Morris Minor Power, 1957

Jan 12, caller bemoaned power in 950 cc Morris Minor. Caller should first check ignition timing, which retards as the breaker points wear. Replace points with solid state system like Luminition. Check SU carbs with simple test pin lift test.

The same ‘A’ series BMC block became 1100 and then 1250 cc in the A-H Sprite so either should drop right in. Replace powertrain with eng and trans from those before investing in the 950 engine.

Somehow I doubt that putting the incorrect engine in a '57 morris was the answer they were looking for. (-;

These cars were underpowered even for the late 1950’s. The V-W Beetle wasn’t any better. The best one could do is to keep the engine in good tune. However, I thought these underpowered cars were fun to drive at the time, and I was a teenager. One had to use the gears to maximum advantage to stay with traffic. In my opinion, the Morris Minor handled better than the VW Beetle under most conditions. The Morris 850 (and the Austin 850–same car except for the name) that came along about 1960 was even more fun to drive. The engine in the Morris 850 was even smaller (about 850 cc), but this car was lighter than the Morris Minor.

If you want an under-powered car, try my wife’s '83 240D (about 70 HP in a 3500 pound car). My 500 pound motorcycle has almost the same power. You can drag race other people without them even noticing. It’s fun to drive, up to about 70 mph, but merging into traffic can be interesting. It was sold in the U.S. during the 55 mph speed limit fiasco.

I think a diesel engine car of this period really is a good fit with my personality–we both make a big stink and a lot of noise and not move very fast. A very good friend had a 1977 Mercedes Benz 240D. I really liked the firm ride. I took a couple long trips with him and it was one of the most comfortable cars I had ever ridden in. The most underpowered vehicle that I ever owned was a 1950 Chevrolet 3800 one ton pick-up truck. I doubt that it would ever hit 55 miles per hour. The ride was really rough and the seat had less padding than the seats on a school bus. In first gear (it was a 4 speed transmission), I stretched wire fence so tight that you could play tunes on the fence. This was a real work truck.

I drive a '82 300D (just a tad more power) and I’m taking a little trip from CO to GA to VA to CO (a good 5000 miles) in about a week. Good road trip cars, unlikely to win many drag races.

I agree with mortonsr and disagree with craig58. The 1275 cc engine from a later (roughly 1967 to 1973) MG Midget or Austin Healey Sprite would have around 65 horsepower, would fit exactly, and would look the same. If you wanted to “go crazy” you could order a supercharger from Moss Motors (a brake upgrade might then be called for). You could hang on to the old 948 cc engine in case someone wanted to go back to the original some day. And you could probably find a rusty, running, Midget and do the swap in a weekend - the only trick might be the need for a thicker plate between the transmission and the engine to allow room for the MG clutch.

It’s either correct or it isn’t. I wouldn’t hack a good '57 morris, or anything else.

The three engines in this series (948 cc, 1100 cc and 1275 cc) are the same externally. Therefore, switching engines doesn’t require changes to the rest of the car. I once had a bugeye Sprite with an 1100 engine instead of the original 948. If the car is otherwise in good condition, I would advise keeping and storing the 948. That way, it would be easy for a collector to return the car to its original configuration.

Agree totaly with the Midget / Sprite engine and tranny - but don’t forget to upgrade your brakes. Those unservoed front drums won’t stop you with this engine upgrade.

Disc brake, servo & pedalbox conversion kits are readily available in UK - this is a very common conversion. Brakes on the Moggie were never great and the chassis mounted master cylinder is always a bear to work on. You can leave it in place with blanking caps if you decide to reset the car back to factory spec. Not sure why you’d want to though.

There is no real weight change in this conversion so the standard springing should be okay - You may want to ditch the lever arm shocks though and replace with a telescopic shock kit to handle the increased chuckability.

Then of course a set of Minilites would finish it pretty good…

Mick Peeling is pretty famous for this stuff:

Google the Morris Minor owners club in UK, they have bags of info on this type of work.

The Morris Minor’s drive train incorporated the transmission into the oil pan (sump), and the use of engines from rear wheel drives such as Sprites may not be possible. Later, 1100 and 1300 engines were used for this family of cars, i.e., Austin America, Wolseley,Riley, MG, and Morris but successive models were greatly re-engineered re shift mechanics, etc, and may preclude updating to them easily. I have owned early AH Sprites and driven several of the 1100 and 1300 BLMC FWDs and the power was at least adequate. I would agree with Tom and Ray. If a mechanic can be found who is familiar with the car and parts are available, AND the price is not prohibitive, overhauling the engine would be advisible.

Absolutely, I just listened to the podcast of the show and the owner did not sound like he was inclined to hack the car. T & R are exactly correct, he needs to restore the engine to recover the original power. This car sounds like it is way down on power, not surprising with an un-restored 1957 engine. Either that or he should just sell it to someone who is willing to preserve the car correctly.

Wrong ‘A’ block and wrong car Rod.

This is the original ‘A’ block as fitted to the Morris Minor and Austin A35, the ‘A’ block fitted to the Frogeye, Midget and Sprite is mechanically identical, though with a lot more oomph.

You’re thinking of the later transverse ‘A’ block used in the original Mini and 1100 / 1300 series cars.

Agree, don’t hack a 50 year old car - preserve it and the value will go up not down. I used to have the station wagon variety with wood and all that back in the UK. Nice old car. Look after it.


In 1964 I had to drive UP steepish hills in the south of England in reverse in my morris minor… why should it be different now?

How utterly provencial of me to think that the British auto enthusiasts wouldn’t be as industrious as us Yankees. And the Minors seem a much more desireable restoration than a Trans-maro.

Dropping in a spridget mill is small beans Rod.

I once drove a Moggie equipped with a Lotus Twin Cam and ZF box, went like a bat out of hell. The car had been properly sorted in the handling department and was very chuckable.

I threw it round Snetterton race track for an hour, an absolutely hilarious drive.

That brought back memories. My first car was a 1960 Morris in 1965. It was a piece of junk (because of the abuse from the previous owner). It was a fun and comfortable car though and my heart flutters a little every time I see one somewhere. Painted it yellow. After I hit my budget on repairs, sold it still needing trans work, brake work, carb work, and who knows what else.

That was me pushing it down the street in my kitchen whites on the way to work, popping the clutch trying to get it to start again. We took it to the drive in once and ended up pushing it up and down the embankments trying to start it again. I think the missing carb parts might have been the problem. Oh to be young and foolish again.

When Consumer Reports tested the Morris Minor along with other foreign cars back in the 1950’s, they reported the time it took to go from 0 to 50 miles per hour. For American cars, CR tested the time it took to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour. This seems like a double standard, but I guess Consumer Reports didn’t have all the time in the world to get an issue out. At any rate, these cars didn’t have the greatest acceleration even for the 1950’s. I don’t think that even a larger BMC block will do a lot to make the Morris Minor an Interstate vehicle.