DESPITE a plethora of manufacturers’ boasts to the contrary, truly iconic motor cars have been few and far between. One that undoubtedly merits such status, however, is the Morris Minor.
Small, simple, economical and with its highly distinctive appearance and rich exhaust note like a flatulent rhino, the Morris Minor was the first car for an entire generation of motorists.
Mine was a wonderful little grey Minor 1000. My friend Derrick had a black two-door version and Sally, the posh girl who lived at the end of our road, turned us all green with envy as she began her motoring years with a woodworm-infested Traveller.
The first Morris Minor rolled off the production line back in 1948 and the last one in 1972, and halfway through that enormous 24-year production period, in December 1960, the one millionth model was born.
And that very car, now bearing the registration number 1 MHU and positively glorying in its subtle lilac paintwork, is due to go under the hammer when Sherborne-based auctioneers Charterhouse hold their next classic car sale this autumn.
The firm’s car expert Matthew Whitney reckons it could fetch between £25,000 and £30,000 when bidders from around the world converge on the sale, which is being held at the Classic Car Show at the Royal Bath and West Showground in Shepton Mallet on 8th November.
He tells me that Minor 1 MHU was owned originally by the National Union of Journalists, who used it in a national fundraising campaign in 1961 until it was auctioned live on television in aid of charity.
The successful bidder was a lady by the name of Susan George, from Wales, and then the car disappeared off the radar for a decade. That sort of thing often happens in Wales, apparently. When it finally resurfaced, it had been painted red, damaged in an accident and was waiting to be repaired and restored.
Its next owner, however, did not start work on it for another 20 years, but finally it was restored to its original specification by an enthusiast in Worthing, at a cost of some £15,000. The lilac colour was used on only a limited run of 349 Minors.
Now it is about to start another chapter in its topsy-turvy life and the hope must be that, like countless others still providing their owners with comfortable, reliable transport, it will return to life on the open road.