Gear Head Tuesday: “Ol’ Petrol Head” Visits the Morgan Works

Gear Head

Morgan-Ol'_Petrol_Head

“Ol’ Petrol Head” lives in Poole, England. Today he reports on his tour of the Morgan Works in Malvern, Worcestershire:

“I had my Xmas present from my wife. A 1hr drive at the wheel of a Morgan & a 2hr. factory tour – 06.07.17. (She reached her boredom threshold about 30min. in.)

The Morgan drive was very nice – but I wouldn’t buy one.

That car had a 2L. Ford engine mated to a Mazda MX5 5-speed gear box. It pulled well in all gears. I thought my 1971 MGB had ‘agricultural mechanics’ the Morgan still has, & it’s brand new.

Heavy clutch & no place to rest your foot, apart from lightly on the clutch pedal.

The brakes were supposedly servo assisted but still heavier than the MGB. There’s no power assisted steering as standard, again MGB territory. Suspension, or lack of, was fit to loosen teeth MGB style.

The fly-off handbrake also takes some getting used to.

They still have quaint/ancient Morgan designed sliding pillar front suspension. According a Morgan man I know only good for 20,000 miles & must be greased every 1,000 miles. But I guess they’re not driven far annually.

The factory is still set in the 50’s. A Morgan takes supposedly 59 hrs. to build, but as the build process is halted each time, possibly for days, when the vehicle moves between workshops it’s theoretical rather than actual build time. They’ve only just introduced steel support frames for the build pre-wheels, to replace what we would call a wooden ‘saw horse’ in the UK.

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Above: Vehicle being pushed up the slope to join the Paint Shop queue (below).

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The rolling chassis are pushed by hand between production areas, or manually carried if it’s a body tub.

There are some areas they’ve progressed in the aero style/jelly mould shaped cars have vacuum formed aluminium body panels.

The steel chassis are not plastic coated. Instead they are hot dipped galvanised, it saves 4kg. in final weight.

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Above: “Aero type car. Note the red aero industry adhesive, hot cured, & sufficiently strong that the pop rivets holding the panels together initially could be removed. But won’t be, ‘belt & braces’? The ‘side impact bars’ in the doors mean no door pockets possible.”

Below: If you’ve got it, flaunt it! An Aero being finished in Lamborghini Orange.

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They’ve a 3D computer printer for prototype motor body parts.

The Ash timber timber in the body tub frame is treated to withstand rot & white ants, for an expected 70+ years. Man power is the main ingredient.

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Above: Body Shop for traditional Morgans = ash, plywood & glue

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There was a 3 wheel trike destined for America nearing completion. The headlamps are sited closer together inboard for the US market. The client had paid an additional £2000 to have the aluminium body polished to a mirror finish.

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A handy item was the removable steering wheel, to allow easier access for the driver.

There’s an ‘all electric trike’ on test but not launched yet.

However, they are an investment (eventually). You can currently have a new standard Morgan after a 4 month wait, not after several years wait as they used to be. Export orders get priority.

The UK prices start at about £50k. incl. VAT* for the 4 wheeler. The 3 wheel trike is about £37k. incl. VAT.

(* VAT: Value Added Tax – a tax scheme heavily favored in socialist countries that taxes each layer of production that “adds value.” Democrats in the U.S. are itching to add a VAT. The VAT is a big factor in why the cost of living is so high in the UK, France and other socialist countries.)

The bloke who was guiding me around their test route was an ex. Police Fast Speed Pursuit Driver & a current Morgan owner. He was there to see I didn’t break anything. The cockpit is also very snug with 2 in it.

The best investments according to my co-driver are the early 4 seater cars, & the 3.5L. Rover (ex.Buick) engined Morgan +8. The V8 goes like stink. Neither are being made due to emissions & ‘the EU/US Safety Laws’.

Morgan Plus 8

Two Morgan +8s: Above: owned by one of “Ol’ Petrol Head’s” friends, one of 930 known to survive in the U.K. Below: a +8 owned by “Doug H.” who lives on the peninsula south of San Francisco, California. In this photo, his car is parked across the street from Arcangeli Grocery in Pescadero, California, home of the fabulous Artichoke Garlic Herb sourdough bread.

Morgan Plus Eight

Morgan is trying to break into the US market, using Ford engines, the big one has a Mustang engine instead of the UK BMW unit.

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Above: a BMW engined Morgan. Below: an S&S engine like Harley-Davidson uses in a Morgan three-wheeler.

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The trike has an S&S Vee twin that Harley Davidson use. Again to crack the US market.

They can’t get into Canada yet because if you can sit in the trike it’s a car, not a motorbike. The US accept them as a motorbike. The guide said the US had changed legislation to allow low volume car producers like Morgan to access the US market.

Allowing minimal safety equipment if the vehicle has passed/survived the standard crash test. The guide said that under crash test the steering column only moved 1mm. into the cockpit, whereas up to 3mm. was the max. No doubt California thinks differently.

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Early Morgan put together & raced in France.

According to the tour guide Morgan had to sell the freehold & lease back the entire factory site to fund the Aero style initial development. Things are looking up as they’ve just bought back the freehold & the adjacent ex.playing field.

Due to lack of space in the production areas, in good weather, completed cars are stored outside, & returned inside when the working day finishes. Half assed, but it’s the UK. A true cottage industry!”

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A completed Morgan Aero awaits shipment outside the Works.

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Video tour of the Morgan Works, February 2017 (20 min.)

It is somewhat difficult to hear, but you clearly see that Morgans are not mass-produced but each one is hand crafted.

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Previous posts about Morgans HERE and HERE

12 Comments

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  1. I always wanted one, but could never afford it .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gordon F. Kertzel,lll 11/07/2017 — 07:54

    Guess I’m not a sports Car Guy. Wouldn’t take one as a gift— Unless Max wanted to buy it really cheaply. Gordon

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have only known one Morgan owner in my life. He was SOLD on the ‘saw horse’ (never heard the term, but I like it, LOL). He gave me a ride in it and of course I liked the ride, especially the 90 degree turns. WOW!
    I built him an oak luggage rack to his specs. I had never even heard of a Morgan until I was about 38 years old. LOL. Just hearing of the ASH frame made it a neat car, or maybe just different.
    I enjoyed the article. Good post. BTW I loved the parts of England I got to see. From Spithead to London, the bars and the changing of the guard, the views from the double decker bus and of course Piccadilly Circus.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting – and fabulous photos. Obviously, a very pretty motor (OK, maybe that’s a bit of an understatement) and, if anyone offered me one, I’d happily accept. And then sell it. Amused by the comments about VAT – and Britain being a socialist country. As for beer, many people who don’t know any better in the UK drink tasteless frozen lager, just like in the US, but proper ale should be cool, not chilled; and sometimes it has bits in it…only the ignorant put it in the ‘fridge. That said, nothing wrong with a Budweiser, Peroni or Corona on a hot day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mike! I’m familiar with the VAT having lived in France for a time and knowing it was the Socialists who pushed it through there and being under the (perhaps mistaken) impression that it was Labour which pushed it through in Great Britain, Labour there being roughly analogous to the Socialists in France. The Democrats in the U.S. are itching to impose a VAT here. They never met a tax they didn’t like! But, we are here to enjoy motorcars and leave the politics to “Jerry Mander” so pardon me for injecting that into my own post about cars! 🙂

      I certainly agree with you about the proper temperature for serving/drinking ale! The flavor blossoms when it is cool. Chilling the ale doesn’t let the flavor bloom. You can get away with serving Budweiser cold because its flavor is less complex than a proper ale.

      Like

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