Cheap Woodie: 1970 Morris Minor Traveler

By the time this Morris Minor Traveler rolled down the production line, the Minor had been in production in one form or another for 22 years. Its longevity was very much the result of the fact that for a vehicle of its size, the Morris Minor had a surprisingly spacious interior, and many people found it to very practical. Barn Finder Matt R spotted this 1970 Traveler for us, so thank you for that Matt. The Traveler is located in Napa, California, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist.

It’s interesting to note that even though the Traveler emerged some 5 years after production of the saloon and convertible commenced, it remained in production well after manufacture of both ended. Never blessed with loads of power, what the Traveller offered was pure practicality, and quite attractive looks, in their own way. By the time this car rolled off the production line, its appearance was quite dated, but today it is considered something of a classic. This one looks quite nice, with a real gloss to the paint. The owner says that there are some problems with the timber, and this isn’t uncommon. It is not difficult to repair, and it is now possible to buy replacement timbers, from a single piece, right through to a full kit. This photo of the rear of the car demonstrates just how practical these were, with a surprising amount of cargo space for a vehicle of this size.

The interior of the Morris is in really good order. There is a tear on the driver’s seat which could probably be repaired with a blind patch, but apart from that, there isn’t a lot to criticize there. Legroom in the front is quite impressive, even for someone who is quite tall, and even rear seat space is quite adequate. The upright styling also ensures plenty of head-room, and the Morris is more than capable of carrying four adults in reasonable comfort. One thing that may take some getting used to is the fact that the Morris is right-hand drive. Don’t be phased by this. Growing up in Australia means that I am used to this configuration, but I have found adapting to driving on the other side of the car fairly straightforward. I admit that for the first few minutes I’d go to shift gears and find myself winding down the window, but I soon adapted.

Unfortunately, there are no engine photos, so we’ll just have to muddle through this. If the car is standard, the engine should be the 1,098cc A-Series 4-cylinder engine, backed by a 4-speed manual transmission. This was another area where it became very apparent that the Morris Minor was reaching the end of its useful life. With only 48hp on tap, the Minor struggled to reach its top speed of 77mph. The motorways and highways had made such performance seem pretty ordinary, and the Morris Minor struggled to keep pace. Having said that, the engine in a Morris Minor has a couple of really strong points. The first is that it is easy to maintain. The second is that it is a very flexible engine, and can pull away from very low speeds in a high gear without a lot of fuss. This makes them one of the easiest cars to drive in city traffic because it isn’t really necessary to row the car through the transmission to get it going.

When production ceased on the Morris Minor Traveler, it disappeared from the motoring scene, and most people didn’t shed a tear at its demise. Today, they have become a sought after classic, and good examples tend to get snapped up pretty quickly. When it was shiny and new, this particular car would have cost $1,885. Today, a really nice one will sell for $15,000 or more. Even allowing for the fact that this one is right-hand drive and will need a little bit of work, the asking price of $4,995 seems to represent a bargain.

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Comments

  1. Ben T Spannerd

    Looks like a bargain to me. Lots of parts available in the aftermarket. “Up grade” to a readily available 1275 dual carb. My friend has a Morris Minor pickup with a Datsun 5 speed which makes it much more highway friendly.
    I remember a 1954? with a flathead which had to be really slow.

    • 36morris

      I have a 1936 Morris tourer and love it. If this car was near by I would be all over it specially at that price. Shipping is a killer.

  2. Fred W

    Looks like Morris configured the dash for an easy conversion to LHD- just gotta find a RH glove box door and the appropriate steering parts.

    3
    • Hans Roos

      a bit difficult driving with the pedals on the right side…

      3
      • JustTheCaptain

        🤑

        1
    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      takes a LHD Sprite rack to change the steering to the right side… and vice versa

      . The pedal box will move to either side.

  3. Andrew Gerns Member

    With the ready availability of A-Series parts, ( not to mention the common conversion to the 1275 cc version of the same engine) it is a breeze to maintain.

  4. Tony

    Two l’s in Traveller, please……

    2
  5. G Greene

    Check out the Wheeler Dealers episode where they restored one of these. Lots of good footage on wood replacement.

  6. Del

    Love these. My first two cars were Morris Oxfords.

    No right hand drive for me though. Wait for a left hander.

  7. kenneth TILLY

    Yes, the wooden kit is readily available, at a price! Also the timbers are not decoration, they are part of the structure so if there is any rot lurking about, be prepared for a major resto. If you can find the Wheeler Dealer episode where Ed China restores one then can see just how big a job it is.

    2
  8. graham line

    Used to be a lovely blue example in my area which had been upgraded with a Nissan 1400cc four + five speed, along with Midget front discs, and 14×5 wire wheels. Made it much more usable.

    3
  9. Racingpro56 Member

    Newly arrived at RAF Mildenhall, i bought one of these from a local mechanic who specialized in ripping off newly arrived young American GI’s. Paid way too much of course, but once i got it sorted I fell in love with it. Often wish I had brought it back to CONUS when i rotated back. Sorely tempted here…

    3
  10. hatofpork

    I would definitely want to hear more about which wood members need replacing and how sound the rest of the structure is. Not only are the kits expensive, but finding someone with the requisite fitting skills might be difficult, depending on where you live. Otherwise, she’s a beaut!

    1
  11. Sirpike

    Interestingly that vehicle and registration are still listed on UK.GOV MOT and TAX sites so I am guessing whoever exported/imported it failed to fill in the correct ‘ permanently exported ‘ documents .

    2
  12. Raymond Keck

    I had a ’61 that was a barn find at a colleague’s barbeque. Offered him $500, towed it home and had it running in a jiff. Replacing all the rubber and rebuilding the brakes was not so easy. I dropped a Midget 1275cc motor and Sprite disc brakes on the front and it made a big difference, though it was still a glorified go-kart. One of the more unique vehicles I’ve owned.

    3
    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Cool, Raymond. 50 years ago, the son of some friends of my folks who were living in Sacramento dropped a warmed-up 1275 out of a Sprite into his Traveller. It was a real kick to ride in and made for a much more practical vehicle.

      Along with the woodwork issues (which others have already commented on), watch out for chassis rust in Morris Minors, including the example posted. Stub axle/Spindle failures are another weakness in the design.

      Morris Minors have always been popular cars in NZ, so if Fred is really keen on doing a RHD conversion, it would be relatively easy to find the parts. BTW, Fred, you’re correct that the dash arrangement on the Minor 1000 was designed specifically to ease LHD or RHD configurations.

      1
  13. Michael Rogers

    I’d love to have another and don’t feel that it MUST be uprated–it tops out about 74 mph–one mile faster than VW’s of that era– used to race home wit them every nite on the bayshore in No Cal. “both of us–not racing– just denting the floor under the go pedal trying for another tenth to show up that DAMMED other@#$@23!@#!

    1
  14. stillrunners

    oh no….I have family in them parts….would they store it for me…?

  15. Doug

    A 1275 Spridget engine & disc brakes, coupled with a Datsun/Nissan 5 speed
    would make one of these just fine on the freeways – although in parts of California, one might find that they rarely would drive any distance over 40 mph average….stop and go traffic common from 5 am-8 pm in places……

  16. Tony Member

    The link to contact the guy ..keeps coming up as an error . Can anyone get me the contact number .. I’m a brit… we are used to overpaying for old brit cars that need continuous TLC..

    1
    • Matt R

      Hi Tony – I noticed that too with iPhone. It works on my Macbook though. Give it a try on desktop.

  17. Del

    LOL. TO Tony 😂🤣

  18. Al

    I’m an American living n the U.K. There is something strange about this car. Over here there is a mantatory yearly inspection required on vehicles called a MOT. There is a website that one can access that, upon entering the car’ number plate, the history of all the inspections including any fails or advisories will show up. This car’s history is completely blank. The plate shows that the car was registered in the U.K. and the car is identified as “Morris UNKNOWN” which is a bit weird. I don’t understand why it would not have had any inspections unless it was immediately exported to the US. But then, why does it still have the U.K. number plate and not a US plate?

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