At least 24 seperate British coachbuilding companies manufactured bodies for the Morris Minor chassis. A number of these companies produced more than one model, the most prolific being A.P. Compton (Arrow) with 8 models and a total of 6 different body styles. CMS, Gordon England, Maddox and Hoyal also included more than one Minor based model in their ranges. Those U.K. based companies known to have produced Minor Specials are listed below:
- Arrow (A. P. Compton)
- Boyd – Carpenter (B.C.)
- Brainsby (Trentlein)
- CMS (Coventry Motor Sundries)
- Colmore Depot
- Cunard (Stewart & Ardern)
- Gordon England
- King Bros. (K. B. Special)
- Marshalsea (Taunton)
- Salmon & Sons. (Tickford)
- SunRayn (Page & Johnson)
(Known survivors remain from CMS, McEvoy, Maltby, Jenson, Duple and Cunard.)
June 2009 Update – Further research has uncovered images of cars from all bar two of the coachbuilders listed above. The elusive images are for Minor specials produced by the Boyd Carpenter Company, and Salmons & Sons (Tickford) during 1930 or 1931.
There are probably names missing from this list. Please help fill in the gaps if you know of a (British) coachbuilder’s name(s) that should appear here. Better still, if you have an image of such a vehicle that you would be prepared to share with your fellow enthusiasts, be it a photograph, or an artists impression, email it to us and it will be displayed in the gallery above.
The VMR’s Chassis Register declares that only 137 OHC rolling chassis were delivered to UK customers although over 2500 were exported. This figure of 137 includes a ‘balancing’ figure of minus (21) for 1930. In view of the Grindlay CMS letter (see below) and the small ad evidence of traded Minor Specials found in period magazines from 1930 to 1935 it is very likely that far more than 137 Minor coachbuilt specials were manufactured – some probably being converted from Saloons and and other models some time after they had originally left the Cowley factory.
About these cars…
Arrow Minors (A.P. Compton & Co. Ltd.)
Read about the eight Arrow Minor variants via the red button here:
CMS Minor (Coventry Motor and Sundries Co., Ltd.)
Apart from being specialist car body builders (coachbuilders), CMS were a well established Coventry company, suppling hoods and other weather equipment to Morris Motors Ltd for fitment to their touring range of cars. During 1930 and 1931 an indeterminate number of Minor bodies were made, in two models, the Sports and Special Sports. The Sports model retained running boards and standard Morris mudguards, whilst the Special Sports had M Type like cycle wings and no running boards. The Special Sports were also referred to as Super Sports and De Luxe. Both models appear to have been fitted with a common ‘V’ windscreen and dash, although some Sports models may have sported screens of the ‘flat’ variety. All cars were available in three colours, black,red and blue and could be supplied in either a fabric skin or a cellulose paint finish over aluminium.
The author believes that these two-seater models were made to capitalise upon a gap in the Morris range. The cars were advertised in the The Morris Owner magazine indicating a form of endorsement from Morris Motors themselves at a time when a two seater model was not available through the Morris factory.
(Author: Roger Lucke June 2008 – current owner of CMS Special Sports UY 8351) Roger has also supplied a copy of a letter sent to former Morris Register Historian Harry Edwards by CMS Managing Director John Grindlay in 1966 which provides an insight into the numbers constructed. Read the letter via this red button link:
UY 8351 (Roger Lucke’s CMS Minor Special Sports – pictured above)
Harry Edwards, the well known Morris Register historian and author, bought this car in a derelict condition from a Wolverhampton back garden in 1977. After a long rebuild, the car, finished in Fiat Racing Red, was sold at an RAF Hendon auction in 1990. It was purchased by John Grindley, the Grandson of the founder of CMS, for exhibition at their factory. Grindley was of Grindley-Peerless fame, a company that had manufactured sidecars and racing motorcycles between 1923 and 1934. Roger Lucke purchased the car in 1999 from a local vintage car dealer, since when most mechanical parts have either been refurbished or replaced, although the car looks very little altered. (Author Roger Lucke)
Gordon England Minor Specials
Gordon England’s West London coachbuilding concern designed and built these pretty fabric bodies specifically for the Minor rolling chassis. The 1929 Minor model features are clearly visible in the photograph; the heavily dished steering wheel and flangeless early hubs.
Morris Motors were so impressed by this model that they commissioned Gordon England to design a similar model for volume production by themselves. The design he came up with (the Minor Semi-Sports) differed only in detail to his earlier original design. The visible differences being the smaller doors on the original car and the differing line to the rear body strip. Even the stippled leather effect bonnet, seen on Semi-Sports Minors, may have originated on the G.E. car although the photographic evidence here is inconclusive.
Launched at the same time as the open two seater was a Minor based four seat fabric saloon. The high waist line and curved rear windows had been featured on other fabric saloon bodies manufactured by G.E., notably those for Austin.
A G.E. Minor two-seater special survived until the 1980s according to the Morris Register but has yet to re-surface up to the autumn of 2010.
Although never catalogued by Swallow, they did build at least one such special body on a Minor chassis at some point between the spring of 1930 and February 1931. This car was displayed by Henlys (Swallow’s main dealer in the South of England) in their new west end showroom and mention of this is made in Andrew White’s 1980 book entitled ‘Jaguar – The definitive history of a great British car’. It gets a further mention in another eighties book on Jaguar, namely ‘Jaguar – The complete illustrated story’ by Philip Porter, first published by Warne in 1984. Just a solitary image of the car seems to have survived – unless anyone knows otherwise?