Rare 1961 Morris Minor Panel Barn Find

While it wasn’t an uncommon sight on the road in its home country, spotting a 1961 Morris Minor Panel Van on American streets is extremely unusual. This one was found hidden away in a barn, and it needs a new owner who is prepared to treat it to a bit of TLC. It has received some performance upgrades in the past, so it could make an excellent basis for a cool custom build. Located in Vernon, Texas, you will find the Morris listed for sale here on Facebook. Hand the owner $5,500, and you could be taking this classic home.

Once it was given a squirt with a hose, this little Morris looks a whole lot better. How and when it was parked in the barn isn’t clear, but it doesn’t appear that it has suffered unduly through the ordeal. The Green paint that it wears isn’t original, with the car obviously receiving a color change at some point. The panels appear to be very straight, with no visible dings or dents. Rust can be the Morris Minor’s mortal enemy, but what can be seen in the supplied photos looks quite promising. There could possibly be a couple of spots in the lower doors, but this is impossible to confirm. The big question will hang over the state of the floors because they can cause problems. However, replacement floors are readily available, so addressing any issues shouldn’t be difficult or expensive. The trim is present and appears to be restorable, while I can’t spot any problems with the glass. The car rolls on a set of aftermarket alloy wheels, and whether these stay or go will come down to personal taste.

The photos that the seller supplies are limited and this is the only one of the interior. There are many aftermarket additions visible, including carpet, additional gauges, speakers fitted to the kick panels, a column-mounted tachometer, cloth seat upholstery, and an aftermarket wheel. I would probably consign the wheel to the bin, but I would inspect the rest of it to see what could be salvaged. If a custom build is the aim, then there might be a surprising amount that could be reused. The owner also doesn’t supply any engine photos, but we know that the original 948cc engine has been consigned to the scrap heap. In its place, we find a 1,275cc unit that features a pair of SU carburetors. The original engine would have allowed the van to accelerate from 0-60mph in 31 seconds before running out of breath at 75mph. This new engine potentially offers a significant improvement in those figures and should make it a fun thing to drive. The owner says that the engine doesn’t run but that it does turn freely. These are a robust engine, so getting it roaring back to life might not be a difficult assignment. If it has been sitting for a while, other areas like the brakes and rubber components could require attention. One of the attractions of these little cars is that the engineering and build are both pretty straightforward. That means that many of the required tasks could probably be tackled in a home workshop.

The Morris Minor Panel Van was a common sight on British roads throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s. Many were used as delivery vehicles for shops and other businesses because they were easy to drive, relatively bulletproof, and dirt-cheap to run. They have largely faded into the pages of history, so finding one in the US is a rare treat. This has all of the hallmarks of a great project car that would grab plenty of attention wherever it went. I hope that someone does grab it and return it to active duty. I will almost guarantee that they will have a blast behind the wheel of this classic.

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Comments

  1. Smokey Member

    And, we also have here a left hand drive, obviously not made for the British market. I would ditch the mag wheels and all the other after market add ons and make it as original as possible. Maybe it would make a nice hearse for a funeral home that specializes in services for pets.

    Like 11
    • luke arnott Member

      These did not come with a passenger seat or spare wheel as standard – you had to pay extra!

      Like 1
  2. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Pulled out of an airplane hanger?

    Has me wondering how many cars that would be considered collectible, or just in great but seldom-used condition are tucked away at smaller airports across the country.

    Like 5
  3. gaspumpchas

    Cute little little bugger, always liked the look of the minor. I like the chrome slots and the green paint. Think this was a rear wheel drive? Lucas electrical system , cue the Lucas jokes. It would be a labor of love for sure. Good luck and stay safe.
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 2
    • Smokey Member

      OK…….. I will bite……….L U C A S , Prince of Darkness

      Like 2
    • jerry hw brentnell

      lucas built refrigerators thats why english people drink warm beer eh? now with this morris! what a great place to stuff a v6 motor and 5 speed stick out of dodge dakota, and paint it up with dirty willy”s cat house on both sides of it!

      Like 2
      • Derek

        The 5-speed box from the 70s Celica is a common conversion.

        Like 2
  4. Kelly g

    Best looking surf wagon i’ve seen in a while. Looks like it can be put back on the road reasonably enough. Cool truck.

    Like 5
  5. Mark

    This thing is begging for the gasser treatment.
    Big slicks, straight axle up front, injected small block Chevy and a respray in Candy green.

    Like 3
    • Puhnto

      Hiss, Boo!

      Like 18
  6. Tim

    Had a ‘59 coupe as my first car. Other than the Flintstone floors it was a fun little car.

    Like 2
    • David Frank David Frank Member

      I’ve had several British folks stare fondly at the museum’s example, a sedan, and remembering school days. Several told a similar story about buying them cheap. First, hunt down a sign about the right size. Next, turn the wheels around on one side so you could roll it on to that side. Finally, weld the sign in place one the bottom. Result; one cheap fun car. Remount the wheels right way round and drive. Perhaps it was just the English version of an urban legend but it does sound like fun.

      Like 1
  7. Ben T.Spanner

    My friend has a MM pickup truck in a similar color, with mag wheels; all done 40 plus years ago .It was a BMC dealership parts runner until he bought in the mid 1970’s. It has a dual carb, 1275 and a Datsun 5 speed, which makes it much more friendly to drive.
    The sedans were unibody. The PUs, wagon, and panel vans had a rear frame.

    Like 6
  8. Gator Member

    Wish I had room in my shop for one more project…….

    Like 2
  9. Charles Sawka

    Front suspension, and very weak rear frame extension. These are the main problems. The 1275 is no powerhouse but it’s practically killproof, synchros usually need work. Brakes are a joke, and well, you know we don’t have to speak about Joseph E Lucas. Cool little van however.

    Like 2
  10. Solosolo Solosolo Member

    Yep, rear wheel drive, four on the floor. The original 1000cc engine was good so the 1275cc should be a hoot. I had a 1275 in my Mini Moke that had 12″ wheels and went like sht off a shovel. Lose the wheels and remove the windows in the side panels and enjoy a bit of English quirkiness. Great little cars.

    Like 5
  11. Mtn Sailor

    Used to drive one of these to deliver groceries for my after school job, back in NZ…nice trip down memory lane. Hope someone saves it.

    Like 3
  12. Malcolm Boyes

    Lose those ugly mirrors..maybe the wheels. I’d be tempted to cover the cut in back windows with a lacquered wood sign on each side..could be removed if needed. As said those engines are fine..shared with lots of cars from Copper S to Spridget. If its not too rusty this will be a fun project and worth the time and effort to owen a great little ute.

    Like 3
  13. Patrick Anderson

    Play Free Bird!

  14. robert lewis

    hummmm….owned a 59 2dr way back,it needed a valve job(car was given to me by a customer where i worked)starter was junk but was no prob with the hand-crank.Traded it for a 63impala SS vert even.(of course it was the early 70’s) after some repairs.

    Like 1
  15. Johnny

    Neat looking little panel truck.,but toss the Ford truck mirrors for some 50,s60,s car mirrors. Whoever needs a big mirror to look out back–should try the smaller ones. They do the same job and look alot better. I,d park it in the winter and spring to fall drive it . I like it alot,but I think the price should be brought down a good bit. Seems like in nice shape,but I,d have to check it out or have a trusted person to.

  16. Levi Andrus

    Looks like good gasser material

  17. D J Meister

    Alloy wheels ? Alloy’s corrode, they do not rust. Would love to put this back to it’s original state !

    Like 3
  18. Nic

    Had a 71 van til last Jan,2020.Imported from NZ (AU build)in 2006.
    The side windows in the box were mandated there.Later models had larger rear door glass (the side windows were not tempered/safety glass).
    Put discs brakes in front(Sprite /Midget parts) went from a 4:55 to 3:70 rear gears when I dropped in a 1500 cc Datsun with a 5 speed, replacing the 1100/w 4 speed. Brits were able to source Ford discs & 5 speeds.
    In San Francisco ALMOST all hills could be done in 2nd gear, 22-25 mpg city with 45 on the highway.
    Easily handled a 600 lb load inside( lead/cast iron window weights).

    Like 2
  19. Wayne from oz

    Lose the steel wheels, (they are not mags), because they are ugly and illegal, because of too much offset and protrude outside the fenders. Lose the mirrors and the steering wheel. LUCAS, leaves us cold and stranded.

  20. Jim Weaver

    I would certainly use a bottle jack to lift it by the front frame rails. I did that to mine one day and the jack went right through both sides of the frame. And I STILL drove it after that!!

  21. Larry Creech

    We have a 60 MM with an MG Midget 1275 engine and Sprite disc brakes on the front. It’s peppy as all get out but basically just sitting in the garage while I play with my other hit rods.

    Like 1
  22. OzyJohn

    Looks like a reasonable littler find. Pity it’s not in Oz. I had a 2 door Morris 1000 back in the ’70s. 1798 MGB motor and drive train. Loved that little beast.

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