Wood is Good:

1957 Morris Minor
Traveler Woodie Wagon

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At car shows across the nation, perhaps no other body style elicits interest and admiration like a 1950s "Woodie" wagon. Once cheap transportation for surfers and bohemians, Woodies today are beloved as mechanical incarnations of Kerouac's "On the Road" spirit of personal freedom.



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One of the most iconic post-war automobiles, the Morris Minor has often been called the British Volkswagen. Designed by a genius, Alec Issigonis--also the father of the Mini--the Minor could be viewed as the original "smart" car.

Lovingly called "Moggie" in its homeland, the Minor was manufactured, pretty much unchanged, from the late 1940s until the early 1970s. Aside from sedan and convertible versions, there was a pickup and, perhaps the most desirable Minor of them all, a "Woodie" station wagon called Traveler.

The 1957 Morris Minor Traveler presented here, VIN *FLB41485811* is such an automotive treasure. Hailing from a decades-long Lady ownership, it was cosmetically restored as needed and mechanically kept at its very best. All that's missing now is a new owner who will continue to enjoy it as intended.

A resident of sunny Southern California from new, this fifty-seven still proudly wears its original black-and-gold California license plates. Registration has just been paid and plates are good 'til August of 2020.

We love the Minor for its simple, accessible and straightforward layout, making maintenance very easy. By the way, parts availability for the Minor is excellent, as it is one of the most popular collector cars on the planet. Engine bay is very clean and tidy.

Motorvation comes from the same engine that propelled the famous Mini, a 998cc 4-cylinder inline mill fed by a Skinner Union carburetor. To use Rolls-Royce terminology, horsepower output is sufficient to flow along with today's hectic traffic.

Thanks to the benevolent California climate, the Traveler's 62 year-old body presents itself in fine fettle with as-good-as-new body gaps throughout. No hanging doors here!

Factory steelies, beautiful hubcaps, great tires.

Repainted many forthnights ago in traditional Carmen Red, the paint is beautifully preserved with no blemishes worth noting.

The wood, over half a century old, has aged to patina that reminds us of Italian Riva boats. But if you prefer the like-new look, you'll be pleased to learn that a more-than-complete new wood kit is included with this car!

Details: stainless steel window frames, vintage exterior wood, hinges from the blacksmith area of her Majesty's kingdom.

Two-piece headliner is like new. Vanity light works.

Turning our attention to the cockpit, we marvel at the perfectly simple, symetric dash layout with dual glove boxes.

Interior has plenty of space, even for long legged pilots and their crew. The Minor hails from a simpler, better time, where cars could be small on the outside and big inside. Where have those good old days gone?

Minimalist approach á la VW Beetle served the Minor well. Big round cyclops combo gauge occupies the most prominent spot and supplies all the essential information needed. A few black bakelite knobs, for lights, choke, and starter, are arranged beneath it.

Interior details: banjo steering wheel, swiveling ash receiver, ancient BMC radio.

Front bucket seats are covered in red leatherette with Old-English White piping.

They are all in splendid condition, with no rips, tears, or other imperfections to note.

Matching rear seats are also flawless. They fold down easily, thus creating a rather large cargo space, if so desired.

Let's find out just how big the Wagon's rear compartment is!

It's big enough to carry a couple of surf boards, or an air mattress for overnight camping excursions.

The Traveler comes with a huge box full of manuals, magazines, and service records.


Being a quasi-unibody design which--due to the lack of even the most basic rust protection--was quite corrosion-prone, most of the 1,1 million Minors built have long ago been relegated to the big boneyard in the sky. Being a California Minor, this example has survived rather admirably, with a clean and dry undercarriage.

Look, Ma . . . rock-solid rockers!

Tuesday, October 22, turned out to be another nice autumn day in ye olde Mission town of San Buenaventura.

We hopped behind the wheel, pulled the choke and starter knobs, and the Traveler started instantly, idling and sounding great. Off we went, to visit our favorite neighborhoods in the Ventura hillside.

The 4-speed shifts smooth, brakes are fantastic, all gauges and switches work as they should, even the heater. Around town, the Minor is an absolute delight to drive. On the freeway, you swim along nicely at 65mph, with some steam left untapped. The car doesn't leak, smoke, or overheat. It's a real fuel-sipper, too, with an estimated 35mpg! The suspension--torsion bars up front, longitudinal springs in the rear and lever action shocks all around--is surprisingly capable.

Chauffeuring the Traveler puts a permanent smile on your face. Foreshadowing the MINI, another one of Issigonis' genius designs, the Minor is the little car that could, especially when kept taken-care-of, like this fine example.

Returning home, we are reflecting on the incredible value the Traveler represents. Imagine using it as a versatile--and very visible--utility wagon for your urban business, enjoying it as a shooting brake at your country estate, or adding a roof rack, surfboard and some vintage travel decals to create the ultimate surf woodie!

With restored full-size American Woodies going for mega dollars, you'll appreciate the absolute bargain this attractive and rare Morris represents. Here, you have a useable, practical, and economical Woodie that, while attracting every bit as much attention as its big brothers, can be had for a fraction of the cost of one of its domestic counterparts.


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You are most welcome to inspect this fine automobile at our location in Ventura, by appointment, or have someone inspect it for you.
Please, direct all inquiries to bill@californiaclassix.com or call us at 805-653-5551.