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? 

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.   

Classicaraddict on Tour…

Bel at Saltburn last year.

Classicaraddict on tour?…

I’m sitting surrounded by tech  I barely understand. At the suggestion of a friend, soon Classicaraddict will have a YouTube channel. Well, that is already there, as yet it has no content.

What does this mean to the Classicaraddict blog?

This will mean that Classicaraddict will become smoother and easier to negotiate. There will be more content as I intend to extend the range of what I’ll be covering.  For instance, now when I’m working on something, I’ll make sure I set the camera up first, and try to capture some of the essence of the experience. I’m no mechanic, but hopefully, people will find it interesting. 

First and foremost, I’m a writer, admittedly a dyslexic one, but that is what I do. The blog site is going to get tweaked later this week by my friend Esther Nagle. This remarkable lady has written on how yoga has turned her life around. She can be found at Space to Breathe Academy

Having read my English with Creative Degree with Falmouth University a few years ago there will be some automotive fiction and poetic prose. Not just mine but also others. Which nicely leads into reviewing books, films, some television.  At first, I’ll be covering the ones that I like. Later, and I might come to regret this… The ones I don’t… Like any of the Fast and Furious franchise.

The Vlog… Oh, I already have about 6 cars lined up to review, the first will be Andy’s Toyota Rav’4. Luckily, living in Cornwall we are surrounded by beautiful scenery.  This will provide a style to the content that will help showcase both the cars and county.  I’ll also be doing vlogs as I drive, this more informal style will allow me to talk about ideas in a relaxed manner.  To an extent, much like the Classicaraddict, I’ll do a few. See what works… And then take it from there.

Now for the Tour part… Classicaraddict is going to the MX5 Owners Club meet at Elvington on the 28th of April. On the way up, as already mentioned, Esther will work her magic touch on the blog site when I stop in South Wales. On the way back I’m meeting another friend at Exeter and having a look at the new Suzuki Jimny … Bel and I are on tour…

See you at Elvington.

Classicaraddict, AKA Alex Small.

Link to the MX-Owners Club.

www.mx5oc.co.uk