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…

Classicaraddict Meets Classic Britain.

 

Classicaraddict met Classic Britain…

Before Christmas, I stumbled upon a Youtube Channel called Classic Britain. First what attracted me was the content, the presenter, Sheldon was clearly a grade A Petrolhead and his scruffy Rover P6 (Kismet) is a really interesting car. After a little while, I also worked out they are based in West Cornwall.

The Mentor… 

Oddly we never get to see Sheldon, but we do get to see Lucas,  his friend, and Mentor.  Their friendship is clear to see, and infectious.  Lucas, smart, funny and has lived a life. He gives no shit’s about what others think. Yet, and having met him and his charming wife, what is clear, they are both good people.  Caring about those who are privileged to enter their world.
He also knows his stuff when it comes to old cars.

 

Man Behind the Camera.

Now I will admit that on air, Sheldon comes across as far older than he is. From his voice, I’d of said he was late 20’s or early 30’s… Right up until the point he got in  Bel and I suddenly realised he was in his early 20’s.  Sheldon is one of those characters who have a power to them, a good-natured force of nature. Others become attracted, his passion infectious. They start chatting, remembering times past. More than once, someone came up and spoke to us as we worked on Kismet, the Rover. In this way, he reminds me of my friend Jess, who at 20 decided that a 1957 Morris Minor was his ideal first car. They share a strange magnetism that makes others want to help, and perhaps remind us of who were or could be once more.

Sheldon and those around him have an old-fashioned sense of decency that is sadly passing into another time. Perhaps being based in West Cornwall, helps, for time does more slowly down here. We have a different culture and the rules that go along with it.

Classicaraddict met Classic Britain, not for the last time…

Carry Essential Spares…

A couple of day’s earlier my friend rang me up with an issue with his 1957 Morris Minor. My gut instinct told me that it was either the points or the condenser.  I heard my voice saying the best thing to do was to carry spares…Now those words had come back to haunt me…

One of the reasons I’d come up to the North East was for the MX5 owners club record attempt Elvington on the 28th of April… In the past, I have been too car club meetings and I will admit that they are generally not my thing.  Yet… Once again MX5 owners are different. As I made my way down the A19 the number of MX5’s started to increase. Oddly a lot of owners seem happy to sit at exactly 70 mph. I remember a friend who had driven rally cars in the 60s and 70s saying that all cars have a natural cruising speed. Another dear friend who has had both 1.6 and 1.8 MX5’s saying that they like 80 mph… 85 and they get twitchy, 75 to 80 and they will run all day. I agree, when both you and your vehicle like a similar pace, driving becomes much more relaxing. 

So there I was, going along at 80, roof down, overtaking the odd other MX5 until I joined the back of a long line of them.  I only found when I and a few other fellow MX5 drivers followed them into a service station a few miles from the meet. They were from the Tyne Tees group… And a very nice gent in a red NB that had been following came up and said hello. I will admit leaving the service station and arriving a little earlier at Elvington. After following a car from Scotland in were lined up initially 3 across but due to the number of cars that turned up that became 4 across.

After registering, Bel receiving number 255… I met Sid GoPeform and his custodians.  I then had an hour and a half to wait before the record attempt. One way to do this was to queue for the toilets. More than one person was heard to comment that this was another record they had decided to attempt to break. It was then a question of going back to where Bel was… Not as easy it would be normally when far as the eye could see there where was MX5’s.

I did wander about looking at the whole range of cars on the track. From scruffy NA’s and NB’s to the restored, immaculate early ones, daily drivers and pristine later cars. Oh and a few customised cars.  Each car special to its owner. Oddly, Bel did stand out a little, her mismatched bonnet, gaffer tape on her rear quarter panels, rack and wearing her patches with pride.  I chatted with Brett from Total MX5 about the joy of owning a scruffy everyday car. One that is reliable…Oh how that came back to bite me… Yet one that we can jump in and drive a few hundred miles. 

It was then time for the record attempt. I’m not going to say much about with this post as I think it deserves a separate one with video.

I left after the record attempt and decided to drive across the North York Moors. Putting Saltburn into the satnav I set off. Soon the little number of MX5’s decreased until it was I was alone in following the instructions. I have a rough idea of the geography, but it is certainly not extensive.  I pulled over at a couple of spots to take photographs and enjoy the scenery. As I pulled away the second time, her alternator belt started to slip…

This was then my words a few days ago came back to haunt me. A few seconds later her belt snapped.  Now I was stuck, on the moors with no real idea of where I was.

If this was at home, I know enough people where I could leave Bel and get her fixed later. This is not the case. Sadly, if the alternator belt goes, the water pump stops working. You can limp a car home a few miles if you know how to drive gently. First thing I did was to switch off all unnecessary electrical equipment. I then switched the engine off going downhill and bumped started her at the bottom. With my heart racing and driving very carefully I made it back to Redcar.  I pulled into a well-known tyre supplier a mile from my mother’s house and she refused to start after. Two passing boys helped me push Bel across the road and I rang my mother who came out with some jump leads. Half an hour later Bel and I were back safe. I started to strip her down hoping that her power steering belt would be the same size at her alternator one…With a choice words… It turned out that it wasn’t. Close, but not close enough… About 3 cm too small.

If I had a spare belt it would have been easy, yes, my words had come back to haunt me.

I’ll cover the belt change in another post, but there was a chance I had cooked Bel’s engine.  I’m pleased to say that I didn’t.  As for MX5 meetings, this was my first, it won’t be my last. But there will be a spare belt in Bel’s boot just in case.