Hat tip to “Ol’ Petrol Head” in the U.K. for suggesting this post via an e-mail showing a tour of the Morgan plant
The Morgan Motor Company was founded early in the 20th century in Malvern, Worchestershire, England when H.F.S. Morgan built a three-wheel cycle car. Rather than having the single wheel at the front, he placed the single wheel at the rear, having found this arrangement made the vehicle more stable. The initial cycle car was built in 1909. Several friends wanted Morgan to build one for them and thus one of the most iconic motor works got its start. The company remains the last British-owned carmaker and is still controlled by the Morgan family.
A photo in the museum at the Morgan factory of H.F.S. Morgan and his first 3-wheeler.
In many ways, Morgan cars are anachronisms. They are not built on an assembly line. Most of them still use ash wood in the construction of their bodies. They are moved from one assembly area to the next through a series of inter-connected workshops that flow downhill, until at last, a finished Morgan rolls out the door. Some 160 craftsmen hand build about 1,300 cars a year.
Above: the entrance to the Morgan factory
Below: Ash wood being formed for Morgan bodies
The factory is a series of inter-connected workshops flowing downhill
Above and below: an early Morgan 3 wheeler
Below: a 1912 Morgan 2 passenger 3 wheeler
In 1936, the company introduced the 4/4 model, its first 4 wheel vehicle. The name signifies “4 wheels and 4 cylinders.” The 4/4 remains in production today and is thus the world’s longest-running production series automobile.
The 3-wheeler was dropped in 1952, but a modern version was launched in 2011 and is still available. Sadly, due to U.S. government bureaucratic intransigence, the 3-wheeler is the only Morgan currently available in the U.S.
Slideshow: The Morgan 3-Wheeler
The +4 was introduced in 1950 as a larger-engined version of the 4/4. When the ex-Buick aluminum V-8 tooling was sold to Rover, Morgan introduced the +8 powered by that fine little V-8. The +8 remains in production, now powered by a BMW V-8. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Doug H., who has owned three Packard V-12s, has a Buick/Rover-powered +8.
The latest Morgans are the Aero 8 series. The Aero 8 Morgans have aluminum bodies and frames. Powered by a BMW V-8, the Aero 8s are fast and nimble. Of the series, my personal favorite is the Aero Max coupe, which was limited to 100 units.
Limited to 100 units: the Morgan Aero Max coupe
That said, what great fun it would be to own a Morgan 3-wheeler! No doubt the 3-wheelers draw crowds everywhere they go. I’m visualizing myself driving one down Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pescadero to load up on that fabulous artichoke garlic-herb bread at Archangeli Market. With any luck, Doug H. would be there with his +8 and we could have a grand time zipping through the hills of the San Francisco Peninsula over Highway 84, which is a great road for sports cars and motorcycles, on our way home …
Strange Old Vehicles
(Hat tip: “Shirl”)
… and now, in closing (with a hat tip to “Chris-to-Fear”) …
What happens to that old engine oil:
Drink up, chaps! It’s 10W-40!