Tuesday April 24, 2018
Of the many stars taking part in Drive It Day 2018 at the Mini Plant near Oxford – more of which this week – my favourite was a Trafalgar Blue 1967 two-door Morris Minor 1000. Of course, any Minor is a sight to brighten your day, but this particular example was a rare example of a one owner from new 51-year-old family saloon. And it was bought by a worker on the production line at Cowley with the aid of an employee’s discount.
In the 1960s, Robin McStay was an electrical engineer who ran ‘a Morris Minor Series II. My brother Michael worked at the plant and it was he who bought the new car for me’. The cost was £500 – ‘a good price’ - The Morris was driven home from the factory on 27th July 1967 and over the next twenty years it served as regular transport for the McStays, commuting to the UKAA plant in Oxfordshire. ‘Minors are so well-engineered, so practical and so simple to work on’. By June 1988 the milometer had reached the 200,000 mark when Robin was on holiday in Yorkshire. The 1990s saw the Minor adopt was now a ‘second car as I now had a Rover 45’ and it was used for high days and holidays.
On August 14th 2011, at the Cowley Classic Car Show, MBW 358 E, the Morris that ‘I could not bear to part with it’ achieved the quarter of a million-mile mark but nearly four years later came a day that Robin ‘will never forget – it is etched on my memory. It happened on the afternoon of Saturday 11th July on the A11 towards Norwich’. The Minor rolled when it was travelling at 50 mph - ‘I thought “Bad Words”!’ - and came to rest ‘on its side in the middle of the carriageway’. Even in the aftermath of the accident, Robin was still able to turn off the engine and managed to crawl out of the passenger side. ‘Some of the passers-by even managed to provide a seat for me and luckily there was an ex-nurse amongst them’
Robin was taken to hospital by ambulance while the Minor was transported by the police to their compound in Bury St. Edmonds. There then followed a period of debate as to whether the Morris would have to be scrapped under “Cat B” regulations but was re-classed as a “Cat C”. It required extensive work – ‘the roof, the rear screen and the front and rear offside wings all needed repair or replacing’. With the inviable aid of Sandy Hamilton of the Morris Minor Owners’ Club and Richard Plant of Minor Parts of Oxford the 1000 was slowly returned to its original state.
And on September last year, the McStay Minor was fully restored to health, an event that was naturally celebrated at Cowley. Today Robin observes that ‘I never thought fifty years ago that I would still have the car!’ but the Morris looks set for at least another 250,000 miles. Compared to a modern family saloon, it is akin to entering a time warp, to be transported to the last days of starting handle brackets and Excise Duty priced in shillings and pence. And to see return home to its original factory is a reminder why classic cars matter – in Robin’s words his Minor 1000 is ‘part of the family’.
With Thanks To
Sandy Hamilton of Morris Minor Owners’ Club - www.mmoc.org.uk