A very British


Morris Minor pick-up

IT is very fashionable to be seen today driving a pick-up, especially the double cab variety.

There is a massive choice out there with macho numbers such as the Mitisbishi L200 Barbarian and the Dodge Ram.

But this is not a new trend in Britain because the UK motor industry of the golden years fielded its own take on this interesting corner of the marketplace.

One of the most popular was based on that tried and trusted workhorse, the Morris Minor and 1000 which emanated from the pen of Alec Issigonis in 1948.

The Minor was initially available as a two-door saloon and tourer and was later developed into a four door and the famed wood-framed traveller estate, panel van and pick-up.

The range typified Englishness in the extreme and has become a firm favourite in the world of classics. And as it was such a simple and durable design there are still a tremendous number about.

The whole project was conceived in the war years and was known on paper as project ‘Mosquito.' However, because of a ban on civilian car production, the model had to wait until the end of hostilities before the wraps were thrown off.

If there was ever a right car at the right time then it was the Minor. The concept was simple - to provide an economy car that the average driver could take pleasure in rather than thinking he or she had been sentenced to it.

And the Minor delivered in every way. But the Cinderella of the range was the pick-up, which is a great shame because so many were run into the ground as builders' wagons and farmyard motorised wheelbarrows.

But some were saved and are stars of the classic car shows, despite their humble station in life.

The load deck was spacious, accessed via a drop-rear and you could have a neat tonneau cover to keep whatever you were carrying dry.

Although the Minor was originally designed to accept a flat-four engine, late in the development stage it was replaced by a 918cc four-cylinder in-line which could propel the Minor to 64mph with an economy figure of 40mpg.

But the major boost came in 1956 when the Minor was transformed into the Morris 1000 with its 948cc engine and two-piece split windscreen replaced with a curved one-piece screen.

The rear window was enlarged and in 1961 the old semaphore style trafficators were replaced by flashing direction indicators.

In December 1960 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units. Although the car lasted until 1971, the production of commercial versions did not cease until 1972 which says a lot for a design that by the late 1960s was dated in anyone's books.

The pick-up version of the Minor was built from 1953 until the end of production. They were designed for commercial use but could just as easily be used as a two-seat domestic carry-all.

Both the van and the pickup differed from the monocoque construction of the Saloon and Traveller variants by having a separate chassis. They also differed in details such as telescopic rear dampers, stiffer rear leaf springs and lower-ratio differentials to cope with heavier loads.


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