Unlike the rest of the Minor range, the design of the 1931 season only, OHV two-seat Semi-Sports model was contracted out to a business noted for its light car body design.
Shortly after the Minor's launch at the October 1928 Olympia Motor Show in London, a rolling chassis version of the car was made available to the numerous specialist car body fabricators (or coachbuilders) who were plying their trade up and down the country. One such specialist was Gordon England Ltd. of Wembley, North West London, a company that had been succesfully building light car bodies for some time. Gordon England, amongst others, noticed that Morris had launched the car without a two seat open model in the range and saw an opportunity to exploit that gap.
A year later, in October 1929, the Gordon England concern launched (to very favourable press reviews) their own fabric bodied, boat tailed and Minor based two seater at a price of £155. Very similar in appearance to the G.E. Stadium Austin, it featured a raked steering column and a one piece, leather covered, pneumatic and fully adjustable seat squab. Other notable fixtures were an electric wiper, a Tecalemit chassis lubrication system and a two-tone paint and fabric body. (See the Light Car Magazine review by clicking on the blue button above)
Morris Motors liked what they saw and invited Gordon England to come up with a design, suitably amended for volume production. This was to fill the same two-seater gap in their Minor range that G.E. had originally spotted and exploited. Their final design looked very similar on first appearance to the the original G.E. car, but appearances can be deceptive. Gone was the adjustable pneumatic seat to be replaced by a much simpler and less expensive metal sprung and Karhide covered fixed type. The steering column remained at the same angle as on the saloon and four seat tourer variants of the car. Gone also was the chassis lubrication system and electric wiper. The doors were larger on the Morris version and the slight 'cut-aways' seen on the G.E. car were dispensed with. The new model was launched in July 1930 and was priced at £135, a full £20 cheaper than the original G.E. car. However, shortly after its launch this price was cut by £10 to just £125 - an economic sign of the times!
As a niche model it was a success, selling 744 units in the only year of its production of which 588 were made during the period July to December 31st 1930, the balance of just 156 leaving Cowley in the months leading up to cessation of production in July 1931. Without doubt sales were 'stolen' from the more expensive (by £60) M.G. M Type Midget. This was not an ideal situation for Morris Motors overall, but the global recession was beginning to bite hard and the Semi-Sports offered a more affordable alternative for prospective M.G. M Type buyers. There was another edge to this sword as Morris Motors launched the £100 Minor S.V. Two-seater on 19th December 1930. The car had a very similar performance to its more expensive brother and although not the soar-away sales success Morris had hoped for, it did effectively kill further sales of the Semi-Sports model, as a glance at the 1931 production figures will testify.
Probably no more than twenty original cars survive today although a number of replica Semi-Sports bodies have been placed upon non original chassis. A mixture of original and replica cars can be seen at VSCC, PWMN & VMR events each year, where their 'pretty' G.E. designed bodies deservedly attract plenty of attention and admiration.
Copyright: Rambler October 2008
R/H image shows the Morris Motors Semi-Sports development car, while L/H shot is of Gordon England Minor Special
Page last updated 7th August 2014