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Date: July 07, 2008 12:30PM
BY JOHN B. BALL – ILLUSTRATED BRISTOL NEWS.
BEFORE passing any comment on this car I should like to make it quite clear that
the Austin ‘7’ and the Morris Mini-Minor are absolutely the same, the only
difference being a different radiator grille and motif. During the past few
months it has been the B.M.C. policy for them to be advertised and marketed side
by side, as opposed to the approved channels, as before. Although only very
small in its outside dimension, the “ Mini” as it is fondly called, has
interior saloon roominess which can be favourably compared with most of the
other small production cars, in fact, it can comfortably seat four adults, a
selling point which no other baby car could possibly hope to claim.
The size of this “Mini “- it is only 10 feet long and 4 feet 7 inches wide -
makes it an ideal car for anyone whose business or pleasure makes town driving a
necessity. It is very easily manoeuvrable, has a nippy acceleration, and last,
although by no means least, can be parked in the smallest of parking spaces. An
able driver should be able to park the” Mini” in as little space as 11 ‘
6”, this being made possible by the very tight lock on the steering wheel.
Upon entering this car I was immediately impressed by two points. Firstly, the
ease of accessability for such a small car due largely to the widely opening
doors; and secondly, when installed in the saloon, the amazing amount of
all-round visibility attained by a minimum of window pillars and a maximum of
When preparing to drive the car, one only takes a few seconds to become
accustomed to its few instruments and controls. In fact, a single cowl
accommodates the speedometer, fuel gauge, oil and ignition lights, and headlight
beam indicator. Just below this a small panel, in the centre of which is the
ignition switch, houses the remainder of the controls. They are, from left to
right: heater, which incidentally is more than effective, although possibly
rather noisy; windscreen wipers, lights, and finally the choke. I should like to
make particular note here of the absence of the starter.
I cannot possibly see any reason at all why this control should be placed in a
rather inaccessible position on the floorboards, thus making starting the car a
double operation instead of a single movement. Surely, either a double push
ignition switch or an adjoining control would have been by far the better
arrangement. However, once I had the car started, I then found it very difficult
to find any further criticism.
The hand-brake and gear lever were placed quite closely together, and after
releasing the hand-brake, a movement of a few inches allowed my left hand to put
the car into first gear. I must say that at this stage I met with one of the
most delightful surprises I have ever had since road testing motor cars. It
seems almost incredible that this 850 c.c. engine could get the car off the mark
so quickly, by changing gear at the correct speeds, I found that I could take
the car up to 50 m.p.h. from a standing start in as little as 14 seconds, and
that by building up speed I could obtain a speedometer reading of no less than
74 m.p.h. These figures are of course not impressive when compared with the
larger cars, but when realising that one has all of these delightful features,
plus a petrol consumption of from 45-50 m.p.g., this really is unique.
Although the first of my surprises was in fact the acceleration of this car, the
second and possibly even more amazing was the ability of the car to go round
corners at fast speeds. In fact, to me it seemed that the faster I cornered this
little car the better it liked it, and one gets the impression that the car is
almost on rails when going round extremely tight bends at fairly fast speeds. I
should think it must be extremely difficult to slide or turn over one of these
new B.M.C. babies, and this attribute alone must make it a very safe car to
To sum up the Austin ‘7’ and Mini-Minor, I personally feel that it is a car
full of surprises. It is most impressive in both performance and acceleration
figures, and absolutely amazing on its cornering ability. It is roomy, and
reasonably comfortable, and extremely difficult to find any major point to
criticise. It is of course selling tremendously well, and will, I am sure,
continue to do so, but oh how much nicer it would be if it were £50 cheaper!
Engine: 4 cylinder O.H.V. 848 c.c.
Body: Length: 10’ 04”
Width: 4’ 7”
Height: 4’ 5”
Petrol Consumption: 45-52 m.p.g.
Price: De Luxe Saloon — £537.6.8 inc. tax.
Henlys Ltd. are the Austin distributors and The Bristol Motor Co. the Morris
distributors for Bristol.