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Or, how Morris Minors found their way onto the WWW
as published in Minor Monthly magazine.
by Richard Hobbis
Late in 1994, I became an internet junkie. I had been playing and working with computers for over ten years by then so the internet was a breath of fresh air into an admittedly 'nerdy' career. There is just so much to see on the internet that I found that I could spend all night just 'surfing', going from place to place, topic to topic at just the click of a mouse button. I can see why some marriages have failed because of the net, it is an addiction and I was hooked.At the end of every month my Internet Service Provider (ISP) would tell me just how bad my addiction had become. I was spending, on average, over 100 hours online every month. Just as well local calls in New Zealand are free, otherwise it could have become a very expensive habit!
That was nearly 10 years ago and not much has changed since. Well, not with the addiction anyway. Back then if you were to enter the words "Morris Minor" into one of the internet search engines you would have been presented with maybe a dozen pages on the World Wide Web that referred to our favourite little car. And most of those would have been references to probably the first ever Morris Minor website, 'Deb's UK Morris Minor Homepage'. As well as a few photos and some information on her own car, Deb's page had a guestbook which was in effect a list of all the people that had seen the site and wanted to leave a comment. There were names from all over the world: UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Africa to name a few.
For some strange reason, I found Deb's page a bit of a relief. Up until that time I had figured that Morris Minors were such unassuming and simple little cars that only grandmothers, poor students and myself drove them. I used to be a poor student and drove my Minor to school from the day I got my licence at the age of 16. For some reason I never quite managed to save up enough money for an Escort or a Cortina so the Minor followed me into my working years. To find out that 'normal' people all around the world drove Minors out of choice was like being forgiven for my sins.
Today the situation on the internet is very different. A typical search engine such as AltaVista will return thousands of 'hits' including everything from booksellers and parts suppliers to Minor Monthly's own website and personal homepages. At last it looks like it's cool to have your own Morris Minor webpage. A few pics of your pride and joy, a guestbook, and some links to other Minor websites seems to be the order of the day. And who am I to ignore public opinion?
My own Minor webpage first saw the light of the web back in 1995, but I wanted it to be more than a static 'here's me, and here's my car' page. It started out as a picture gallery of modified Minors in New Zealand, using the title 'Modified Minors Down Under' - a kind of 'here's lots of other people's cars' page. I had such a large collection of photos of modified Minors that I knew I could keep it going for quite a while, and anyway, someone else would do standard Minors. After a year or so no one else had done a site for standard Minors, so I revamped mine to become 'Minor Mania!', a site that provides pictures, technical specifications, modifying and restoration tips and contact information for clubs and specialists.
Of course, there are other websites devoted to the Morris Minor. Most sites tend to be personal pages where the proud owner of a Minor displays photos and specifications of their pride and joy to the world. A good example of this is 'Ursula - A Modernised Morris Minor'. The owner obviously loves her car and wants the world to know it! Another good page is 'Morris Minor and more' which follows the restoration of the author's van as well as providing other interesting information and links. The Morris Minor Owners Club has one of the best Minor sites on the net today. It is packed with club news, information and articles from the club magazine, technical tips, events and more. You can even join the club online. Morris Minor specialists have created websites to help advertise their services to a wider audience. The internet is perfectly suited to companies who can provide 'mail-order' type services. Well known companies in the UK such as the Morris Minor Centre (Birmingham), Morris Minor Centre (Bath), and CS Autoclassics all have their own websites.
Minor Monthly has also had it's own website for some time. It started soon after the first issue and was updated every month with feature articles and pictures from each issue. Publishing pressures caused a halt to site updates for a while but now it's back online (along with Poundbury Publishing's other magazines such as 'Dorset' and 'Point to Point'). With a new look and a new commitment to remaining up to date Minor Monthly online should prove to be very popular. There are dozens of other websites devoted to the Minor and new ones appear all the time - and sometimes they disappear.
And therein lies a warning to those wanting to make their own webpage. Do it by all means, the more the merrier, but remember that a good website with great content can be a complete waste of time if there is no room or time for improvement. In a way the world wide web is like a huge collection of books, great reading, but you are unlikely to read a particular book again. But what if the author was constantly rewriting the book, just after you had finished it? You'd have to read it again just to see if the butler still did it. For instance, I probably spend about 5 hours a week working on new ideas for Minor Mania!. The long standing 'Deb's UK Morris Minor Homepage' is still there but it hasn't been updated for at least 3 years. Another old site is 'The Morris Minor Page'. Nicely presented and devoted to original Minors, including history, specifications and model details, but it never quite lived up to its potential due to lack of time on the author's part. Other sites have just vanished.
So how do you find all those great Morris Minor websites if you don't know or can't remember that long complicated address? Well, one of the simplest ways is to use the Yahoo! website. Yahoo! has put websites into various categories. Simply click on the links for your topic of interest and eventually you will be presented with a list of relevant sites to browse through. Other websites like AltaVista or InfoSeek allow you to enter a list of key words that you are interested in and it will produce a list of sites that it thinks match your criteria. Try entering "morris minor" (including the quotes) to ensure that the sites listed have the two words together, otherwise you may end up finding a site about Minor League baseball, written by David Morris, for instance.
The internet is a huge place, and it's constantly changing. New websites appear every day on any topic you care to imagine. Yes, it's daunting, and yes there probably is a website that teaches you how to make a bomb, but I have yet to find it. What I like about the internet is that there are people behind every web page. Every Morris Minor website out there has been made by someone who loves their car. It's so easy to communicate with people with the same interest as you no matter where in the world they are. Through the internet I have come in contact with hundreds of like-minded people. I have learned more about the Minor, and I have made friends. If I ever find myself driving through their home town one day I know I'll have a place to stay.
The internet can be a very social addiction. Use it. Enjoy it.