John Stanley found this video. It is very appropriate as it shows some clips of the Revs Institute (previously the Collier Museum) which we visited on each of our trips to Key West.
I was quite amused when watching as some of the comments are equally applicable to these older Morgan three wheelers we are trying to maintain. ‘It has a total loss oil systems – the oil is drawn from the tank through the sight glasses – so you know the oil is flowing – into the engine then out onto the driver and the road. So it is a messy car . . . ‘
When you think of a Morgan it’s
perfectly acceptable for the mind’s eye to draw up the image of gentle drives
in the countryside, gingham blankets and picnics in the sun. And for many older
Morgans, that is most definitely the case. However, we really shouldn’t let
ourselves think that. Morgan has been entwined with motorsport since its black
and white beginnings way back in the 1900s. The company was founded in 1909,
but just three years later in 1912, Morgan’s three-wheeled offering was on the
steep banking of Brooklands, where it was competing to win the award for
greatest distance covered in an hour by a cycle car. Admittedly, Morgan lost
out to a GWK, however, the following year it scooped the victory by covering 60
The point here is that Morgan cars and
competition go hand in hand. Over the decades the model range has grown, and so
too has the racing arm of Morgan. Morgans have been seen at Le Mans, they’ve
been seen at hill climbs and thanks to the incredibly popular Morgan Challenge
racing series, they have been seen battling it out in packs at almost every
circuit in the UK. Yes, Morgans like to race. A lot.
This has led to the growth of Morgan’s
side business, if you will, which goes by the name of Aero Racing. It’s here
that select Morgans are ‘breathed’ on in order to get them competition ready.
Suspension, wheels, brakes, race equipment such as seats, roll cages and fire
extinguishers, and of course, engines, are all fitted or built in house at
Pickersleigh Road alongside the road-going counterparts.
Of course, when you have a race shop on
site, you’re going to want to capitalise on that, which is exactly what Morgan
did a few years back with the car you’re looking at here. This is the Morgan
ARP4. That’s Aero Racing Plus 4. And this is more race car than road car, but
it’s a road car nonetheless. Think of it as Usain Bolt in a houndstooth jacket.
Smoking a pipe.
The Plus 4 has been in production since
1950 and many would argue that it has proven itself to be the backbone of the
company. The Plus 4 is the go-to car from the Morgan range. There’s the
smaller-engined 4/4, but that can leave more spirited drivers wanting. There’s
the V6 Roadster, but for some this it too far removed from the traditional Plus
4. Then of course there are the V8 Aero cars along with their successor, the
Plus 6. These are halo cars though, and their bonded aluminium chassis and
modern tech detract, for some, from what a Morgan should be. The Plus 4 is
pure, traditional Morgan though, hence its huge popularity. Even now, in 2019,
the Plus 4 still boasts that traditional steel ladder chassis with an
Ash-framed body sitting on top, all handmade of course.
The ARP4 takes the normal 2.0 Plus 4
and squarely drop-kicks it into the absurd, but in the best possible way. As
you look at the car it’s all very familiar. Those long, flowing wings. The
bonnet that spurs away from the driver for a seemingly impossible distance,
that tight but perfectly trimmed cabin. Yes, it’s just a Plus 4. Until that is,
you look closely. The custom-made Image 16×7-inch split-rim wheels grab your
attention first, and then your eyes are naturally drawn to the rubber wrapped
around them. Yokohama 225/55 AD08R in this case, which for those in the know,
is a serious tyre.
There are other visual hints towards
the ARP4’s true purpose. The black grille, the lack of bumpers, the exposed
aluminium in the cabin, it all suggests something other than gingham and
Open that handmade, heavily louvred
bonnet and you’re in for a treat. The 2.0 Ford engine that you’d normally find
in a Plus 4 is still there, but only in essence. The reality is a 2.0 Ford
engine that has been breathed on, heavily, by none other than Cosworth. And
Cosworth knows a thing or two about screwing the ponies out of a Ford engine.
225 ponies in this case, thanks to throttle bodies, level 2 race cams, a
re-worked cylinder head and a reworked crank on which you’ll find
Cosworth’s forged rods and pistons. Bolted onto the back of it is a five-speed
manual close ration ‘box, which in turn is bolted to a 3.9:1 differential.
Of course, power is nothing without
control, but the ARP4 has the covered in spades. First of all, there are those
sticky Yokohama tyres. Then there’s the five-link rear suspension, while Spax
adjustable shocks can be found at both the front and rear. Four-pot Aero Racing
developed brakes sit up front with vented discs, while solid discs take care of
things at the back. This is a fully resolved, no point missed, out and out race
car. It just happens to have a radio and leather seats.
And that’s the thing. As we slide into
the driver’s seat, we can’t help but be lulled into a false sense of security
by the familiar leather and rich box weave carpet. It’s just like sitting in a
‘normal’ Plus 4, but with white dials and a touch more metal on show. It is
not, however, the ARP4 is not a normal Plus 4 when you press the start button.
The car barks into life with an urgency
that takes you aback. The throttle bodies snarl and gulp for air, and then you
jab the throttle. The noise of the throttle bodies is captivating, intoxicating
in fact, and more than enough to remind you that this is no normal Plus 4.
As we engage first, we look out on the
empty runway of Bruntingthorpe ahead of us. No traffic, no speed cameras, no
laws to abide. It’s just us and a car that was built, that wants to
go fast. Engage first, come off the surprisingly light clutch, we’re off.
Without trying the rear wheels spin up and rooster tail water behind us.
Second, we find grip and reward the ARP4’s obedience with a bit more throttle.
Third, we’re coming up to 100mph and also the first corner, a long, sweeping
right-hander at the bottom of the runway. Camera car in front of us, we decided
to lean on the Morgan through the corners in a bid to get a heroic powerslide
shot. But we can’t. Despite being rear-wheel drive, powerful and about as heavy
as a Post-It note, it will not slide. This thing is planted firm. We try to
induce it with a clutch kick. A little slide out, then back in line. It will
not break traction without a fight. We are, frankly, impressed. The ARP4 is a
well set-up car.
We come out of that bottom corner and
start our advance of the runway itself. Camera car be damned, we want to see
what we can get out of the ARP4. Fourth, 120mph and we’re still pulling. The
wind noise is loud, but those throttle bodies are not willing to lose the
shouting contest. Fifth and final gear in that MX-5 gearbox and we climb to
135mph before we need to work back down through the gears for the tight
right-hander. As we do, the brakes bring the speed down quickly and without
drama, the car stays level through the fast corner and then we start the
process all over again as we head down the back straight. This thing is like a
drug. The noise, the speed, the sharpness and directness of it. It’s
astounding. And the grip, just… wow.
Limited to a production run of just 50,
the ARP4 was a rare car when it was new, but
it’s even rarer now. However, they do come up for sale from time to time. To
get yourself into one, expect to part with £60k at least. But trust us, if you
do, you’ll be very glad indeed. The only thing that will upset you is the fact
you don’t have your own runway to play on.
I got requests for regalia again at the Spring Meet. All sorts of MOGSouth and GatorMOG regalia, as well as Morgan Wings, Scripts, and Cars are available. Simply go to our regalia supplier ‘Fourth Gear LTD’ and get what you want. I doubt you need an excuse, but Father’s Day is coming up.
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, hat 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, they will gladly change colors. What color is your Morgan? They have both top Up and top Down versions of the car. 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.)