The elusive Australian Million – by Richard McKellar
Ever since I have had an interest Morris Minors, I have heard a rumour about the Australian Morris Minor Million.
The Australian Million was a little different from its UK cousins. The Australian car had a 4 door body (unlike the 2 door UK and US delivered cars).
The Australian car was built CKD at BMC’s Victoria Park, Zetland factory (Sydney NSW), and to boost publicity milestone for BMC, the car was offered as a major prize in the TV show – BP Pick a Box. Sponsored by BP, the show was filmed in the studios of Sydney's ATN-7 Studio and televised around Australia.
The format for each episode consisted of two contestants participating in a five-question trivia quiz, with the second contestant wearing sound-proof headphones while the first was being questioned. The contestant who correctly answered the most questions, was invited to choose from one of a number of boxes. Without disclosing the box's contents (which could be either valuable or a booby prize), The host would offer the contestant a cash payment in lieu of the prize. Here appears one of the program's catch phrases, "The money or the box?"
To increase the risk/suspense, the presenter would sometimes offer increasing amounts of cash to contestants who chose the box. After receiving the cash or prize, contestants had the option of leaving the show undefeated, or returning to play for more prizes, at the risk of losing those already won.
Little is known of the cars history after this time. A friend of mine Phillip Plumbe found a classified advertisement for the car which dated from the mid 1980’s of which I have a copy. A photo recently surfaced by US Million enthusiast Graham Vanhegan. Graham spotted the Million in a Museum in 1999, and returned Sydney ten years later to find the museum was long gone. Grahams photo clearly show the Lilac paint on the firewall. Like so many Millions, the car had been repainted white.
I had a number of calls of a pink Morris Minor thought to be a Morris Million in country Victoria, but I turns out that BMC Australia offered a pinkish colour as a special order in their colour range.
The Australian Million believed to have survived in the Sydney area until about 15 years ago, when it was accidentally scrapped by a major Sydney Morris Minor parts supplier – along with a number of other Morris Minors.
The alarm sounded when the boot was put aside with other useable parts and panels from the car. The boot had the 1,000,000 badge still attached (ops!).
Interesting enough, what is believed to be the Australian Million bonnet badges, appeared at a Melbourne Swap Meeting – and was purchased by myself.
If anyone out there has any more information please contact the Morris Minor Million Registerer Phil Smith.
Co-Author, Morris Minor – One in a Million