Years of Searching Pays off with Morris Minor
Parker, Vern, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
In 1985 and again in 1987, business took Gainesville auctioneer Nick Arrington to Australia.
On both trips he saw scads of Morris Minors in all their permutations: two- and four-door sedans, wagons, trucks, vans and the everlastingly cute convertible. "It's really a progressive postwar car," Mr. Arrington says.
The British-built Morris Minor was manufactured from 1948 to 1971 with only a few alterations. Over the years 1,620,000 were built. From the number of cars on the streets of Australia it appeared to Mr. Arrington that most of the Morris Minor production must have been shipped to that island continent.
"They were a dime a dozen over there," Mr. Arrington says. That was the good news. The bad news was that shipping costs to the United States were prohibitive.
When he returned home he began a search for a Morris Minor convertible that within a year led him to south Texas. After talking with the owner and learning the history of the car, it was, as Yogi Berra might have said, like deja vu all over again.
The owner's deceased father had purchased the car new in 1960 somewhere in the Washington area and three years later drove it to Texas, which is where it had been since 1963. The odometer registered a mere 47,000 miles.
In 1988 the owner sent a Polaroid snapshot that Mr. Arrington must have liked because he sent the money and arranged to have the car trucked to Virginia.
The car, still wearing the original pea green paint (which Mr. Arrington considers worse than ugly), arrived in Sterling on the second tier of a car carrier. The upholstery was red.
While it was still up on the truck Mr. Arrington was able to thoroughly inspect the underside of the car to answer his one nagging question. "The saving grace was there was no rust anywhere," Mr. Arrington observed.
It did, however, require a lot of work. The original spare tire was still in the trunk. A lot of parts on the car had been inappropriately replaced. Mr. Arrington discovered the original muffler had been replaced with a garden tractor muffler.
Even more important than getting a car going is the ability to stop it. Mr. Arrington fixed the brakes and then decided to take it on a 20-mile drive. The 948cc, 37-horsepower, four-cylinder engine either burned, threw out or otherwise consumed a quart of oil on the trip.
While contemplating what it would take to fix the engine, Mr. Arrington learned of a similar Morris Minor in Arlington that had been hit from behind by a garbage truck. …