“Eight” Up With Cuteness: 1938 Morris 8

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Off the road since 1982, this 1938 Morris 8 looks like it wouldn’t be too hard to get puttering again. That’s probably all it’s capable of given a 23.5 horsepower engine, but that would be fine with me! It’s located in Fayetteville, Georgia and is up for auction here on eBay, where bidding is starting at 99 cents, but of course there’s a reserve.

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Isn’t that a cheery face? The current seller tells us they purchased the car in 1979 and drove it for three years before pulling it off the road and storing it in climate-controlled storage. Apparently the intent was to restore it but the car is still there on jack stands. The odometer is actually showing 1,730 miles but I’m sure that’s not right, and given the shorter distances cars usually travel in the UK, I doubt that it’s 101,730 either. I don’t know if Morris’s are as prone to breaking speedometer cables as some Triumphs are, but that might explain a lot.

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The paint is heavily oxidized, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of it wouldn’t come back with some careful work. Being as old as it is, I would be very surprised if it’s original, though. You can see from this view that it is a true four-door car, albeit very small doors. The Morris 8 was built to compete with the Austin 7 (see the marketing angle, it’s “1” better?) and came somewhat better equipped, but cost a little more. This rarer Series II was only produced for part of 1938, but total production in Britain and Australia together for just that one year came to over 54,000 cars–it was very popular!

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Although there’s some work to be done here, the little car seems remarkably complete to me, and parts seem to be readily available from specialists as long as you are willing to source them from the UK. Some spares even come with the car, and are pictures in the auction. From what I can find, top speed when new would have been 58 mph, so I think 45 on back roads once it’s sorted out might be reasonable now. There is even a very active club for pre-war Morris cars here if you want to find out if there are any others on the roads in the US.

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The tiny 918 cc side valve four-cylinder engine was capable of 37 mpg in this car, and I hope it still turns over (the seller doesn’t tell us). Imagine having an engine small enough to rebuild on your kitchen table! This engine has poured babbit bearings, though, so you’d probably have to have a machinist convert the design to a modern bearing insert for you if they need to be replaced. The next generation of the engine had shell bearings, so that would be a good place to start. Part of me wonders if it would just start up with the usual cleaning and freeing of components and fresh fuel, like Jesse and Josh are trying with the Barn Finds TVR. I think this would be a terrific car to have fun with; what about you?

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Comments

  1. JW454

    Now this I like. I’d do what I could to make it road worthy and drive it as is. As long as necessary parts were available I’d keep it stock for as long as possible. If not, I’d find a suitable replacement drive line just so it could stay on the road. Cool little car.

    The first owner may have discussed what Hitler was going to do next while driving along in this thing.

    • Chris in Australia

      Or pondering how he was going to overtake that Camry he was catching……….

      • grant

        What?

  2. van

    This is so cool I wish we had lots of these
    If you had a choice between this and a Prius.
    I’d give up ac and rock out with ear buds

  3. Peregrine Lance

    In 1956, aged 14 (like farm kids in this country, no one fussed much about licenses in rural Scotland!), a lady dentist let me drive her little beastie. Being familiar with gears (I learned to drive in 1949 on a wartime Jeep a WWII vet brought back), I almost didn’t notice or care that it was a right-hand drive car. The reason? The cab was so small, my left arm could actually signal out the window on that side!
    There is history here; these cars–and the Austin 7–bridged the postwar gap between British families in a sidecar-hack rig, and full personal ownership of four-wheelers. This car has earned the right to be rebuilt!

  4. Gary I

    Top speed 45? My kid has a remote controlled car that goes faster than that. No thanks, have fun!

  5. Z28DUNC

    Most people swap over to the series E engine. Shell bearings and slightly higher comp. You’d be surprised by how many of these are still around in the UK. I sell engine parts for them every day!

  6. Puhnto

    Love it!

  7. RON

    Fantastic find. Nearly impossible to find anything this old in this primo condition not to speak of as rare as this. Get t going and safe polish that pain and enjoy!!! I wuld bet there s better than 50% chance with soaking and cleaning it culd go on the road from this stage. It has been stored well

  8. Dave Croydon

    Very nice, if I had space in my garage I’d be on it. I have a ’36 Morr8 tourer and absolutely love it. Highly recommend, fun car. All spares available most through the Brit club, They have over 2000 members. Not unusual for their members to do week long tours.

  9. Brett

    Funny you mention rebuilding the engine on the kitchen table…

    When I was a child, my father did exactly that (for a Morris 8 convertible), and the table bore the scars of that operation for many years (until they finally replaced the table!)

  10. Norm Wrensch

    That is a L head engine not a side valve. Side valve engines have valves that move perpendicular to the pistons not parallel.
    Still a cool little car.

    • Ronnie

      I can tell you Norm, The eng is definitely a side valve, i have a 1938 morris in beautiful condition. Ive just put eng back in car after an overhaul. The valves are in the side of block going up & down alongside the pistons.In England thats side valve.

  11. Ian

    …did about 30 miles in one of these recently here in the UK (countryside) It was ion fine order and didn’t hold anything up on the roads at all ! Simple car and lots of fun….like cars used to be !

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