Policing in the 1970s. Colin Goodwin takes a Morris Minor panda car for a spin
8 February 2012

I learnt to drive in a Minor and this is the first time I’ve driven one in 30 years. I’d forgotten how slow they are. If you were equipped with a decent motorbike or a Lotus Cortina 1n 1970 the little Morris wouldn’t see which way you went.

Normally Panda cars would be used by beat officers but this particular car was used as a supervisor’s car and would have been used to check on beat officers and respond to calls. Which is why it’s got an extra aerial on its rear wing. Hampton’s Minor used to be displayed at the original Police Traffic museum when it was based at Catford and is pretty much in the condition it was in when it left the force and has done just under 125,000 miles.

See pictures of the Morris Minor panda car

It’s difficult to tell whether it feels its age or not because I doubt it would ever have felt tight. Certainly the Morrie I learned in, which was only 10 years old and low mileage, didn’t.

The Minor is a museum favorurite and even the boss of the current traffic unit sneaks off in it occasionally. One thing that does work particularly well on this Minor is the heater, which must have been very welcome for the bobby driving it.

Funny how noises and sounds remain in the memory almost indefinately because the sound of the Minor’s gearbox and the distinctive rumble of the A-Series engine are totally familiar. Apart from the police radio there’s not a lot of kit in the Morris which means it probably weighs near its 775kg kerb weight. No wonder the touring fuel consumption is an impressive 39mpg.

Served in the force: 1970-1975

Top speed 78mph; 0-60mph 22.2sec; Kerbweight 775kg; Engine type in-line four-cylinder, 1098cc; Power 48bhp at 5100rpm; Torque 60lb ft at 2500rpm; Gearbox Four-speed manual

To see the best of the collection, follow the links below:

Rover P6 3500S"This is no ordinary Rover P6, it’s armour plated and weighs two tonnes. In between the seats there’s a chunky radio that today would fit into a fag packet, but that’s nothing compared to the massive stack of valve radios in the boot..."

Morris Minor panda car"I learnt to drive in a Minor and this is the first time I’ve driven one in 30 years. I’d forgotten how slow they are. If you were equipped with a decent motorbike or a Lotus Cortina 1n 1970 the little Morris wouldn’t see which way you went..."

Wolseley 18/85"If you want the full Jack Warner ‘Evening all’ experience this is the car for you. It’s even got a proper bell on it. Much nicer on the ear than the dreadul American-style sqawk that modern cop cars are fitted with..."

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales