WHY MORRIS MINOR PART 7

LOST IN THE BIG CITY

 

 

I am told that I am forth generation born in California, I can say third generation for sure. California or at least Los Angeles was a great place to grow up. Everything that was new and exciting grew out of what has been coined “The California car culture”

After all California was”the land of “Milk and Honey”, the last of the wide-open spaces.

 

Tiny Naylor’s drive up, The Gilmore drive in Movie, A&W Root Beer and Carhops were part of this culture. Visualize this: you own a cool car, the weather is perfect and you pull in and Park in front of a restaurant with large open windows and a real nice looking young actress hopeful comes out in her Cheerleader outfit and says “what will it be darling?”

 

If you own a convertible and the moon is out and you are with a beautiful girl… Well that is the stuff of dreams and movies. If you are one of those hopefuls, you probably drove a Morris. If you heard as many of the stories I have, you too would have carnal knowledge of what went on in the back of some Morris Travelers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American sports car, the British where knocking out the Jaguar, MG and host of cheap well-engineered cars that were fun as well as practical. Do you remember the Edsel? The Corvette, it had a tractor motor when it first came out.

 

Time marches on. The sounds of the city changed, to alarms going off at all hours. The eighties gave birth to Car Alarms and the Four-wheel drive. It was cool to jump out of your vehicle and push a remote: your lights blink, honk, honk. Not having an alarm on my Morris I sometimes would reach in and honk the horn twice just so people would think I had one in my car. I did this once and some jerk looked at my Morris and said: Why Bother?

 

The nineties spawned European engineered revolution of wonder cars. We Yanks invented car phones. Which have morphed to Hands Free Communications?  Yes, just like Zardoz. At ten feet, it looks like everyone is walking and driving around talking to him or herself.

 

Then there is that Dinosaur sound from Jurassic Park BOOM BOOM BA BOOM BOOM: Tiny little rice rockets with wheels and stereos larger and more valuable than the cars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, things change or do they?  Thirty years on, I still am in love with my Morris Minors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only problem is that it gets lonely in the big city!

 

We have not had a big British Car Rally in almost 3 years and since the club moved back East we do not have as many members in California. In 1982, we had 140 active members in Los Angeles alone and now we have less than 100 in the whole State.

 

I went to an impromptu gathering like the old days, by phone call. It was a Mini Meet at the Motion Picture Retirement Home. It was supposed to be a British Meet but there were New Mini’s, a Volvo and 2 Morris convertibles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quite Frankly I was tricked! I got a call from a friend I have known for 20 years. We had worked on a script about road tripping in the Ivy League. He had attended Dartmouth as well as studied at Oxford; where he fell in Love with a one-owner 1949 MM convertible. After he brought it to America, it sat in his garage for 15 years driving it occasionally…

 

 

He let slip time and MorrisNeglectisFatalas was setting in. I got the call “Randy will you get the Ol’ Morrie up and running for me?” It took me five minutes and an over-night charge of the battery. A week went by, I called to have my friend pick it up and then another week went by.

 

 

 

His wife had ordered it out of the garage

forever; Banished to Randy Land

Orphanage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you are from modest means with a sense of good taste, a Morris was the best buy around. More accurately in the 1960’s there were many British cars. Money or not in California you need a car to get around.

 

When American carmakers were still experimenting with the idea of an

What happen, how did the World evolve to where the Germans now build the new Mini and throw away economy, boxes are now made in Korea. I am not sure about the Japanese and I think Ford Motors owns Volvo, Jaguar, Aston Martin and most of Mazda?

I think Vauxhall owns Toyota and Toyotas are made in the southern U.S.A. Volkswagens are made in Mexico?

The older I get, the greater appreciation I develop for things built simply.

 

Remember California and the Milk and Honey; well it has changed to the Hurry up and Wait State. Giant SUV’s gobble gas at $80.00 a tank full and the traffic is so bad you are lucky to do 25 miles per hour around town, which is a perfect speed for my Low Light with its flat head engine!

The Hummer and Vehicles like it, which weigh over 6000 pounds, get a Tax credit; somebody in the government loves those things?

 

 The big car company’s solution is to make a $5,000.00 electric car the goes 25 MPH for 100 miles on a full charge. They have no doors or any accessories for that matter

 

That makes my Morris 50 years ahead of its time.

Well I guess that makes sense after all, there is the new EEC. Therefore anything European can be considered British and vise versa? Nationalism a bad word in this new century,

Look what happened in The Balkans.

 

 I own a Morris, but do I belong to a group of like-minded people who share a common philosophy and life style via Morris ownership?

Not in Los Angeles.

Instead of driving them they are becoming pets. The best kind, they spend their lives, locked in a garage.

 

This was the Star of the show. We would have gotten into some kind of contest but I had sold my Morris Limo and it was on its way to Norway.

As fate would have it the Man, who adopted my Limo owns the other Morris that showed up: Olaf Ingved.

He owns several Morris Minors on two continents. It is 50 mile round trip by freeway between our homes and those SUV’s get angry when you drive 55mph and they are going  80mph plus.

 

How do I think of my rag tag Morris Minors that we own and drive; we refer to them as our Orphanage.

 

We are a funny kind of Missionaries in a Multinationalistic Land of fair weather and Giant over engineered 4-wheel drive cars assembled from parts made around the world.

 

I had promised that the orphanage was full and then another one showed up. What would you have done?

 

 

In the end over thirty years of driving Morris Minors, what is cool remains. Once in a while on that perfect day with a slight breeze, the top down an old Beatles song, My wife moves over and puts her head on my shoulders. I shift up to quiet that Abarth exhaust and that song comes on the radio. Will you still love me when I am sixty-four? … Oh Well