Any story about the pre-war Morris Minor would not be complete without mentioning those cars that were shipped overseas, primarily to the developing markets of the (then) British Empire. The most important of these export markets for Morris Motors in general and the pre-war Morris Minor in particular were those of the Dominions of New Zealand and Australia.
It was to these markets that Morris shipped a mixture of around 2,500 completed OHC cars or rolling chassis between the autumn of 1928 and the end of 1931, which were then supplemented by a further unquantified number of side valve cars and chassis over the following three years.
Upon arrival the completed vehicles were shipped to the established chain of Morris dealerships to be sold alongside the larger Morris models, while the Minor chassis went to specialist local body or coachbuilding companies. Here their bodies were built to suit local terrain and climatic conditions and there exists some evidence to suggest that these coachbuilt specials have a far better survival rate than their imported Cowley built counterparts. Certainly Australian and New Zealand Minor chassis frames have a significantly better survival rate than those supplied to the home market back in the U.K. Prevailing climatic conditions may well be a factor in explaining this numeric anomoly.
Surviving cars in Australia indicate that this export market was considered very important by Morris Motors. These survivors show via their chassis numbers that shipments were sent to Australia in 1928 at a time when home demand was also strong following a very successful home market launch. This will have placed an added strain on the already stretched capabilities of the Minor production line at Cowley. A further quantity of approximately 500 rolling chassis were shipped from the Oxford, U.K. factory in the late spring/early summer of 1929, all of which carried a 'Y' prefix to the chassis number which was stamped onto the offside front dumb iron. The first such complete cars carrying these chassis numbers began to appear on local coachbuilt cars from July 1929 onwards. ( Notes found on one of the Harry Edwards images shown below indicate that 1135 Minor chassis were exported to Australia alone in 1929.)
Although no export figures are available to the writer at present, surviving Morris Motor records held at the U.K. Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, Warwickshire, may well provide some clues as to why there appear to be far fewer side valve Minor survivors in Australia and New Zealand than their OHC car predecessors.
This 1929 Properts bodied Morris Minor two seater may well have had a G.P. as its owner. Placed upon what looks like a fold away canvas stretcher is a Gladstone bag of a type a doctor may have taken with him on his house calls. Entry to this single door car is from the nearside.(Ewan Lambess)
The Australian car market of the late twenties and early thirties was dominated by American built cars, while the emerging home manufacturers also took their design cues from Detroit . The products of the British car industry were not built for the motoring conditions likely to be found in Australia and New Zealand at that time, while the more sturdily built products from the U.S.A. were better suited to the Antipodean environment. Pragmatic Australians and Kiwis therefore spent their hard earned pounds on American products in preference to those from Britain. Morris Motors were keen to re-dress that imbalance and heavily promoted the Minor along with other models from their range, the emphasis being placed upon the Britishness of their products. These 'ads' attempted to convey a message that a purchase would represent tangible colonial support for the mother country.
Many people have contributed to the content to be found upon this page including, the late Harry Edwards, Jeremy Evans, Bruce Sharman, Dane Hawley, John McDonald and Ken Martin. Thank you all.
Particular thanks to Ewan Lambess for providing much of the 'owner' information and many of the scanned images and articles. Further items for inclusion will be welcomed.
The images displayed below were loaned to the PWMN for display on this website by the late Harry Edwards via the good offices of his friend Ken Martin. The image captions were hand written by Harry.