1970 Austin Morris Minor Pick-up 'Fast Road'

Highlights


  • A-series engine bored-out to 1340cc 
  • Numerous performance modifications to the engine and other mechanical parts
  • Subtle cosmetic modifications – a true Q-car
  • MoT with no advisories valid until September 2023

The Appeal


With 1,368,291 units built between 1948 and 1971, including saloons, convertibles, estates, vans and pick-ups, the Morris Minor was unrivalled in its popularity and versatility. It was Britain’s best-selling car ever until it was overtaken by the Mini in the late 1960s and, like the Mini, its popularity has endured. Among the thousands of survivors, you might think you’ve seen it all: concours restorations, daily-drivers wearing their patina with pride, individualistic custom cars and Minors built for racing. We’ll wager there’s one thing you haven’t seen until now, though: a Minor pick-up subtly upgraded to ‘fast road’ specification.

This Austin Minor (as some of the vans and pick-ups were badged) looks innocuous enough, but lift the bonnet and you’ll see that it’s been breathed on just a little bit; go for a drive and you’ll soon appreciate that this is no ordinary Minor.

Built by a previous owner over several years in the early 2010s, we think this demonstrates the ultimate road-going specification for a Minor without losing the A-series engine, and with it a key part of the Minor’s character. This pick-up’s engine has been bored out to 1340cc, which is about as big as the A-series can possibly get. With a great SU carburettor, high-ratio back axle, disc brakes and other modifications, it really flies. What’s more, it’s still fully-functional as a pick-up, so you could use it as working vehicle if you so desired. Forget about Range Rovers – this is what a real sports utility vehicle looks like.

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The History and Paperwork


  • First registered in Surrey in August 1970
  • Invoices suggest the Minor was being extensively modified between 2011 and 2015
  • Sold by its builder in 2019, it was purchased by the current owner in December 2021
  • In the present ownership, it has seen occasional use as a delivery and promotional vehicle
  • Sold with the current V5, a collection of MoT certificates, and various invoices issued between 2011 and 2015

The Interior


  • Fully retrimmed in 2010s
  • Colour scheme gives a semi-contemporary appearance
  • Moto-Lita sports steering wheel and three-point seatbelts

Considering this is part commercial vehicle and part sports-car, one must necessarily expect the interior to be a little on the Spartan side, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t both attractive and comfortable. The aesthetic is a blend of modern and classic, with the attractively shaped metal dash panel harking back to the Minor 1000’s 1950s origins, while the colour scheme and certain fittings lend it a more contemporary feel.

The seats look to us to be original Minor seats wearing more modern-looking covers, and this would be consistent with a 2015 invoice from Charles Ware’s Morris Minor Centre which outlines the sale of a new horsehair squab and foam base for one seat. The modern three-point seatbelts will be appreciated, in light of the somewhat enhanced speeds this Minor will achieve.

Having been so extensively reworked and refurbished, everything presents in wonderful condition, with many new parts having been incorporated during the build. Perhaps the most obvious deviation from standard is the sporty Moto-Lita steering wheel, which ought to give the steering a much ‘tighter’ feel than the original, large-diameter wheel.

The neatness, simplicity and symmetry of the dash panel is most attractive to our eyes, so we are pleased that it has not been extensively modified, although there may be one or two additional gauges, which can only possibly be useful.

The carpets and headlining are in very good condition and, all in all, the interior is a lovely place to be. There is some light patina in places, such as a few small marks on the door cards and on the dash panel, but it is, on the whole, in excellent order and most presentable.

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The Exterior


  • Discreet cosmetic modifications including smoothed-out tailgate
  • Wide custom steel wheels
  • Lovely paintwork and very solid underneath

We would say, almost without a doubt, that when new and for the first 10 or 15 years of its life, this Morris had to work pretty hard for its keep. However, you’d not guess it from looking at it today.

While there are no invoices detailing any historic restoration work, it is fairly obvious that a lot of time and money has been put into it at some point, and the fetching cerulean paint it now sports is just a bonus. The bodywork is extremely straight and the underside looks reassuringly solid and, considering the straightforward nature of the pick-up’s chassis-on-frame construction, it really isn’t likely to be hiding anything.

All in all, the paint presents fantastically. There are a few very minor cosmetic blemishes in places, such as some small chips and cracks and some isolated areas of blistering, but these will not be obvious to anyone and are by no means severe. The chrome, likewise, is excellent. As with most classic cars, there is a soft, attractive patina across the surface, but we much prefer that to chrome which over-polished and blindingly bright. This has been built, first and foremost, for ‘go’ rather than ‘show’, so we think its present condition suits it perfectly. 

The black grille is a stylistic touch which gives the Morris an especially purposeful look, but one more pronounced cosmetic modification is to the rear tailgate. Originally, this would have contained two recessed panels and external hinges. While we don’t know exactly what work has been undertaken, the rear view has been enhanced by smoothing out the tailgate and converting it to operate with concealed hinges, thereby giving it a much tidier, cleaner appearance.

Again, we do not know the exact origins of the wheels, except that they look to have been custom-made. They still bear an appropriate resemblance to the original Morris Minor’s steel wheels, but obviously these are banded and drilled with large holes for weight-saving and efficient brake-cooling. They have a light cosmetic patina, but still present beautifully.

We must draw attention to the pick-up bed, too. It looks well-made and functional without elaborate modifications or fussy polishing, which is just right for a pick-up that you might actually want to use for transporting goods, and a handy feature is the tonneau cover, which is very easy to fit and still looks quite new.

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The Mechanics


  • A-series engine bored out to 1340cc
  • Special ‘fast road’ cam, large SU carburettor and custom exhaust system
  • 3.77 to one differential ratio
  • Disc brake conversion
  • MoT with no advisories valid until 22nd September 2023

The BMC A-series engine may have been small, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a quick, lively little motor. Just look at all the Minis and MG Midgets which dart around with unabated energy, and the Austin A35s which have their very own race series. Anyone who’s ever driven a Minor will know that it’s no slouch around town, either, although, in the case of this particular one, ‘no slouch’ would be something of an understatement.

As we’ve outlined, it has received extensive mechanical modifications. The engine has been bored out to 1340cc, which is about as big as an A-series can get, and it’s been fitted with a special ‘fast road’ cam, large SU carburettor and custom exhaust. A high-geared differential (3.77 to one) ensures it’s quick off the mark. A front disc brake conversion ensures that it can safely handle all the extra power.

Believe us when we say that this pick-up flies. If you’ve a heavy right foot, you will find yourself forced into the back of your seat, and travelling with a rapidity which may surprise the drivers of many modern cars. We are not aware of the suspension being altered in any way, but we must remark that it had a very firm, sporty feel to it, so it should have the handling to match its speed. We may mention that, unlike the saloons, which are commonly converted to torsion-bar dampers, the vans and pick-ups used torsion bars as standard, which is doubtless an advantage.

Having been thus assembled, the Minor’s engineering is still straightforward enough that you could live with it and enjoy using it every day, if you so wished. The only practical implication of the modifications is a slightly more complicated starting procedure involving the regulation of the fuel supply, which the vendor will be able to demonstrate for you. There is also a manual switch on the dash for the electric fan.

Evidently, this has been put together by someone who knew what they were doing, and it still holds up well several years later. If any further evidence were needed of its excellent mechanical health, you could ask the MoT tester, who passed it just a few days ago with no advisories.

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The Summary


Vans and pick-ups may once have been the hardest-used workhorses of the motoring world, but now it’s a different story. Where any such vehicles are concerned, not just Minors, they are considered especially desirable for their rarity and historical social importance, and accordingly fetch prices well in excess of their family-car counterparts.

This vehicle is not just rare, though; it’s positively unique. While still undoubtedly a capable workhorse, with a straightforward, unfussy pick-up bed which makes it ideal for deliveries, it now has the heart and soul of a sports-car. Extensively modified to very good effect, it promises to be lots of fun. It might not even be a stretch to suggest you could try your hand at sprints and hill-climbs… or you could just stick to making deliveries in record time.

Notice to bidders


This item is sold on an ‘As is Where is’ basis. The condition of this item is the opinion of the seller and may differ from your own opinion.
Photos and listing descriptions are for guidance purposes only
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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1970
  • Make Austin
  • Model Morris Minor Pick-up 'Fast Road'
  • Colour Blue
  • Odometer 22,015 Miles
  • Engine size 1275
  • Town Highgate
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Trade
  • Location London
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
21 bids
  • wi•••• £10,750 07/10/22
  • ge•••• £10,750 07/10/22
  • ge•••• £10,500 07/10/22
  • wi•••• £10,250 07/10/22
  • ge•••• £10,000 07/10/22
  • ag•••• £9,800 07/10/22
  • ge•••• £9,600 07/10/22
  • ag•••• £9,400 07/10/22
  • ge•••• £9,200 07/10/22
  • ag•••• £9,000 07/10/22

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