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Happy days are here again

28 November 2011
Ben Pentreath
22 Comments

‘I thought you said you wanted a leaf green Porsche?’ said my brother Tim.  ‘I thought you wanted a Porsche’ emailed my friend Paul when I told him. Yup—in a sense. But what I really really wanted was a Morris 1000.

Years ago, when I worked in Norfolk for my then boss and now great friend Charles, he and his wife Rachel bought a little blue Morris Minor which became, sort of by default, my company car. A little eccentric to be sure, but on visits from the Norfolk coast to north-west Essex, ‘Deb’, as she was known, took me on my charmed and happy way. Ever since then I’ve looked back fondly to my Morris Minor years.

A few weeks ago, my friend Chris spotted a tiny photograph of a smoke grey Morris Minor coming up in the local auction.  He emailed me the advertisement. ‘Didn’t you say your garage would never be complete without a Moggy?’, he said. Well… he was right. And I have to admit, I couldn’t forget that ad.  Every few days, I would find myself clicking on it, just for a quick look.  This is the moment to share with the world the wonderful world of Jeffs Auctions, and their splendid website. Finally, I called Mr Jeffs of Dorchester to enquire about the car.  “I’m so sorry – it’s been withdrawn from the sale”, he said “but I will certainly pass your details onto the owner”.

True to his word, a few days later I got a call from a gentle man in Maiden Newton, a few miles up the road.  Incredibly sadly, he was losing his sight from diabetes, had had to give up driving, and it was time for him to pass his cars on to new homes.  It is at times like this that one appreciates the existence of the local bus service – neither he nor his wife can now drive.

As it happened, it turns out I was the first to have called—so he said that he wanted me to be the first to come and have a look. Now I know that there will be some of you who think this is a bit too much of a good way to sell a car with the sympathy vote. Dear reader, one can instantly judge the reality or not of these situations and I’m afraid I wouldn’t have written that little story if it wasn’t true.

I brought my friend David from the village, who knows as much about cars as I do about early 18th century houses—that is to say, a fair amount. I don’t think he knows very much about 18th century houses, and I don’t know much about cars. Except that I can appreciate a Morris Minor in smoke grey with a fine polish and red leather seats.

The car had the all clear; ‘a very honest little car’ was the verdict. Not perfect—but then, perfection is an attribute that you do not seek in a Morris Minor that you want to run about the Dorset lanes in.

A little while later, the deal was done and we shook hands. It took a few days to arrange insurance, and get the tax disc, and collect the car, which I did on Friday morning. In the meantime there had been the small question of making the garage at the Old Parsonage a little bit longer – it turned out to be an inch or two too short for the car.  But it all fits now. Last time I drove a Morris Minor, I was fifteen years younger. I’m not sure I’ve been so happy in a while.

22 comments on this post

Amy K.says:

What a fantastic car! Enjoy!

sarahsays:

From a fellow 6 or 7 in 1977 Morris owner, congrats! Mine is Trafalgar Blue, resides in Norfolk and is called Nelson, as every girl needs a hero. ENJOY!

Bensays:

dear all. I’m very excited that everyone is excited. I am thinking the car might have to make a long trip to London for a summer party one day!

Deb looks very much at home in the garage. My husband is an avid car collector and it’s incredible the stories that come with the cars. People that are passionate about old cars are passionate about life.

I smiled the whole way through that post 🙂 What a beauty. Congrats!

mmmmmm! My first car in the mid 60’s was an Austin, A40 I think it was – estate wagon in forest green – loved it! Enjoy!

Staceysays:

The putty shade goes very nicely with you stonework and the pale blue of the garage door.

I had a 1968 pale blue Morri all through uni – it was indeed the most fun one can have behind the wheel and at times I still ‘phantom’ change the gears because it involved such a dramatic sweep…… I still regret selling Maurice – have so much fun.

Dianesays:

It appears you and your Morris both lucked out! And now, I’m going to look up Monica Dickens!

We had a Minor Bird in our nursery called Morris. My brother named him because he was going to have a Morris Minor when he grew up. He got one (same colour as yours) and it lived outside the flat we shared in Cheyne Place. One day we were going to a party together in Morris.He used the key and in we got. After a few minutes I said that I thought someone had been smoking in his car. He said that was quite impossible and then said ‘ help this is not my Morris’. It wasn’t and it turned out they they only made three different key types for all the Morris’s so you almost have a one in three chance of getting in the wrong one especially in the dark! We took it back and got in his. Enjoy yours.

Heidisays:

It’s lovely! Congratulations!

Bensays:

Okay you’re all right about that crazy green porsche. B

Incredible! Beautiful…you lucky devil! And such a gorgeous shade of grey, I might add. I’m all the more envious of you know, in the best sort of way.

Jessamysays:

Ah the days of Deb, how we loved her! Can’t wait to meet the new version which looks charming – Very Good Purchase Benny 🙂

Bensays:

Yes, a trip down memory lane, and I can’t wait to give you a spin!!!

miranda alexandersays:

suits you sooooo much better than the horrid porsche!

Helen On-the-Hillsays:

In one of Monica Dickens’ early novels, the heroine sees her cousin and his friend walking towards her in an English country garden and suddenly realises that her sophisticated, exciting but ultimately shallow French boyfriend is not for her:

‘They were both wearing khaki shorts, old tennis shoes, and faded, coloured shirts. Martin had an untidy crest of yellow hair that shone in the sunlight as they came across the lawn, whistling, with a jaunty little urchin of a white dog at their heels. The picture that they made impressed itself vividly on Mary’s mind. She knew that Pierre would never look like that. These boys were part of the character of the garden with as much right to be in it as the grass or the roses, or the clustering colours of the borders….’

That Porche wouldn’t have looked right in your Dorset lanes.

Bensays:

A fantastic quotation. I think I’ve been there a few times myself…!

wish more cars came in such fantastic color. congrats.

Kevin McKeonsays:

Lucky you. My first car was a Morris too (a van which I called Ben strangely!). I’ve never enjoyed driving quite as much since. My only advice is always carry brake fluid and oil, lots of oil. Have fun.

Bensays:

Katy I suspect we’ll be seeing a bit more of the car in months to come!!! Benx

Love it! Great color and lines. We have nothing like this in the states.

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