Classic Car Restoration


Morris Minor Restoration


One of my favourite classics is the modest but charming Morris Minor. For several years I ran my own small classic car restoration business and restored my own vehicles in addition to those of customers. The project below was my own 1958 Morris Minor that I ran for 11 years as my own regular transport and sold for more than 10 times the price I paid for it in the late 1980s. As a ‘running restoration’ the car was not taken off the road so no ‘bare-metal re-spray’; just a practical and functional job.


By the way, if paint has stayed on and kept the rust at bay for 20 years or more, it’s likely to be sound and many ‘bare-metal’ jobs end up worse than an over-sprayed factory finish. 








Above 1: The first stage was to assess the derelict state of the vehicle. It was in a sorry state!



Above 2: A spare engine from a scrap yard was fitted while I rebuilt the old engine and the body was gradually repaired. A second-hand bonnet, front panel and front wings were fitted. Poor chrome was replaced with other second hand items. Rust in the floor and elsewhere was repaired. I also lowered the suspension and fitted a higher ratio differential.  



Above 3: I applied 2 coats of primer-sealer and 3 coats of dove-grey cellulose, rubbing down with very fine wet and dry paper between each coat. The wheels were painted gloss black, the underside, engine compartment and boot interior were painted with black Hammerite.



Above 4. I rebuilt the engine with mostly new internal parts in an 1100cc block. I up-rated it with a mildly ‘de-beaked’ cylinder head to improve the air-flow, a mild hi-lift cam-shaft and double valve springs. A stronger timing chain tensioner and a rebuilt distributor were added. The SU carburettor (1100) was left standard as was the exhaust. The end result was better fuel economy, better acceleration and a higher top speed. The re-built engine was fitted along with a stronger clutch and the old air-filter housing was replaced with one that would take the better flowing cone filters and allowed extension blocks both sides of the carburettor to cool and speed airflow further.  New HT systems and hoses completed the engine bay. 



Above 5: Inside, the floor was painted with Hammerite. New carpets and a new windscreen rubber were fitted. The painted dashboard was left with its characterful old patina. A better heater from a more modern mini and proper air pipes to the de-mister vents were added and gone were the days of ice on the inside in the winter.



Above 6: Other details included re-painted metal number-plates, a chrome lockable fuel cap, chrome tail-pipe and newer indicators (the old semaphore trafficators still worked but were often not noticed). Over-riders were left off the bumpers because new or re-chromed ones were too expensive; aesthetically I prefer the cleaner lines too.