WHY MORRIS MINOR PART 4
THE PATH OF THE MORRIS
I have not been able to write about Morris Minors or anything else that I love since September 11 2001. Morris Minors seem to be the antithesis of jet planes flying into skyscrapers and killing thousands of people. In one big ripple of time, life, as we knew it changed for everyone. Eventually, the choice between life with planes crashing into buildings and life in a Morris Minor had to be made. I’d much rather live in a world and a time where Morris Minors exist, than the former. I prefer a philosophy of life based on what I’ve learned from owning, restoring and driving a Morris than a philosophy cut from life’s worst scenarios. Escapism? Maybe…but that is also part of their appeal. A vehicle void of complication, based on simplicity, loved by different people all over the world despite religion, politics and those who own the oil. After all, they were getting 35 miles per gallon before it was politically correct. So, Morris Minor ownership has been a path and a journey that has influenced me over 40 years, even as a child. And the path continues…
The learning and the sense of appreciation for quality over quantity, simplicity over complicated technology from a slower world that no longer exists except in my appreciation of the car and my imagination, continues to grow.
I have always been fascinated by the concept of six degrees of separation. That somehow we are all connected within 6 different people. This is how I was just connected with another Morris Minor, a new friend and my somewhat Norwegian counterpart. I say somewhat because I want to say in no way have I yet to live up to so many of his accomplishments. The story goes like this…
My Volvo Penta diesel marine engine in my sailboat was sick. The Man who had sold the boat to me had tricked me. I knew nothing of diesel, He said all it needed was an oil change and then it would run well and not belch fuel out into the ocean leaving a $10,000 penalty trail of black soot in its wake. I put the word out in the Marina to find a diesel guru to help me repair it, but Leif Erickson did not have time for my obsolete motor.
I was told by all that it was hopeless and no parts were available. True to my nature, never take no for an answer, The 300 pound motor with the help of 3 Hispanic workers and 4 Scottish tourists who happened by, was removed. I was determined not to send it to Davy Jones locker. After hundreds of emails sent out around the world, I was able to work a solution to save the little engine.
As it turns out, Leif, the diesel guru, knows Olaf. Olaf wants a Morris. Leif tells Olaf that he knows a guy in the Marina that loves Morris’s. In fact, they are neighbors. Olaf and Leif come over the next Sunday and lo and behold Olaf has a notebook full of Morris Memorabilia and lo and behold, several of the cars that he likes the most, are pictures of Morris Minors that I have owned and restored. We are friends immediately. Then the sea stories and then the Morris stories… So it goes…
Olaf and Urban are friends. Urban and I met in 1998 at Woodstock, England, at the 50th anniversary of the Morris Minor. I wrote an article about his car. Urban tried to help me save my little Volvo engine. Olaf emailed Urban to check me out. Urban sent him somewhere else. So it goes…
This is really the basis of this story. You meet the most interesting people on the road with your Morris. There is an old saying, “There is no such thing as a coincidence. They’re just little miracles where God wishes to remain anonymous”. This leads me to think that God somehow has a special place in his heart for Morris Minor owners as well as children and drunks. Maybe it is a childish philosophy but I prefer it to any religion that would allow a child to strap on a bomb, or for some fanatic to take out a building with an airplane and kill thousands of innocent people….
Back to the path…I really want to talk about Olaf because he is one of the many interesting people I have met along the way. The name Olaf was made famous, as it was the name of the first Viking to get Christianity and he spread the word with an ax. Olaf is the son of a US Master Mariner. He grew up and was educated in Norway and he is a former deep sea Mariner and coastal skipper.
Olaf has a graduate degree in Maritime history from the University of Oslo. He has worked as an editor and written several books on maritime topics. He has also been instrumental in saving and restoring historic ships and was in 1994 awarded the gold medal of merit from the King of Norway for his accomplishments in the field of Maritime Heritage. From his book Shipping and Culture, I quote “ It is a good generation that saves for its children things to see and learn from to make them feel important and proud of themselves and their ancestor’s achievements.”
Olaf co founded the first and only Scandinavian Morris Minor club on the 18 ‘th of September 1978 with Ole Ostby, originally a Norwegian club; Olaf came up with the name Norminor. They were a good team; Ole was a fine mechanic and promoter and Olaf with his writing skills took care of the organizational duties. The first year turned up almost 10 members. News of the club spread through out the Viking world and to keep the peace and include all, they changed the name of the club to Nordisk.
The Danes out numbering the rest, seized control some five years later and the home of Nordisk has been in Denmark ever since. Their main goals remain the same: good cars, a supply of parts, cheap insurance, fighting off the evils of old car legislation, protection from greedy mechanics and most important, the friendships. Today some 2,500 people have been members of the club. Like in America, the little cars are spread out all over Scandinavia and other branches have sprung up as well.
They meet at least once a year in the summer but the true Morris Vikings arrange a “Primus Rally” in the mountains of Norway around February. This is how they test the worthiness of their Morris Minors: hand cranking the engines in the morning when it is 20 degrees below. They all sleep in a big military tent with a Birch wood-burning stove. I hope they understand that when I come to visit, my Morris goes in the tent with me.
Greased Lightning or Blue Lightning or in the original Norwegian BLALYNET was the name of Olaf’s first Morris. He purchased it in the fall of 1977. This is how he met Ole…
Olaf now owns two Morris Minors, a 1952 4 door, named Greyhound which lives in Norway and his new 1966 Convertible which he has named Beach Babe, which lives with him and his family in Burbank. I don’t think his wife would let him name the car Pamela Anderson, he has admitted having a thing for Pam…as we say here in the states.
Of all the Morris Minors Olaf has owned, I think he most proud of a Van named “The Red Scare”.
though he e-mailed me a couple of days latter and asked if I could get the Mast of the old ship in the background which they were in the process of cutting up and throwing a way. I could not imagine what he might want it for…
Then the thought occurred to me…
His daughter Gunn was
lucky to get this Morris in
1991 and she drove it for
7 years. Tormod is Olaf’s
son and guess what
Tormod got on his
sixteenth birthday? He
was passed the torch, and
proudly cares for the 1960
Morris today. Olaf a
stickler for Historic details
found and replaced the
original license plate
So it goes…
After driving this Van for over 250,000 kilometers in 10 years, he wore it out, and eventually it became an Olavsbibelen? The new owner then spent $10,000.00 restoring the van to promote a new edition of the Bible. The secret lives of Morris Minors…I can’t imagine that one my cars growing up and being a bible salesman?
This has to be our secret, but Olaf told his Scandinavian Morris friends that this was Pamela Andersons Limousine; nevertheless we all had a good time driving it around the Marina looking at old wooden boats. In fact if any of you Morris folk are traveling and find your selves in my part of the world and would fancy a ride in the limo let me know, as my guest of course.
I understand that Olaf has written a story in Norwegian for Norminor about the Landaulette. I was worried
Amongst those emails, someone had sent me a plea to please find a home for their poor Morris convertible. It lived 400 miles north in a trailer park in Union City. I could not resist. So, my son and I flew up to Oakland and found a beautiful but neglected Morris with 44,000 original miles. We got in and drove it home in the rain 400 miles that day. So it goes…