Eight is enough (for Morris)

In 1925 Morris was the undisputed leader of UK car market with a 40 per cent plus share. 

At the same time Austin had 10 per cent and Ford languished on just 2 per cent. 

But, by 1935, Morris was down to 31 per cent with Austin had surged to 23 per cent and Ford was up significantly with 17 per cent.

The numbers told the story.

Morris had not kept pace with changing times.

In 1922-23 Austin had released its small, spartan and cheap Seven model. 

With its low price, Seven brought the prospect of affordable personal transport to people who had never previously contemplated buying a car.

Austin found itself with a sales winner.

Its market share quickly doubled.

Morris countered in 1928 with the Minor, but that was not enough to regain lost ground. 

Then, in 1932, Ford introduced its Model Y. 

Styled by E.T. “Bob” Gregorie in the USA, it was essentially a smaller version of the American Model A Ford, and immediately gained favour. 

It also ate into Morris’ market leadership.


The success of the Model Y caused Morris to essentially copy it and, in October 1934, the Minor was replaced by the Morris Eight.

It may not look like it, but the Eight was an advanced car for its time in the UK, and elsewhere, for that matter.

It boasted Lockheed hydraulic brakes on all four corners.

Safer and requiring less adjustment, the Morris Eight’s brakes gave the car a sales advantage. 

The Austin 7 and the Ford Model Y had mechanically-based cable brakes. 

The Eight helped keep Morris as the UK’s number one car maker in the 1930s . . . but only just. 

By the start of the Second World War, Morris had 23 per cent of the market, with Austin a close second on 21 per cent.

Ford had 18 per cent and Vauxhall, Rootes and Standard captured 31 per cent between them.

Had the Morris Eight not arrived, it is open to speculation whether the organisation would have even been in the top five in the UK by the middle of the 1930s.

Phillip Burrell (no relation) acquired his 1937 Morris Eight in 2017.

“I bought it fully restored. It had been restored from the ground up by the previous owner and it is just what I wanted for my first classic car,” he told me. 

“I did not have to do anything to it, except get in it and drive it.” 

Phillip grew up in the UK and his first car was a 1946 Morris Eight. 

“I bought it in 1966 for 19 pounds and 10 shillings. I sold it six months later for 12 pounds and bought a 1958 Ford Consul,” he said.

But the lure of the Eight always remained.


“I’ve always wanted to get another one and when I was in a financial position to do so I started looking.”

The green tourer came from South Australia. 

“I paid for it sight unseen after looking at cars on the internet,” Philip admits.

Research by the previous owner had uncovered that the car was ordered by a subsidiary of S.A Cheney, a big car dealership and importer in Adelaide, on December 22, 1937 as a driveable chassis.

This explains why it is registered as a 1937 model.

It was shipped from UK on the steamship Markunda on February 5, 1938 arriving in Port Adelaide on March 14, 1938.

The body was built by Ruskin in Victoria and fitted on March 18, 1938 at a cost of 47 pounds.

The car was then sold to Lenroc Ltd, a Morris dealership in Adelaide on March 22, 1938.

The Eight was originally painted black with Green interior. The four cylinder engine is just 918cc.

Nothing more about the car is known until purchased by the previous owner.

Phillip drives the car as often as he can. “With the top down,” he said.

It is an award winner in the Best of British category in the Gold Coast’s Festival of Elegance.

The Eight range was replaced in the UK in 1948 by the Sir Alec Issigonis-designed Morris Minor.

David Burrell is the editor of


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