Wednesday June 14, 2017
Every car brochure and advertisement is a window to the motoring of a past world, and some people (all right, me) have a fascination with charting the advertising of long-running models. The Morris Minor debuted in September 1948, a time when fuel was rationed at 80 miles per month, whilst the final example emerged from the Cowley factory into a Britain of decimal currency. Or, to put it another way, the ‘World’s Supreme Small Car’ emerged in a world of black and white newsreels and Bakelite and lasted until the early days of colour television and nylon flared trousers.
In the early years of the Morris Minor, the waiting list for a new car could be measured in years rather than months but no Odeon, Gaumont or ABC patron could fail to have been inspired by Science Behind The Car, a Nuffield promotion made by Pathe News. The MM looked so radically different to every previous Morris and to see one in action promised a future free from shortages and petrol coupons. By 1951, almost anyone seeing the images in this brochure for the Morris line-up would be mentally planning for the day when they too could own a Thames Blue four-door Minor de luxe with green leather upholstery. The illustration for the Tourer is especially striking, with overtones of a post-war British film noir.
Our next Minor-related promotion is one issued by BMC, but we hope that any die-hard Morris fans will forgive the appearance of various Austins being tested in Germany. One intriguing detail is that the Minor is equipped with flashing indicators while another is that in the mid-1950s, the Autobahn A8 had only two lanes and lacked any form of central crash barrier. The central theme of Tests Such as These is that your new Morris Minor is a veritable Jack Hawkins of motor cars, a vehicle that is built to last with ‘a thoroughness which inspires confidence’.
Somewhat more colourful is this 1957 brochure for the Minor 1000, with an approach that is best described as ‘Peter & Jane meets Enid Blyton’. ‘Weekend spins’, jaunty cravats, hard boiled eggs, lashings of ginger beer…all of this and more would be possible with your new Morris. And what these charming illustrations promise all prospective owners is a sense of release from all everyday concerns. Credit regulations were being liberalised and rationing now belonged to the past and for just a few pounds per week, ‘the world’s biggest small car buy’ could be yours.
Dating from the same year is one of my favourite Morris Minor promotions of all time, a vision of London sixty years ago, with a 1000 four door saloon driving through an incredibly traffic free capital that is still devoid of parking meters, traffic wardens and double yellow lines. The caption at the end urges the viewer to pay a visit to A. F. Gomez Ltd, Gibraltar’s Nuffield dealer, and after just one minute of this splendid production, almost anyone would crave the ‘economical but lively Morris 1000’.
Finally, we have a picture from 1966 which I think is one of the finest sales images of any British car. The colour tones are beautiful, the message is to the point and there is the implicit promise to the motorist that a Morris Minor will continue to offer freedom of the road for many years to come. And, of course, that remains very much the case today.