Put the Pieces Together: 1958 Morris Minor Traveller

By Nathan Avots-Smith

This 1958 Morris Minor Traveller is a running project that comes with almost all the needed pieces to get it back in top shape! What’s not included is all of the time and labor needed to put these pieces together—that’s where you come in. Even at that, the asking price of $4,550 shouldn’t be too high a barrier for such a charming, iconic British classic wagon. Let’s head here to craigslist out of Hagaman, New York, to check it out, with thanks to AMXBrian for the find! (Archived ad here.)

The most important need that won’t be covered by the stash of spare parts that come with the car is the ash wood framing that makes this little wagon so recognizable. According to the seller, individual pieces or full kits are readily available, and if cost isn’t too big a factor I’d suggest just doing it all. The semi-body on frame Traveller bodystyle was introduced in 1953, and British car nerds will point out that the joining of the standard Minor front end and the wagon rear was done at the MG plant in Abingdon, since the Morris plant at Cowley was only set up to build unibody cars.

Speaking of frames and such, that brings us to this car’s other big need: rust repair. In this case, some of the needed pieces, including a replacement for the central crossmember and some of the floor pans, come with the car. Others, like the rockers, are again readily available. The body sheetmetal seems to be largely sound, but several spare panels are included.

The Austin-derived 948-cc A-series inline four is said to run well. These are simple, rugged powerplants, well-supported by easy-to-find parts, so despite the needed work, this Minor still represents a fairly inexpensive entry point into the collector car hobby; just don’t expect blazing speed with 37 horsepower and an estimated 0-60 time of 33 seconds!

Speed was never the Minor’s reason for being, anyway. Instead, it was meant to be a roomy, easy-to-drive, affordable family car for postwar Britons, with the Traveller body adding a touch of utility. It also has a friendly charm that is only enhanced by the Traveller’s wood trimmings, and whatever its needs may be, this one’s charm is fully intact!

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Comments

  1. classic Steel

    My USAF dad had a 63 Morris minor in 1973.
    Mini tires and four speed trannie!

    Ran like a charm with decent mpg!
    The wood on this adds character but the frame is scary !

    It will be a machine shop special on repair !




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  2. Beatnik Bedouin

    Fun cars, but the wood and the chassis repairs are going to be very expensive. I suggest that this one is not for the faint-hearted, as we’re looking at a full, ground-up restoration.




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    • KEN TILLY

      @Beatnik.
      If available, check out Ed China’s restoration of one of these wagons on Wheeler Dealers before committing to this one. The timbers are readily available, at a price, but that is only the beginning.




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  3. LAWRENCE

    Check out the specs on a 2 door….something like 54 mpg (claimed) in 1967….think they would with that little solex…owed one but didn’t get to test that out…..sure what a Traveler !




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  4. healeydays

    Never were my cup of tea, but there is a big following for these cars and someone will buy it and get it back together again…




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  5. GearHead Engineering

    Looks complete, but will need a lot of work. I love wagons, I love Little British Cars, and I like woodies. The only part that scares me is the wood – if kits are available that would alleviate some of that fear. This would be a fun project but I already have two cars in process now.

    I hope someone picks this up soon and restores it.

    – John




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  6. Rue d'Anger

    It would be best to walk away from this one. The chassis rot and wood replacement will break the bank. A Datsun 1500 engine and 5-speed is a common swap for these and makes them a real car. Likewise, a BMC A-series 1275 and Datsun 5-speed conversion would be entertaining. I later Midget front suspension and disk brakes is a bolt in replacement. There is also a Fiat twin cam/5-speed conversion. I saw a maroon one with the Fiat & 5-speed for sale. The ad said “When your wife says “Do whatever the hell you want”, it doesn’t mean what it sounds like…




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  7. Rube Goldberg Member

    I don’t know what one would do with this. On one hand, I’ve always thought one of these would be ideal, for short jaunts, but horribly inept for any kind of US driving. Looks like a unibody, so I don’t know how you’d graft it onto, say a S-10 chassis, and any kind of update to a better modern driveline could be a problem, space wise. It’s certainly savable, as is, and with a ton of money, these little motors will snort, but would it be worth it? Great find.




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    • Derek

      There are a couple of common drivetrain conversions; the Toyota 5-speed gearbox onto the BMC engine, or a Fiat twin-cam w/gearbox replacement. Marina disc brakes bolt on.

      Anything you can do to a Mini engine you can do to one of these, remember!




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  8. Nevis Beeman

    What a splendid vehicle to tour ‘outback’ rural USA in….fold the back seat down, obtain tent & sleeping bag and other basic necessities of an outdoor life. And off you go …..tootling along at 40—50 mph. A summer spent exploring the quieter corners of North America, would soon repay the restoration costs. And of course….a vehicle as simple to run as this is “money in the bank” if one needed to recoup ones capital outlay, notably of the more complicated wood work.




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    • KEN TILLY

      @Nevis Beeman.
      The only problem with your plan is that you would have to be under 5 feet tall, should you wish to sleep in the back, as they are a very small station wagon.




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      • Nevis Beeman

        Interesting; Actually I’m 6’2″ and would rely on my tent for sleeping. That said I have once curled up and slept a very wet night night in the back of a Morris Traveller (ERS 959 D)
        Unbelievably also in the open back of a Morris Minor pick up (RFN 411G) but the folded down tailgate gave a little more leg room ! :–)




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  9. Del

    My fitst two cars were Morris Oxfords.

    Swore I would never own another Britush car.

    Never have




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  10. chad

    Nice (vehicle) concept but –

    8K$ w/o pickin up a tool (not sure what the wood stuff will cost 2 ship so there’s that too).




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  11. Daymo

    Don’t forget, all that wood is structural. There are lots of kits available here in the UK, and not as expensive as you might think.




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  12. Michael.N.

    I had a 61 pick up it was the best little truck I ever had if you need parts mini mania.com they carry everything and good prices




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