Dominic and Margaret Daly are the proud owners of eight Morris Minors, one for each day of the week, if you like, plus a spare just in case.
So it seemed fitting to ask the couple what it is about British cars that had people flocking to Transfer Beach Sunday, July 12, for the Brits on the Beach Auto show, put on by the Central Island Branch of the Old English Car Club.
The Dalys drove up from their home in Vancouver, Washington – where Dominic works for IBM, Margaret as Commercial Business Developer for an auto parts firm – to enter Millie, one of their Morris Minors, in the show.
Hundreds of other enthusiasts from Vancouver Island and beyond converged on Transfer Beach to join them, packing the lawn below the horseshoe pitch more tightly than Piccadilly Circus at rush hour with Morris Minors, Jaguars, Minis, Rolls Royces, Rovers, MGs, Triumphs, Land Rovers, anything on four wheels or two made in England.
Millie, Margaret was quick to point out, was a car with pedigree. “We’ve been told that Millie is the oldest registered Morris Minor in North America,” she said.
That sense of history – of having been around and running for a long time – is one aspect of any car show that owners and admirers like to talk about. Millie rolled off the assembly line not long after the very first Morris Minor was produced in 1948. She was put together in ‘49.
She’s a tourer, Dominic said, explaining that the term means essentially a convertible. Part of the appeal the breed has for him is its place in his family history. Both he and Margaret are from Britain originally, they met in Canada, and have lived in the States for 15 years.
You may be able to take the starch out of a shirt, but you can’t take the Brit out of a true Englishman. And for Dominic, part of his English heritage is the Morris Minor. “I grew up around them,” he said. “My father always owned a Morris Minor, I learned to drive in a Morris Minor. So, I have to have a Morris Minor, you know.”
Another thing that appeals to Dominic is the simplicity of the Morris Minor. He may work for IBM, but he’s glad there’s not a computer circuit to be found in the Morris Minor. “They’re basic. They’re very easy to work on. You don’t have to have a lot of fancy tools, there’s no electronics in them. These are basic, simple vehicles.
“They were cheap and economical back in the day, and they’re cheap and economical to maintain now.”
And durable. Dominic pointed out that Millie had her first rebuild about five years ago. “That engine had lasted 50 some years before being rebuilt,” he said. “That’s pretty good.”
Dominic admits eight Morris Minors might put him in the category of auto hoarder… or worse. But the mitigating circumstance is all his Morrises are different. Or at least different enough to be classified as variations on the theme.
Morris Minors were produced as: two-door hardtops, tourers, a four-door version, a panel van, a pick up truck, “and the very last one they introduced as what you would call in North America a ‘woody’,” he explained.
How could any self-respecting collector of Morrises not have one of each?
So with one exceptional trait, the Dalys are ordinary people like you and me, who just happen to have a passion for collecting Morris Minors. As for the exceptional trait, you will see it the instant you call Millie or any of their Morris Minors a ‘Mini.’
You do not want to make that mistake.