Buying a Morris Minor.

Quick Recap

My friend Jess and I found ourselves at the edge of Exeter looking at a Morris Minor 2dr saloon. A few days before I had been looking at classified adds on Gumtree…Classified Classic Car Hunting

Running? 

 With a battery attached the engine was coaxed into running for a few seconds. Whilst I might not know much about Morris Minors, I do about the A series engine and this one was sweet sounding.  Assessing a Car

Dashboard & General Condition
After wrestling  a seat into the empty cabin, I sat behind the wheel, the dash being very different to the later ones. The iconic central Morris Minor Speedo not only stylish but also very practical as it allowed both right hand and left drive vehicles to be made much cheaper.  

Yet here was a dash that looked much less 1950’s and more 1940’s. Cream painted tin, chrome, and bakerlite with Banjo 3 spoke steering wheel… The lighter  panels offset  by the rich blue of an earlier window out respray.  

 All the tyres would need replacing and to be honest the amount of welding needed scared me silly. Yet…  Welding One Small Patch?

Jess and I went back for a little chat beside Bel, my MX 5. He said it was bad, but it could be far worse. The expense being the body on a Morris Minor as the rest is fairly cheap.  Yet the engine was good and we gambled on the transmission. He went on to say, Morris Minors seem to have either good oily bits and poor bodies or the other way round…  

From the floors up she was solid.  

https://youtu.be/q9WvF7gD_3M

https://youtu.be/_5qK4wW33Mk

Negotiating a price.  

As Jess looked over the Moggie again I sat down with the seller. 
 

We have all watched those shows where people rip the seller off and flip the car for a big profit. Others have described them as sharks with smiles… 
I’m not like that, but when I do low ball, I’ve learnt that if we are getting on it is much easier. 
After telling the seller that I was going to the mickey and that he wasn’t going to get upset. He wasn’t, told me up the price by £100 and knowing he was being a gent, we didn’t shake hands, but I gave him a £200 deposit… I knew it that he had come down a long way and I wasn’t going to insult him any further.  MX5 Goodbye.

After visiting a nearby supermarket, taking the rest of the money out I paid the seller.  Arranging to pick the car up soon, Jess and I left to see a friend locally for a socially distanced coffee before heading back down the A30 to Cornwall roof down… 
I’d bought a Morris Minor, and early one, but what had I actually bought? 

Classified Classic Car Hunting

Classified Hunting. 

Late night classified add looking is never a good thing. 
Hunting that bargain, odd wording, fuzzy pictures or lack whereof spark the interest.  

Requirements

As I’ve already mentioned, the car to replace Bel would have to be an historic one, tax and mot free with cheap insurance. Also, the parts would have to be plentiful and cheap.  That immediately discounts anything with a VW badge, as yes there lots about but you pay a premium. http://www.classicaraddict.com/mx5-goodbye/
 

My requirements meant an older British car, ideally an MG MGB GT, but they are little expensive. To be honest I’m horrified how much once cheap cars are now worth, Ford Capris as an example, a few years ago bangers now anything is worth thousands. After this shock I found myself looking at adds and this is when living in Cornwall is an issue, for many Bristol is the far southwest, Exeter might as well be France  and Cornwall Outer Mongolia. Combined with the amount of salt in the air here, especially near the North Coast we have to travel.  18 months ago I found a MK1 Toyota Rave 4 Auto for a friend at Honiton and felt I’d got away lightly.  Finding a Unicorn Car for a Friend.

 What To Look For In An Add.  

After looking on Facebook Market Place and eBay I tried Gumtree. Lots of  adds full of clear pictures and well written and with each one my heart sank a little lower. Then one stood out, a single fuzzy picture not too far away by our standards as only 100 miles, well 96 away. After getting used to how gumtree works I contacted the seller and asked if we could have a look at the weekend. It would have to be Sunday as I was towing a car back from Plymouth for a friend on the Saturday.  https://www.gumtree.com/

Initial Contact With The Seller.

We agreed a time, this was Thursday evening, on Saturday I confirmed that we would be aiming to be there at midday and if we came to an agreement £200 pounds would be a suitable deposit.  Just before we left on Sunday morning in Bel my soon to be sold MX5 I messaged to let the seller know we were on our way. 

Arriving / Initial  Impressions.  

Aiming for midday I rang 2 minutes passed to let him know we were outside. As he opened the gate, the seller said, “the price is not fixed.” Not the thing to say to a buyer…  The seller is a true gent and to see his lifetime collection of pushbikes, cars, and paraphernal was amazing.  He showed us his much loved 1925 Citroen Cloverleaf  looking just like Brum the children television series and not that much bigger.   

Three generations of petrolheads together all sharing the same passion. The seller, myself and my mate Jess in his early 20’s. Those who know Jess would have guessed the car now. For those who don’t, Jess has two cars on the road, one 1956 2dr  rat rod and the other a very original 1966  4dr and this was the reason he was with me.  Both Jess’s cars are Morris Minors and the car  was a one, except it was a little rarer than many.   http://www.classicaraddict.com/importance-of-gut-instinct/ 

A Morris Minor, But what Type? 

I’d found a 1952 split screen 2dr Minor, listed as a series two and needing a lot of work. She had been stood standing for over 10 years the seller having rescued it from a possible destruction a few years back.  Yet not having the welding skills, he never managed to get her on the road. With the arrival of the Citroen it was time to let her go. 
To be honest my first impression was oh bugger as the interior was stripped out and clearly both sills and lot more needed doing. Yet as Jess clambered all over her, and we managed to make her fire up she spoke to me. Running enough to let me know she wanted to live.   http://www.classicaraddict.com/33/

This is the first of a whole series of posts, and yes there is little hint there…

Classic Chainsaw for the Classicaraddict?

I work outdoors, when asked, the nature of it is best described as hack & slash…What this means is that small urban gardens are best left to others with nice little vans.By choice I prefer larger properties, this is where my little Suzuki 4×4 comes in. It has changed how I do my job, and never ceases to amaze me where she goes. Often called my workmate and she really is.

Today the starter cord broke on my law mower snapped just as the client was bringing a mug of tea out. We chatted as I quickly sorted the issue. The mower looks old, scruffy, yet cuts wet grass like nothing else. A few years ago I was given it along with a strimmer after they got thrown out. Sadly, the strimmer died after a couple of years of sterling service.

Late last year one of my clients gave me an old Echo CS330EVL chainsaw. It had sat in their shed for quite a few years. They said that it had an issue with the chain brake.  I did fire it up a few days later, it ran, but the brake didn’t work, and the starter got stuck. After putting it down, it sat, forgotten once again, until this evening. Sadly, once again the need for a reliable small saw has risen. For 3 years I used a beaten-up Stihl 009, this little saw was amazing, but finally died last year.

People assume that bigger chainsaws are better, yet I would argue that say one with 12inch to a 16inch bar is far better for 90% of all the jobs you need to do. Unless you are felling bigger trees, then, of course, a larger saw is better.  I don’t and when most of my use is logging and only small trees, a lighter saw is far better. First, you don’t get so fatigued using one, and second, they are cheaper to run, less hassle to maintain.

This evening, I dug the little saw out, got my socket set from the truck and set to work. The chain brake was simply down to being clogged solid with fine sawdust.  This is where the Echo reveals its older design. Modern saws have the chain brake on the inside of the bar cover. This means that every time you take it off it is a simple job to clean the brake. With this Echo, the chain brake is behind the engine drive sprocket and stays on the machine. Hence, it is far more difficult to keep clean, which then reduces the performance until it stops working.  After cleaning, it now works well, which means the saw is safe to use again. It is a little more complex than more modern designs, yet the quality is clear to see, and I’m impressed compared to cheaper, newer saws.

After sharping the chain, I then found the second major fault…

The starter cord was jammed, so once again, my tools came out, pulled it apart. Only to find starter drum was cracked. A quick look online proved that this a rare part. Only available from the States. Cost £6 and £16 for postage…

Tomorrow I’ll test the saw and if it runs well, then it will become my everyday one.  I’ll order a couple of spare chains, for £15 which will mean that for £40  I’ll have a good saw…

And that is a bargain.

Classic chainsaws for the Classicaraddict… Of course.

Quick update, the day after writing this post I did try the little saw.
Considering how long it must have been sitting, it did really well. At first a little smokey and until the fresh fuel worked through a little rough running. It now seems to have settled down and after  I get a spare chain, this will be the saw that lives in the truck, (Tug). I also would like to thank my clients for giving me this saw. They are truly good people.

Time to Confess… Cars or Bikes

I have a confession, some of my friends might want to disown me after this…

Yet, it is time to come out…

 

Most people assume that I love bikes more than cars, even many of long-term friends still think this, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  Within the biking fraternity, there is an assumption that any bike must be more fun than a car. For those who think this, I suggest trying a Suzuki Gs 500. Then you will know that watching paint dry is more fun than riding one of those. I think it might be better to say that generally, bikes are more fun than most cars.

Yet, whilst I do love bikes…

For me cars, well classic ones are more than just a mode of transport. For instance, my little Suzuki Vitara is not only work’s vehicle but also my friend. She has transformed how I do my job and if I was not impressed before it snowed I was certainly after. Every time I sit in her I smile, then I have to put fuel in her and the smile becomes a little smaller.  I’ve had an old beaten up Mercedes estate car that somehow was special. I’ve owned some cars that are so bad I lost the will to live, for instance, a Hyundai Lantra estate. After driving it to South Wales I pulled into a local supermarket and when I came I’d forgotten where I’d parked it. How bad does a car have to be that after driving it for 4 hours you cannot even remember what you had been in?

 

I’m writing this after buying a bargain Mazda MX5, a car that somehow has already wormed its way into my soul. It reminds me so much of my much-missed Triumph Spitfire. Yet with the bonus of being reliable and dry. Driving should be fun; the safest cars are often the ones that engage the driver at lower speeds.  Anyone who has driven a classic Mini knows this or the much-maligned Metro. They are safer because the driver is engaged in what they should be doing. With the added bonus the more passionate driver is rewarded with car that is fun at legal speeds.

For me, cars that do this are more fun than bikes, the view over the bonnet of a sports car sends a shiver through the soul of the enthusiast.

So I’m sorry to confess, but at heart, I’m a car guy and not a bike one…

Mazda MX5 First Driving Impressions

 

What is an MX5 like to drive?

 

Having not had a convertible in almost 2 years and a two-seater one in almost 8 years, having the roof down is such a joy.  But, then if you have ever gone topless, you will know that.

In my first blog post, I wrote about how I was not impressed 12 years ago after borrowing an MK2 1.6 MX5 for an hour or so. This experience put me off them for a long time. A few years later I did get to drive a much later MK2 1.8 model with low profile wheels and tyres and a six-speed gearbox. Sadly, I could only drive it at 40 mph…. But it did seem a lot better.

 

After buying my MX5 (Bel) on impulse, and at the time on a purely rational basis what is she like to drive?  In one word, sublime. Write I’m done now…

 

OK, a little more, let me explain.

First, Bel is a driver’s car, she talks to the driver who wants to listen. The experience is completely immersive. Most cars, well modern ones are like driving less interesting video game, and by doing this, they make the passionate driver want to slit their wrists.  The other type of car seems only to become interesting at speeds that either mean an instant ban and you are travelling too fast for the safety of others.

 

Bel is not like that, at normal and legal speeds she is fun. I do a lot of driving on tight, narrow Cornish back lanes. Often getting close to the speed limit is far too fast. Here her poise and well-balanced steering is a joy. On faster roads, she is lovely and stable at 80 mph, at 100, very skittish. I will add that I only hit that speed for about 3 seconds before dropping back down to more legal speeds. Sorry officer.

 

They have been described as minimal when compared to modern cars they are. Compared to my much-missed Triumph Spitfire, even a basic spec MX5 is loaded with such features as no leaking roof, stereo, a handbrake that works, etc, etc… It is only a question of perspective… Not only does all that tec weight a lot, it is more to go wrong.

One such feature that is outstanding and is important for driving a convertible in the winter… Her heater is amazing, the best I’ve ever felt. Toasted feet on the coldest of days, or nights.

 

I still think that space wise they are cramped and carrying capacity is a joke, compared to my Spitfire there is hardly any at all. I would argue that some bigger touring bikes can carry more.  A little creative packaging will be required when I go away to see my mother later in the year.

Yet…  Those downsides are nothing compared to the driving experience.

What are MX5’s like to drive?

 

Amazing… They are driver’s cars.