In late 1948, early 1949, when the 'J -Type' van of similar capacity was already going into production, development work on MO Oxford saloon based vans and pick-up trucks, of half-ton capacity was initiated. On 15th May 1950, almost two years after the introduction of the Saloon, the first 'production' commercial van was dispatched from the Cowley factory, followed 16 days later by the first truck, and later the same week, the first chassis-cab.
It is understood that Lord Nuffield had requested that the new vehicle be readily identified with the new (and contemporary styled) Morris Oxford MO. This choice of body style made it clear that in the main, much of the rigidity of the 'Monocoque' construction saloon would be lost, so the MCV's are based on a true chassis.
This is a simple heavy mild steel frame developed by the 'Projectile Engineering Company' (PECO) Pressings of the Midlands, whilst the body was dealt with by Nuffield Metal Products, both liaising closely with the Morris Commercial Cars design team.
Box-section members run either side of the engine bay and are extended farther back.
So, instead of ending at the torsion bar cross-member mid-way under the car (as with the 'U' section rails of the saloon), they continue to the rear of the vehicle, curving outwards to accept the rear spring shackles. The front shackles are mounted on the outer edges of a sturdy 'yoke' cross-member, which is bolted and riveted to the chassis frame rails, and has an oval cut-out to clear the propeller shaft.
By October 1956, when the Series III commercials were introduced, approximately 44,100 MCV's were built of the three options:
Vans: 30,100 (69%)
Trucks: 10,600 (25%)
Chassis cabs: 2,600 (6%)
It is testament to the rugged design that MCV's are still turning up around the world, from Canada to New-Zealand and Brazil to Denmark, with several still earning a living as farm trucks and even an ice-cream van, 50 years after the last one left the factory.
Since the start of the Club's records 30 years ago, there are just 170 MCV's recorded and of these 10 are confirmed as scrapped, with an equal amount recently not accounted for, so there are maybe only 150 survivors worldwide. Of these, 6% are chassis cabs, and in a reversal of production numbers, 20% are vans, and 72% are trucks, with a few recorded types still 'unknown'.
The high survival rate for trucks (Utes) is due to the large numbers exported to Australia, with its predominantly drier climate, which has 75% of those known, with 30% of these in the state of New South Wales. The assembled cab unit was bolted to the chassis and then fitted out similar to the saloon, with the exception of the torsion bars, which were anchored into even heavier gauge lugs, welded to the side of the Chassis rails.
The front suspension lower arms were fixed to the lower chassis, and the top suspension arm (shock absorber), was bolted onto the cab unit.
The same lower body and floor support pressings are used for both van and pick-up bodies, which are quite detachable, as they bolt onto the chassis and rear of the cab.
The cab of the MCV utilises most of the MO car panels i.e. engine bay floor, inner wings, outer wings, scuttle, forward half of inner floor and sills, front doors and forward half of the roof panel.
The author wishes to thank Mark Garrett (MO416) and Steve McNichol (MO114) for their contributions.