This car is now sold, sorry.
“City Lights or Mountain Heights, here’s a Traveller that makes itself at home everywhere.” Morris Motors Limited Sales Brochure 1963
The District Nurses’ wheels of choice throughout the 1960s, the Morris Minor was everything from utilitarian workhorse to the swinging decade’s version of the Chelsea Tractor so beloved of today’s yummy mummies. A willing but simple and endlessly proven A Series engine, its associated gearbox and differential all in a unitary construction body suspended by space efficient torsion bars proved to be a recipe for huge sales success both home and abroad. The Traveller? – the same but even more so with its ‘rear seats up’ capacity for four plus the carrying capacity of “two ordinary saloons” according to the sales brochure of the time. Alternatively, “In two quick movements the rear seat folds flat, giving ample room for carrying anything from full camping equipment to loads of merchandise of every shape and size”.
The capabilities of the Minor Traveller did not go unnoticed by the powers that be in HMQ’s Armed Forces who needed just his sort of vehicle to move their ‘merchandise’ around just as much as those plying their trade in Civvy Street; we could tell you what that merchandise was but then we’d have to shoot you. It is understood that the MOD ordered somewhere between 1600 and 2000 Travellers and that the vast majority were for the Army. The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force reputedly took as few as fifty each with the total allocation for the Navy being (confusingly) black with red interiors, a colour combination that was only available by special order from the Cowley factory.
With military records being kept with, well, military precision, identifying ex MOD vehicles would, you might think, be straightforward and this is indeed the case with Army and RAF Travellers where virtually the whole service record of a vehicle can be traced. With Ex-Navy machines there is hardly any information available though some, such as the Minor on offer here, have a ‘Data Plate’ attached to the glove box lid giving the car’s Morris Chassis Number and its Navy registration number. Being secured by just four rivets, the cynical amongst you (though we are sure that the Berlinetta website is a cynic-free zone) might hypothesise that these plates might be somewhat “interchangeable”. It’s fortunate then that when this car was being re-painted, its stencilled Navy registration number was revealed below a more recent layer of paint on the dashboard top as can be seen in the photo gallery (please excuse the mobile phone picture which cut the first '1' off). This has now been supplemented by a plate on the dashboard. It should also be noted that the Chassis Number on the Navy Data Plate tallies with that on the Morris Chassis plate in the engine bay.
Decommissioned from the Royal Navy in 1975, the Minor was originally allocated a ‘P’ registration number, no doubt much to the delight of the first civilian owner who could parade around in an apparently brand new Minor despite the model having been out of production for some four years by then. The DVLA have since recognised the importance of registration dates tallying with a car’s date of manufacture and the Traveller now sports a correct 1970 ‘H’ plate.
Apparently cherished by all five of its post-services owners (we are sure the Royal Navy loved her too) the Minor is today a credit to them all. For example, one owner was insistent that only the most qualified experts should work on his pride and joy and regularly undertook the 360 mile round trip from Lincoln to Bath just for a check over and service at Charles Ware’s renowned Morris Minor Centre. Special mention should be made of the current owner who has lavished considerable time and money (his nerve failed him when considering totting up all the bills on file) on the Traveller over the past twelve odd years.
No ‘trailer queen’ as they say in the New World, the Minor has in the most recent past been used virtually every day for the owner’s commute and she displays the odd nick and knock with pride but is generally very smart. Known to Berlinetta for a number of years and residing a few hundred yards from our Midlands office, we can personally testify that she always turns heads and raises a smile – and not just from us either. With the owner’s recent retirement, usage has dropped off (the recently acquired Rover P6 obviously has nothing to do with it) and it is only due to this that the reluctant decision has been taken to pass her on to the next lucky owner who will hopefully continue the frequent but considerate use and maintenance she has enjoyed.
The black paintwork (not a colour that hides imperfections well) is generally very good with a nice depth and shine to it. Applied to what was obviously a well prepared base, there are no runs or ‘orange peel’ evident and the fact that the paint was applied some seven years ago and still looks so well is a testament to the quality of the work.
Under the paint, the body is very straight indeed and new front wings were fitted when the car was repainted. As mentioned there are one or two battle scars the most significant of which is a slight knock to the nearside rear wing which has cracked the paintwork as is evident in the picture gallery.
The structurally important wood that supports the Traveller’s rear panel work is very solid having been regularly stripped and re-varnished, with only some minor discolouration visible.
Inside the Morris, all is smart and more than presentable with the rear seats never having been used by current owner. One deviation from the car’s factory specification is the fitting of more modern purpose built front seats which give a little more support to the driver and their favoured passenger. These items do make the car so much more usable, in line with its recent history and yet don’t appear too offend the purists too much.
Above these comfortable perches the headlining is excellent and at the rear the boot space has been re-trimmed with correct rails etc. Unfortunately, too nice for the owner’s pair of Labradors…
Mechanically, providing daily service has meant that this Morris has been kept in tip top shape. This is evident from the extensive file of bills which includes one for the fitting of a replacement rebuilt 1098 engine a couple of years ago. Everything works and the Minor drives very sweetly indeed benefiting from the addition of a brake servo which gives the all drum setup a more user-friendly pedal pressure.
The underside of this rare Traveller is in similarly good order – have a look at the relevant shots in the photo gallery - and appears to be absolutely solid with new, correct profile floors recently installed and well protected. It is also refreshing to come across jacking points that appear to be potentially functional as opposed to merely decorative.
The thick history file is well stocked with old MOT certificates, tax discs and invoices detailing the care (and cash) that has been lavished on this cracker of a Minor.
As far as we know this Minor Traveller has never been totally restored but rather very well maintained over the years and any issues addressed on an ‘as required’ basis. The result is a delightful example that is good enough to use but not too good to risk doing just that. Very sensibly reserved in the current market, we are confident that this rare (it is thought that Ex-Royal Navy Travellers can be counted on the fingers of one hand) Morris Minor will be heading to a new home at the end of the auction.
Registration number: MFE 84H (was 17 RN 05)
Chassis Number: 1274738