BCal's Morris Minor Van
by Vic Attwood
Vic, a member of the British Airways Classic Vehicle Association, was instrumental in persuading the team to include a BCal vehicle in their collection. One was duly purchased and restored, and it appeared at the BCal 40th Anniversary Reunion in 2010.
My thanks go to Vic, who has kindly written down the story and provided the photos for this feature.
I had always had an interest in classic commercial vehicles, and in 2000 became a member of British Airways Classic Vehicle Association (BACVA) apart from members own vehicles, they already had a 1961 BOAC crew bus and a 1978 BEA Bedford van. These vehicles were supported financially by British Airways and attended air shows and functions as part of BA Heritage Promotions.
In 2001the BACVA decided to add to their fleet with finance being provided by BA, and after a number of false starts bought Morris Minor van YYC 708H which had been an abandoned project. I persuaded them that although it had not been previously owned by BCal it represented the typical small vehicles that we had owned, it should be painted in our 1970s colour scheme as although we had merged with BA in 1988, it was still part of their heritage, and this was agreed.
The van was taken to a company of classic vehicle restorers near Guildford where it was decided that new wings were required and some welding needed to be done. The vehicle was totally striped ready for painting.
As she was purchased
Stripped back and being prepared for paint
In paint - Concorde white no less
That 747 could do with some gold and a Lion!
The BCal Van's ribbon cutting
BEA, BOAC, BCal, the BACVA fleet in 2003
Tony Cocklin & VIc Attwood join the unveiling team
As always any comments / info welcome : BCalatribute@outlook.com
and if you would like to write a page like Vic, please just drop me a line anytime.
The shell was taken back to Heathrow where two of the lads in the aircraft paint shop had volunteered to do the painting in their spare time. Although the van had been finished in grey primer when it was purchased they were not satisfied that they could achieve a satisfactory finish, so it was stripped back to basics before painting could commence. The paint was supplied by BA’s paint suppliers to the BCal specification to ensure that the colours were correct. The white paint is actually special Concorde paint, so there were definitely no problems with high speeds or low temperatures.
After painting and sign writing (I had a copy of our corporate image manual to ensure its accuracy) the van was returned to the restorers in Guildford for the mechanical and trim aspects to be completed and for the non-standard and missing parts to be replaced. During the rebuilding the engine was modified to run on unleaded petrol and the back axle ratio was also changed to make it run more economically. The vehicle was ready for the launch.
I had also arranged for the "launch" to take place at the BA Headquarters at Waterside in November 2003 for which thanks must go to Tony Cocklin who was our Head of Public Relations and was then Manager to the Chairman's Office at British Airways.
Four former BCal staff were able to attend in their uniforms, Jo James, Anne Swaine, Shelagh Anderson and Gloria Martin who assisted Alastair Pugh (himself a classic vehicle enthusiast) in cutting the ribbon; It created a great deal of interest at Waterside with many BA staff enquiring about the uniforms and BCal, and it always created a lots of interest whenever it was exhibited.
The three classic vehicles were all technically owned by BA in whose name they were taxed and registered, but suddenly in 2006 they decided that classic vehicles did not fit in with their modern image and financial support was withdrawn, they also lost their storage facilities in the old fire station in the engineering base at Heathrow.
As the vehicles were an asset on BA books they would have to be sold, but rather than let them fall into private hands and disappear forever, the 3 vehicle were "sold" to Brooklands at £1.00 each where they can now been seen on public display. Together with the BCal Morris Minor they all made an appearance in the 2017 Heathrow Airport Christmas "teddy bear" advertisement.
Apart from that at Brooklands, our van lives on in model form and has been reproduced by 3 toy and model manufacturers, the latest being by Oxford Diecast in "N" scale which is only 25 mm long.
From the large 1/26th scale model from Saico to the newest "N" or 1/148th scale edition of the BCal Morris Minor Van from Oxford Diecast
The New N Scale model is available here N Scale BCal Morris Minor Van
and other versions of the van can often be found on eBay here
......and we finish with a photo of Vic and the full-size BCal Morris Minor Van