12 October 1948: the first Morris Minor is produced

The first of 1.3 million Morris Minors, Britain’s cheap post-war runabout, rolled off the production lines on this day in 1948.

When it came to affordable post-war motoring, Germany had the VW Beetle, France had the Citroen 2CV, and Britain had the Morris Minor – the first of which rolled off the production line on this day in 1948.

The “Moggy” was designed by Alec Issigonis, who would go on to design the Mini, and was an exercise in cramming the most seating space into the smallest-sized body. It had a 918cc engine producing a whopping 27HP, could hit a top speed of 64MPH and had a 0-60 time of over 50 seconds. It was remarkably frugal, however, racking up 40 miles to the gallon – something the public appreciated in the austere post-war years.

The original Minor MM was unveiled to the public to much acclaim at the Earls Court Motor Show on 27 October 1948. It was available as a two-door saloon and a convertible tourer. The four-door arrived two years later, followed by the Traveller, splendidly bedecked in wood; and the van, workhorse of the Post Office, in 1953.

The original MM was produced from 1948 to 1952, in which time just over a quarter of a million were sold – a third of those were the convertible version. That was followed by the Series II model, produced between 1952 and 1956, and the Minor 1000, produced from 1956. The 1000 made use of such advanced technology as modern indicators, doing away with the pop-out semaphore arms of the earlier models.

In February 1961 it became the first British car to sell more than a million, and by the time production of the saloon version ended in 1970, over 1.3 million had been built. Production of the Traveller and vans ended in 1972.

It is still surprisingly popular, however  – there are some 15,000 Minors of all stripes on the roads today (compare that with its successor, the abominable Morris Marina: out of the 1.2 million built, fewer than 400 survive).

The Morris Minor is no longer a particularly cheap car to buy, however. If you're looking to buy a decent example now, you'll have to fork out anything up to £15,000. With that, you could buy two Dacia Sanderos, currently the cheapest new car on sale in Britain.

Recommended

21 October 1520: Magellan finds the path to the Pacific
This day in history

21 October 1520: Magellan finds the path to the Pacific

On this day in 1520, a fleet of five ships, led by Ferdinand Magellan in search of a passage to the Pacific, first entered the waterway that now bears…
21 Oct 2020
21 October 1805: the Battle of Trafalgar
This day in history

21 October 1805: the Battle of Trafalgar

On this day in 1805, Britain’s mastery of the seas was assured after the Royal Navy crushed Napoleon’s fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar.
21 Oct 2020
20 October 1935: Mao’s Long March ends
This day in history

20 October 1935: Mao’s Long March ends

Almost exactly a year after setting off, Mao Zedong and his army of communists arrived at the foot of the Great Wall of China on this day in 1935.
20 Oct 2020
19 October 1960: US begins its trade embargo on Cuba
This day in history

19 October 1960: US begins its trade embargo on Cuba

In retaliation for Cuba seizing American property, President Eisenhower banned exports to the island on this day in 1960.
19 Oct 2020

Most Popular

The Bank of England should create a "Bitpound" digital currency and take the world by storm
Bitcoin

The Bank of England should create a "Bitpound" digital currency and take the world by storm

The Bank of England could win the race to create a respectable digital currency if it moves quickly, says Matthew Lynn.
18 Oct 2020
Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts
Bank accounts

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts

Negative interest rates are likely to mean the introduction of fees for current accounts and other banking products. But that might make the UK bankin…
19 Oct 2020
What would negative interest rates mean for your money?
UK Economy

What would negative interest rates mean for your money?

There has been much talk of the Bank of England introducing negative interest rates. John Stepek explains why they might do that, and what it would me…
15 Oct 2020