"My dad had a sky-blue Marina estate. No doubt it went to the crusher years ago, but I still remember its registration – CNG 453T. It was a 1.3-litre series three model, built in 1979 and bought from Mann Egerton (remember them?) "
The Morris Minor holds a peculiar kind of affection in British hearts. There’s something accessible, friendly and comforting about the design. As much as the Mini, the Minor is interwoven into British culture, welded to the image of ourselves like perhaps no other single piece of English Iron.
It’s1973. My old man inherits an ancient moggy in black (of course) from his old man. It is ancient, so old that the indicators are those ones that physically drop out of the door pillars. This thing is rusted all around the sills and smells of turps and brick dust inside, the red leather seats fetid and torn.
Somewhere in my five year old mind I associate this car with the Blitz. Dodgy infant chronology notwithstanding there is something about this car that is plucky, resilient; something stoic and rooted in the English earth.
But the thing is about the moggy is that it has no power. When me, my baby sister and mum and dad are all loaded up it wheezes and chugs like an arthritic uncle, eliciting the odd backfire and a profanity or two from dad’s otherwise chaste mouth.
It is so badly underpowered that one Sunday, on the way over to my nan’s for the requisite roast, we fail to make it over the big hill that lay between our house and granny’s. Dad does the only thing he knows. He turns round sticks it in reverse, and we scale the hill backwards.
I don’t understand of course, that reverse is the lowest gear, and that the fact that we are going backward to go forward isn’t some existential statement of retrogressive intent.
No. I just think it is cool. I think that reversing over a huge hill is a way of looking back, knowing where you have been so that you are informed of your best way forward. And this strange fragment of automotive memory has stayed with me ever since.
Anyway, this is a nice little video that somehow captures exactly what is so appealing about the Morris Minor. Excuse my self indulgence.
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