Classics World’s Paul Bussey test drives and reviews the 1968 Morris Minor Traveller…
The Morris Minor is one of those classics that simply oozes an aura of Britishness. It’s another iconic model from that genius Alec Issigonis. The original prototype of 1943 was known as the Mosquito and subsequent development saw that evolve into the hugely successful Morris Minor which made its debut at the Earls Court motor show in 1948. That development by Issigonis included the bodywork, which was changed to suit – notably it was widened by four inches producing the unmistakable shape which changed very little over the car’s long production run of 23 years. The estate version of the Morris Minor, which was available from 1952 complete with a split front windscreen, was called the Traveller – an estate version of the larger Oxford bore the same name, as would the later Morris version of the Mini estate.
The Minor Traveller model featured structural external ash wood framing to the rear of the bodywork, which was varnished for protection and made the car instantly recognisable. A variety of low-powered four-cylinder engines were used in the Morris Minor, culminating in the 1098cc A-Series. The Traveller was initially built at Cowley and then taken to the MG factory at Abingdon, to be fitted with the rear bodywork, which was built in Coventry. As with many estate cars of the period, the Traveller was a two-door estate, with twin rear opening doors.
Exterior & Interior
This Tried & Tested Morris Traveller was built in 1968 and is finished in Almond Green paintwork. Between 2003 and 2004 it underwent a major restoration, which saw the replacement of many body panels, including a rear wing, front wings, floorpans, crossmember, inner and outer sills, jacking points plus numerous other repair sections, new spring hangers, engine mountings, and wheel cylinders. In addition to this, the ash woodwork has been replaced on the offside and the rear. The culmination of all this restorative work has resulted in rock solid and rust-free bodywork with the Almond Green paintwork just showing the odd minor blemish.
Refurbishment to the Traveller’s interior featured new headlining, which is very marginally ‘pinched’ at the edges in a couple of places, but effectively is still as new. The seats have been re-upholstered in a pale green vinyl material, the door cards are all in very good order, as are the carpets. For music on the move there’s a Motorola push-button radio.
On the road
There’s no seat adjustment on the two front seats of the Traveller, as they tilt forward allowing access for the rear seat passengers. However, despite this, the position seems user friendly enough. The interior is more utility than luxury and to close the doors, simply pull a strap! This car was fitted with a Mr Grumpy’s disc brake conversion kit in 2016, which is Marina-based (costing £613 inc fitting) that incorporates servo assistance, ensuring it stops much better than a standard Minor. Eager to put this theory to the test, I brake hard. The result is a rather spongy feel to the brake pedal, but indeed its action is very progressive and the car pulls up well. This conversion would appear to be money well spent. Sensible upgrades are always well worth considering. I can also confirm that the heater is in full working order too! The 1098cc engine does have a certain eagerness and pulls strongly so you can soon be cruising along relatively effortlessly at 50-55mph. I did detect a slight wheel wobble at 55mph and later discovered that there are no balance weights fitted on the front offside wheel, which would account for that and is a quick fix. There’s also no getting away from that characteristic exhaust note reverberation, so inherent with the Morris Minor, another one of its certain charms!
A good example which has undergone extensive restorative work, complete with a photographic record of everything that’s been done, plus there’s a comprehensive history file, detailing costs and replacement parts fitted, which are many and varied. Though the engine bay is respectable enough, further cosmetic detailing would enhance its overall aesthetic appeal and is always time well spent. Being a tad picky, the steel wheels would also benefit from a fresh lick of paint, as there are a few chips here and there and this is a relatively quick and inexpensive cure.
Engine: 1098cc, 4-cyl
Top Speed: 75mph
0-60mph: 20.1 secs
Gearbox: 4-speed manual