Remarkable British cars from our past
- Credit: Paul Jolly
Paul Jolly, classic car specialist and valuer:
Alec Issigonis is widely known for his remarkable and innovative creation which set new standards at launch in 1959.
The Mini was radical and an instant success but so was his earlier design over ten years before.
The Nuffield organisation, headed by founder William Morris, (Lord Nuffield) needed a post-war family car to go head to head with rivals Austin who were about to launch the A30.
The young designer, Issigonis, who Lord Nuffield disliked, came up with the Morris Minor idea after much admiration of the Citroen Traction Avant.
His novel design used torsion bar suspension all round and small wheels to reduce cabin intrusion, flat four engine for better balance and lower centre of gravity, rack and pinion steering for greater driver appeal and better road holding.
But on the grounds of cost and shortage of time, only the Issigonis front suspension and steering was kept.
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Nonetheless, the Morris Minor was launched in 1948 to great acclaim.
Soon after, convertible and estate car - Traveller - variants appeared.
When at school in the 1960s, I recall virtually every staff member drove a Minor with the exception of the headmaster who drove a 3.8 Jaguar MK2. Now that was something else!
Indeed, the little Morris was hugely popular and excelled.
My godmother’s family drove to southern Spain from Calais for the summer holidays, with just one overnight camping stop at Millau, where the new famous viaduct stands today.
The car was fitted with a roof rack loaded with tents, cases, cookers and sleeping bags plus all the holiday paraphernalia with three adults and three boys over ten. No seat belts then. All this and powered by a little engine less than 1 litre.
Quite how they made it there and back through the basking southern European summer is beyond me.
No plug-in car entertainment then and little in the way of luxuries either I suspect, just a good old fashioned family holiday in the faithful family car.
Production continued to 1971 and these are brilliant classic cars for any family’s collection to this day. Thank you, Alec.