The time has come to put as complete an account of our Morris Traveller as I can on the blog, for the record, before I advertise her for sale.
First, some identification: This is a Morris 1000 Traveller, built in 1970 and first registered on June 1st, 1971. The hugely popular Morris Minor was announced in October 1948 having been on the drawing board in various guises since 1941. It was the first British car of which more than a million were made. The first cars were the two-door saloons, closely followed by the open tourers. Four-door saloons appeared in 1952 and the first Traveller in September 1953. There were also van and pick-up versions from 1953 and by the end of production 1,619,958 vehicles had been made, of which 215,328 were Travellers. According to the website http://www.howmanyleft.co.uk/ (quoting figures from the Department for Transport) there are 804 Travellers licensed in the UK for the road at the time of writing, with a further 254 off the road.
Our Traveller came from the renowned Charles Ware’s Morris Minor Centre at Bristol. We have owned it since September 27th, 2011. At that time I had not owned a car for more than a year and didn’t really want one. However, the prospect of numerous essential local journeys, which would have been difficult or impossible by public transport and expensive by taxi, persuaded me to become a motorist again. The idea then was to have an economical classic with a useful load-carrying capacity, mainly for local use with occasional outings to holiday destinations etc. I reasoned that as my previous 50 years of motoring with neither claims nor convictions had earned me no appreciation whatsoever from the idiotic insurance industry, I might as well compensate myself by having an affordable and interesting car for which “road tax” costs nothing and which might show some prospect of it holding its value over the medium to longer term.
My reason for deciding to change the “family car” now, after only a year, is largely a matter of mindset. A year ago I was living in the shadow of a cancer diagnosis. The future was even more uncertain than usual and the name of the game was survival and everything was overshadowed by the task at hand. Thankfully all that is in the past. The whole experience convinced me that my generation became too influenced by the notion that three score years and ten is the norm (if you are lucky) and after that it is “injury time”. This is nonsense of course. The world has moved on. 70 is the new 50 is it not. and if you are healthy enough (despite being well into “injury time”) to be reasonably active then there is no excuse yet to settle for the slippers and TV existence. Therefore, as explained in my previous post, we have bought a VW Camper Van and intend to enjoy it as much as we can while insurers will continue to insure ancient citizens like us.
I am lucky to have the use of our neighbour’s dry, secure garage in which to keep the Traveller and there is no rush to terminate this arrangement. The car also has its own weatherproof cover should it be needed. The Traveller’s condition is very good indeed and it would require little work to make it a concours winner. This, in itself, is interesting as I know very little about the history of the car.
To the best of my knowledge the Traveller has its original engine and is Bermuda Blue in colour. This was one of the original colour options though this car may have been repainted in green at some time in its life. The current mileage reading, 18,040, is hardly likely to be genuine but if the mileometer is on its second time around, 118.040 might be about right. Apparently there have been seven previous owners. Did any of them live in Oxfordshire or Hampshire I wonder.
When I bought the Traveller I gained the impression that The Morris Minor Centre had worked on it, and sold it, previously. Perhaps it has been one of those lucky Morris Minors that has been returned to Bristol a few times over the years when major maintenance or restoration work has been needed. The condition of the timber suggests that it is only a very few years old and it seems likely that the car was repainted (perhaps returned to its original colour) at the same time. Did it acquire its new (modern Mini) front seats at the same time and was that when it gained a five-speed gearbox (Ford Sierra) and a brake servo, taking it well on its way to a “Series III” specification?
When I bought this Traveller a year ago it was my intention to keep it for at least a few years and to upgrade it to “Series III” eventually. To explain: The first Morris Minors, from 1948 on, were known as Series MM. Later models, from 1952 on, were known as Series II. The latter progressed through 803cc, 948cc and 1098cc A-Series engines by the end of production in 1971.
In 1976 Charles Ware established his Morris Minor Centre at Bath (since moved to Bristol) to specialise in restoration work of a high quality and soon found that there was a demand from customers for various modifications to make the cars that much more usable in modern conditions. Thus Morris Minors could be fitted with brake servos, front disc brakes, upgraded suspension systems, larger engines, a five-speed gearbox and lots of electrical and interior options. Restoration work remains the core business to this day and unless a car is structurally sound to start with, most of the major upgrades would be a pointless waste. However, I digress. The point is that The Morris Minor Centre produces an upgraded Morris Minor to its own specification which is known as the Series III.
It seems likely that a previous owner of my car (like many others I am sure) aimed to upgrade to Series III as it can be done in stages. I had intended to continue the process and made sure that the car came with an alternator (rather than a dynamo) and electronic ignition (I have spent quite enough time over the years fiddling with distributor points) and also a cigarette lighter socket to power any accessories that I might use in the car. This car came with the modern seats, the five-speed gearbox and the brake servo. It also came with a two-year chassis guarantee from The Morris Minor Centre. This has another year to go but, unfortunately, it is not transferable to a new owner. However, it does give some indication of the condition of those parts of the car that are not easily inspected.
Much as I would like to keep the Morris, as a local runabout and occasional visitor to classic car events, I cannot justify the expense of running two vehicles. So, despite the fun I have had driving Meg, who has been extremely reliable, and the many conversations that she has started on our supermarket car park in Cardiff and elsewhere, she now needs a new home.