THE last ever Morris Minor made in Oxford has returned home – just in time for a special birthday.

Fifty years to the day after rolling off the production line, the Morris Minor saloon is back at the MINI plant in Cowley.

It’s been quite a journey for the car, which will now form part of the factory’s collection of historic vehicles.

Volunteers from the Morris Minors Owners Club (MMOC) have worked tirelessly over the past four years to restore the car to its former glory.

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The car is in stark contrast to when it was acquired by the group in 2016.

Significant structural repairs were needed, and the services of a specialist welder and fabricator were enlisted.

In 2018, thanks to a generous bequest from a former MMOC member, original components including the engine and gearbox, were rebuilt.

The bulk of the refurbishment and reassembly of the car was undertaken by volunteer club members in Derby, where the group has its headquarters.

Oxford Mail:

Club secretary Ray Newell accompanied the car on its return to the MINI plant at a specially arranged, socially-distanced handover prior to the current lockdown.

He said: “The car is a credit to those who have supported the club in getting it back on the road in time for this significant anniversary.

“We are grateful to staff at MINI plant Oxford for their assistance in getting the car to into the factory’s museum and for housing and looking after it for the foreseeable future.

“We hope that post-lockdown that people will be able to come to view the vehicle and appreciate what is a wonderful example of this iconic, British car.”

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Steve Wrelton, spokesman for MINI Plant Oxford, said: “The backstory and subsequent restoration of this car to its former glory is nothing short of staggering.

“Like the MINI that came after it, the Morris Minor was one of the most popular and recognisable cars in Britain.

“To have the last one built returning to its spiritual home and joining our car collection here at the plant in Oxford is just fantastic.”

Oxford Mail:

After it left the production line on November 12, 1970, the car joined the others and was sent off to a dealer.

It was then eventually sold somewhere in the London area on January 6, 1971.

More than 20 years later, in 1994, the car popped up at a dealership in Wales and despite several groups of classic car enthusiasts rallying enthusiasm to buy the car, it it was bought by another private owner.

Oxford Mail:

Then, in 2016, it was put up for sale on eBay where John Ashmore – a member of the MMOC – seized the opportunity.

In turn, the MMOC bought the car, and it was taken to Derby for its restoration work.

Earlier this year, Minor Matters – a specialist publication produced by the MMOC – attempted to seek out anyone who was working the day the final car was made, in order to mutually celebrate the special anniversary.