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Variations on a Theme
There were three main model periods spanning nearly 25 years. The Series MM, produced between 1948 and 1952, was powered by the same sidevalve engine as seen in the pre-war Morris Eight.
The Series II gained the overhead valve engine of the Austin A30 in 1953 after the merger with Morris creating the British Motor Corporation, but still retained the flat-glass split windscreen of the previous model.
The Minor came of age in with the Minor 1000 when the new 948cc was fitted and eventually ending up with the 1098cc engine in 1962. This was the last significant upgrade to the Minor until it ceased production in 1972 (although in some countries it continued to be made until 1974 to use up stocks of parts)
Although all models have their enthusiasts, it would be reasonable to suggest that the Minor 1000s are the most popular, although the early sidevalve models have collector appeal. The 803cc-engined vehicles are probably the least popular because the Austin engine was not exactly a ball of fire and the gearbox fitted to this model was a little fragile. Many Series 2 cars have been fitted with transplanted 948cc engines and gearboxes over the years, to improve their performance and reliability.
At first glance, all Minors look much the same, the main differences being the position of the headlamps which were originally fitted low down in the radiator grille in the earliest 'low light' models. To comply with US regulations, headlamps were fitted in the guards from 1950 onwards (1949 for cars exported to USA). A curved one-piece windscreen replaced the two-piece flat version with the introduction of the 1000 in 1956, the rear edge of the bonnet changed as a result. At about this time, the mesh-type grille was replaced by a slatted type, the rear window was made larger and the instrument panel was redesigned.
The passenger models were two- and four-door saloons, a convertible and an estate called the Traveller, often referred to affectionately as the 'Woody'. Commercials included 5cwt vans (popular with the British GPO) and utility versions, as well as many specially bodied vehicles built by after-market body builders.
Today, the most sought after models are the Traveller and the Van which offer great practicality combined with unique styling, closely followed by the cute wind-in-your-hair Convertible.
In the UK, four-door saloons are a relatively rare sight, as are 948cc Minor 1000's. There is a very well established spares network in the UK now so finding the parts for your Minor restoration is, if not particularly cheap, very easily done - at least for the later models.