My First Car: Blowing hot and cold about 1962 Morris Minor 1000 Convertible

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Chris Manning certainly enjoyed wind-in-the-hair motoring with the first car he actually owned – a 1962 Morris Minor 1000 Convertible.

Although the Minor 1000 Convertible was my first car, I had previously had the use of some of my Uncle Bill’s cars before I bought the Minor from a friend of the family who lived in Palmers Green, north London.

My uncle, who lived in the City of London, had only one car parking space. Any extra cars he bought to work on and sell were dispatched out to Upminster, where I lived at the time, until he needed them.

My sets of wheels over my first year of driving ranged from a 1957 Morris Isis, missing its first gear but with enough grunt from the 2.6-litre straight six engine to pull away from second and a freewheel overdrive that meant you could do clutch free gear changes at any speed. Occasionally, the Isis would be taken away by Uncle Bill to be replaced with either a Riley 1.5 or a Rover 100.

With them all sold, I had to then find my own set of wheels, hence the arrival of the Minor 1000. pictured above, as my very own first car.

Chris Manning with his 1962 Morris Minor 1000 Convertible.

I serviced it and repaired it myself and remember one incident when, after removing the distributor to repair something in its internals, the car would not start. A quick phone call to Uncle Bill (the mechanic for the whole family and my tutor and mentor on all things mechanical) told me I had probably replaced the main part of the distributor 180 degrees out. He was right. A quick swap round and the Minor fired up.

Other notable events during the course of my ownership of the Minor were freezing cold journeys in the winter due to the inadequate heater, not helped by gaps in the fabric roof. Most journey were undertaken with a blanket across the lap, plus gloves, hat and thick duffle coat. But, come the summer, is was a joy.

One summer’s day, driving along Hornchurch High Street with the roof down, my mad friend, Steve, decided to stand up in the passenger seat and, holding on to the windscreen roof rail with one hand, gave the German salute with the other.

A police car approached from the opposite direction and the officer wound down his window and shouted ‘’Sit down sonny”. Steve did as he was told. These days we would probably have been arrested and fined.

By the end of 1972 I decided I needed a car with a bit more power so the Minor was sold. I purchased a cherry red 1966 Triumph Vitesse instead, which was cheap as it needed a new clutch, but that was no problem as my mechanical skills were getting better by the day and there was good old Uncle Bill to fall back on if I had a problem. Plus my dad had a garage, which he had just converted to store his car and caravan in so it had ample space.

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