Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Major Minor

On our way down to Bigbury and Burgh Island on Sunday, in the glorious county of Devon, we came across a row of cars and vans incongruously parked in a field. " Hare coursing" I said immediately, but on drawing nearer we saw figures in the wide landscape hoovering the soil with metal detectors. But on the way back, (after malty Pilchard Bitter and cold Sauvignon on the island), all the vehicles had gone except this lonely Morris Minor. We drove slowly by, and of course two miles further on I said "I really should have photographed that Morris in the field". A turn at a crossroads, a drive back up the winding narrow South Hams lane, a very uncoordinated vault over a farm gate, and here it is.

21 comments:

TIW said...

Glorious. It should have a sunroof with a retired tank commander poking it out of it, scanning the landscape with field glasses.

Peter Ashley said...

Oh yes. Rommel-style with goggles on his head.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Ah, the South Hams, marvellous. I remember once rounding a bend somewhere near Kingsbridge to find an old bloke standing right in the middle of the narrow road. He didn't move and we had to negotiate our way between him and the steep roadside bank. He'd obviously been there 70 years, man and boy, and weren't going to move for the likes of us.

Peter Ashley said...

Funny you should say that Phil. Earlier on this Sunday we wandered down a lane on Dartmoor and met an old chap called Mick out walking his black labrador. He looked remarkably like David Hockney. The man that is, not the dog.

Ron Combo said...

Nice rear lamp cluster. Late model?

Jon Dudley said...

This great shot makes a reassuring change from the acres of rusting and decaying Chevs and Pontiacs I've been eyeing in the States. Not only is the Minor not rusting it looks to be in use and in pretty good nick too. There's so much that's distinctive about a Minor, like the exhaust note - you could always tell one coming before you saw it - a sort of hollow 'whoooarumm' noise. Must go I think I can hear one coming now!

Bucks Retronaut said...

Yes Jon,
A suitable understated British riposte to that Cadillac Ranch "installation"thingy that the Colonials have in Amarillo,Texas,and Bruce Springsteen sang about in 1980 on his album "The River".
Perhaps we could find a suitable singer too.(My money would be on Ray Davies!).

Peter Ashley said...

You're right Ron. Late model, 'G' reg. And still with one of those ropey stick-on rear window demisters.

Jon, you're so right about the exhaust note. The other incredibly distinctive engine noise was on Commer trucks, heard two miles away.

Bucks:
Is that Cadillac installation the one with a row of them half buried at an angle in the sand?

Bucks Retronaut said...

That's the one Peter.
Apparently the angle at which they are set at,is supposed to be the same as that of the pyramids in Egypt.....
Not a lot of people kno...(Oh,do shut up [Ed])!!

Bucks Retronaut said...

And another thing.....re:Minor exhausts......When the present Mrs Bucks was a mere slip of a thing,she and her Traveller were drafted in by the Mother- in -Law (you didn.t say "No" )to help out logistically with Meals on Wheels.
It soon became apparent that she could give the Oldsters early warning of feeding-time,by letting the motor over -run,switching off and then on quickly and flooring the loud pedal.
If the resultant backfire didn't do for the punters ,the grub soon would.
Wot a larf !

DC said...

What took you to Burgh Island? Happy memories of a long weekend there, dressed to the nines.

Peter Ashley said...

DC: After reading bits of T.S.Eliot's Little Gidding to a lady at her kitchen table in West Buckland (don't ask) I looked at the map and saw that Burgh Island was near. Well, not that near, as we had to go back across the River Avon at Aveton Gifford. I love it on Burgh Island, and indeed want to follow in your footsteps and swan around in the ever exclusive hotel, big gin and tonic in hand.

Volie2 said...

When my wife passed her driving test in 1966, we had an early, grey Morris Minor - you know, the one with a split front windscreen and a retractable top. It was our first car. We had a celebratory trip to Matlock Bath and petrol cost 4/6d a gallon - that's old, 'real' money, of course. Two or three years later we changed the car for another Moris Minor, a black one very similar to the one in the photograph. We went miles in it with the 'kids' in the back. Very, very happy times! Thanks for 'jogging' the memory with your photograph.

TIW said...

Didn't the Minor take some styling cues from the P38 Lightning? Or is that a half-remembered tale some bloke down the pub told me?

Jon Dudley said...

Dunno Tenner, but I do know that it was designed to originally take a flat 4 engine just like a VW Beetle to which it bears a distinct comparison of purpose. Sorry Mr A., but your blogs stimulate the anorak in all of us!

Martin H. said...

You're right, Jon, but it was not quite like the Beetle, as that has an air-cooled (as opposed to water) flat 4. It also has a very distinctive engine note!
Originally the Minor was going to be called the Mosquito. Lord Nuffield was not impressed with the prototype, describing it as a "poached egg".
My first car was a Minor Traveller - surely amongst the most Unmitigatedly English of vehicles. More wooden cars!

Jon Dudley said...

Absolutely Martin...and the engine was at the opposite end too. What I meant was that the Minor was a sort of peoples car which was driven by all classes much like the Beetle and whilst it didn't achieve the longevity of manufacture or numbers sold, thanks to the affection in which it's held, survival rates are high. The half-timbered Traveller which used wood as a working part of its construction was a wonderful anachronism. The Mini version which was to follow used Ash as a cosmetic adornment only I believe. I'll add my vote too for the Traveller as England's most unmitigated car...although in the 'specialist' class the Morgan three wheeler must have a good chance with the Reliant tricycle a close runner-up.

Peter Ashley said...

Blimey lads. I was only going to add that the Unmitigated Traveller's frame was made of ash. (The wood that is). But you've got there first.

Martin H. said...

Ash it certainly was, Peter - I remember carefully carving a replacement section for my example!
It's a great point you make about "peoples' cars", Jon. I suppose one could add to the list the Citroen 2cv, the Saab 96 and the original Fiat 500 Topolino. I can't help noticing that they all have friendly, rounded, beetle like shapes - coincidence, do you suppose?
Incidentally, I'm sure I heard somewhere that Morgan (more wood!) are going to put a version of the V-twin three wheeler back into production. Start saving!

Bucks Retronaut said...

I also heard that one of the reasons why production of the Traveller was ceased prematurely was because of the increased difficulty in sourcing suitable supplies of ash.Apparently the timber used to be salvaged from old Dutch windmills,and this finite supply was becoming "exhausted".
Which almost gets us back to where we started.
And another thing.....I have a 1971 Saab 96 and was quite surprised when I first got it at the amount of original spec wood in it....Boot floorboards, seat supports and so on.Hope there's enough left for your Morgan,Martin.

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