Marie's love of Morris more than Minor

TARA SHASKEY
Last updated 06:34 04/04/2014

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When it comes to selecting a vehicle, Marie Hunneyball will opt for history over modern luxuries every time.

The Taranaki woman says she recognises the worth of a veteran automobile and has never owned a new vehicle.

"There is something about the smell of the inside of an older vehicle," she says." I've always had a thing for time gone by."

Originally from Devon, England, Hunneyball spent much of her younger years being schooled by her grandfather and father in the history and operations of old steam engines, and consequently an appreciation for classic cars emerged.

Now Hunneyball, who moved to Taranaki in 2007, will happily wander around a vintage car show, admiring the vehicles that remain in their original conditions. And she adds she feels a great sense of shame when spotting a classic car that has been modernised.

"I'm a bit of a conservative in that respect. I just like old things - it's stupidly romantic I suppose," she explains.

Two years ago Hunneyball was in need of a new vehicle, wanting something "a little different". She was on the lookout for an original Mini Cooper, inspired by the Mini her mother drove when Hunneyball was younger.

During the search she came across a 1952 Morris Minor in Hamilton. Inspired by the Morris' age and tidy condition, Hunneyball headed north to collect the four-door sedan.

The little car is powered by an 800cc engine, preceding the Morris 1000 which came out in 1956.

Hunneyball says her Morrie, which is a part of the Minor Series II, lacks grunt - so much so that in order to make it to work on time she consciously leaves home earlier.

"She just toddles along," she says. "People often have to overtake me on my way in and out of Oakura because she loses all of her guts on the hills."

Keeping with the originality of the vehicle, Hunneyball maintains it without any extra trimmings such as audio or even a heater to warm herself on a Taranaki winter's morning.

The car has one modification though. The Morrie's semaphore signals were made obsolete by electric indicators, but Hunneyball says she is keen to get even those back to working order again.

"It's just a matter of getting the electrics looked at and buying a new part," she explains.

Other features of the classic car include a crank handle to start the engine if there are any electrical issues, a split windscreen, and it is lawfully without seatbelts, reversing lights, wing mirrors and hazard lights.

Hunneyball uses her Morrie as a daily drive, but she says it would not be economically friendly to take it out of the region.

"It would cope mechanically with a long drive, but it isn't very fuel efficient."

The registration plate on the Morrie includes the letters BD, which has led Hunneyball to name her car Betty Davis after Bonnie Tyler's classic hit song Betty Davis Eyes - and naturally the pet name has been shortened to Betty.

Hunneyball stays on top of Betty's general maintenance, realistically catering to the temperamental needs of an aged vehicle.

"But she's in pretty good nick. I hope I can keep her on the road for another 50 years," she says.

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"There is a little bit of me that thinks keeping her on the road is a good thing because having a connection to the past is important."

- Taranaki Daily News

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