To tell the ongoing restoration story of N&B's much-loved 1969 Morris Minor called Monty, we decided to create a special case study under the title 'Follow Monty'.

We are undertaking the restoration in our spare time and realise it will be a slow process, but we'll aim to keep you posted.
The future looks bright
At times the story of Monty is a pretty rough ride. He’s had a series of highs and lows in his time on (and off) the road, but we hope now his future will be a whole lot rosier. We’re certainly enjoying the challenge of getting Monty back to his former self and we’re pleased with the progress to date. Once fully restored, our plan is to welcome him back to N&B and use him for light duties and running local errands. However, for the moment let's turn the clock back and look at his journey so far.

We’ll bring you news of Monty’s progress as and when we have it, but in the meantime let’s turn the clock back and look at his journey so far.

In the beginning

Monty’s story with us starts back in 2007. As with most engineering businesses, a van is an essential tool of the trade. Being the kind of people we are, we decided we didn’t want just any old van, we wanted something that oozed character and something that would get noticed. After all, engineering isn’t the most glamorous of trades, so having a van on the road that would turn heads and raise a smile whilst sporting the N&B logo seemed the ideal way to go. Every since we can remember, we’ve loved historic vehicles and having had the pleasure of being involved in a number of successful customer restoration projects, we knew that ‘a classic’ was exactly what we wanted. In particular, we’ve always had a soft spot for Morris Minor vans.

We’d had some experience of working on one a few years ago and so we sort of knew what we were letting ourselves in for. We also knew that they were pretty hard to come by, but we didn’t envisage the real challenge of finding the ideal model at a price we could afford and within a reasonable travelling distance.

Monty arrives

After some time consuming months of searching, we came across a newspaper advert for a recently restored, 1969 model in classic maroon – and at the right price. The seller informed us that the van had had a chequered history and a tough ride at times, but it had been restored, was in good condition and was road worth. By the time we arrived to collect the van, we’d fallen in love with the whole idea of owning a Morris Minor van. We christened it Monty on the drive home.

However as we were to soon find out, the restoration work merely masked a series of problems – a number of which were to prove major concerns both mechanically and financially.

The history of Monty

Monty was born in 1969. Although we don’t know a huge amount about his history, we do know that Morris Minor vans were predominantly used by builders and tradesman. Life was tough for the likes of Monty and not many vans lived to tell the tale. However during the late 1950’s and 1960’s they were a very popular sight on the roads.

The majority of Morris Minor vans were built at Cowley in Oxfordshire but production also took place in Birmigham where the last vans rolled off the production line in 1972. Most were designed for commercial use with small businesses, although many made their way to larger corporations, in particular the General Post Office, who took the step of having the earlier models made with rubber front wings to cope with the sometimes unforgiving busy situations in which they were expected to work. Vans models differed in details such as telescopic rear dampers, stiffer rear leaf springs and lower-ratio differentials to cope with heavier loads.

Looking at dates, Monty was most probably built at Birmingham and went directly into service with local traders almost from day one. Despite our own research, there are a number of gaps in his history which we have not been able to fill. Most probably he was worked hard on the road until the time came when either his original engine or his body work began to show the tell tale signs of wear and neglect. At some point thereafter he was sold for scrap, although as fate would have it this never materialised and for whatever reason he was simply left to rot away in the scrap yard for a number of years, until we believe, an enthusiast discovered him and gave him a new home.

From then on Monty was given a new lease of life with a programme of restoration. We are convinced he became one of the many examples of restored classic cars and was no doubt shown off at at car rallies and events.

All's not well

The day we brought Monty home, Brian and I had smiles on our faces a mile wide. He was given a big welcome by everyone at N&B and over the following weeks he became part of the team helping with deliveries and shuttling materials around. However we were soon to discover all was not well; Monty’s shiny new exterior was a mask hiding many scars and traumas from his past life. Over the coming months it became all too regular to see Monty on the side of the road awaiting recovery. Then one cold, rain-lashed winter’s evening, having broken down again and having fried his engine with a set of jump leads, we were forced to face the truth – Monty was too much of a liability for the business and we simply couldn’t risk him on the road anymore. He was put up for sale.

The decision is made

The interest in Monty was huge and we soon had a queue of enthusiasts knocking down our door to take Monty off our hands. But as each offer was made we made every excuse to delay the sale – we simply couldn’t sell him. With this realisation, we screwed up the ‘For Sale’ signs in his windows, cancelled the advert and started on a search for the right person to completely restore Monty – no cutting corners and everything was to be replaced with perfection. He’d stolen our hearts (and our wallets) but he was here to stay and we’d now work really hard to get him back to full health.

Work gets underway

Currently Monty is in various pieces – and various places in the N&B workshop. Rest assured though, his restoration is underway and the team working on him are committed to putting him back on the road in the best of health. As soon as we have news of his progress we'll post it up.
Watch this space!