SOLD for £12,022
“Unequalled performance with exceptional body space.” Morris sales brochure, 1935
As it turned out, at the time the Morris Eight didn’t actually set the world alight from a performance perspective but as Autocar observed, this was “not of paramount importance”. This was all about mobility for the masses with good reliability, comfort and equipment at an affordable price; £118 for the base model saloon and just a couple of quid more for the four seat Tourer. Going toe to toe with Ford’s admittedly slightly cheaper Model Y it acquitted itself very well, scoring points over its Blue Oval rival with features such as eight inch Lockheed hydraulic brakes, Bishop Cam steering, electric as opposed to vacuum powered wipers and a particularly well-stocked dashboard sporting gauges for speed, oil pressure, electrical charge rate and fuel level.
Launched in 1934 to replace the Morris Minor, the Eight ran through three Series, (One, Two and E) before finally being succeeded in 1948 by err, the Morris Minor. The 918cc side-valve ‘UB’ engine’s eight old school ‘RAC’ horses equated to 23.5 modern versions for the first two Series’ before Morris really unlocked the stable doors releasing another 5 for the E Series with the ‘USHM’ version of the engine which boasted a better cylinder head and counter balanced crankshaft running in shell-type bearings. They also added another gear to the ‘box to take the total to four, with synchromesh on the top three. The Morris Eight was cutting edge at the time so these days one is pleasantly surprised to find such modern features as coil ignition, an electric fuel pump and hydraulic dampers on a pre-second world war vehicle.
The strong body constructed from pressed steel was really a semi-monocoque and once mated to a separate box section chassis which had much in common with that of the MG Y Type, the Eight was admirably rigid even in open Tourer configuration. Though offering the family man the chance to cling onto his open top sports car aspirations, practicalities dictated that Tourers accounted for less than 15% of Series 1 production, making them a rare enough machine today.
This particular example of Morris' venerable tourer was first registered in Southampton on September 25th 1937 and the log book shows just eight subsequent owners from new.
An utterly charming car throughout, BCR 87 is best described as being in very good useable condition, with all the 'important bits' in excellent fettle. As the picture gallery shows, she's not perfect in every single area, but then any cosmetic blemishes and imperfections are reflected in the reserve - and we at Berlinetta can't think of many older cars that would be easier or more satisfying to smarten up over time.
In 2012 and whilst in the care of owner number seven the car enjoyed an extensive renovation which included the fitting of the more desirable E Series engine and gearbox. This is a great improvement on the original - let's not forget that those extra 5 horses equate to a 20% increase in power (not to be whinnied at) - whilst the 4 speed gearbox offers distinctly more sophistication than the original 3 speed stirrer. At the same time the owner took the opportunity to make the now almost standard upgrade to the notoriously feeble 6 volt electrics, installing a more robust 12 volt system. Receipts for this work come with the car, along with proof of additional expenditure on the brakes, indicators, wiper motor and fuel pump amongst other items.
Further paperwork includes several MOTs dating back to 2006, and whilst these don't contradict the current mileage showing of 3,205 we can't help but think it somewhat unlikely that this would be the total covered in the last 83 years! The car does however come with two sets of keys and the original owner's manual.
Whatever the mileage, years of careful care and attention coupled with the above upgrades have resulted in a car that now drives extremely well. A detailed picture in the photo gallery shows all the gauges working and a healthy oil pressure of nigh on 80psi alongside evidence of a correctly charging electrical system. Whilst this is one car we've not driven ourselves (for Covid-19 related reasons), the owner tells us that all the mechanicals are in rude health. BCR 87 starts on the first twist of the key without smoke or drama and settles into an even and rattle free idle. The E Engine pulls cleanly through each of the four gears on offer, the synchromeshed gearbox offering smooth and graunch-free changes. The suspension, whilst of course 'vintage' in feel, does a good job of isolating the body from the worse that modern roads can throw at it, and the brakes and steering inspire immediate and plentiful confidence. In summation, this example performs far better on the road than the asking price might suggest, being a true 'jump in and enjoy' proposition. Even the often temperamental semaphore indicators are both fully operational.
As ever, we have tried to show potential cosmetic areas for improvement as clearly as the plus points in the gallery, and there are of course areas such as the front bumper that would benefit from a spruce up alongside other signs of patina as you might expect for a car of this vintage. The soft top, whilst perfectly useable would benefit from some attention in the not too distant future and whilst the previously missing side panels have now been found they will need a bit of TLC to bring back to full health.
On the plus side the tonneau cover is in very good condition and the interior is really the highlight of the vehicle, the full leather throughout being in superb condition, as are the new matching carpets.
The car is located in Fareham area and the current owner will be more than pleased to show it to prospective buyers by appointment, whilst respecting the correct social distancing measures of course.