's Great British Cars – Morris Minor

Sun 21st Oct 2018

Great Britain, great cars. The UK motor industry is respected the world over, and though many of the vehicles are actually owned by foreign manufacturers, there can be no doubting of the fantastic heritage of the British motor.

To celebrate Britain’s famous history is launching a series looking back on some of the most famous vehicles the UK has ever seen.

Morris Minor
From the dust and rubble of the Second World War, a British classic emerged under the codename ‘Project Mosquito’, one which would go on to become the first British car to see more than a million units - the Morris Minor.

The Minor was first conceived in 1941, but development stalled due to the war effort, however despite resources being in limited supply, Morris Motors’ vice chairman, Miles Thomas secretly pushed forward with the project in the hope of having the car ready for when the war eventually ended.

Thomas was fortunate to have a bright and upcoming engineer, Alec Issigonis, on his books. The legendary motoring designer had already caught the eye with his plans for the new Morris Ten which was in development in the late 1930s, but all that work was used elsewhere within the MG group and it was left to Issigonis to hone his talents on Morris’ new advanced small car.

Issigonis wanted to produce a practical, economical and affordable car, one with all the keen design aesthetics of more expensive cars, without cutting corners on design quality.

Issigonis said that the Minor would be a car that "the average man would take pleasure in owning, rather than feeling of it as something he'd been sentenced to" and "people who drive small cars are the same size as those who drive large cars and they should not be expected to put up with claustrophobic interiors."

Launched in 1948, the name was changed from Mosquito to Minor by the Morris marketing team and after 12 years of critical and public acclaim in December 1960 the Morris Minor became the first British car to have sold more than 1,000,000 units.

Issigonis’ success and career developed further and 10 years after launching the Minor, he went even smaller, with the Mini, a classic for which he is perhaps better associated. Whilst the Mini went from strength to strength, production of the Minor slowly but surely ground to a halt. There was dismay amongst many traditionalists within the industry as there was a strong feeling that the Minor was the natural challenger to the Volkswagen Beetle which would go onto gain fame and fortune for the German company through the late 1960s and 70s.

By 1971 the production of the Morris Minor was brought to an end, with more recent historians suggesting that in total the classic had sold 1.6m units.

Years of manufacture: 1948-1971 
Price when new: £628 
Price now: £400-£20,000
Engine: 948cc 4cyl petrol, 37bhp
Top speed: 62mph