Once called “Britain’s Volkswagen Beetle”, the Morris Minor was one of Britain’s and Morris Motor Companies most successful vehicles. More than 1.3 million were manufactured. The Minor was a British economy car that was designed to combine the luxury and convenience of a good motor car with a price that was affordable to the working class.
The first series of the Minor was the MM. It was debuted at the Earls Court Motor Show in September of 1948. It came as a 4-seat saloon, a 2-door, a 4-door and a 4-seat Tourer (convertible). This vehicle was originally designed to have a flat-4 engine, but late in development, it was replaced by a 918cc side-valve straight-4 27.5hp engine. It only went 64mph, but got 40 miles per gallon. The Minor MMs had painted sections in the center of their bumpers to cover the 4-inch widening that the production cars received. This widening was also visible in the creases in the bonnet. In the vehicles that were exported to the US, headlights were removed from inside the grille so that they could be mounted higher on the wings due to safety regulations. This became standard in 1951. At the end of production of the MM, over 250,000 had been sold and 30% of those were in the convertible style.
In 1952 (though 1956), the Morris Minor released its new model, the Series II. This came with a new Austin designed 803cc overhead valve A-series engine. This only went 63mph and got 36mpg, but the engine felt stronger, though it was smaller. Changes also were made to the vehicle in the form of a newly designed grille, a new dashboard and speedometer. A new estate version, called the Traveller was introduced. This had an ash wood frame for the rear body, 2 side-hinged rear doors and the frame was varnished, not painted. A van and pick-up truck version of the minor was also released.
In 1956, a new and what would prove to be the most popular version of the Minor, was released. It was called the Minor 1000. It came with a 948cc engine. Its 2-piece windscreen was replaced by a curved one and the rear window was enlarged. In February of 1961, the Minor became the first British car to sell over 1 million units (the Italian Fiat 600 accomplished the same feat in the same month). To commemorate this, Morris released 350 (same number of dealerships that sold the Minor) limited edition 2-door saloons. They were lilac with white interior and the badge read Minor 1,000,000, instead of the typical Minor 1,000. The actual 1 millionth Minor was donated to the National Union of Journalists to use as a prize to raise money for the Union Widows and Orphans Fund.
In 1962, the Minor received a final engine upgrade to the AD016 Austin/Minor engine. It went 77mph and got 38mpg. This car also saw upgrades to the dashboard that now had toggle switches, and it received a large glove box and a different heater. It also had larger, more modern, lights and indicators fitted to the front wings. After seeing a major decline in sales each year, the convertible line was dropped in 1969, the saloon in 1970, and the traveller and commercial versions in 1971. though 850,000 Minor 1000s were sold, it was replaced by the Morris Marina because it was cheaper to build and could compete with the Ford Cortina.