My Car Story – 1938 Morris Two Seater – Ronnie Johnston

My Car Story – “Boris” The 1938 Morris 8 Two Seater

This is “Boris”, our 1938 Morris 8 Two Seater.

My Car Story "Boris" the 1938 Morris Two Seater

At the Electric Brae on return from a Club event at Culzean Castle

The Morris 8 was a very popular mass market car in the mid thirties.

It was made in a purpose built factory that was state of the art at the time using the latest American techniques. Over two hundred thousand were built between 1934 and 38 and many have survived.

It was available as a two and four door saloon, a two and four seat convertible and a light van.

Boris is a Two Seater which at £121 was the cheapest of the range although, paradoxically, it is now the most sought after version.

As a car daft teenager in the mid sixties I cut my teeth on cars like these simply because they were regarded as old bangers and within the price range of a cash-strapped student.

I have many happy memories of these days including the frequent visits to Glasgow scrap yards, clambering among wrecks piled three high with no regard to “elf and safety”.

As retirement approached, in an attempt to recapture my youth, I decided to join the old car community and, after research purchased Boris from an elderly enthusiast in Liverpool who had restored the body and upholstery from what he described as a “very scruffy runner”.
Failing health prevented him undertaking further restoration and we bought the car in running condition but with an engine in need of attention.

At this point fortune smiled and with remarkable serendipity I got word of a replacement engine but there is quite a story to this.

My Car Story "Boris" the 1938 Morris Two Seater

A “Tank Engine “with all the military fittings

To explain, the Morris 8 engine had many applications in industrial and marine forms. It powered the President tractor, the luggage trolley tugs seen on railway stations, fire pumps, and was also a popular boat engine. It also had a significant military career powering the generator of the Centurion tank.

When the tanks were withdrawn from British Army service in the early sixties many engines were disposed of by the MOD and found a ready market among Morris 8 owners.

I had the good fortune to hear of an ex MOD engine totally unused and still in its preservative wax and original MOD crate. It had been bought in the sixties by the seller’s father and lain untouched in his garage since.

Although basically a Morris 8 engine there were several significant differences which took some time to resolve. The attached photo is not mine but this is how it emerged from the crate.

My Car Story "Boris" the 1938 Morris Two Seater

At East Kirby Lincolnshire with preserved Lancaster “Just Jane” in the background

As a bonus, all the ancillaries attached to the engine found a ready market among military vehicle enthusiasts. Even the crate was eagerly snapped up.

Suffice it to say an eighty year old car now has a brand new engine.

I have had the car fourteen years now and over this time I have made a few modifications mainly for safety reasons.

I have fitted flashing indicators as the original semaphores are not always seen by other drivers. I have also fitted LED lights all round. These are much brighter and place almost no strain on the dynamo.

I replaced the standard three speed box with a four speed one from an early Morris Minor. The extra cog makes a huge difference to performance on hills.

Apart from that the car is pretty much standard.

My Car Story "Boris" the 1938 Morris Two Seater

Cars on the Campus 2017

Over the first few years of ownership I drove it everywhere including a few trips south of the border.

We still drive it to all Scottish events but now use a trailer for any journey that crosses the border.

I have attached a few pics taken on my travels with the car.

  • At the Electric Brae on return from a Club event at Culzean Castle.
  • At East Kirby Lincolnshire with preserved Lancaster “Just Jane” in the background.
  • Cars on the Campus 2017
  • A “Tank Engine “with all the military fittings.


Ronnie Johnston


  • Big Thanks to Ronnie for contributing to the My Car Story idea with this fascinating tale of a much loved British motoring staple of the early 30’s – join in and send your own #MyCarStory to to share it with the Membership!


One Response

  1. Tony Penman May 4, 2020

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