1953 Morris Minor: Sunset on a Split Windshield

Es dämmern im Bücherständer
die Bände in Gold und Braun;
und du denkst an durchfahrene Länder – Rilke, Erinnerung

So another split windshield, then. The Morris Minor is an expressive, nostalgic automobile, and something in the cold light of a December sunset smooths out this car’s rough edges into a soft bread pudding of a car.

So why is it nostalgic to me, and not just to those who dream of cozy, cottage England or of life in an import car in postwar America? The picture on the right bears the evidence of my faszination Morris. The designer who penned this Morris gave it much more advanced underpinnings than its old-timey shape might suggest. And ever since I saw this video in my early days of going crazy over cars, I’ve known just what that meant for a young driver with a wild streak.


So taking break from the end-of-semester chaos, I took a trip across the Williamsburg bridge to shoot this car that I’d spotted the week before. It was like finding an old friend, and I’m sure that there are plenty of other dreams that surround this Morris. It’s being handled by the auto shop it’s parked next to, which makes it already a bit of a stereotype for British cars in America, but certainly an old car like this carries some memories of the kind of cultured life an American buying this car back in the early ’50s would’ve led. It would’ve been quite a choice to abstain from the flash automotive symbols of U.S. military-industrial victory.

So I remember it from dreams of drifting through country Britain, others dream of ’50s and ’60s refined counter-culture, and that’s just from a U.S. perspective; I don’t claim to have any handle on how this car would sit in Britain itself. This Morris would have to bear on one shoulder its heritage as a chunk of plucky British ingenuity, a post war British car that was technologically advanced, enjoyed great sales success, and wasn’t caught up in dirty 1970s labor/emissions/import-competition struggles. On its other shoulder, the Minor has to carry the burden of its diminutive frame itself – a car can’t live for over a half century with so little space between its wheels and steer clear of memories of being a cramped, overburdened, cheap economy car.

But why continually pressure this poor cute car? It’s a puppy in this light, at worst it is a harmless stereotype, so I will recall fondly finding it in such a relaxing, whitewashing, mind-numbing cold light and dream again. Such is the power of a gorgeous sunset.

It dawns amongst the bookshelves
the volumes in gold and brown;
and you think on driven-through country     -Rilke, Rememberance

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1 Response to 1953 Morris Minor: Sunset on a Split Windshield

  1. Ben Orlove says:

    The descriptions of the car are interesting, the chill of the air is utterly convincing. I like the cropping of the photos, the arrangement of photos of different proportions, the inclusions of a set of surfaces whose nature as car-parts is only one of many characteristics.

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