Dave Taylor tells all about his love affair with Rose…
“Rose” is a 1966 Morris Minor Traveller. She is called Rose because of her colour: Rose Taupe (a fanciful description for a sort of mauve-tinted brown). It’s not the most exciting colour in the car manufacturer’s catalogue, but it is practical in hiding some of the rust and dirt. As a Traveller, Rose is what we would now call the estate model. She has a wood framed extension to her rear bodywork, giving extra carrying capacity in the back accessed by double rear doors.
As an elegant lady of advanced years (so far as cars go anyway), Rose certainly attracts attention. That is not really down to any rarity value; I read somewhere that there are still over 30,000 Morris Minors licensed and probably an equivalent number still in existence, but currently off the road. It’s her familiarity that causes the admiring glances. Stop in a car park and it’s odds on that at least one person will come up and say: “My auntie used to have one of those”; or “I learnt to drive in a Morris Minor”. If such comments lead on to compliments as to how nicely Rose has been restored, I feel guilty. I would love to say it was all my own work, but the truth is I paid to get the professionals in.
|…if she breaks down, all you have to do
is stop a passing 70-year-old woman.
Rose is the ideal local run around. Plenty of space for the week’s shopping and (with a bit of a squeeze) for four adult passengers. She’s fun to drive. The low gearing probably means she would climb a cliff (not that I’ve tried); and she has a fair turn of speed on a clear road. (I tell myself that the Police would never issue a speeding ticket to anyone in a Morris Minor, but will probably be proved wrong one day.) In truth I miss the added comforts of more modern cars on long trips; and, while it could no doubt be done, fitting air-conditioning, a CD player and the like to Rose would be rather like dressing up your grandmother in a mini-skirt. Inappropriate. She’s a distinguished lady and deserves respect. And (don’t let her hear me say this!) I do feel in control in the driving seat. It’s good to master the forgotten art of double-declutching; not strictly necessary, other than in a rare dropping-down from second into first, but satisfying when you time the changes right.
Like a lot of elderly ladies, she can occasionally be cantankerous. There has been the odd refusal to start, often in protest at having been left ignored in the garage for a week or more. The mechanic who does Rose’s annual maintenance check and MoT says that if she breaks down, all you have to do is stop a passing 70-year-old woman. The chances are she will have owned a Minor and will still remember how to get it going. There is probably something in that, but I prefer the place my faith in the RAC.
However the best feeling of all is the annual visit to the Post Office for Rose’s road fund licence renewal. I can’t help but smile when the counter clerk fills in the fee as “£ NIL”. Not bad for a year’s happy motoring.