The Morris Six Series MS was a member of the same family as the Oxford and Minor - the Oxford and the MS using the same basic bodyshell as the Wolseley 4/50 and 6/80, which helped standardisation. The MS had a longer bonnet, different front doors and other features to the MO, but both Oxford and MS had common body finishes inside and out.
Both were built by the Nuffield Group at Cowley, and it is known that the MS was produced because Lord Nuffield wanted a new 6-cylinder car to join the Morris Minor and Oxford range introduced at the Motor Show at Earls Court in October 1948, and that is why the MS came about.,Only 2 Morris Sixes were actually built in late 1948, and production didn't really start until the first quarter of 1949.
Early body colours for the MS were Maroon, Romain Green, Black, and Platinum Grey, which were also used by the Oxford and Minor. Some changes were made to the MS during its lifespan up to early 1954, including the 2200cc overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine, which was shared with the Wolseley 6/80, but with a single carburettor as opposed to the 6/80's twin set up.
The earlier engines were designated as the Series I, but towards the end of 1952 a redesigned cylinder head and cooling system were introduced, incorporating enlarged waterways, and valves which were slightly longer and designed to work at an improved angle. This later engine became known as the Series II, and commenced with engine number 20,301.
An early change to the body was to replace the Armstrong lever arm dampers with telescopic ones, and it was also found that early cars had weaknesses to the undersides and had to have plates welded to the chassis members to strengthen them. The cars were recalled and modified for this reason quite early on.
Early interiors had beige leather seats with red or brown piping, which was later changed to brown, green or red leather, but in a plainer style. Another early feature of the MS and Oxford was that the boot lid had its registration plate pressed into it, a half-moon light plate at the right end, and round stop lights. Later these were replaced with the Lucas type fittings seen on all the later Morrises and Wolseleys.
During 1949, many early cars were exported, with the 'lion's share' going to Australia. However, some cancelled export orders saw cars distributed to dealers in Great Britain, with garages offering the Six at the same price as an Oxford!
A problem facing British manufacturers in the late 1940's and early 1950's was a shortage of quality metal, and some lower grades had to be used until things improved.
However, the Morris Six actually changed very little during its production life from October 1948 to March 1954 when it was discontinued after a total production of 12,186. It was a stylish saloon car, with a good turn of speed, and it is a pity that the engine was never fully developed over the years. It's now up to modern day classic car fans to make the improvements and put things right that should have been done in the early 50's by Morris Motors engineers.
For this writer though, the Morris Six is one of the best cars I have known. The good news is that any Morris six engines unfortunate enough to have experienced any valve problems will probably by now have already been rectified. In many cases owners had their valves `Stellited` - a process also used by the Police, which entails the valves being coated with an extremely hard and virtually indestructible coating.
In addition, for the benefit of its members The 6/80 & MO Club has commissioned the remanufacture of exhaust valves for both Series I and Series II engines in high grade stainless steel. It is still possible to find a genuine low-mileage car where no additional engine work has been carried out; however, if previous owners have maintained their cars well (as they often did years ago) then there may not necessarily be any cause for concern.
As with the Wolseleys, it is important for any prospective Morris Six Series MS purchaser to be aware that some engines were known to have experienced cases of the exhaust valves burning out after what might be considered a relatively low mileage. There has always been much engineering debate as to why some engines were affected and others not.
It would seem a fair comment to say that a combination of how the valves and their guides operate within the engine, combined with the specific materials they were manufactured from at the time, and the kind of use the vehicle received probably resulted in this issue.
The trunnion and swivel-pin set up of the front suspension was common to many other vehicles of the time - although in the case of the Morris Six MS-in common with the Wolseley 6/80 & 4/50- was probably over-engineered to some degree to cope with the weight towards the front of the car.
As with any set-up of this design, regular maintenance is the key to reducing any wear in the trunnion internal threads and swivel-pin external threads, and it is vital to ensure they are greased at the prescribed servicing intervals. Even when this appears to have been carried out satisfactorily, blocked grease-nipples and the failure for the grease to find its way around every component can reduce the life expectancy of these items.
Opinion differs as to whether the Series II engine was actually an improvement over the Series I unit. Without doubt, a Morris Six with a well maintained and properly tuned engine will give its owner countless hours-and miles of immeasurable pleasure and satisfaction and is an extremely nice car to drive.