1958 Morris Minor Convertible.
1958 Morris Minor Convertible. Iain Curry

Morris Minor gets double facelift

SENTIMENTAL value counts for a lot when it comes to car ownership, and the enduring relationship Sunshine Coast's Gillian Leigh has with her 1958 Morris Minor 1000 Convertible is a true love affair.

The cute classic was a 25th birthday present from her husband, Julian, and such is Gillian’s affection for the car it followed them to Australia from England more than 10 years ago.

“This car was sort of my 25th present as my original white convertible was stolen in London, and this was the replacement,” Gillian said.

“The first car was immaculate and we couldn’t find another as they’re such rare cars. Julian eventually found a rusty one and we had it restored to a beautiful condition.”

The journey to Australia was not kind on the restored Minor Convertible, however, as the removalists failed to strap the car down for the crossing.

“It got bashed around quite a bit and rusted in the salty air, so we had it restored again in Australia.”

Gillian estimates a mere 30 of these Morris Minor Convertibles survive around the world today, meaning they are both a rare and intriguing sight on our local roads.

“I used it as our primary car in England for some time, and out here I drive it into Maleny as much as possible and take it to the coast on sunny days with a surfboard in the back,” she said.

“I smile all the time I drive because of the reaction I get. People assume you’re a nice person driving such a cute car.”

To make the car more relevant for today’s driving, Gillian has employed Maroochydore classic car expert Suncoast Automotive Services to uprate the brakes and headlights, while the engine has been converted to accept unleaded fuel.

Gillian has used the car for her best friend’s wedding, and offers it to wedding guests at the Halfmoon Hideaway luxury accommodation she operates in Maleny.

Her son also used it for his school formal recently, the British classic looking unique against the modern exotica more typically on show.

Everyday driving is fine, but going from second to first gears you need to double de-clutch,” Gillian reports.

“It feels comfy up to 100kmh, but it’s half the length and width of new cars so it’s easy to overtake me.”

VITAL STATISTICS

Owner: Gillian Leigh, Maleny.

Model: 1958 Morris Minor 1000 Convertible.

Details: Two-door convertible produced between 1956 and 1971 (1000 Series).

Engine: 948cc BMC A-Series inline four cylinder generating maximum power of 28kW @ 4750rpm and peak torque of 68Nm @ 2500rpm.

Transmission: Four-speed manual.

Number produced: 847,491 (all 1000 Series models).

Value today: $15,000-$20,000.


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