Hidden Cleveland: Minor Classic Restorations redoes old British autos
by GREG KAYLOR Banner Staff Writer
Oct 24, 2013 | 1350 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hidden Cleveland 10-24
DAVID WRIGHT built a business after he acquired his grandfather’s Morris Minor 1000. The British car enthusiast restores or repairs a number of British-made automobiles. Banner photo, GREG KAYLOR
view slideshow (4 images)

It all began with a desire to own his grandfather’s car.

He got the opportunity.

David Wright is a British automobile enthusiast.

His affection for the Morris grew from being the owner of one to the owner of many — and now into a business where he preserves the Morris line’s heritage.

Integrity goes into each Morris, MG, Triumph, Jaguar or other car he works on … reclaiming some of the parts, but replacing many if need be.

According to Wright, 2013 is what the British call the Morris legacy’s “Centenary” year. In the U.S., it’s known as a “Centennial.”

Minor Classic Restorations has been up and going since David and his wife, Connie, moved to Bradley County in 1978.

In 1977, David had the opportunity to get his grandfather’s 1959 Morris Minor two-door.

Parts of the car still have the original paint and interior.

It has taken Antique Auto Club of America’s Grand National First, Senior, Junior and Repeat Preservation awards.

That was the first project, which led to others.

Morris was founded by William Morris. In 1924, Cecil Kimber joined in and the MG Car Company Limited was born.

Wright said Kimber “hot-rodded” a Morris and it became known as the “Morris Special.”

Later, the MG became known as the “everyday man’s sports car.”

“It does take a while to do what we do,” said Wright.

One car has been in the small three-bay shop for about five years.

But, there is a story behind the length of time as well as the car itself.

“The owner had some health issues … he is fine now … he sold his house and moved … he got remarried,” explained Wright.

“This car (pointing to a shiny, British Racing Green) was in terrible condition when it was delivered from Florida. It had sat out in the weather and had no top,” Wright said.

MGB Roadsters and Midgets typically are equipped with a convertible top.

The 1964 model was already in bad condition from being exposed to the rough Florida elements for a number of years.

“It was very rough. We began taking it apart. A trip to Jackson, Miss., was made to have the entire body and frame dipped and stripped,” Wright said.

Now for the story behind the car.

“It was the owner’s deceased wife’s car. He asked his son if he would like to have it, so, in memory of his first wife, he contacted us and then delivered it,” Wright said.

After retrieving the car body and framework from Mississippi, the MGB was taken to Florence, Ala., for paint, then back to Cleveland where the Wrights began piecing the car back to as close to original as possible.

An engine rebuild was also performed.

“When we do a ground-up restoration, we either replace or try to rework everything back to as close to its factory condition [as possible], relating to the day it rolled out of Morris Garage. A lot of people don’t know what MG stands for,” he explained.

“If it wasn’t for Morris Garage or Morris Minor, today we wouldn’t have the Mini Cooper, which is now built by Bavarian Motor Works,” Wright said of the company more popularly known as BMW.

It takes a great deal of patience to provide a restoration.

“When this car is finished, it will have a honey-colored top and interior,” Wright said of the 1964 model.

Wright typically works on 1980s models or earlier.

“If it’s British, we will give it a shot. The newer British cars have computers and take specialized equipment to diagnose,” he said.

“We got hold of my grandfather’s Morris Mini in 1978. I began asking around who worked on them and could find no one. So I began to do a lot myself,” he said.

After a while, other folks with the British cars began to notice and told Wright he should start a business.

The inventor/engineer then began working full time on the cars.

Currently, he has three cars in the paint shop and several others parked in the garage and outside.

“This was a survivor of the March 2011 tornadoes,” Wright said as he pointed to a lone MGB.

Its right quarter panel was crushed.

Wright bought the car for its components and expects to scrap the rest.

“He never has taken one to the scrapyard,” said Connie.

It can be hard to let loose of something which can be gone forever at the flip of a switch.

“Our greatest enjoyment is seeing the owners with their newly restored British motor car,” both Wrights said.

Connie manages the Minor Classic Restorations website and social media sites, as well as performs other duties of the business.

“We do our absolute best to put a car back together the way that it should be,” he said.

Not all services are full restorations.

Patience in their work is necessary to provide a quality restored or repaired antique or classic British motor car back to a client.

The Wrights are members of the Antique Auto Club of America, the Southern British Car Club of Greater Chattanooga, Morris Registry and Morris Minor Owner’s Club (both in the United Kingdom), and the North American MGB Registry.