Burlen, the world’s sole manufacturer of genuine Skinners Union (SU), Amal, and Zenith Carburettor brands, celebrates 90 years since an SU carburettor was fitted to the new side-valve Morris Minor, and its subsequent stunt PR vehicle, in 1931.
The 1931 side-valve Minor was fitted with a brand-new 847cc engine designed by Leonard Lord, designed to allow the Morris Minor to compete directly with the Austin 7. The new engine was offered with the outgoing OHC unit until 1932, with Morris having to work hard to convince buyers to specify the newer engine as it was less powerful than the OHC, but far more reliable. However, Morris was keen to avoid drawing attention to the unreliability of the older engine when listing the benefits of the new one.
To aid sales, it was decided the new model would be offered at a lower price of £100, a price drop that inspired Sir Miles Thomas to come up with an idea to further improve showroom appeal. Bill Morris had often advertised the Morris Cowley as a car that would do 50mph and 50mpg, Sir Thomas bullishly announced that he would double that with the Minor. The 100mph, 100mpg, £100 (Triple Ton) Minor concept was born.
Such an idea would not be allowed in modern times, as the stunt Minor was vastly different to the road car. Not only did it have brand new, streamlined bodywork it was also fitted with a specially built, highly tuned 847cc side-valve engine fitted with a supercharger and large SU carburettor to achieve 100mph. The supercharged engine would be removed after the high-speed runs to be replaced with a standard side-valve engine, with smaller, leaner SU carburettor, for the economy runs.
Driven by Bill Von der Becke at Brooklands on Wednesday 12th August 1931, the record was set achieving 100.39mph over two flying mile runs. On a carefully selected road between Birmingham and Coventry, the same car and driver recorded 107.4 miles on a single gallon of pump fuel at an average of 15.3mph.