My Australian Morris & Austin

I live in Kelmscott, Western Australia about 25-30 kilometres from the Capital city of Perth and also about the same distance from the main port city of Fremantle.


In early 1989 I went looking for a classic car hoping to get a Morris Minor, wasn’t any available that weekend so I went and had a look at a Morris Major Elite (1962 -64). It came with a Morris Major series 1 (1958-59) as a parts car, this model used the Wolseley 1500 body shell motor etc. The Elite was an updated model of the Series 2 Major. The series 2 & elite have a more Farina looking tail end. The Elite was released with the updated 1622 ‘B’ series motor. The UK wouldn’t upgrade the motor from 1489CC because they thought it wasn’t possible. The upgrade to 1622cc was done in Australia and these motors were then put into all of the Australian Produced Farinas two years before the motor was used in the UK.


Later in 1989 I bought my Grey & White Elite which I still own today. Luckily at the time my uncle was a partner in a panel beating business. The car had a couple of dents and the front corner of the chassis was rusted out due to the overflow pipe from the radiator. The dents were repaired and the paintwork touched up the rust repaired. The rest of the car was buffed, all I’ve done since then is to keep the clean and polish it now and again. The interior was replaced some years later with seats and carpet from another donor car that was offered to me. I’ve had to do some minor mechanical things over the years to keep it going.


We don’t get a free road tax on our older cars here but members of car clubs can transfer the car onto a concessional license which limits the usage to club runs, test runs etc.  Normally it costs about $400.00 per year for our road tax, on this club system it’s about $30.00 a year. ($1.00 is about 40p). We don’t have an MOT here but these cars on club license are required to be inspected by an approved inspector each year. My Morris only does about 1000 miles a year now, where as my new everyday car which is only 18 months old has already done more that 40,000 Kilometres.


We have been looking for a station wagon for some years first a Morris Minor Traveller then more recently a series 5 or 6 Oxford. One of the club members has his mother’s one owner series 6 oxford traveller. In June 2006 after going on a club breakfast run in our Morris we continued on to inspect two series 5 oxford travellers, but they wanted too much for them seeing that they were not going, this was our first serious look at other cars.


We kept our eyes on the Auto Trader and EBay. Some weeks later my wife spotted a 1962 Austin Freeway Station Wagon, One Owner but it was in Victoria on the other side of the country.


The Austin Freeway is a local version of the A60 Cambridge and Morris Oxford, the interior is Oxford. It is powered by The Blue Streak Six, a six cylinder version of the 1622 ‘B’ series engine with a capacity of 2433 cc. It has a 3 speed collum shift gear box; some of the later ones were fitted with automatics.


We spoke to the owner a number of times and some not so good photos were put on EBay. After visiting an Austin display day in Fremantle and looking at two Freeways we rang the guy in Victoria and told him that we would buy his Freeway. I arranged transport with TNT and on 6th November I collected the car from the TNT yard. I drove it home. As each Australian State has its own license systems my new car only had two days on the road before I would have to get it inspected and relicensed. I drove it a couple of times before the license expired. I should have got the previous owner to register it for another 6 months in Victoria but I’ll have to go and get it ready to reregister in WA.


On the day I picked it up I also drove it to the guy who will be inspecting it, I’ve got to move the tail pipe on the exhaust from the side to the back.  I then went onto the club’s mechanic, I drove it over his pit, and underneath isn’t bad, some minor rust repairs have been done (no salt on our roads to help with the rust). It wants a good clean underneath, the front seat needs repairs. The body isn’t bad as it has been resprayed, some rust coming through on the doors but this can wait. A few marks on the tail gate and a broken hinge on the top tail gate, I’ve now got a replacement just got to get the old one off. The lower tail gate has rust but has been repaired and looks ok for now. I’ll fit new seat belts which have just arrived and I’ve found washer water bags with electric pumps, I haven’t seen any in years, plenty of the plastic bottle type, so I bought two one for each car, they had a 20% off sale that day, the mechanical pump has never worked really well on the other car.


I’ve cleaned and painted the tow bar and started fitting new electrics, replaced the front light lenes, one of the head lights needs replacing I’ll have to find one or convert both to sealed beams, I’m waiting on some bushes for the suspension and they also have a conversion nipple for the oil filter. Both of my cars currently use the same oil filter which is a spin on type but they can cost anything up to $28.00 each, if I fit the new thread I can use a common filter used on almost all Australian Fords which cost about $6.00 each. The first oil change will pay for the conversion.


I’ve got another week’s holiday so I better go out to the garage and work on the car; I need to get as much done as we are moving soon. My wife did keep saying that the Morris has to go but not recently. Yesterday we ordered our double garage for our new home. The house has a double garage under the main roof for our everyday car and our daughter’s car, but we have to be able to store our classic cars somewhere.


Our club is also hosting the 13th Australian Morris Minor National Rally over the Easter weekend so we are on the committee for this which as time get closer there will be more to do. I do hope to have my Freeway ready for this weekend.


I’ll update this as I get it completed.


Steve Shord

Kelmscott, Western Australia.