The cars : Morris Mascot (the Mini from Denmark)

The Danes had an independent streak when it came to car names, never more so than with the Mini, which went by the name of ‘Morris Mascot’ until 1981.

Chris Cowin takes a look at the history and then focuses on some special Mascots from the late-1970s.


Denmark: when’s a Mini not a Mini?

The Morris Mini Minor was initially advertised in Denmark as the  ‘Morris 850’ but, within a short space of time, importer DOMI had adopted the ‘Mascot’ name. This slotted into its ‘M car’ strategy which applied to the whole Morris range, with the 1100 being christened ‘Morris Marina’ from launch in 1962, and the Morris 1800 being named ‘Morris Monaco’. Vans were also given the treatment being Morris Meteor 1 (J4) and Morris Meteor 2 (J2), though the hugely popular Minor was usually referred to as ‘Morris 1000’ in the 1960s.

As in many countries around the world, Morris vehicles (and other former Nuffield marques) were still handled by a different importer from Austin, and marketed in friendly competition during the 1960s. So adopting the Morris Mascot name helped differentiate the DOMI version of the Mini from the Austin, which was imported by De Forenede Automobilfabriker, and initially baptised the ‘Austin Partner’.

In later years this would become simply ‘Austin Mini’ until, in 1972, DOMI gained control of all British Leyland imports to Denmark, at which point the Austin Mini disappeared and all Minis were sold as Morris Mascots. This retention of Morris branding for the Mini through the 1970s was in marked contrast to the UK and most other continental European markets and involved supplementary “Morris” badges as well as the “Mascot” badges which usually appeared on the boot lid at bottom right.

‘Are they going to a wedding or popping down to the launderette? The Morris Mascot is great for both’. A 1967 advert where the Morris Mascot appears together with its stablemates: Morris Marina and Morris Monaco. (1100 and 1800)

A multitude of Mascots

If you were thinking the Danish market was a footnote in the history of BMC and later British Leyland in Europe, think again. In the early 1960s, Denmark had the distinction of being BMC’s largest export market on the continent, taking 13,200 cars in 1964. It was later overtaken in volume terms by Italy thanks to the partnership between BMC and Innocenti, and subsequently France.

But Denmark for long topped the table of continental “penetration” as marketing men like to call it. In 1969, British Leyland could boast a market share of 19.3% in Denmark, a level maintained through the early Seventies, meaning British Leyland was selling more cars annually (around 20,000) in tiny Denmark than in the vast German market next door.

Only Ireland and New Zealand, among major export markets, bought such a high proportion of their new cars from British Leyland in that era. It helped that both the UK and Denmark were members of the EFTA trading bloc in the 1960s (which gave British cars tariff advantages) and, of course, though Denmark assembled some cars from kits, it lacked a homegrown car industry so all cars were essentially imports.

The Morris Mascot (and until 1972 the Austin Mini) had helped build this strong position in Denmark, as had the “ADO16” 1100/1300 which was a hit, alone accounting for 8.7% of the market in 1969. And as the Mini range proliferated, so did the range of Mascots, with models like the Morris Mascot Cooper ‘S’ making their appearance.

‘Share in the world’s greatest rally success story’.  Advert for the Morris Mascot Mk2 Cooper and Cooper ‘S’

When the Mk3 Minis arrived in 1969, including the Clubman, they were given the Mascot treatment, resulting in a range of six Mascots as seen below. It would appear that for a period the Clubman was called simply “Morris Clubman” but, by the mid-1970s this had evolved into Morris Mascot Clubman and the Estate went by the delightful name of Morris Mascot Clubman Stationcar. Like all cars sold in Denmark, they featured side repeater indicators long before these appeared on British Minis, in line with Danish law, though (unlike Sweden) they were never required to have headlight wipers.

Six Morris Mascots for 1970

By the late-1970s British Leyland’s position in Denmark was crumbling, due not least to surging Japanese imports, but the Morris Mascot remained a firm favourite. The 1275GT had disappeared leaving the Mascot 850, Mascot 1000, Mascot Clubman and Mascot Clubman Stationcar (estate) .

The four car Morris Mascot range for 1978

Mascots of distinction 

The bulk of Morris Mascots supplied to Denmark were assembled at British Leyland’s Belgian Seneffe plant and, in the late Seventies, several rather special Mascots appeared. Seneffe was adept at producing such special editions, with the principal models for Denmark listed below.

“Denmark’s smallest executive car” … The 1100cc A-Series engine appeared in “round-nosed” Minis for 1979 (in the UK only as a limited edition). In Europe the Mini 1100 Special was a regular model, marketed in Denmark as the Morris Mascot Special 1100
‘Hurry to your dealer to secure a new Mascot Silver’… The Morris Mascot Silver was a 998cc Morris Mascot (Mini 1000) with trim similar to the Special 1100 – limited to 650 examples produced to mark 50 years since the first Morris was sold in Denmark
‘Sorry, Jaguar, Rover and Rolls-Royce’… A Morris Mascot Special 1100 with extra equipment including wooden dashboard was the “Morris Mascot Special GT”. This was also linked to the 50 year celebrations
‘There are 127 different Mascot models’ – Advert promoting the range of accessories available for the standard Morris Mascot – 1979

The Mini van and pick-up had also always been branded Morris Mascot in Denmark by importer DOMI, and remained available alongside the cars until the end of the Seventies. As seen below, the official range included ‘window vans’ which were popular in Denmark for tax reasons.

However, by 1979, BL was incurring heavy losses in Scandinavian markets, and the writing was clearly on the wall for the Morris Mascot. British Leyland could claim to lead the Danish market at the start of the 1970s, supplying one in five of all new cars, but in the early 1980s Denmark had been essentially abandoned (though there would be a comeback). Morris Mascot sales ended in 1981 and the Mini would not be officially marketed in Denmark for many years to come, although there were many private imports. For much of the 1980s there was an assumption the Mini was soon to be chopped from production, and that would have discouraged a formal re-introduction in Denmark. It was finally re-introduced by Rover in the Nineties, but on that occasion the Mascot name was left firmly on the shelf.

As ever, all comments and additional information are very welcome. Illustrations in this piece are original marketing images,  mostly found on the excellent Danish sites www.Youngtimer.dk and www.autoarkiv.dk

Morris Mascot 95 commercial vehicles – 1980. The ‘window van’ was a popular category of vehicle in Denmark. Note wheel-arch extensions and side repeaters. Otherwise these are similar to UK market Mini commercials, which retained the Mk1 grille and doors to the end
Chris Cowin

10 Comments

  1. “Vans were also given the treatment being Morris Meteor 1 (J4) and Morris Meteor 2 (J2)” In New Zealand, where I did my apprenticeship with Morris, the J2 was older than the J4. Was it the other way around in Denmark?

    • They were essentially the same vehicles as in New Zealand. When they called J4 “Meteor 1” and J2 “Meteor 2” in Denmark, it didn’t mean “Mk1” and “Mk2”. It was more like “Thunderbirds 1” and “Thunderbirds 2” if you get my meaning. They were contemporaries.

  2. I never knew he Ado16 was marketed as the Morris Marina, always assumed it was a name that arrived with the marketing strategies of British Leyland.

    • Yes, the “ADO16” Morris 1100 was baptised “Morris Marina” when launched in Denmark as a four door saloon in 1962. That name was unique to Denmark at that time. But the Austin 1100 was also available – and called simply “Austin 1100”. Both could also be purchased as a two door saloon from 1966 (visible in the advert in the post) which was not possible in the UK on the Mk1 “ADO16” Austin/Morris 1100.
      British Leyland adopted the “Marina” name for the rear-drive (ADO28) cars they launched in 1971 and used it globally, including in Denmark.
      This did not cause much of a problem in Denmark as the pre-existing “old” Morris Marina 1100/1300 range was dropped when the “new” rear-drive Morris Marina was introduced, leaving the Austin 1100/1300 models – which continued to be available for several more years in Mk3 form. Much the same happened in the UK with all Morris 1100/1300 models except the 1300 Traveller disappearing when the Morris Marina was launched.
      It was a bit more complicated than that as Denmark (like the UK) did receive a Mk3 Morris 1300 Traveller and also a Mk3 Morris 1100 two door saloon which were called “Morris Marina 1100” and “Morris Marina 1300 Stationcar” . They were quite short-lived but would have overlapped briefly with the new rear-drive Morris Marina range.

      • Thanks for that Chris.

        However

        “This did not cause much of a problem in Denmark as the pre-existing “old” Morris Marina 1100/1300 range was dropped when the “new” rear-drive Morris Marina was introduced,”

        Not a problem for the marketing department, but I suspect a problem for the customers replacing their Ado16 with the Ado28, when they came to their first corner, although admittedly after they were feeling rather pleased about the gear change and seating position.

  3. Thanks Chris for sharing these adverts with us. The name Mascot actually suits the MINI quite well. I particularly like the Mascot Special & Silver editions as well as the Clubman ones. My first car was a basic “Austin” Mini 850 (1967 car). Some interesting memories of it

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