Morris Minors

….Minors were being assembled in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Eire, Holland, India and Denmark, from CKD packs from the UK. Realistically, any of these could actually have produced the one-millionth car, and the next could have been from any other plant.

The chassis numbering is an interesting point, on another level. As was common for all Morris vehicles, the first Minor was chassis number 501, so it would seem that chassis number 1000000 would, in reality, have been the 999,500th saloon built, on top of the many thousands of commercials.

It was therefore logical to take the 350 cars for the commemorative edition from the Cowley production line to give them special sequential chassis numbers. However, it is believed the car with chassis number 1000000 was indeed the one-millionth produced, and it came off the production line on 22 December 1960.

The other 349 cars were built between 13 and 20 December, and numbered 1000001 to 1000349, with the prototype – chassis 881386 – being renumbered 1000330.

As an aside, and to give some relevance to the production of the time, if one million were built between about September 1948 and December 1960, this gives an average of around 6,800 per month (not withstanding that production reached its peak in 1957 to 1958) or around 300 per day. All 350 could have conceivably been built in one day, but to do so would have interrupted normal production of all models to meet orders in hand. It made sense, then, to spread the production of these cars over a week or so.

30 of the cars were built left-hand-drive, 20 of which went to North America, with the remaining 10 going to European agents.

The one-millionth Minor was used for press purposes, then donated to the National Union of Journalists to be raffled off in support of the union’s Widow and Orphan Fund – a very clever way to ensure blanket media coverage. Incidentally, after a rather chequered history, that car was recently located and restored to original condition.

The other 319 right-hand-drive cars were sent to dealerships across Britain, to ensure that every dealership had at least one in stock for the official release on 4 January 1961. There were clearly not 319 Morris dealers in the UK at the time, and some dealerships had more cars than others, according to the size of the dealership and the potential market. 32 went to Stewart & Arden, the UK’s biggest Morris dealership, with branches across Greater London.

As part of the publicity drive, a competition was held to find the oldest surviving Morris Minor still on the road, with the winner receiving a Minor Million in return for their old clunker. Although entries were received from across the globe, the winner was Cyril Swift from Sheffield, England, who’s car turned out to be chassis 501 – the very first production Morris Minor made. The car was eventually restored and now takes pride of place in the National Motor Heritage Centre at Gaydon.

Our featured Minor Million is chassis number 1000086, built on 13 December 1960 and sold to Appleyard of Leeds on 22 December. Registered 6936WX, it spent most of its life in Yorkshire, before being retired in 1978.

It was advertised for sale in 1993, when it was bought by Victorian Minor enthusiasts, father and son, Bill and Richard McKellar. “A friend of ours saw an ad for it in the UK”, Richard recalls, “and we basically bought the car sight-unseen. It was pretty cheap, but with the passage of time I’ve forgotten exactly how much we paid for it.”

Bill and Richard’s love of Minors goes back to Bill’s first car, a 1955 convertible that he bought when it was only a year old and on which he lavished plenty of attention. Richard was born in 1965 and was told from the time he could listen that the car would be his when he turned 18.….

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