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A '50s vintage promotional film

… from British Motor Corporation. The main bearings actually made it to 25k miles without self-destructing!


“They just don’t make 'em like they used to.”

I liked the Isetta hiding behind the cars when they were parking.

Other than decent fuel economy, this clip proves nothing!

I worked for a utility company as a gas inspector the summer of 1959, and had a Morris Minor (similar car) assigned to me.

Over the summer just by driving on 60 mph freeways I burned out the valves and other drivers just burned out the engines over a year of use!

The company got rid of all of them and switched to …Nash Ramblers with the stove bolt 6 engines and lived happily for the next 3 years of use!

I always liked the looks of the Morris Minor, especially the ‘woody’, but with big, big bucks resto-mod with a Ford 4 cylinder.

In the early 60s Mercury Comets ran 100,000 ,miles at an average speed of 100 mph.

The only things I liked about that car were the nice smelling and comfortable leather bucket seats.

When Tom McCahill bought a Jeep in the fifties he found the standard seats awful and quickly replaced them with the buckets seats of a wrecked Morris Minor!

Mpg figures for British cars often seem higher than they actually are. The volume of a British gallon is more than an American gallon.

My how suspensions have evolved for the better since then. Those cars were bouncing like kids in a bounce house. And on the interior the shift lever on the right side of the steering wheel can be seen vibrating.

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I hear that most replaced their Morris engines with Datsun engines. Now if I would have known that, I could have put a Datsun engine in it and only had the brakes, transmission, and electrical to worry about.

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Oh boy I just watched it and man what a load of C as in C. Talk about low expectations yielding bad engineering. 25K? They get a prize for that and a raise too probably? It wa fun though watching those Morris’. Mine never got going that fast (a mile a minute you say, like 60 mph), cause I had to push mine most of the time. I’m glad these boys can go home anyway and tell their wives what great engineers they are. Every Morris comes with a tool kit and a spare set of bearings? Made that up.

What are the bearings talked about in the film? Wheel bearings? Or something in the engine? If in the engine, what part of the engine and what function?

EDIT: Ah, just looked up what engine bearings are and see there are more than one set in an engine.

The main bearings on the crankshaft. My Buick bearings were still good at 530,000 miles as a comparison.

Was that a 1954 Buick?

Closest I came to 54 was a 60 Morris and a 59 Pontiac but the Pontiac was still going strong at 124,000 before it got sold. I don’t know what the piece of junk Morris had. Start at the carb and work down and never got as far as the bearings.

I had a 1970 Austin America with a couple of burned valves by 7000 miles. We pulled the head and replaced it with a junk yard head. I had the new(er) head shaved and new valves and springs installed. A friend described this at a cocktail party a few years later and a Brit said that a top end job was SOP on BL cars at 5000 miles because this problem was so frequent. Still, the car was really fun to drive.

I don’t know how many miles were on it by the time that it self-destructed, but my brother’s neighbor had one of these bombs sitting in his driveway for about 20 years. All that changed over the years was that all of the fluid from its suspension leaked out and the tires all went flat, so for the last 10 years or so that it sat there, that rusting hulk was sitting directly on the pavement.

Talk about lowering property values!

I remember the late 1950s when the Morris Minor became popular my area. Several of our family’s friends bought them as second cars. Later, the Morris 850 and the identical Austin 850 came along. The dealer where my Dad did business had the BMC line as well as the DeSoto/Plymouth line. The dealer thought the Morris 850 would be the perfect car for me as a college student. I drove his demonstrator and it was really fun to drive. However, the perfect vehicle for me was a Flxible body on a GM chassis powered by a Buick straight 8 engine (in other words, I rode the bus. I didn’t have the money for a car). I did date a girl in college whose father bought two Morris 850s. The family also had a Chevrolet station wagon. The idea was that they would save money using the 850s around town and use the Chevrolet wagon on the highway. Even then, I questioned the financial logic of this decision.

Sometime around 1960, the woman who ran the local youth center owned one.
One night, some teenage boys decided to prank the woman by picking up her Morris Minor, and placing it on the sidewalk. According to my brother it only took 6 of them to pick it up.

With cheap gas, the fuel savings were minimal, but the repair and maintenance costs were more frequent and always more expensive than on a typical basic American car.

My boss in 1960 bought his wife a Morris Oxford station wagon with that neat leather upholstery. The clutch wore out fast and the engine had to come out to replace it. The electrical system (Lucas) was dismal, and after only 2 years he traded the Morris for a Ford Falcon, not a great car, but it was much more reliable and easy to service. His wife liked smaller cars, and never liked the Buick she inherited.

Thinking back to the 1960 era, a person could buy a Rambler American with overdrive and have gasoline expenses not much less than the Morris Minor. The Rambler, with reasonable maintenance was good for 100,000 miles.
The recession, which began in 1957 and lasted through the early 1960s, made the Morris Minor and 850s, the Renault, Simca, Ford Anglica, Hillman Minx and the VW Beetle attractive to many buyers back then. I think the overall operating expenses of a Ford or Chevrolet were not much higher.