England to America: A well-traveled Morris Minor

Farm Forum

Following an enjoyable trip to England in the mid-1990s, Skip Lane and his wife knew they’d return for more visits. Once back home in Melbourne, Fla., the Lanes realized that instead of renting a car on their next visit it might be preferable to purchase a used vehicle in England.

With that decision made, Lane contacted a British friend, Ian Swindells, and asked him to be alert for a likely vacation car. Not much time had passed when Swindells informed Lane of a 1967 Morris Minor Traveller, a British economy car, at a dealership in Malvern. On the word of his trusted friend, Lane purchased the wood-trimmed car sight-unseen in 1998.

The willow green paint is a beautiful contrast to the wooden portion of the vehicle. A pair of barn doors at the rear provides access to the cargo area of the vehicle. The Lanes enjoyed the car on every visit they made to Great Britain.

Various models of Morris Minors were manufactured from 1948 to 1971. A total of 1,620,000 were produced to meet the needs of ordinary motorists. The 14-inch wheels are mounted on an 86-inch wheelbase, providing a comfortable, if not luxurious, ride. A doorless glove box is at each end of the dashboard. The 95-mph speedometer is centrally located in the dash.

“I’m sure it will go that fast,” Lane says with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Power produced by the 67-cubic-inch, four-cylinder overhead valve engine is delivered to the drive wheels via a floor-mounted four-speed manual transmission.

The diminutive engine is kept lubricated by 5.5 pints of oil, plus another pint for the filter. The cooling system holds 8.75 pints, plus another pint for the heater. Lane reports that his 1967 Morris Minor is equipped with two defrosters and one heater which, he says, are somewhat less than efficient.

A single S.U. carburetor feeds fuel to the engine from a 6.5-gallon gasoline tank. Stopping chores are achieved by way of the four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. The rack-and-pinion steering is responsive to the slightest turn of the three-spoke banjo-style steering wheel.

“It handles pretty well,” Lane confirms. “It’s pretty economical. It gets about 40 to 45 miles per gallon.”

With the steering wheel on the right side, it took awhile for Lane to become familiar with the arrangement. The Morris Minor is not equipped with turn signals, or backup lights, but does have a pull strap on both doors that are to be used to tug the door closed.

An unusual extra on the Traveller is an outside visor over the windshield. Such an accessory can prove very useful in the southern climes of Florida.

In the autumn of 2011, Lane had his Morris Minor shipped to the U.S. from South Hampton to Jacksonville, Fla. Tracing the ship’s passage he saw that before arriving in the U.S. his 1967 Traveller had first visited ports in Ireland, Mexico and New Orleans.

On the day Lane was instructed to appear at the port to take possession of his well-traveled Minor Traveller he went expecting a day-long exercise in government red tape. A pleasant surprise awaited him. He arrived at the customs office at 9:30 a.m. And after all the paperwork was completed he — and his car — were home by 2 p.m.

Lane has replaced a few small pieces of the wood body. He has also fabricated a roof rack on which he carries a vintage surf board, which is strictly a cosmetic accessory.

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