Petrol head Jim Hiscock is celebrating a big birthday in his household this year. “Morris” his magnificent Morris Six MS reaches the ripe old age of 70.
The retired London Fire Brigade officer has always had a soft spot for powerful cars – he owned a Corvette when he was just 20 – but right now he loves none more than Morris.
The Six MS was Morris’s first post war six-cylinder car manufactured from 1948 to 1953. It cost just £607 including tax.
It was love at first sight
Jim had to shell out considerably more for his Morris Six when he fell in love with it at Brightwells classic car auction on March 4, 2015. In fact, he paid around 20 times more than the original cost price.
He explained: “I always own several cars and I change them regularly. I get a bit of a buzz from going to classic car auctions and I attend them regularly.
“It was love at first sight when I spotted Morris. When we started her up in the auction hall, well that was that. The ground shook and she set off the alarms on all the other cars.”
The chap who built and modified Morris was a very skilled engineer. It had been rebuilt from the ground up. The all-steel body hasn’t changed but the only other original mechanical parts are the windscreen wipers and dashboard gauges.
On first appearance the huge alloys make an impression but the real oomph is hidden under the bonnet where lurks a 7.75 litre built Ford big block V8 with fabricated headers. It is paired with a C6 Ford 3-speed automatic gearbox operated by a classic Hurst quick-shift.
Morris Six mods generate ‘monumental performance’
The combination provides monumental performance and a fabulous V8 rumble from the twin exit exhausts.
Factor in the double pumper Demon carb and we are talking an absolute shed-load of power.
In its year of manufacture the Morris Six did 0-60mph in a shade under 23 seconds. Jim reckons you could shave the 20 seconds off that now.
The front suspension is Jaguar XJS while at the rear a narrowed Ford Mustang axle transmits the power to the road. Uprated springs and Spax gas shocks ensure handling is up to scratch while huge vented brake discs and high performance callipers bring it safely to rest.
Monster alloy wheels and tyres, 10in rear and 8in front, provide the grip to match the go.
The interior has been trimmed in tan leather while new carpets, headlining and a wooden sports steering wheel have also been fitted.
You’ll hit ‘highly illegal speeds with deceptive ease’
At the time of purchase the Brightwell sales notes advised: “A radio, USB port and phone charger have been installed and the car comes with a removable satnav with a large digital speedo display as the original gauge is not to be relied upon and the car can get to highly illegal speeds with deceptive ease.”
Putting that awesome power to best affect, Morris has run several times at the now defunct Wings and Wheels air and motor show, and at Brooklands, The Shere Hill Climb in Surrey and Kop Hill Climb at Princes Risborough.
Jim, from Ashtead, Surrey, said: “When I bought Morris she was the finished article. The engineer who owned her had done a magnificent rebuild job.
“Amazingly he managed to keep everything within the original bodywork with no nasty extended or flared wheel arches.
“The only significant modification I have added is the louvres in the bonnet. These were hand fabricated by ‘Metal Micky’ probably the only craftsman in the country who could do this.
“They are fully functional letting the huge amount of heat generated by the engine escape from the engine bay.”
Jim has been around cars most of his life but he doesn’t do any serious work on Morris. Instead he gets specialists in who “know what they’re doing”.
He does get his hands dirty however and is happy doing the routine maintenance and he fitted a steering wheel knob bought at an auto jumble. Apparently it’s “very useful when steering with one hand and changing gears on a hill climb”.
“On one occasion an elderly couple looked inside Morris at a show. They saw the steering knob on the wheel and said ‘ooooh a disabled person drives it’, which raised quite a smile among Jim and his friends.”
So what is Morris like to drive? “The ride and performance is, shall we say, engaging!
“The enormous power calls for much respect and restraint on the roads. And in the wet it’s no fun at all.
“It has a manual XJ6 steering rack so parking is interesting but on the move it’s fine.”
Jim does around 1,000 miles a year: “The longest trip I’ve ever done in her was picking her up from Leominster in Herefordshire.
“I laugh about it now but it was a bit daft to jump into her having never driven the car before and set off on a 200+ mile journey home.
“I filled her up, checked the oil and water and set off finding out how everything worked on my way.
“As it got dark I even asked the guys in a Transit who were in a queue with me on the M4 if the back lights were working. Anyway we got home OK with no nasty moments.”
Jaws drop when the mighty Morris Six fires up
He added: “Most people love her and her ground shaking tunes. At a glance she looks like a 70 year old classic but car people soon see the huge alloys, twin exit exhausts, bonnet louvres and oh yes, when she fires up their jaws drop.
“Apart from cars I love my dogs (his Airedale Terriers), gardening, walking, DIY, boats, antiques, my wife and my family” but, he assures, not necessarily in that order.
Jim said: “Most people love Morris like I do. My family tolerate my passion for cars but I’m sure they think I’m bonkers.”
He’s not looking to sell Morris but he can “always be tempted by the right price, but only to get something better”. If he were to sell now he reckons she would fetch around £20,000.
What would he replace her with? “I’ve owed so many cars over the years that it’s difficult to say. I’ve had a Corvette, Daimler Jag, Escort Mexico, all sorts, and lots of American cars too. They are all worth a fortune now, so I’m not too sure what I would replace Morris with.
“I’d quite like to go the the States and pick up a Pro Street car, but it would have to be something that really caught my eye.”
And the best thing about driving Morris? “Hard to say because I love everything about her. I’ve always preferred the go to the show. The bells and stripes don’t bother me, it’s how much power they have under the bonnet. The Morris Six is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Jim has the Morris Six covered with the Adrian Flux classic car insurance team. He says his fully comprehensive cover, with limited mileage and no claims bonus discounts, costs around £200 a year.
He rates the service too and explains: “The underwriter took the trouble to call me to learn about my driving history, to find out what cars I had driven in the past, to make sure I could handle something as powerful as Morris.
“They realise that someone who owns a car like this isn’t going to thrash it in the morning rush hour or do heavy mileage. They are going to garage it, look after it, keep it running well.”