[Some older race footage. Good stuff!!! Enjoy, Mark]
[Some older race footage. Good stuff!!! Enjoy, Mark]
[Some older race footage. Good stuff!!! Enjoy, Mark]
The Villages . . . who’d have thought! Isn’t it just a bunch of golf courses and golf carts? That’s what I had in my head . . . and I was quite surprised.
The Noggin attendees came from all over central Florida. Roadsters, Plus 8s, an Aero 8 and even a Plus 4. Some even brought friends (Brian and Thery King).
After a quick meeting at a convenient recreation center we drove over to the Rose Plantation for lunch.
The Rose Plantation is a beautiful restaurant in a historic mansion, located right on a picturesque lake. A wonderful meal in a lovely setting. A great start to the weekend!
We then proceeded to the Villages Equestrian Center and the Polo Field. It is Polo season and the crowds were there. We parked adjacent to the field and had a perfect tailgating spot just across the street, right next to the playing field. You could feel the ground shake as the horses galloped by. Thanks Allan. And, we did participate in the half-time ritual of stomping the divots. So we got a little exercise as well.
The ladies provided us with a colorful array of fashion (it showed we had class?) ‘Special’ hats were de rigueur and the imaginative and personally created hat of Christine Bycroft was deemed the best of the lot.
We also had a few small tables with plates of nibbles and a few bottles of wine. (Not that the beer (golf) cart wasn’t patronized.) The weather was exquisite . . . warm, dry and not a cloud in the sky. We know the Florida summer is coming but it wasn’t here just yet. Glorious!! And, as is to be expected, the cars attracted a number of photographers and we did answer quite a few questions. A lovely way to enjoy an afternoon in the spring.
Then it was off to the Country Club for dinner. Another stunning facility set in another picturesque spot. Lots of lakes, grass, flowers, and impeccable views.
After a day of running around the Villages, I can now see the attraction. The Villages does attract a good number of folks . . . at some points, it was actually a bit crowded. I had one too many close calls with irreverent golf carts and parking at the hot spots in town was mostly impossible.
Driving around the Villages is tricky. The place is large and expansive and there are lots of golf carts. Florida is known for straight and flat roads (sometimes boring) but the Villages has its own solution . . . roundabouts. And, they are everywhere. In hindsight, they keep the traffic moving and proved much better than stop lights.
After dinner we walked into the local ‘town’ center to partake of the evening’s live concert for dancing and drinks on the square. More drinking than dancing I think, but none the less, very enjoyable.
Saturday was a day of sites. We saw the various ‘towns’ already created within the Villages and a new one being created. Each ‘town’ with its own charm and amenities. Quite something. One recreation center we visited was a bit of a homage to the military, called the Eisenhower Regional Recreation Center. It was really a bit of a museum.
The number of houses sold each month and the sheer expanse of the Villages complex with the recreation centers, golf courses, activities, shops and restaurants in each of the ‘towns’ is beyond belief. Live bands in three locations every night? Wow!
A great GatorMOG Noggin and a superb way to start the Morgan season in Florida. A big thanks to Allan and Mary Ann Rae for being our hosts.
(Photos Courtesy of Brian King)
We started out from Jacksonville, Fl. in our Morgan at 6:30 AM at 42 degrees with side curtains only for a one-and-a-half-hour drive to Jekyll Island to enter the show before the 9 AM cut off. The show was for all classes of car and motorcycles about 200 total. There were many custom cars present and many workshops about building cars. The workshops required additional prepaid passes to attend. Show attendance was very high from 9 to about 4 PM.
British cars shown at the show consisted of a Bug eye Sprite, Tr-6, Allard, and our Morgan. Apparently not too many people at this show had seen a Morgan so the interest was very high between young and old. The younger crowd like the traditional lines and older folks remembered what it was like driving in the older open cars.
Since I was trading car stories with the guys, Karen found a new friend wearing green as seen in the pictures.
There were old motorcycles and custom bikes with the large front wheel along with a group of new three wheelers. Is this what the Morgan three-wheeler may look like in the future?
Many of the custom cars were works of art and the paint jobs were outstanding. The variety of vehicles ranged from the “Thing” by VW. A model T Ford camper. Bronco beach buggy. A Sea Ray car drivable on the road.
My favorite car was a 1955 Cadillac 4 door customized and lowered which had two 3 inch by 8 inch wide tail pipes coming out from under the rear bumper with 2 spark plugs in each pipe. Inside the trunk were 2 propane cylinders. At the flip of a switch he could turn on the propane and ignite it producing a ball of flame which he said could burn the leaves of the palm trees. That is impressive! Would it be great to have that option to use on the guy who is riding on your bumper?
Weather was great all day and the evening drive back to Jacksonville was warm and fun.
Chuck & Karen Bernath
Holiday Inn Express at 1205 Avenida Central, The Villages FL 32159.Click on the link below to make reservations under the ‘Morgan South’ Group. The nightly rate of $129.00 (doesn’t include taxes).
We are starting the event on Friday, 23 March, so that we can take in the Polo match at the villages. First we will have lunch and then proceed to the match. We were going to tailgate at the Polo fields but they are no longer open to us, so we will visit some place special and then go to the field.
Make sure you are appropriately attired for Polo. The ladies are asked to wear
Silly Stylish Hats. There is no hope for the men being stylish however . . .
(11:15am) Meet at Rohan Recreation Centre at the south end of the Villages Hwy 44 & Morse Blvd for Coffee, Tea, and Juice.
(12:00am) Depart to ??? for Lunch
(??:??am) Lunch somewhere. *** Ladies must wear
Silly Stylish Hats (This is Polo of Course!) ***
(??:??pm) Depart Polo field to hotel
(??:??pm) Depart for dinner Glenview Golf and Country Club (casual).
– After Dinner Depart Country Club for Hotel. Park Morgans
– Walk to ‘Spanish Springs’ town square for live music and drinks and dancing.
(9:00pm) Depart back to hotel
(9:30 am) Depart Hotel. Drive through Spanish Springs
(10:00am) Travel to Sumter Landing (Park Morgans. Walking tour (~1 hour).
(11:15am) Lunch Sumter Landing (location TBD).
(12:30pm) Depart for Brownwood Town
– Arrive at Eisenhower Recreation Centre for Tour (~30 Mins)
(2:00pm) Depart Eisenhower Centre to Brownwood Town Square
(2:10pm) Arrive Brownwood. Short Stop (~30 Mins)
– Depart travel to new town – Finney
– Visit New Recreation Centre. Afternoon drinks and short nature walk (coffee).
(5:00pm) Depart home or Hotel (people staying visit town square for music, dancing and dinner.).
For more details contact Joan Maupin by email MaupinFinancial@aol.com or by phone 239-466-3852.
It’s snowing as I write this, and has been for several days. All of which makes thoughts of open-top sports cars seem a touch perverse, especially if they involve Morgans. But the venerable Malvern company has just unveiled a new Morgan Plus 8 at Geneva.
So Morgans are in my head. The last four-wheeled one I drove, in February 2013, was that rare thing, a Fiat-powered 4/4. It was a 1985 example and it demonstrated perfectly why Morgans and winter weather don’t fit in the same sentence. The hood and side screens were no more than a minor impediment to the rainwater’s mission to soak my knees and right arm, there was as much water on the inside of the windscreen as the outside, the minimal-travel suspension pounded my intervertebral discs and I was freezing.
My previous Morgan encounter to that one was also in winter (blame two different magazine editors), but this time it was snowing. This Morgan, though, was a new one at the time (2009), a later interpretation of the entry-level 4/4 powered by a 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine, and dynastic then-boss Charles Morgan was evangelising to me about the eco-credentials he’d suddenly realised his cheapest car had. The basic architecture might have been ancient, but the wooden body frame came from trendily renewable resources and at 795kg the 4/4 was even lighter than a Lotus Elise.
This 4/4 was a rather better drive than the earlier one, thanks to rack-and-pinion steering (more precise than the old steering box, itself improved from 1984) and dampers better matched to the stiff suspension’s characteristics. It was a car more comfortable both with itself and for its occupants, its dashboard furnished with dials and switchgear appropriate to the retro exterior style instead of, as used to be the Morgan way, just making do with whatever was current in Lucas’s or Smiths’ catalogues of generics. The ambience, and the ash-framed body on a separate chassis, all called to mind the 1930s Singer Le Mans I had owned (and now own again), which was quite surreal in a 2009 car.
I have driven various other Morgans over the years, too, and in case you have detected a touch of negativity I should point out that, in the right weather and with the roof stowed away, they are great fun. However, we opened this piece with a Plus 8. The new one is called the Plus 8 50th Anniversary Edition, and 50 of them will be made after which Morgan will build no more cars with a normally-aspirated V8.
Now, it’s possible you had forgotten that Morgan still makes a Plus 8. The model was launched, yes, 50 years ago with a Rover V8 engine mounted in a widened version of the body and chassis that had served Morgan since the mid-1950s (and, with a flat radiator grille rather than a rounded one, since the 1930s). At launch, the Plus 8 was Britain’s most accelerative production car.
It continued, getting ever more potent, until 2004 when the supply of Rover V8s dried up and Morgan concentrated on its new BMW-powered Aero 8, as hi in the tech with its bonded-aluminium chassis as the Plus 8 was not. I got to know a particular Plus 8, in bright red, very well during and after a mid-1990s Car magazine gathering of every open-top car available in Britain at the time. Part of the story involved cornering photographs taken at that staple location, the bend by the rough cobbles at the Longcross test track familiar from myriad magazine shoots.
A couple of years earlier I had much enjoyed a blast along the Gloucestershire backroads in a then-current 4/4, returning it from another test track to the factory in Pickersleigh Road, Malvern Link. The roads were a bit slippery but I had thoroughly bonded with this Morgan and its ultra-predictable if primitive, dynamics. There was a particular downhill, rightward flick with a bump in the dip before the road climbed again at the flick’s exit, and the tail snapped out as the suspension bottomed. I was pleased with how easily it was caught.
So, performing power slides for the camera in the Plus 8 should be a breeze, I thought. I revised that opinion as the Morgan got the better of me and pirouetted onto the savage cobbles. My embarrassment was worsened by the fact that the Plus 8 would no longer move forward afterwards, despite being in gear. I looked over my shoulder to discover that the right rear wheel was lying on its side under the end of the axle, although its now-jagged centre was still on the hub and rotating.
A contrite phone call to Charles Morgan was met not with annoyance that I had ruined the wheel but dismay that the wheel had broken. ‘That shouldn’t have happened,’ he said. The episode triggered a metallurgical analysis on the Plus 8’s return to Malvern, but the conclusion was that the aluminium was fine and the wheel had simply succumbed to forces more violent than it would ever normally experience. Having felt those forces, I could only agree.
I fitted the spare wheel and had a great time in the Plus 8 over the weekend that followed, no ill-effects of the mechanical trauma evident on the car’s part and a heightened sensitivity deployed on my right foot’s part. There has never been anything else quite like this post-vintage hot rod.
And that includes the new Plus 8 that arrived in 2012, using the Aero 8’s modern underpinnings clothed with an ultimate-width, slightly less un-aerodynamic incarnation of the trad-look Plus 8 body and linking the new rather neatly with the old. It is on this car that the new Anniversary Edition, in metallic blue with yellow highlights, is based, with 367bhp from its 4799cc BMW motor and a 4.5-second 0-62mph time. In its quality and finish today’s Plus 8 is a world away from the original, but the look is anything but.
It will take a while to build those 50 final normally-aspirated Plus 8s, and then what? A Plus 8 with twin turbochargers, perhaps, although nothing has been revealed.
After getting lots of requests for club regalia, we have finally listened and engaged ‘Fourth Gear LTD’ to provide the MOGSouth / GatorMOG Morgan community with regalia services.
Here is a link to their web site. Fourth Gear LTD
You can see that they provide this regalia service for lots of other British Car Clubs.
MOGSouth has paid to have our club logos digitized and placed into their ‘Car Club Logo’ library. They also have a library of ‘British Marques’ which includes Morgan wings and Morgan Script, and a library of ‘British Cars’ include the cowled grill Plus 4 (in either a top up or top down configuration) as well as a Three Wheeler.
If there is an image or logo you want and don’t see let us at MOGSouth know. If there is sufficient interest, we may be willing to have the image digitized and made available to the membership in the future.
The process is simple. Go to their web site. Pick a logo or other image from the libraries and place it in your shopping cart. Then select a regalia item, e.g. shirt or wine tote or whatever and place that item in your shopping cart. The regalia item price includes the embroidery unless something special is being requested.
As I understand it, simple things like colors can be changed, etc. If you have relatively simple requests or ‘special instructions’ to add to your order, there is a ‘Notes’ field you can use to specify your desires.
If there is something complicated that you want like logo size changes or location of the embroidery (e.g. big logos on the back), use their ‘Request Information’ button to ask questions about your specific needs. Some things may not be doable with their current equipment. (FYI, the standard embroidery location is on the left chest of the shirt.)
Also, I believe they have, or will source different regalia items for you, e.g. denim shirts and sweatshirts. If you don’t see what you want, just ask.
Note – due to the complexity of the GatorMOG logo there is an additional charge when it is selected. It also is a bit too big to fit nicely on a cap. It is also recommended that it go onto a sturdy material to reduce the risk of puckering.
Let me know if you have issues or problems (or just have comments.)
The Friday (9 March) MOGSouth Noggin at Sliders Seaside Grill in Fernandina Beach, FL was great fun. The restaurant again gave us the first floor area right inside the entrance.
This was perfect for us and we pretty much filled the space. A great crowd of MOGSouth members (and Morgan friends) came to the Noggin and joined us.
Unfortunately we missed a few of our normal stalwarts (David C., Norris H., Ellis K., Rick F., John S., Ray M., Jim B., etc.) Family conflicts, the ongoing Porsche events or other things just got in the way. It happens. They were with us in spirit so we raised a glass for them.
While we missed some, we welcomed others. Lots of new faces. And we had folks coming from far a field. Folks from Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, Georgia, North & South Carolina and of course, a good number from Florida.
We ate and drank and ate some more. This year, something new, the dessert menu was in an old slide disc viewer (View Master?) Push the lever down to get the next image (next menu item.) We all got a big kick out of that but few actually still had room for dessert.
Once again, in their wisdom, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance organizers compressed the weekend, and moved the Concours to Saturday. The feared Sunday rain. (They should have known better than to listen to the local TV broadcasters. There was no rain until Sunday night, nor was there any last year, when they did the same thing.)
This meant the Cars and Coffee, as well as the Concours would be held on the same day. Makes things a bit crowded and congested and I have to believe screws up a lot of folks logistics. Hotel reservations, airline flights, show car arrival times, etc.
Regardless, our plans came off with minimal trauma (although Saturday morning came a bit too early!!)
The Morgans all met at the Surf Restaurant along A1A, at 07:30am Saturday morning. The restaurant was being renovated so the parking lot was mostly empty. Then we traveled in convoy to the Cars and Coffee site. Going into the Cars and Coffee site as a group ensures we are parked together. If we went in independently we would be parked all over the place.
This year, the organizers wanted us to leave prior to 1:30pm (or to stay to the end of the Concours.) It would appear they were a bit afraid of the masses leaving the Cars and Coffee, in vehicles, would prove a bit dangerous for the masses leaving the Concours, as pedestrians.
This didn’t really materialize so folks left the Cars and Coffee as they wanted. We all left around 3:00. We had a great turnout of Morgans on the field with Roadsters, Plus 8s, 4/4, Aero 8s and even a new, 2017, M3W. Our display, as always, attracted a big crowd and we spent much of the time answering questions from the attendees.
There were also quite a few Morgan owners and MOGSouth members, unfortunately sans Morgans, that came by to say hello. Tony Mclaughlin, Bob Wilson, Stu Mosbey, Gordon King, Ian Levitt and many more whose names I cannot remember (sorry!)
All in all, another tremendous MOGSouth weekend. The weather was superb, the cars were all expertly displayed and everyone was quite happy with the weekend. Lots of discussions about the new Morgans announced at Geneva and lots of discussions about road trips and other MOGSouth planned events. It looks like the MOGSouth year is off to a great start!!!
See you down the road . . . Mark.
The world of Ye Olde Worlde Cars has been quietly carrying on thanks to Morgan, a company that like to keep things pleasantly old school. Big motors, wood frames, looks from 1950s England, and a healthy dose of good ‘ol Blighty are Morgan’s jam—but taxes and regulations mean it has to change. And without many people noticing, it has.
The huge V-twin engine up front. The two skinny tires sticking out from the sides. The open top. A chat with Jon Wells, Morgan’s Head of Design, shows a company that is actually less 1953 and more 2053, albeit with a twist.
This year sees the 50th anniversary of the Morgan Plus 8, and maybe the end of the Morgan V8 itself. Both the Plus 8 and the Aero 8 are on the way out. Part of this is the BMW-sourced naturally aspirated V8 engine, something BMW doesn’t even use anymore.
Wells has mixed feelings about it: “It sounds brilliant, drives fantastically, but we have to look forward. Cars like this are challenged with homologation, taxation, and emissions issues. Also, BMW makes the V8 engine purely on its prototype line just for Morgan and that’s not sustainable. That journey has to come to an end.”
It’s a shame to see the V8 going away, but this may not be the end for the V8 Morgan in its entirety. Wells threw in this little gem: “This is the end of the naturally aspirated V8 for Morgan.”
Does that mean no more V8 at all? He, irritatingly, wouldn’t say. Even with batted eyelids and the sweetest smile thrown his way.
[Now this is an interesting tid bit. Perhaps a turbo or supercharged V8? That should be quite potent. But, as usual, we won’t see it here for a good while. Mark]
Morgan needs to modernize, and its needs to do so quickly, but that may not be the issue you imagine it to be because while no one was looking the company has started doing really well. Last year was Morgan’s best year to date, it did so well that it bought back its previously leased factory and lobbed cash at engineering, R&D, and training. “When I started at Morgan there were eight engineers and two designers, now there are more than 20 engineers and six designers,” Wells said.
Everyone in the factory is now being given personalised training to get the best out of them, and the firm’s even using modern tech to help production: “We have a 3D printer, but no car parts are 3D printed. Tooling, things to make construction easier are made in house with it rather than outsourcing.”
We’ve known about the EV3 electric Three Wheeler for years. It’s an exciting idea, combining the car that got Morgan going as a company in the first place with modern tech, but it’s more than that. “Morgan isn’t trying to pay the mortgage with EV3,” Wells said. “What it does is softly take us in to the world of electrification. It means we do things properly and it’ll teach us how to build EVs safely and quickly.”
What it won’t be is a quiet cruiser: “It’s really bloody loud. It sounds like a pod racer out of Star Wars… It whirs, pummels you in the face with wind and stones. It’s not like a commute in a Renault Zoe, it’s still man and machine interaction but in a completely different way to a combustion engine.”
Electrification is coming, we know that, but it doesn’t mean the old school way of doing things are on the way out. It means that there will still be some quirks in the mix, but only the ones that enrich an experience rather than the ones that blight a journey, like having your V8’s motor refuse to start for no reason.
“It’s about walking a line and keeping it a Morgan,” Wells said, “keeping the impracticalities that make it fun, and get rid of the [irritations]… Still keeping the coach building alive, while bringing Morgan in to the age of electrification. Like a tailored suit, its imperfections make it perfect.”
For now Morgan is keeping a lid on what’s coming next. To see out the V8 era there’s a new take on the Plus 8 and Aero 8 GT, a harder edged modern take on the Morgans of old. At least the last cars will be special… Wells put it thus: “You can’t be naïve enough to think you can stay the same in a changing world.”
And you know what? Quietly, subtly, Morgan seems to be changing while keeping things as familiar as possible. Imperfections and all.