Cool Survivor: 1962 Morris J2

It seems like panel trucks and vans are becoming more popular as restoration projects over the last year or so.  Many businesses like them because they draw lots of attention and aren’t too hard or expensive to maintain.  Even more popular are cab over engine vehicles and although these were called “forward control”, this might qualify as a cabover.  This 1961 Morris J2 van would definitely draw a lot o eyes with it’s unique and extremely cool look.  Found here on Kijiji in Mono, Ontario with an asking price of $7,500.

Originally found by the seller in Manitoba, it is said to be an un-restored survivor sporting the original paint.  It also boasts the largest available 1622 cc engine in running condition.  Sounds good, but even though it was the largest of the production engines, it only produced about 61 bhp.  It would be interesting to see if a SBC would fit in the mid-engine compartment.  It would definitely make it quicker and probably easier to maintain thanks to the availability of parts.

These commercial vans were initially marketed as the Morris J2 or the Austin J2 and saw production from the mid 50’s to the mid 60’s.  It is a very simple platform with a straight foward and clean cabin and cargo area.  From the pictures, it looks like it’s escaped the typical rust seen with many Canadian survivor vehicles.  In fact it looks to be very solid inside and out.

Based on the lack of rust, this could be a fantastic restoration candidate.  It would be a very interesting vehicle that would draw a ton of attention whether you were just going to car shows or using it as a billboard for your business.  The price is not bad at all for a running and clean van that is so unique and desirable.   I’d be very interested to hear if anyone has looked into putting a different engine into a vehicle like this and what they are like to drive.  If I had the cash, I’d grab this up.


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  1. Fred w.

    Headliner area is impressive. Looks like a fairly easy project as long as you aren’t trying to go original- imagine trying to find parts for this.

  2. Classix Steel

    So cutting a hole in cargo floor and dropping a small V8 and swap rear end to a mustang rear end with disc could make since? :-)

    I wonder is a vw samba soft top convert canvas would fit in roof !!

    Like 1
  3. Whippeteer

    One of the various V-tech or similar new generation engines would be a good choice for power.

  4. ruxvette

    Very cool! I would measure wheelbase and track and go looking for a modern chassis to put it on…


    A face only a mother could love….

    I’m sure the 1622 would hustle along better with twin carbs and other MGA MkII goodies. In standard MGA form it was more like 90bhp.

    How could the British auto industry have failed so miserably building such snappy looking vehicles??

    • peter spooner


  6. Donek

    Original parts shouldn’t be particularly difficult, just contemporary / ubiquitous BMC.
    However, some interesting conversions are possible :) e.g.:

  7. James HGF

    A SBC will fit in the rear of the van, but should be properly supported so as not to damage the van as its transported to the scrap yard or an auto recycler depending on condition. Sacrilege? No. Sacrilege is bodging a nice solid unibody J2 from ’62.

    BTW the Kijiji adverts’ price has been reduced to $6500.

    The engine compartment between the seats leaves little room for experimentation, but there appears to be just enough space for a supercharger a la MGA. One should opt for torque rather than horsepower. After all this is a truck with the drag coefficient of a barn door. Nevertheless one can source BMC (also British Leyland) bits to up grade the brakes, drive train, and suspension if power is increased.

    Why not restore the van and accept that one need not motor rapidly nor destroy another unique part of motoring history?

    J2 van engine compartment via YouTube:

  8. John

    With a different front end, this thing was made clear into the 2000’s! For a while it was called a Sherpa Van which I always thought was a great name.

    Best engine is an MGB 1800cc. If it’s a 3 bearing you don’t ever n have to do a tranny swap.

    Worth $2k as is.

  9. glen

    Nice late 40’s Chevy in the background.

  10. pat gill

    The J2 gearbox is the same as a close ratio MGA and twincam, Pat

  11. misterlou Member

    There’s always this option:

    • misterlou Member

      Some live action footage of “The Slug” from @Donek’s post.

  12. Royal Ricci

    Id drop a rotary engine out of an old mazda into this along with its transmission.

  13. Bill McCoskey

    A friend had one in the UK, equipped with 3 row seating. As I remember, the side door was only about 20″ wide. Getting into the second & third rows of seats was next to impossible if you were an adult. Even skinny adults had difficulty negotiating that tiny side door. He always said it would have made a great school bus, except it only had seating for 5 kids in the back area!

    These were available with various different window treatments, as well as a nifty 3/4 ton pickup!|

  14. Chris Bligh

    I did flooring as a trade 40 yrs ago in NZ. One of these vans was my work van. You have to love vans, which I do, to enjoy driving them. This was a great and reliable work horse but glad I never hit anything head on as there was zero protection in front of you. My mate had to be cut out of one after he was pinned in!!

  15. Car nut from Wpg Member

    Lack of rust in old Manitoba vehicle is normal. Not a lot of salt used here up until about ten years ago.

  16. CARFREAK Member

    I’d use an Olds 455ci & transaxle from a Tornado set in backwards as it was done in bugs. Plexiglas floor pan, wheelie bars, skinny tires front, slicks aft… and hold on!

  17. Rube Goldberg Member

    Make a vintage toaster van. Be a great promo vehicle for a bread company.

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Great photo Rube, Since most car companies are building appliances you might as well have them look like one.

  18. Charles Gould

    Please stop with the SBC conversion recommendations! It is getting tiring. Besides, nobody is going to buy this to go fast, and for its intended purpose the original 61 HP is plenty or power and adequate to tug this around with a decent load of cargo or people.
    I love this quirky van and would be delighted to drive it with all of its original 61 horses.

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