P.T. Srinivasan takes on peak-hour city traffic with his old two-door Morris Minor
P.T. Srinivasan was looking for a Beetle in Bangalore. The garden city is known to have the best Beetles, but Srinivasan was not successful in his pursuit. “I got sidetracked by a British car,” explains Srinivasan. While hunting for a Volkswagen Beetle, he happened to see a two-door Morris Minor from the MM Series (1948-53) that impressed him no end. The owner was disposing of this Minor to raise money for restoring a 1925 Fiat convertible. Kept in excellent condition, the Minor was priced high. Just when Srinivasan decided he had to forget this car, his brother Saravanan came up with a ‘business’ proposition. By pooling together their money, Saravanan and his friends would buy this Minor to sell it later at a higher price.
They wanted Srinivasan to finish the deal. In return, he could drive the Minor to his heart’s content till a good buyer appeared on the horizon. But, like a hitman falling hopelessly in love with his ‘victim’ and refusing to pull the trigger, Srinvasan did the unexpected. Applying for a personal loan, he bought the Minor himself.
Five years later, he pats himself for the out-of-the-box thinking that has left him in possession of a great-looking old car that is equal to the challenge of driving in city traffic.
Subsequently, Srinivasan’s dream of owning a Beetle was fulfilled. Did the Beetle put the Minor in the shade? Far from it. Following the arrival of the German car, his estimation of the British Minor has only gone up.
“While the Beetle is for special drives undertaken mostly on Sundays and other holidays, the Minor is my all-weather companion,” says Srinivasan.
A problem-free sidevalve straight four engine (918cc) and a braking system that uses a master cylinder made for an Ambassador are among the things that qualify his Minor to be a regular car. “This Minor gives me the best of two worlds. It is as aesthetic as it is utilitarian. As a two-door saloon, it is an unusual car. As a lowlight model, it is an unusual Minor,” says Srinivasan.
Up to 1950, cars in the MM series had headlamps fixed on either side of the grille. Minor MMs from 1951 had headlamps that peeped out of the wings. Few in number, lowlight Minors are considered valuable.
As the Minor gives Srinivasan most of what he wants in a car, he has resisted the temptation to go for a modern car. “There is a downside to driving in a MM series Minor, which I cope with. With all modern cars overtaking you on the highway, you have to nurse a bruised ego.” During a trip to Tirupathi, Srinvasan clocked 50 miles per hour, his fastest on the Morris till date. A practical person, Srinivasan says, “Why would I need a fast car when I use the highway rarely? In city traffic, a car’s speed is immaterial. Even during a peak-hour crawl, this Minor must give me anywhere from 10 to 12 km a litre. And, I can use this old car as if it were not old at all. That, I think, settles the issue.”