Morris Minor van.

An overview of this classic light commercial.

The Morris Minor is as familar a sight on the roads of Britain as any other car of the last fifty-plus years. While the majority of survivors are the monocoque-bodied two- and four-door saloons, a number of the much rarer light commercial variants (LCVs) still exist. Some vans and pickups are still in regular use, while the majority now lead easy lives, tucked away in warm garages awaiting the next gentle drive to a classic car gathering. A few, almost-forgotten, survivors slumber quietly under a layer of dust and rust, not having turned a wheel since their most recent owner upgraded to a newer vehicle, or simply hung up their driving gloves for good. These vehicles await the attentions of the enthusiastic restorer, so long as he or she happens to arrive in time to halt the decline of that particular vehicle.

A closer look at the Minor van.

Viewed from the front, the Minor van looks very similar to any other Moggie you might see out and about. Only the different bonnet centre strip, and lack of moulding to the bonnet sides, give the game away. That, and the higher roofline of the box van body, bolted to the chassis behind the driver's cab. For while the saloon featured chassis-less bodyshell, the van and pickup incorporated a box-section chassis beneath its coachwork. The steel rear body of the van was attached to the chassis as a standalone unit, sidling up to the cab with just a rubber seal between them. Two rear doors are fitted at the rear, enabling access to the Minor van's roomy interior.

Morris Minor vans for sale, plus parts and books.

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Launch and development of the quarter-ton Morris van.

The Minor saloon was launched in low-light form in 1948, with the two Quarter-Ton (5cwt) commercial variants joining the party in 1953. Power came courtesy of BMC's plucky A-Series engine, at this time still in 803cc guise. In 1956 this would be enlarged to 948cc, endowing the van with a useful increase in performance, yet still well within the capabilities of the Minor's excellent handling abilities. 1962 would see this increase again, to 1098cc, giving the 1/4 ton van a little more torque, but compromising the revvy nature of the 948 a little. A short while later, buyers could opt for a version with uprated rear suspension, endowing the handy van with a carrying capacity of 8cwt.
Minor vans
In the late 1960s, Morris - along with former rival Austin - was part of the growing BMC combine, so it was decided that an Austin-badged version of the Minor van would be introduced. At that time brand loyalty was still a major consideration for many buyers, to whom the idea of buying a Morris van after a lifetime of owning Austin motor vehicles, simply wouldn't do. To keep Austin enthusiasts happy, a version of the LCV was introduced sporting an Austin badge to the bonnet, Austin hubcaps, and a wavy car-like radiator grille in place of the Morris' straight bars. With this new addition to the range in place, production of Minor Series III vans continued until 1971.
The replacement for the Minor range would be the Morris Marina.
Minor van - rear view

Buying a Morris Minor van.

Anyone looking to buy a Morris Minor van today needs to have a good look around for rust. The rear bodies are especially prone to corroding, along the lower edges of the body and, perhaps more awkwardly from a repairer's point-of-view, around the gutters. Some enterprising souls have thrown away the rear body on their vans entirely and replaced them with GRP (fibreglass) copies. While this provides a rot-proof alternative to a dissolving BMC body, an original van, restored to correct period specification will usually find a ready buyer in no time at all, unlike a heavily-modified example.
You'd think that the separate chassis, made from heavier-gauge steel, should at least be quite resilient to the worst that the British weather can throw at a vehicle, but sadly this isn't the case. Many's the van that has more patches on its chassis than a quilt, usually the result of attempts to eke out another twelve months use from their van by a penny-pinching owner at MOT time. Therefore it pays to have a very close look at any prospective purchase's undersides before handing over any money. Also have a look to see if it still has its correct bonnet in place, many have had their bonnets replaced with saloon versions - the saloon bonnet has a thin raised strip along either side, whereas the van does not.
Mechanically, the Minor van is as well served as the saloon. The A Series engine can soldier on for many miles even with 100k under its belt, and finding replacement parts shouldn't pose too much of a problem. Gearboxes and rear axles can whine a little but are unlikely to detonate unless seriously abused, while any remaining synchromesh on second gear should be seen as a bonus.
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