When the motorists of the 1950s and 1960s bought a Morris Minor as a practical family car, little did they know that some of these vehicles would become the wedding transport of choice for many Oxfordshire brides.

Three Morris Minors have been playing just this part on many Saturday afternoons this summer, chauffeur-driven by John and Ann Ford of Minors 4 You and their staff.

Based near Wallingford, the couple have been building their business lives around Minors since 1985. During this time Mr and Mrs Ford have owned examples of many of the models produced from 1948 to 1972 at the Cowley factory in Oxford.

Mr Ford’s first Morris Minor was a 1963 two-door version in almond green. He has also had an example of each of two of the earliest models, a 1950 two-door saloon and 1950 convertible, both in romaine green. Both cars are still on the road.

Although Minors 4 You now concentrates on weddings, it was established to provide cars for films.

It all began when Mr Ford was visiting a car rally. Coming back from a walk around the arena, he found a business card on the windscreen of his car, asking if he would like to hire it out for film work.

“The rest is history,” said Mrs Ford. “The film company was very good to work for, and by that time we already had several Morris Minors.”

Those few built up into more extensive numbers. For the film The Borrowers, they were asked to provide no fewer than 32.

“We asked around among our friends, and managed to borrow a few more to add to our own,” Mr Ford recalled.

Another film in which the cars will have been seen on screens nationwide, is Shadowlands, about the life of author and Oxford University don CS Lewis.

Mr Ford himself appeared a number of times in this, acting as the double for Anthony Hopkins who played the leading role as the writer. Mr Ford played the part in all the scenes where the actor was supposed to be at the wheel of the car.

The Fords’ vehicles have also appeared on TV many times, in commercials and in series such as London’s Burning. A Morris Minor Traveller took the credits in that.

Another area of work where the cars have been in demand is for fashion shoots.

Most of the filming was done in London, which meant getting up at 4am for a 7am start on the set and it could be very cold.

“Location work often involved 14-hour days. There was a gradual change, with less film work and more weddings. Now we concentrate on the weddings. It is less stressful than filming.”

The wedding car aspect came in gradually and started with requests from friends who asked them if they could provide a car for their big day and work soon built up.

“We really enjoy doing the weddings,” said Mrs Ford. “It is very rewarding. The brides make their journey to the church in cars all in the same ivory shade of paintwork, Old English White.

All the Minors are convertibles, but the Fords offer brides a choice of colour for the hood and upholstery. They can opt for black, red or burgundy. They also have a choice for the ribbons to decorate the cars, enabling them to match the colour of their bouquet, the bridesmaids’ dresses, or any other colour theme.

The chauffeurs’ outfits are all part of the livery.

“This has become our trademark,” said Mrs Ford. “The men wear black suits with white shirts and, if I am driving, I wear a black skirt suit and white shirt. We all wear bow-ties to match the overall colour scheme — we have a collection of 30 different shades to complement every possible variation.”

An important preliminary to the event is the viewing days, at which the prospective brides can try getting in and out of the cars. The seating can be arranged to accommodate long dresses and trains.

At one time the couple owned an example of the limited edition car known as Minor Millions, produced to celebrate the one-millionth Minor coming off the Cowley production line in 1961.

They came with striking lilac paintwork.

Only 350 were built, of which 70 still remain, now in various parts of the world including Japan, Australia and the United States.

Mr Ford explained: “I had this silly idea of owning ten. I had three on the road and the other seven were just stored. When we stopped the film work, they were sold to various new owners and all are still running.”

Some of the Fords’ cars will be participating in a rally on September 25, being held to mark the special edition’s 50th anniversary.

The Morris Minor Million Register, of which Mr and Mrs Ford are honorary members, will see proud owners drivng in a cavalcade of the lilac cars in a tour of the Cotswolds. The starting point is in Steeple Aston.

The present fleet of Minors 4 You travel many miles in their working lives, although Mr and Mrs Ford prefer to keep their wedding work within a reasonable radius of their home base.

“We hope to do 60 weddings this year,” said Mrs Ford.

“The business gives us such an interest in life. We enjoy it. We like to meet people and we go to some beautiful places.”