March’s car of the month returns us to an old favourite of mine: the BMC 1100. This particular example is a credit to the breed, and is owned by Michael Turner, who turns 18 this month.
What is there left unsaid about the BMC 1100? It was the best-selling car for BMC during the 1960s and into the 1970’s – it defined the small/medium car in the UK for all those years, and proved that front-wheel-drive was a practical proposition for cars bigger than the Mini. Here, Michael describes his relationship with his car – and the work he has put into it.
In 2000, we had to sell our Mk1 Morris 1100, as a third party had a financial interest in it. Soon after the sale, however, I found that I couldn’t bear to be without a car, so I turned to the Internet in order to find myself another one. Luckily I happened to find an advert for a 2-door Austin 1300 Mk3, based in Manchester. I printed off the advert and passed it on to my dad who read it and gave it a call. The seller turned out to be an 1100 Club member who had attended our local meetings for many years. His father was wanting his garage back, and wanted to get rid of the cars stood out on the street. We arranged to go and have a look at the car one weekend. Unfortunately, when we arrived we saw the car looking very sorry for itself, and instead of being a nice, bright white, it was a mix between slime green and rusty brown. Although very solid, we decided that it would take a lot of work to put the car back onto the road. However, persistence paid off on the club member’s Dad’s part, as he insisted we look at another 1100 he had in the garage. He opened the door and we were gobsmacked to see – buried under hundreds of 1100 parts – another 1100… a Mk2, looking somewhat sad (since the suspension was completely down on one side) and covered in a thick layer of grime. But I’d found my new car! She was promptly named “K-C”, based on the letters of her number plate, and although she is a Mk2 model, she still has the Mk1-style eight-bar grille, and the Morris “Bull” badge on the front.
Although we did a lot work to K-C, we had a budget and we managed to stick to it. £700 was the price, and in that we even managed a half respray. Although of course now three years on she is beginning to require a little bit more money spending on her to make her ship-shape again.
I’m a new driver, and K-C is my first car. Yeah sure, it’s not a Ford Fiesta or a Vauxhall Corsa, but it’s a Morris! I wouldn’t (and couldn’t at the moment) see myself driving anything different. I use K-C as a toy for the weekends, going off for nice long drives, and while I’m driving I tend to find myself sat there smiling, as other “boy racers” are being overtaken by a car 34 years old. I like the reaction I get from the older generation, the sort of people who owned one first time around. They usually have a story to tell, and a comment to pass. Of course not everyone thinks the same, and disparaging remarks are usually passed by some spectators at the car shows: “They’ve become classics?” The answer? Yes they did, and I drive one daily even now!
Although the insurance isn’t as cheap as you’d expect, it’s still good to know that even though the body has done 150,000 miles, the floor pan has only two small welds on it, and structurally it’s amazing to think that finally, after 34 years, it is waiting to have a pair of front wings fitted. I’ve also got a vacuum brake servo to fit later this year. I’ve fitted a 1300 engine to car to give it that little bit more power, which means that she is zippy when she wants to be, and will sit at 75 on the motorway comfortably.
So why an 1100? I wouldn’t be a true enthusiast if I didn’t own one. I think that although she’s an older car, she is still practical to drive, and can comfortably fit all three of us (me, my dad, and mum) on the back seat…we’ve tested it! I never have a problem when parking, or when I decide to do manoeuvres… which isn’t very often! Of course driving an older car does have its up and downs…like the number of breakdowns we had when I started to drive, after passing my test! Nightmare! However you have to consider that the car is 34 years old, and may throw a wobbly every now and then!
In January of 2003 I was unlucky enough to be involved in an accident in K-C, sadly writing off most of the bodywork on the front of the car. It hit me pretty badly, as the car and I are joined at the hip. But I was determined that whatever the cost, she wouldn’t be going to the 1100 scrapyard in the sky.
However work is now in progress and the new front-end is nearly fitted. Although I had already purchased a pair of wings I never imagined fitting them in these sorts of circumstances. But all is progressing nicely, and it’s only a matter of time before K-C returns to the road.