Lord Nuffield, founder of Morris Cars was one of the most, influential figures in the UK car industry of the Twentieth Century.

Born in 1877 as William Morris into the most modest circumstances in the small village of Cowley on the outskirts of the famous university town of Oxford, England.

Like so many of his counterparts in the fledgeling transport industry, the young Morris began his career in business as a partner in a cycle manufacturing company.

Always ambitious, Morris's strong entrepreneurial spirit saw him diversify into a number of other enterprises.

Among these enterprises were operating a taxi and hire-car service in Oxford, as well as acting as a sales and service agent for the county of Oxfordshire for some of the UK's leading car manufacturers of that time.

Morris represented some of the UK's leading car manufacturers, including Humber, Singer, Standard, and Wolseley, as well as at least two, now defunct, motorcycle manufacturers.

By 1913, while he was just in his mid-Thirties, William Morris might well have been satisfied with all that he had achieved in the world of business.

However, Morris had other plans, and mighty big ones at that- to break through into car production.

William Morris’s marketing concept was straightforward- to produce small to medium saloon cars, finished to a high standard but marketed at highly competitive prices.

Thanks to the experience Morris had gained during his many years in the industry, the ever-perceptive young entrepreneur anticipated a major breakthrough in car production that was being developed.

Morris Cars were among the first to embrace this breakthrough, which rapidly propelled his company to success.

Previously,UK car manufacturers designed their vehicles and assembled them from components custom tooled and supplied by specialist manufacturers.

As a part of this archaic and ponderous process, a different manufacturer would provide the engine, another the transmission and another the chassis as well as the variety of other parts that go into making a motor vehicle.

Morris set standards that were very high from his suppliers while insisting on extremely keen prices.

By working closely with sub-contractors, Morris was capable of producing in quantity without investing capital in the costly development or tooling stages that would severely stunt the growth of UK car manufacturers.

By pressing his suppliers to subsidise the engineering development of his cars, Morris could introduce new modesl almost at will,

From the earliest days, the Morris formula seemed to be working and within one year, the one thousandth Morris car had rolled off the assembly line at Oxford.

After resuming activities at the end of World War One, Morris began to enjoy tremendous success during the Twenties and Thirties, competing for sales in the medium range sector in what was becoming a battle of the big guns, in particular, Ford and Austin.

In 1926 William Morris established Morris Motors Ltd., initially to consolidate his manufacturing activities, absorbing companies who had been his principal suppliers, among them Morris Engines Limited (formerly Hotchkiss of Coventry), Osberton Radiators Limited, and body makers Hollick & Pratt Limited.

Over the next ten years or more Morris Motors Ltd continued their acquisition/consolidation drive, absorbing several companies, among them car manufacturers MG, Riley, and Wolseley as well as a number of his major component suppliers.

To be better able to compete, Morris formed the Nuffield Group, which included Morris, MG, Riley, and Wolseley, with these companies collectively responsible for about 50% of the total of production of UK cars in the late Thirties, in the years preceding the outbreak of World War II.

While Morris produced both large and small family saloons, they enjoyed most of their success on the small family car sector, with their Morris Eight and Ten top sellers in the UK during the post-Second World War years.

Morris, like most of their competitors, took their time to get back into gear after the war, relying on the pre-war models to meet the emerging demand for new cars.

However, Morris had plans for the Fifties, and they got under way in late October 1948, as the eagerly awaited Earls Court motor show in London opened its doors to the public so that they could cast their eyes upon three entirely new models: the Minor, the slightly larger Oxford, and the Six.

All of these new models had been designed for Morris by the famous designer Alec Issigonis (who would later go on to create the Mini for BMC).

Issigonis’s offerings had an extremely modern look, recognized by the UK motoring media to be well ahead of their time.

These new models, as well as others that followed from Morris in the early Fifties, sold very well.

At that point, it appeared that the Nuffield Group, with William Morris, then still in his Fifties could do no wrong and would remain at the top of the leading independent UK car manufacturers of the decade.

That is the reason why the industry was shocked in 1952 when the news began to break that the Nuffield Group was to merge with their previous archrivals, Austin, and Austin-Healey to form the British Motor Corporation.

In the process BMC became the largest car manufacturer in Europe.

With the merger came the almost inevitable interchange of engines and other parts between marques and complete bodies were “badge engineered”, in other words, marketed under another marque's badge after being after some minor cosmetic changes, to make it stand out just a little.

Austin’s firebrand managing director Leonard Lord was handed the tumultuous task of running BMC, which led to Austin's domination of the organisation, with Morris Motors' influence within the company gradually diluted.

It did not take too long before Austin became little more than an operating subsidiary of BMC, with the Nuffield brands, the fruit of William Morris’s rich imagination, powerful drive and vision finally fading into history by the mid-Sixties.

William Morris, by that time Lord Nuffield, during the Fifties gradually wound up his activities at BMC, in his later years preferring to concentrate on his considerable philanthropic activities. He passed away in 1963, at the age of 86.

Lord Nuffield will be remembered as one of the most hard-driving and innovator pioneers of the auto industry in the United Kingdom of the Twentieth century.

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