You dealt with a caller disatisfied with his Morris Minor. Your advice was spot on but I would add 2 comments: (1) that the US does not have a monopoly on hills - there are plenty of hills in England and (2) that the Morris Minor was famous for being a hill climber: even though it’s engine didn’t make it go fast, it had a reputation for excellent torque that suited it to hilly parts of the country. I remember it as a frequent topic of conversation when I was a teenager in the 70s, when there were plenty of these models still around and appreciated by people on low budgets
The Morris Minor was the same platform as the bug Eye Sprite. Instead of rebuilding the 948 motor the fellow should look for an 1100 or even a1275 and rebuild one of those. The rear plate on the 1275 may have changed one would have to research that. The Morris would be cool with the 1275. Easy on the clutch though you could snap an axle fairly easily in those early sprits.
Rick , Sealevel
I absolutely agree with Sealevel, as an expat who owner a classic car business for many years in Edinburgh ,Scotland we put many MG 1275cc units into Morris Minors. the best was into a Morris Minor Convertible, you can squeeze over 110HP out of a normally aspirated “A” series engine. There are turbo and supercharging optiions Available but that puts a lot of strain on the crank bearings. Also popular for MGs was the Datsun engine conversion with a 5 speed transmission. That however requires a bit more modification. The best source of information about these engines was written by David Visard “Tuning BL"S A series engine” . it’s the ultimate reference for these engines.
Good luck with your project and don’t forget to upgrade the braking system if you increase the power.
I once owned a 1960 Morris Minor 1000. It was no speed demon but it would climb hills if given enough time. I traded my year old Cushman Silver(Super)Eagle for it in the mid-60’s. I sold it a couple of years later without ever experiencing a single problem. I could fill it up and drive it all week. Those were the days.
I learned to drive in a 1963 Morris Minor 1000, in hilly Pittsburgh. It had already been driven across the country and back by my brothers–twice–when I inherited it. It was slow on hills but reliable. My only problem was that my high school friends would pick it up and move it during the school day and I had a mini-hunt when it was time to go home. I still miss it!
Listening to the show, having owned a small engined Brit car in the past (Triumph Herald) I’d suggest you get in touch with Octagon Motors - they currently have a couple of drop head Minors for sale and are knowledgable about old Brit cars -not htat far from my home town (PhillY0
350 Main Street
Felton, PA 17322
In years past, I have owned numerous A series engined cars over the years, MG Midgets, Sprites and Minis.
In all cases, each car would up with a homebuilt 1275 engine when the original wore out, which didn’t take very long - maybe 40K miles. Significant improvement in power, and a bolt-in replacement.
I had a '61 Morris Mini, refitted with a 1275cc Austin America engine. I put on dual SU carbs, racing pistons, and tuned exhaust. It ran like a scared jackrabbit. Nothing the fellow with the 948cc Morris could not do for not too much money, I think. All are available as bolt-ons except the pistons, which went in during one of the periodic rebuilds such cars need anyway. If you are doing a replacement anyway, put in the 5-main A+ block, they last a LOT longer.
I drive a Bugeye built 16 April 1960, 948 engine.
You’ll get five more horses by switching to two SU H2’s or one SU H4.
Another five can be added by attaching a flow through exhaust instead of the cast iron restrictor that is on the engine now.
Rush to ABEBooks and buy David Vizard’s ‘Tuning the A-Series Engine’, 3rd Edition. Its 518 pages of ways both expensive and inexpensive to upgrade your engine.
GET YOUR CLUB TO HELP YOU. They are your best resource
FYI: all calls on the show now are repeats from many years ago. Tom and Ray retired as of last October. So all this excellent advice won’t help the original caller, but may still be a bonus for others.
It seems like on a car like this, having two motors is worthwhile. One in the car, and one ready to go once the one in the car wears out.
Here’s my idea: Secure another used motor and rebuild it. Then swap it out with the existing motor, which you can then rebuild at your leisure. You’ll always have a motor in-waiting.
@GeorgeSanJose–great idea about having a spare motor around ready to go into the car. When our electric iron gave out, I bought an antique non-electric iron set at an auction. There are two irons and one handle. One iron is heating on the stove while a person uses the other iron which is already been heated. When that iron becomes too cool to do the job, it is placed on the stove and the handle is transferred to the other iron. Unfortunately, this plan to save money didn’t work–my wife sent my clothes to Goodwill and replaced them with perma-press that she doesn’t have to iron. I think having to keep a spare motor in waiting for a Morris Minor would probably lead one to trade for a different make that wouldn’t require keeping a spare motor handy.
Actually, I liked the Morris Minor. Back in the late 1950s, I thought the Morris Minor handled better than a VW bug except on ice and snow. As I remember, the Morris Minor had a torsion bar front suspension.
Like you said Western… it MAY help someone else…
I have a problem with the advice given in two cases.
First - with the advice to do a “top end” rebuild - Valves, rings, etc. I had a friend who was one of the original mechanics that came over from the old country for Volkswagen in the 50’s. We were discusing rebuilding the engine in my sailboat and I asked him about doing such a thing. He pointed out that then you would have an engine with a nice top end creating lots of good compression against worn bearings on the rods and crankshaft - and that “new” stress possibly causing a catastrophic failure of the worn bottom end that would be far more costly then if the entire engine had been completly rebuilt in the first place.
Second - consider THIS point that is often overlooked… especially if you go the route suggested above of installing a large displacement prime mover with considerably more umph!!! The REST of the car ALSO has 130K or so on it and is the suspension and brake system up to the task of more power??? Then add on top of that that because you have more power, your average speed is higher and you drive it more … well you just have to look at the BIG picture. Do you REALLY want to drive this a LOT in todays traffic with your wife and kids on board???.. after all… it ISN’T your Toyhonsan of the last 20 years that is miles ahead in safety that you are used to driving… Now don’t get me wrong… I own two 69 Porsches that I have driven on 2000 mile round trips… but it just begs for some consideration of what you are doing by increasing the power without looking at the rest of the picture. I like to make sure I can whoa before I add more go.
I put at 1275, bored out, with racing pistons and hot cam into my Bugeye Sprite. It went like hell !
Def’n of Cognitive Dissonance: A caller complains his Morris lacks power, doesn’t go fast enough. When asked why he bought a car with a small 35 hp engine, caller says he wants to slow down.
My only expereince with the Morris Minor was in 1959 when I had a summer job as a pipeline inspector and they gave me one as a company car. The leather opholstery smelled nice; but I had to go to the construction office once a week, a 70 mile drive on a superhighway, which proved to be the car’s undoing.
By the end of the summer the valves were burned out and the car used oil. It seems some bean counter had bought these cars to save money; although gas was only 35cents a gallon at that time, but the repair bills were astronomical. By the end of the year they were all gone and replaced with stripper Nash Ramblers, except for the managers, who got Pontiac Catalinas.
I guess in 1959 the VW Beetle import-to-America craze hadn’t yet started. Beetles would have probably been a better choice for a 70 mile highway commute if they had been available. A fleet of Morris’s to save money? When there are plenty of American made cars and gas is 35 cents? It never ceases to amaze me the ideas these corporations come up with. Good story though Docknick!
@GeorgeSanJose After the Beetle became popular the company later actually bought some for in-town use, and they worked well, since VW had several good dealerships in the area.
I’m giving some thought to purchasing a 67 VW Beetle. Or a 2001 Porsche Boxster. Guess what? Believe it or not, they are near about the same price!