A NEW book commemorates the 50th anniversary of one of Oxford’s best-loved and most successful exports – the Morris 1100.
The Story of the BMC 1100 has been compiled by two members of the national 1100 Club, Chris Morris and Fernand Pinkney, and contains interviews with the former Oxford car workers who helped design and build it.
Interviewees include Peter Tothill, from Stadhampton, who is now 84 and worked for Morris for 32 years, before retiring in 1982.
The former production engineer said: “I don’t think we realised what a winner the 1100 would be when we were making it, but it went on to surpass the Mini, the 1800 and the Maxi in terms of popularity. I think that was because it was so well-engineered, it handled well and had good suspension.”
Mr Tothill had his own 1100 in the early 60s.
He said: “It was a good, reliable little car and there was a real element of pride at Cowley when it sold so well.
“The book about it is an excellent idea and it’s great that it’s been written by enthusiasts, all under their own steam.
“I think it will be popular because a lot of people here in Oxfordshire, and across the country will look at it and say: “The 1100 – I had one of those”
Billed as the perfect family car, the 1100 became a ‘housewives favourite’ because of its compact size, lightweight steering, Italian-styled interior and £600 price tag.
The book’s co-author Mr Morris, from Leicester said: “The Morris 1100 was loved by many people, including myself, and during the 60s and early 70s it was the best-selling car in Britain for a full eight years – outselling even the Mini.
“In 1969 alone, 2,790 1100s were rolling out of the Cowley factory each week, and being shipped around the country and abroad.
“It took 13 per cent of the new car market share in that time and everywhere you looked you would see one. They were great-looking cars.”
“The book is full of data and interesting facts and photos, but it also has a fascinating collection of interviews with former Morris workers, ranging from developers and designers to engineers and those who actually built and tested the 1100.”
* The Story of the BMC 1100, priced £25 (ISBN: 978-1-84549-539-8) will have its official launch at the Gaydon Motor Heritage Centre in Warwickshire on May 10. For more information, about the club, visit the1100club.com