Back in 1955 my father, at the incessant urging of his seven year old son, bought a used 1953 Morris Minor convertible as a second car for the family who were living on the San Francisco Peninsula. Since I was too young to drive this new acquisition, I wondered if a toy or model of this car might exist. So with the help of my father, I wrote a letter to the importers of the Morris, (and MG, Riley) Nuffield Imports, in New York city. Within a week or so I was overjoyed to receive a box from them in the mail containing a green Morris Minor sedan model and a note that they were sending me this as a gift as it had been used as an office display but was now slightly outdated as the current Morris had been somewhat revised with the introduction of the Series II. This model turns out to be about 1:18 scale, all plastic with a tin pressing for the tan seats, and it even contained a small electric motor and provision for three C batteries in the bottom.
Subsequent research determined this toy was made in England by Victory Industries who I later learned, also made semi promotional models of other British cars such as the Austin Somerset, Austin Cambridge, Hillman Minx sedan and convertible, Standard 10, Triumph TR2 and 3, MGTF, MGA, and Vauxhall Velox, all British cars from the 1950s era. Like many things English, these models have become very collectible and there is even an enterprising individual in the UK who is producing replacement parts for items likely to have gone lost or damaged over the years.
These Victory Industries Morris Minor models for some reason had a characteristic hump in the middle of the roof although after all these years there is no other distortion to the plastic body unlike American 25th scale plastic promotional auto models by Johan and AMT that often warped significantly over time. The Morris model has an aluminum molding on the flanks, an aluminum pressed grill (known among Morris cognoscenti as the “cheese grater grill) correct for a 1950 to 1954 version, aluminum bumpers, rubber tires labeled “Dunlop Fort” and of course a very low powered motor accurately replicates the real car’s modest performance. When new, there was glazing but for some reason it is missing on mine. There are poseable front wheels that presumably could be set to permit the car to move on the floor in circles or straight.
This was my first “model” car and it set in motion a collecting hobby that has continued for 60 years although once I discovered the 1:43 scale die cast Dinky Toys and others from Europe at the local toy shops and department stores, I shifted scales which was a good thing as my collection now numbers some 2,000 items from all over the world and accommodating this number in the larger 1:18th scale would have been problematic.