My mother trained as a district midwife in north Derbyshire. Just before I was born, she passed her driving test and moved from cycling to her ‘deliveries,’ to driving. Her first car and my ‘mobile nursery’ was a 1957 Morris Minor.
The Morris Minor was a car for the people, but behind its endearing form was a masterpiece of design. The design was, and is, iconic with its distinctive profile, its headlights neatly tucked away beside the front air intake, the simple panels and lack of visual clutter, an aerodynamic shape and the classic logo on the horn in the centre of the steering wheel.
The Morris Minor was originally to be the Morris Mosquito, in reference to the de Havilland warplane. Quite a good choice of name as in 1948 when the first Morris Minor was produced, England was still a country of rubble-filled, post-war cities and food rationing. The Morris Minor of 1948, went out of production in 1959, and when it did, a chapter of English industrial and social history closed.
Sir Alec Issigonis designed the car and Morris’s proprietor, Viscount Nuffield, said that it looked like a poached egg. The main design influences were American, but its designer was born in Izmir to Greek and German parents. Issigonis joined Morris Motors of Cowley, Oxford in 1936. The early adverts for the car stated that;
‘The new Morris Minor makes the most of your petrol, goes farther on a tankful. Traditional Morris reliability and low maintenance are inherent in this modern design.’
By 1961 a million Morris Minors had been built. There never was a Morris Senior.
There is now only the Alec Issigonis Way in the Oxford Business Park near the site of the closed Cowley factory as a reminder of what was created there. But there are still Morris Minors on the road, more than 50 years on.