Cars I have driven #11 – 1969 Morris Minor Van

20 Aug

As my Ford Anglia (cars #8) was becoming a bit of a challenge to keep running I was on the lookout for something to replace it with. Funds were tight, but I was working 5 days a week for Brown Brothers and 7 nights a week plus Sunday, and often Saturday, lunch times as a barman, so I had a reasonable income and not much time to spend it. A small savings pot was building and the sale of the spare 1340cc Ford engine that I had been looking to put into the Anglia helped swell funds.

At work I had driven all three of the Morris Minor vans that we had on the Romford fleet, but these were being replaced with Ford Escort vans. One was already swapped and the next, a 1969 model with the 1098cc engine was coming up to its 5 year lifespan. It was mentioned that this would be available to me as staff for £50 pus VAT (10% at that time) if I was interested. I was, and a deal was struck.

On the due date the new Ford Escort turned up for Pam to use and I handed over my cash and signed for RJN96G (see below). I had to paint out the Brown Brothers signs on the side panels before I took it home and this was simply achieved with the aid of a can of red oxide primer (the body colour was maroon).

Minor Van crop

 

The 1098 lump was reasonably potent; there were plenty of off the shelf tweaks available and the van had decent enough acceleration for me to be able to embarrass owners of far more exotic machinery at times. I had a wood rimmed three spoke aluminium spoke steering wheel in stock at work for a customer who never collected it, so I bought that on put it onto the Moggie,  and I also had the three point Britax racing seat belt set that was intended for the Anglia and that was installed as well.

For reasons that need not be expanded upon here some surplus pink emulsion left over from decoration my sister’s bedroom was used to decorate the interior of the load compartment and curtains were installed for the back windows and for behind the front seats.

I only ever had two problems with her; one was my fault as I cross threaded the ignition switch when re-fitting it after installing some accessory or other and that left it a little loose. If it flopped in the right spot it would short and blow the regulator box. I carried a spare for a while, but the easy solution was just to hot wire it to get me home. Doing that one day in Canterbury I was bent over the engine when I noticed a large pair of shining boots at the end of legs clad in blue serge trousers appear at my side.
It took a few moments to explain to that member of Kent Constabulary that it was my van and, no, I wasn’t stealing it. That incident was enough to convince me to fix the ignition properly.

The other failure was one Boxing Day when I had gone out to find an open shop and the nearside half shaft failed part way round my errand. That was fixed by a Polish guy I knew who did it for £10 including a second hand half shaft. Oh, the days of cheap motoring!

The Moggie served me well as some of my bar work got converted to disco work and, through that, I had a brief spell as a drummer in a pub rock band (they were sacking their drummer and needed to repossess the drum kit that he had secreted in his shed. My van was the ideal get away vehicle, but having the drum kit back still left them short of a drummer. I filled in that night as best as I could and kept the drum stool warm for about a month until a proper drummer was found).

As will be told in episode 12 of this series, the van was eventually swapped by a really good example of the Ford Mk2 375 lowline Consul. Read that story in a few days time.

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