FeaturesGround-breaking woman in automotive engineering shares love of classic cars

Ground-breaking woman in automotive engineering shares love of classic cars

Amanda Hazlett has owned, and worked, on a number of well-known classic cars including Morris Minors and Fords.

A daring rule breaker when it comes to testing the limits of classic cars and recently spotted on a race track in France with her Morris Minor; the only thing stopping Amanda Hazlett on her next adventure is running out of road ahead of her!

After building her first car when she was seven, an Airfix Rolls-Royce which her grandparents bought her, it was written in the stars that Amanda Hazlett would be part of the automotive industry. Amanda tells the Lancaster Insurance team about her incredible career…

A Morris Minor fan extraordinaire and one of the few women apprentices at Ford, Amanda also worked at Nissan and Lotus, to name a few, and often found herself as the only female engineer in her department during her 44 year career.

Amanda Hazlett, Automotive Industry

When it comes to her car CV, Amanda has had an impressive collection which has included a slew of Morris Minors, driven as dailies and restored as projects, Fords and also a BMW Z3.

Now retired, Lancaster Insurance caught up with Amanda as she spends her time fixing her daughter’s Minor, among other cars. Fittingly, a Ford Thames Dormobile is on the list of Amanda’s ongoing projects in 2023; a neat way of returning to source, wouldn’t you say?

“My first car was a Morris Minor which I bought from a lady in the parish council. Dad suggested I had a look at it and I bought it with the savings I had: £250, including the garage. I had the use of her garage because she wasn’t driving any more.

I went to Paris for a long weekend, came home, passed my test the following Tuesday, and then drove to work. In the time between buying it and passing my test, I did have some welding done and did it up.

My dad showed me how to repair panels and paint and I gave it a really good clean. I drove that on a daily basis, but then I went to Ford trucks. That was around the North Circular at the time, and I decided that it really wasn’t the car to commute in around the North Circular.”

I became fully emersed in the club life too. I bought the first edition of Practical Classics when I went on a coach holiday, and that magazine showed me the details of the Morris Minor Owners’ Club. I was in the emissions lab [at Ford] and there was a guy with a Morris Minor who asked if I was going to the MMOC National Rally.

He said: “well, come along, all you need is a membership card and a windscreen sticker,” or something. He said: “I’ll lend you one of them”. I went along, met these people who were starting the Essex branch. 3099 is my membership number and I’ve been a member ever since.

When I started commuting [further afield], I bought a Talbot Horizon [as a daily driver]. I started to get the Morris Minor rebuilt because it was suffering from rust. That car ended up competing at Concours Level [within the Owners’ Club].

I later sold the Horizon and bought a Morris Minor van, because the Horizon was costing me more to run than a Morris Minor would. I fancied a van anyway.

I sold my first Morris Minor to purchase a flat and found out, [via the Birmingham Morris Minor Centre], that she had ended up in Japan. It was featured in Car Graphic magazine.

Whilst doing some work on the van, I drove an LJ80 Suzuki Jeep and briefly owned an Alfa Sud too – as every petrol head should! The van stayed with me till 1990, as I wanted a Morris Minor convertible custom, I traded in my van to build it.

I drew the design of the convertible I wanted and I went to a guy called Chris Street [of CS Auto Classics]. He built the car for me, which I got in 1993.

I then bought a Fiat Twin Cam engine in 2007. I picked it up while I was away on business because I happened to be going that way. And that was the reason why I took the Morris Minor off the road and decided to rebuild it in the manner at which I wanted it rebuilt. I have only just got it back on the road last year, thanks to Steve Cook in Scotland. It was a project that I wanted to do, and I wasn’t not going to do it.

Unfortunately, the automotive recession happened in 2008 so I then left the automotive business for a few years, but then joined Lotus where I worked until retirement in May 2022.

I still had to have a daily car because I didn’t get a company car with them. So I was then going through a succession of Ford Focuses, and I’d also purchased another Morris Minor saloon Daisy in 2010. I still have Daisy. She’s my little car that puts up with everything I throw at it.

I had the convertible and obviously my daily driver. I decided I wanted a nice little sports car, so I bought a BMW Z3 because they’re so cheap.

My daughter also has a Morris Minor (she’s actually insured with Lancaster Insurance) and we currently have a Traveller that had been converted into a pickup, and muggins here is now finishing it off.

I had a friend who had a lilac convertible, specially built by Tim Lang down in Somerset, and he passed away; him and his wife really wanted the car to go to me. Luckily, my father had some spare cash in the bank, so he bought it.

We’re inundated with Morris Minors. I’ve also got a Ford Thames Dormobile I’m restoring now.

I said: “I really should have a classic Ford… The Thames Dormobile is my escapism, I guess. And the Z3 is just a bit of power under my foot and a bit of fun with the roof down. Currently, it’s a combination of working on the various cars, using the cars as and when. A nice, chilled retirement some would say!”

Find more info:
Lancaster Insurance Services

Join the club:
Morris Minor Owners Club

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