Ashley talks to a classic car enthusiast who could be driving a Porsche Carrera or a Range Rover but, instead, uses a Morris Minor as her daily driver
Although Karen Bell obtained her driver’s licence as soon as she was able, like most young girls she was never all that interested in cars. They were just a method of getting from A to B — although, of course, they also represented freedom. Her first car was an early Toyota Corolla coupe followed by a trusty VW Beetle, and then a Sigma station wagon. The Sigma was a top-of-the-line GL with all the bells and whistles, but it was the car’s practicalities that came first. She could fit her artist’s easel and large Doberman, Jessie, in the back easily.
However, once she became involved with her husband-to-be, Bob, she was introduced to the world of classic cars. Although she admits that after one swap meet — during which she spent most of the time sketching — and one trip to the Adelaide F1 GP, she’d had more than enough of the classic car and motoring scene.
Since settling in Kaikoura with Bob, Karen has established herself as an accomplished artist, displaying much of her work in the couple’s own gallery, Homewood Hill Art Gallery, which is located on their property. Upstairs in the studio, Karen devotes much of her time teaching art to local school students and adults, and creating her own paintings for display and sale.
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Like the XK Jaguars, the Morris Minor celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. No doubt this will lead to a host of books. Few, if any, will be better than this one, written by Roy Newell who has been secretary of the Morris Minor Owners’ Club for 25 years; he clearly knows his stuff.
In 160 large pages, we have a nice mixture of authoritative words, but not too many technicalities. There’s the work of Issigonis and also of the small team that supported him; the Morris factory; a clear description of the various model changes as they occurred and how the car was regarded by contemporary road testers; the development of new models like the convertible, pick-up and the Traveller; the Minor’s big brothers (Oxford and Six); overseas assembly arrangements and local model variations; accessories you could buy for what were always cars with pretty basic specs; and how the Minor was regarded in the model range as it got rather long in the tooth. The text is readable and enjoyable, but the book comes to life through its excellent illustrations. Newell’s experience and contacts no doubt helped here, as there are dozens of very well-produced copies of brochures from every phase of the Minor’s long life.
New Zealand gets a couple of mentions, as the last country in which Minors were assembled. Newell also says we were unusual in not getting the 1098cc motor in cars sold here, but is that correct? I had a late ’62 saloon that was 1098-powered, but maybe it wasn’t NZ new?
No matter, this is an excellent book and is the sort of history that an iconic car like the Minor deserves.
Morris Minor: 60 years on the Road by Ray Newell
Review book provided by the publisher
Review by Mark Holman
Our September issue marks our traditional South Island Special and, this year, we decided to do something a little different. Our team travelled down to NZ’s whale watching capitol — Kaikoura — and, hosted by the Pier Hotel, we set up an impromptu classic car show. Despite a bitterly cold day, we managed to entice dozens of local classic cars and ther owners to our waterfront location — and you’ll be able to see some of these cars in our next issue. Including a stunning Ford Thunderbird, a US military Jeep and a delightful Morris Minor. Just for good measure, we also visited a local collector’s garage — and got an eyeful of his amazing collection of motoring memorabilia and cars. It all made for a memorable weekend away and gave our editorial and photographic teams a good taste of classic car motoring — South Island-style … not to mention a slight touch of frost-bite!