there were a number of Monor owners, and we sometimes managed a small row of cars in the car park. great fun, but they stayed at home in the winter! With the rest by a secondhand supermini for going to work.




Regards

John S
Morris Minor - daily driver? - nick
Hi John, as a long term Minor owner I'd disagree with some of your points.
Safety, yes. It won't be as safe as a modern car in a crash. But they are heavily built compared to a modern, so minor bumps (no pun intended!) will be shrugged off.
Demisting I don't find a problem. Keep the window open a crack and fit a heated rear window. Flush the heater out and it should work well. Mine does.
Durability. If you dinitrol every year, it'll last, with the possible exception of the wings. But they're cheap and easy to replace and why not fit fibreglass?
Reliability. Yes you will need more maintenance, but it is cheap and easy diy, or cheap garage stuff. I would maintain they're more reliable than a modern if you look after them, there just isn't all the stuff to go wrong.
By all means by a superb one for sunny days, but have a cheap and tatty one for every day. It really is no problem running them. I've found other road users are more friendly when I'm in the Minor, they just aren't an agressive car by any stretch of the imagination.
Morris Minor - daily driver? - blank
Don't know if my question got lost in the middle, or nobody knows! Any advice on convertibles?? A pain compared with the saloon for any reason, or just more pricey to buy?

Thanks
Andy
Morris Minor - daily driver? - John S
Andy

Convertibles are very popular,and so pricey.

Even the factory built models were to all intents and puposes conversions of the 2-door saloon, hence the popularity of after-market conversions. Extra bodywork stiffening was provided by fillet plates between the A-pillar and the base of the dashboard, an extra stiffener between the base of the B-pillar and the door sill and extra layer in the door sill - the last being one of the things missed by the poorer quality conversions.

Factory 1098 convertibles have chassis numbers starting MAT (T for 'tourer') I believe. Earlier cars have an MAJ car number.
Convertible production stopped in about 1969, so anything later is probably a conversion. Join the Morris Minor owners club, and they can advise.

Being effectively the same as the saloon, there are no spares problems (except for the very early MM series and Series 2 cars, where some spares can be difficult, which applies equally to saloons.)

They drive much the same as a saloon, with a hint of body flex. Like most convertibles, rust can be more of a problem due to hood leaks, and a 100% bodyshell is a must. Avoid anything where the doors don't fit well! Because of their value, good thiefproofing is wise if it's left parked anywhere. Otherwise, they provide excellent, fun, open topped motoring, with zero tax and low insurance as bonuses.


Regards

John S
Morris Minor - daily driver? - blank
Thanks! That's really helpful
Andy
Morris Minor - daily driver? - John S
nick

The original question from Rob was about buying a £3k Minor as an everyday car, doing 80 miles/day, and I don't think we disagree that you need a much cheaper Minor for that sort of use. To quote your post 'By all means by a superb one for sunny days' - and that's what you'd get for £3k.

I guess you have a 1098 car with the better heater - the 'circular' one fitted to the earlier cars doesn't do much for demisting, although it puts plenty of heat into the cabin.

A 1098 will also have more realistic performance too - we had a lovely 1098 convertible for a while. With a mildly tweaked engine it went quite well. Trouble was it got little use as my wife never liked to park it anywhere in case it was stolen. Sold it on for a big profit in the end!

Yes, you can make it last by regular rustproofing, but it takes time and effort for that and the maintenance. I was pointing this out to highlight the major differences between a modern car and a Minor. OK, I can do all this myself - but Rob needs to consider whether he wants to spend his time that way.

They don't really 'shrug off' minor bumps - bumper chromes and blades bend very easily, and have you seen the price of bumpers! You can crease the wing or door as easily as any modern - I'm very careful where I park. Plus you don't want fibreglass wings (which usually fit very badly) or bent bumpers on your immaculate Minor.

So, I'd stick by my original answer - an expensive Minor isn't a realistic everyday car, and for my money - neither is a cheap one!

Regards

John S
Morris Minor - daily driver? - Big John
They are great in the summer, no need for air con with those superb front opening quaterlights!!

My old 1961 948cc also used to be very economical, over 50 mpg if you took it steady, those old SU carbs were efficient. Fuel pump was always a pain, this was situated above the passenger footwell, I freqentley had to boot it whilst driving to keep going!(I've got long legs!)

If you ever are looking at one to buy ask too look inside the removable sill panels if possible, this is the worst rusty bit. If you find a good one they are easy to then properly rust proof.
Check also the lead filled seams running down the back of the car, they are easilly damaged whilst welding (they melt) and some people relace with horrible filler paste!!!



Morris Minor - daily driver? - Graham
FWIW: I saw one in California two weeks ago. I had to do a double take. It looked tatty but it was going OK.
Morris Minor - daily driver? - nick
Well we'll agree to differ then John. I have one as an everyday car. It cost £2k and was/is virtually perfect with no welding. It hasn't been much trouble to keep it so. The rust proofing takes me 2 hrs a year, a little maintenance every month or so, no problem to me. Wings, doors and bumpers (although dear for a minor, cheap compared to a modern) are easily replaced at home, so minor accident damage is less of a problem. I know, it's happened to me twice! My van has fibreglass wings and without touching them I defy anyone to tell the difference. Still, each to their own. If Rob doesn't mind a bit of maintenance and enjoys the old car driving experience then he'll be quids in. I stand by my original answer, buy the best bodywork you can afford. Compared to any modern, they cost pennies to run. For the price of a cat or ecu you could buy a new engine!
I had a 1300 Toledo for a few years as a commuter car, 15 miles each way every day. I paid £250, ran it for a few years and the only repair was a second-hand gearbox for £75 which I fitted myself in a day. When I came to sell, nobody wanted it at any price so I gave it free to a friend. He has run it for nearly 3 years at the cost of around £200 in repairs, mainly plating the sills. It has never broken down (touch wood).It looks tatty, nobody will steal it but it is still fun to drive. If you are not status conscious then old cars like this make huge sense for the daily grind. Still nice to drive a pretty one though.
Morris Minor - daily driver? - Rob the Bus
Nick - your enthusiasm and obvious knowledge has been totally inspiring! I was going to buy a modern 'eurobox' for everyday and a Minor as a 'toy', but now, I think I'm going to take the plunge and buy a Minor as my (gasp!) sole car. To be honest, I'm sick and tired about worrying whether the complicated (to me!) engine management on my 17 year old Granada is going to go t*ts up. I suppose, though, running a 17 year old Granada means that I'm already a wee bit down the road towards classic ownership. I suppose I'll have to hire a newer car to do our bi-annual two week trips to the Scottish Highlands though!

Thanks, Nick, for all your advice. The same goes for all you back-roomers out there. You have all been more than helpful, and I couldn't have made my decision (not matter how loopy some of you may think that it is!) without you.

Cheers all

Rob
Morris Minor - daily driver? - nick
Good luck Rob,
Have a good test drive to make sure you can live with the 'old car feel' and my advice is to go and look at a couple of rusty ones so you can see where they disintegrate. Try and take someone familiar with the car with you, though really it's only the usual checks.
Also don't assume high price = good condition. When I was looking I saw cars at £3k which were badly restored and in much worse condition then the one I found at £2k. Don't be fooled by a good paint job. If there are patches underneath then with the best will in the world it is only condition 2. Properly repaired to me means repair sections let in, not plates with pigeon poo welding.
Take a peek at the Morris Minor Owners Club website www.MorrisMinorOC.co.uk, there may be a buyer's guide. In fact if you are not in a hurry, join the club first as there are lots of cars advertised for sale, though I my opinion, club valuations are only good for insurance purposes and don't reflect real world selling prices, which are lower.
Let us know how you get on,
Good Luck again and many happy days of raspberry exhaust notes!
Morris Minor - daily driver? - thebouncingbunny
driving old cars can be good fun.just remember its old so it will need keeping an eye on.if its making a funny niose dont just turn the dodgy old am radio up!investigate.i drive a 1980 dolomite every day for my business and it gets a lot of admiring remarks wich is quite satisfying but i just use it localy,you wuold find it reassuring if you had a back up car.

 

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