As was reported, George took a 1964 Morgan Plus 4 out of an Police impound lot in the Bronx in 1968. He then drove the Morgan to Daytona Florida and entered it in the 24 Hours of Daytona. He drove the entire race by himself, without co-drivers or even a pit crew! He didn’t win but he did finish!
GatorMOG is honoring George Waltman over the weekend of the 15 – 16 November in Daytona, Florida.
This is the weekend that Historic Sports Racing (HSR) is holding their ‘Classic’ 24 hours of Daytona. We have this event labeled as a ‘GatorMOG’ event, but that is simply because it is in Florida. Really, everyone is welcome to come south and join us. It looks to be quite the weekend.
We are still finalizing the details with HSR but have confirmed our participation at the Daytona International Speedway, during their ‘Classic’ 24 Hours of Daytona. We have racing roundels for each participant Morgan. We plan to have a Morgan Car Corral right in the heart of DIS, hopefully laps of the famed Daytona International Speedway (DIS) for the Morgans (if time allows), a tour of the DIS Archives as well as commemorative T-Shirts for the Morgan participants.
We also have lined up a Open House at the local Morgan Dealer, Christopher John, Ltd on Saturday afternoon, followed by a cocktail party and a group dinner. FYI, the dinner is within walking distance of Christopher John’s dealership.
The designated hotel for the event is the Plaza Resort and Spa (600 N. Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32118) and is just about 1 mile away from Christopher John’s.
To make reservations for this hotel, The Plaza Resort & Spa, click on the link or call 1-866-500-5630 and ask for the MORGAN CAR CLUB room block.
But, there is a trick to the link!! Click the link and when the calendar comes up, click on the day you will arrive and the day you leave. For example, if you plan a two day stay, click the 15th (arrival) and click the 17th (checkout).
Note: If you would like to book room types other than Sunset View (the basic room rate) or if you would like to book nights other than 11/15 and/or 11/16, you will need to use the toll-free number rather than the on-line link.
This looks to be a grand celebration of George Waltman and his accomplishments, as well as the Morgan car! Please send me an email (email@example.com) if you are planning on attending. This is just so I can manage the hotel’s and restaurant’s expectations. Thanks, Mark
Morgan’s Wooden body frames are still hand built, and this craftsman has been creating them since 1975
I DON’T HAVE to be in here at 7am but that’s when I arrive. I like to have a cup of coffee and a chat with the other lads before I start work. I’ve got my own corner of the wood shop, and I only work on the standard Morgan – the ‘Traditional’ , we call it. Over the years, I’ve done most of the jobs and they just leave me to get on with it.
At the moment I’m finishing off the last doorframe of a car, making sure it fits in the aperture. I’ve already built the doorframe in a little jig we have, which holds it all tightly as it’s glued together. Once its in place I’ll trim it so it fits absolutely perfectly. Using modem glue means the time to make the door has fallen from a whole day, when I started here, to five hours. That’s modem efficiency! Still, some things never change. The solid oak press we use to shape the wheelarch is at least 80 years old.
I started at Morgan on 22 September 1975. I’d already done ten years in various building trades, so I had lots of carpentry skills. I liked it because it was close to my house, so I could walk here in 13 minutes across the fields.
Before I came here, I didn’t even realise Morgan had a woodworking shop. Or its own sawmill, which it still has. It must be the only car manufacturer in the world to do so. Our ash comes from Lincolnshire; nowadays it arrives on pallets cut to the lengths we need, so we no longer have waste left over from long planks.
When I joined there were still four young ladies working on old capstan lathes, and one of them became my partner. A lot of relationships have started here over the years. Morgan has been my life, really.
I actually retired three years ago aged 65, on my birthday. They put a cardboard cut-out of me up on the wall when I left because I was such a fixture. But I soon came back and now I work three mornings a week. The ghost of Vince is still up there.
The placing and lifting work does become a bit harder as you get older. I groan every time I stand up, but I don’t mind because I just like doing it. I’ve built or part-built about 6000 frames in my time, and these days I’m often working with an apprentice by my side.
I love showing the kids how it done, passing on my skills, although you’ve got to work swiftly to get the jobs done and do the training. The bodies are going out at a fair rate. These days the apprentices come straight in. They’re usually keen but, if I’m honest, a bit naive. You’re going to make cars, true, but most importantly you’ve got to start by becoming skilled at cutting and planing a piece of wood.
Actually, the type of some tools, is the thing that changed most during my time.
I used to have terrible tennis elbow through using old-fashioned planes and screwdrivers. Now, they’re all battery-powered, by Makita.
Patience and accuracy are crucial. Being proud of your tools, and sharpening them, is also important because it’s all hardwood we work with. I have a young lad working by me at the moment who’s just sent off for a rosewood-handled chisel to add to his tools. That’s the right spirit. You have to love your tools.
It’s much easier physically, and my hands are still quite soft. After all this time I rarely get a splinter. You just know by instinct not to brush a rough edge. It’s an old joke here that you pretend to be in agony by getting a splinter from someone else’s work!
I’ve always liked being in a steady job that you don’t worry about when you go home. I work part-time throughout the whole year but I’ll take a weeks holiday when the Cheltenham Festival is on, because I love horse racing.
Morgan hasn’t changed that much over the years, thank goodness. With the old gaffer [Peter Morgan] you could drop into his office to get your passport application signed or whatever, or to ask him something. The management now is much younger, and there s a bit more pressure on everybody. I’ve known the boss today, Steve Morris, since he was a 17-year-old in the tin shop next door – what we used to call the coachbuilding department!
My partner died 12 years ago but I have a large family life, including her two daughters, and I have three sisters and a brother all here in Malvern. I see my brother every week; he’s the head porter at Malvern College. I’m quite practical at home but I don’t have an ornate ash kitchen or anything like that.
These days I drive to work. I’ve got a VW Scirocco GT and it’s a great car, really quick. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 43, and I’d never driven a Morgan until last summer. My boss let me use a Traditional to take my great-nephew to his summer prom. Everybody looked at it wherever I parked, but they’d never guess there was a bit of the driver inside the car itself . . .
July 15th my wife Sam, our 2 Giant Schnauzers and I (Rick Frazee) started north on our 4 day journey to race our 1959 Morgan 4/4 at this year’s 37th Annual Pittsburg Vintage Grand Prix. Our trusty motor coach, Big Bird, had just come from the shop after having the rear bedroom slide and shower floor rebuilt. The repairs had taken much longer than expected and so we were pinched for time to tidy up and provision the coach. The first 3 days of travel were uneventful but Thursday, in Pittsburgh, became a test of determination to make the race.
At about 10AM Thursday we were ten minutes out from Schenley Park where the race is held; then we missed an exit off of I-376 and headed north to I still don’t know where. Our motor coach GPS usually just reroutes us but in this case it lost its bearings and I lost my trust in it which was probably my second mistake. 45 minutes later I got out my phone GPS and put in the desired location, now the coach GPS knows how wide, long and high we are while the iPhone thinks only of car size vehicles.
We were routed through a nice little neighborhood were the roads got tighter and tighter until we reached a rather steep hill going down to a flat road with a major roadway within sight about 2 blocks away. No choice so we headed down the hill but had to pause at the stop sign, at just that point we heard the grinding sound of the trailer hitch making solid contact with the pavement. We ground to a jarring halt! Tried to drive off but we were not pulling loose. Upon inspection I discovered the bottom of the hitch had dug about 6 inches into the solid asphalt pavement. Back in the coach I engaged the second rear axle, still only a lot of wheel spinning and tire smoke. I began to try to unhook the trailer and disassemble the hitch just as the local police arrived. They were most understanding and began directing traffic while I and a friendly local who stopped to help tried everything we could think of. I finally had to ask the police to call a wrecker. A small rollback arrived first and the operator agreed we’d need the big one!
With the arrival of a semi sized wrecker the police blocked the road. The wrecker crew connected 2 winch cables to the front and quickly pulled us free, the now detached trailer was loaded on the rollback and with police escort we all set off to find an open flat surface to readjust and rejoin the trailer. Our first stop was a large park-n-ride lot which the officer thought would accommodate the work. As soon as I made the turn-in I knew we were in trouble again. I stopped and explained to the officer that we would have a hard time getting the coach out even without the trailer attached. At the back of the lot there was just enough space to turn around to try to head out. He set off to find a better spot leaving me to get out of the lot. 2 attempts later to go the correct, one way, direction out we decided to head out the aisle we came in on.
As we nosed past a pick-up on the right that was out farther than the rest of the row a sharp twang on the left indicated we had made contact with the one way sign that we were headed past going the wrong direction. With a bit of urging from my copilot I tried to back off the sign which then snagged a window instantly turning it into 1000’s of small pieces of glass.
Pulling forward quickly cleared the sign and we headed across the street to a fire station lot to make the re-connection and pay the wrecker bill. After reassembling the hitch and connecting to our trailer we headed south to find the Schenley Park Paddock. Several circuits around Pittsburgh later we did find the proper entrance to the paddock area.
Very weary and now 4 o’clock in the afternoon we found the paddock which was already two thirds full. With a friendly golf cart escort we were directed to the loop end of the paddock where there was barely enough space to accommodate our 75 foot length on an almost level surface. Did I mention that there are 447 bridges in Pittsburgh all crossing each other? Or so it seemed.
Friday, a new day with a required driver’s meeting and walk of the 2.3 mile course. My wife chose to join us which was probably a mistake as our guide was great at telling stories about this corner or that rock wall and who crashed where on the track. It was an intimidating lesson with fresh pavement just done the day before, manhole covers, curbs, rock walls, elevation changes, road crowns, bridges and tar sealing lines that looked like a snake pit in one fast corner. I did not let her look over the side of the bridge.
The afternoon parade into downtown was hot and many of the race cars were steaming by the time we got to the designated section of downtown, thankfully not us. The parade route was lined with waiving locals and a lot of kids. We were parked in the middle of a street 4 race cars abreast and the open space was quickly filled with people asking questions and admiring the race cars. A large jewelry store had agreed to host the cocktail party and there was plenty of food as well as flowing beer and wine. After consuming our share and admiring the jewelry and watches (Sam didn’t find any she had to have) we went back out to the street which was now solid with kids and adults. We let probably 100 kids and a few adults sit in the Morgan race car and answered bunches of questions. What a great evening.
morning opened with practice session for all by class. We were class 6, the last racing group on
the schedule. By the time we got on the
track the sun was high and the heat was 95+ degrees. Humidity was like Florida with the cloud
cover to match. The track was every bit
as challenging as our previous day walk had suggested. The afternoon qualifying was super hot. Our class was all on the line at the
appointed time but spent a bunch of extra time on the false grid while broken
race cars from the previous secession were towed off and corner workers were
resupplied with water. Finally, we got on the track. I had a fun session with an MGA and did
manage to get around an Alfa and a Mini.
Passing was very difficult and while the Alfa dogged me most of the session,
he did not get back around me. I
finished 11th out of 13 entries.
Sunday, race day was gray. The 15 minute morning practice was dry but big dark clouds drifted around the outside of the city. The Formula Ford race, 2 before our group, came limping back with stories of rain-water sheeting down the hills onto the track surface. The intermittent rain had stopped as FF came in and so I suited up and readied the Morgan to go out for the final race of the day. As I got seated and about to strap in the race car the rain came down again. To the relief of my wife I made the decision that I’d had enough and climbed back out of the Morgan.
The rain did stop once again and group 6 did go to the grid. I believe I heard them go off but their results were not posted on Race Monitor. We had just enough time to load the Morgan race car and our pit car, our MOKE, before the rain began again. Rain followed us to our stopping point that evening and again for the next 3 days to our home in Winter Park, Florida making driving our big rig a ton of work. It’s great to be home. The next month or so will be required to fix what we broke on the motor-coach, but the Morgan is almost ready to go again. We saw lots of familiar Put-in-Bay race faces and met lots of new friends.
race will be at Put-in-Bay, Ohio in September
If you’ve never raced at Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park Vintage GP you’re missing the most challenging track I’ve had the pleasure of racing on. 20 different turns on most every kind of surface but dirt.
[Folks, this is Rich Fohl’s (MCCDC and MOGSouth member) report on the recent MCCDC MOG 49, held at the traditional Mimslyn Inn in Luray, VA. MCCDC will again use the Mimslyn to host MOG 50, next July 4th weekend, for their 50th Anniversary. This is a substantial milestone for MCCDC and given that MOGSouth came out of MCCDC we will want to support this event in the way MOGSouth used to, so save the dates (July 4th 2020.) More to come on this in the near future. Cheers, Mark]
MOG 49 CHAIRMAN REPORT
Well, we came, we took part and we had a great time! From
what I have heard from many of those in attendance at this year’s MCCDC annual
gathering, this year’s event at the Mimslyn Inn in Luray, VA was very successful. We are gathering comments
from as many as possible to improve on the details of the weekend and how each
event and the overall experience can be improved.
Many thanks go out to our Event Chairpersons: Concours: Bill Blodgett, Gymkana: Reny Willoughby…and family!
Rally: Bates McLain, Autocross: Greg and Mary Hastings. Also
many, many thanks to attendees who came forward to volunteer and help make each
event a success. And a very special thanks to Ed Zielinski for contributing his time and effort to create the Mog
49 Poster and all the Mog 49 art work. Needless to say, thanks to all of the
Officers and Executive Committee members who also contributed much effort and
many hours to MOG 49: President: Marlene Riehle, Vice President: Dean
Worcester, Secretary: Tom Kennedy, Treasurer: Path MacAuley, Registrar/membership
Secretary: Lisa Shriver, Liason Officer: Bill Blodgett, and Recent Past
President: Lee DeBrish.
And a very, VERY special thanks to Linda and Larry Eckler ….owners of Morgans of New England
and the all of their kids and crew…Linda and Larry contributed both personally
and financially to help make MOG 49 a special event. They were also kind enough
to field questions at a Saturday evening Q and A at the Manor House Noggin
regarding Morgan importation and many other questions regarding all things
If you came this
year, bring a friend or two along next year to experience a very special
gathering. MOG 50 is officially planned for Friday-Sunday, July 3-5, 2020 at
the Mimslyn Inn, Luray, VA…More information regarding booking rooms, etc., will be coming forth soon in the Rough Rider
and on our website www.morgandc.com. We
are planning some small and big changes for MOG 50 in hopes it will the best
The following are the Results from the events at MOG 49,
BEST IN SHOW:
Warren Muse/ 1965 4/4
4/4: First Place:
Warren Muse/ 1965 4/4
Carl and BettyHC Clouser/ 1967 4/4
Plus 4: First
Place: Fred Dantonio/ 1965 +4
Plus 4 4 Seater: First Place:Peter and Ann
Dattels/ 1967 +4 4 Seater
Plus 4 DHC:First
Place: Sheldon Hofferman and Gail Shepkin/ 1964 +4 DHC
(Carburetored): First Place: Richard Fohl/ 1970 +8
Post 1983 3
Wheeler/Fuel Injected: First Place: Eric and Marjorie Scott/2012 3 Wheeler
Second Place: Bruce and Shelly
Third Place: Lee
DeBrish and Marlene Riehle/ 2005 Roadster
First Place: Duncan and Lee Charlton/+8
Second Place: Peter Ballard? 4/4
Third Place: Greg and Mary Hastings/ +4 4 Seater
First Place: John DeTrana and Geri Oliveri/+8
Second Place: Eric and Marjorie Scott/ 2012 3W
Third Place: Barrie Abrams and Lenny Mandel/ +8
“MORGANS OF NEW ENGLAND” AUTOCROSS:
Charlton/ +8/ 1:26.005
Plus 8: First
Place: Barrie Abrams/ 1:28.867 (including 4 sec penalty for 2 cones)
Second Place: Katie Eckler/ 1:32.900
Third Place: Matt Schrum/ 1:32.940
Early Plus 4: First
Place: Bill Willoughby/ 1:28.142
Late 4/4: First
Place: Bruce Menkowitz/ 1:39.477
Plus 4 4 Seater: First
Place Lenny Mandel/ 1:38.195
WHEN ALLAN DUFFY SEARCHED FOR A CAR THAT WAS OLDER
THAN HE WAS, A 1933 MORGAN SUPER SPORTS THREE-WHEELER SEEMED TO MAKE THE MOST
Once, all car companies
were like the 110-year-old Morgan Motor Company, a small family-owned affair
pumping out a few hundred cars each year. Yet while contemporary early 20th
Century garage-land start-ups like Ford and Morris grew to become huge
multinational corporations, Morgan remained pretty much the same for more than
it even still uses wood to frame the bodywork on the cars that it builds today,
the chassis stiffness handled by the steel backbone that has also defined the
brand since 1909. So Morgan isn’t just a survivor of a once mighty British
motor-manufacturing empire, it’s also a preserver of tried-and-tested
construction methods, finest craftsmanship, and a relaxed attitude to
In good years, the
number of Morgans produced by the company’s 170 employees approaches 1000
units, but the customers ordering those cars could sometimes wait up to six
years before taking delivery. As with a certain brand of cheese, it appears
that good things take time. It was this company culture that inspired Allan
Duffy’s purchase of this beautiful beetle-back 1933 Morgan Super Sports.
“Back in 1998, when I
turned 50, I was looking to buy a car that was older than I was, but while
searching books of all the cars made before 1948, I decided that most of them
were rubbish. “Then I came across Morgan – I hadn’t heard of them before.” The
distinctive Super Sports tri-car is arguably the Morgan that instantly springs
to mind whenever anyone thinks of the Malvern Link-based company, especially
the prettier ‘beetle-back’ version, with its gracefully-tapered tail and
frivolous cooling gills.
The other body style for the SS trike is the ‘barrel-back’, which looks like some backyard mechanic has rudely grafted a beer keg to the rear of the car.
The latter offers the same token luggage stowage, but it comes at considerable cost to the crowd-pleasing visual appeal of a Morgan trike. “I mostly get lots of waves from other drivers when I’m at the wheel,” says Duffy. “The occasional one gives me a look like I’m from another planet.”
THE EXPOSED ROCKERS OF THE V-TWIN’S PUSHROD-ACTIVATED
VALVETRAIN ARE DOING A FRENETIC DANCE TO THE WHINE OF THE GEARTRAIN DOWN NEAR
MY RIGHT KNEE, AND THE EXPLOSIVE EXHAUST PIPES EXITING BEHIND ME.
The Super Sports was a
big leap forward for Morgan when it first appeared in 1930. That was 21 years
after the debut of the first tri-car, powered by a Peugeot V-twin engine in
1909, and Morgan would commission power-plant supply from a number of other
motorcycle engine manufacturers in those two decades, including Anzani,
Blackburne, and J.A.P. Duffy says that often it was a question of getting an
engine at the right price that led to so many different motors being employed
“It was the key to
their survival as a low volume manufacturer for they didn’t have to invest
large sums in developing their own mechanical components.” The J.A.P. is
considered by some classic car enthusiasts to be the best of the engines,
possibly because of the successes of the John Alfred Prestwich-designed engine
in racing throughout the 1920s, and its connection to the then premier
motorcycle brand, Brough Superior. These longitudinally-mounted V-twin engines
all drove the rear wheel through a crude two-speed transmission consisting of
two primary sprockets, two drive chains, and two final sprockets. “You simply
swapped drive chains to change the gearing.”
With the debut of the
Super Sports, Morgan finally moved to something better, with a prop shaft
running from the V-twin engine to Morgan’s own gearbox, which boasted three
forward gears and, thankfully, a reverse gear. Chain was still used to deliver
the torque to the rear wheel, but at nearly an inch wide, it was certainly
sized to last. The Matchless V-twin could be purchased in either water-cooled
or air-cooled form, with Duffy’s car featuring the bulging water jackets and
smooth cylinders of the former.
It has tighter
tolerances than the finned version, and the exposed engine is quieter. However
Duffy has to constantly monitor the ‘moto-meter’ that is mounted to the top of
the chromed twin-radiator surround like a luxury brand mascot. The arrow on the
meter can quickly move from ‘cool’ to ‘warm’ to ‘hot’ to ‘boiling’ when driving
in city traffic like a barometer warning of the approach of a tropical cyclone.
“There’s no water pump or fan; it’s a thermo-siphon cooling system similar to a
Ford Model T’s.” Despite this early cooling technology, Duffy has found the
Super Sports to be ultra-reliable.
“I can leave it sitting
in the garage for ages, then it’ll fire up readily once I put petrol in the
tank again, and retard the spark”. Another feature of the Matchless is that it
can easily be converted to electric start, something the previous owner of the
Super Sports did soon after the car’s arrival in New Zealand from Canada. Duffy
says that the Matchless is the equal to the revered J.A.P., having previously
owned a 1934 J.A.P.- powered Super Sports.
“There’s very little
between them, but I’ve been able to drive this one in some pretty atrocious
conditions. “It’s been to some pretty wild n’ wet places (including the
notorious Rubber Ducky rally in Taranaki).” Not that you’d know that to look at
its immaculate condition. Evidently a restorer in Canada spent 10 years getting
this Super Sports to look brand new again. Duffy bought it in 2010 from another
Morgan fan, having owned the J.A.P. model for a year.
The Super Sports had
been imported to New Zealand in 2004. Duffy invites me to come for a ride in
one of the most unique cars in the world. The Matchless fires up readily with
an authoritative V-twin rumble as he adjusts the hand throttle and spark timing
levers fitted to the steering wheel. I clamber into the passenger seat
awkwardly, feeling like a sardine on the packing line of a fish factory. Back
in the 1930s, some road testers considered egress and access to and from the
Super Sports cockpit to be excellent.
Whatever they were putting
in the tea back then, I want some! The V-twin has identical bore and stroke
measurements, but delivers grunt like a proper long-stroke British big-bore
bike engine, with vibrant torque flooding the driveline as soon as Duffy lets
out the clutch. Two well-timed shifts of the crash gearbox later, we’re going
45km/h, a speed where the Morgan no longer requires the two lower gears.
There’s plenty of
mechanical drama happening ahead of me. The exposed rockers of the V-twin’s
pushrod-activated valvetrain are doing a frenetic dance to the whine of the
geartrain down near my right knee, and the explosive exhaust pipes exiting
behind me. In my line of sight are the left-wheel motions of the Morgan’s
famous ‘sliding pillar’ front suspension.
It was one of Henry
Frederick Stanley Morgan’s most brilliant ideas, the independently-suspended
front end the key to the accurate and agile steering of Morgan tri-cars through
bumpy bends. Feeling calm and relaxed, and living a boyhood dream of a ride in
a Morgan tricycle, I glance over at my driver. He has a huge grin on his face
as he goes about his work, some of which looks like it requires plenty of
practice – such as double-clutching a downshift with the foot clutch pedal and
the hand throttle lever while still attempting to turn the car into a corner.
At one point in the
drive we have to do a U-turn, and the limited steering lock turns it into a
three-pointer despite a wheelbase that is shorter than some professional
basketball players. Fortunately the reversing part of the manoeuvre is halted
with some efficiency by the Morris Minor-sourced front brakes. “Some people are
obsessed with originality, but driving in city traffic requires good brakes,
especially in a car that’s as low as this one is.”
It’s not the only
limitation to driving a Morgan trike in busy Auckland traffic. The rudimentary
engine cooling means it’s better “to keep going than to stop” according to
Duffy. He also has to park the tri-car on a flat surface or facing uphill to
prevent oil vacating the gearbox.
Duffy is about to list
the Super Sports for sale in the global newsletter for Morgan owners; The
Bulletin. He says it’s simply because he owns two other four-wheeled Morgans,
and the 1981 4-4 is better at driving around town than the tri-car, while the Rover
V8-powered Plus 8 is a consummate open road cruiser.
The Super Sports will
cruise at 80-90kmh quite happily, but it can be tiring for both the man and the
machine. Duffy prefers to tow it to events such as the Art Deco festival in
Napier.“I often have to wait for the crowd gathered around it to clear before I
can drive it.”
The company also moved
away from the three-wheelers once World War II started, and it was a huge
surprise to Duffy when it unveiled the new 3 Wheeler model at the 2011 Geneva
Motor Show after a 60-year hiatus from building tri-cars. Powered by a 85kW
S&S V-twin, and driving the rear wheel via a five-speed Mazda manual
gearbox, the 3 Wheeler can sprint from rest to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. However,
it still features H.F.S. Morgan’s patented sliding pillar front suspension,
[Given that I have gotten a good number of questions relative to the Plus 6 lately. I thought I would post this overview video. It gives some details about the car. I am not sure if and when the car will make it to the US, and don’t expect it to be inexpensive. I suggest we ask our dealers what they know. Cheers, Mark]
As many of you know, the Amelia Island, GA Concours d’Elegance weekend is traditionally a big weekend for MOGSouth. For many of us, the start to the new Morgan year. This year will be similar to the previous few years. We have our MOGSouth Noggin on Friday (6 March) evening and we will again participate in the Saturday (7 March) Cars and Coffee. The formal Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for Sunday (8 March) but has in the past been moved up to Saturday if the weather is challenging.
As is the norm you have to register for the 2020 Cars & Coffee at Amelia Island event to bring your Morgan and you have to be accepted. (They will send a letter.) You need not register if you don’t want to bring your car and simply want to spectate. However, it is best to register, even if you are unsure. The registration form is attached below. The earlier you register, the more likely you will be accepted. They are limited in the number of cars accepted due to space constraints, so don’t procrastinate. Register now!!
The MOGSouth Spring Noggin will again be on Friday (6 March), starting at 5PM until going until whenever, at the Salt Life Food Shack, 39 N Fletcher Ave Fernandina Beach, FL 32034. Note: this is the same restaurant as this past spring. All reports of this location were good, to include good parking, so bring your Morgan. Only the weather was a negative. It was cool so bring a jacket.
Last year we had the dealers, the factory representatives and a new car display, so obviously we had a great turn out of Morgans and more than 50 folks from the Morgan community! I suspect we will again have a great turn out so you will want to be there.
Then Saturday morning (7 March), those of us with Morgans, will all gather at 0730 at the Surf Restaurant’s front parking lot, along A1A (3199 S. Fletcher Avenue, Amelia Island, FL.)
From experience we know that if we don’t arrive together, we will be parked where ever they have a space, and most likely not together.
We will only wait at the Surf Restaurant for 10 minutes or less, so don’t be late!
For those coming from out of town, there are a number of Lodging options. You can stay on Amelia Island or in Fernandina Beach, if you can get a room (they go very fast) and you are willing to pay the price (they are very expensive.) Alternatively there is a Hampton Inn, Jacksonville East, Regency Square that is just south of the Jacksonville -395 bridge over the St Johns River and just a short (45 – 50 min) drive along FL-105 to Amelia Island.
Plan on a great Morgan weekend and we hope to see you there!!
typical family-owned and operated business. The sort that mothers and
fathers pass on to their kids, or in which uncles, aunties and cousins all
pitch in together. You’re imagining a chip shop, right? Just me? Perhaps a pub,
a corner shop or a post office, then. Not a car factory, I’d bet.
Well, just imagine one – if you can. It won’t be easy. Making cars isn’t something you succeed at simply by getting up early, drinking lots of tea, getting your hands dirty and having a go. It’s complicated. It requires up-to-date specialist know-how, and expert design, engineering and manufacturing skill. Peeling spuds, pulling pints or stamping envelopes, it ain’t. And yet The Morgan Motor Company was family-owned and operated right until the year of its 110th anniversary; this year. Not a bad innings, that.
Change has finally come to Pickersleigh Road, however. Earlier this year, the Morgan family decided to sell a majority share of the business to the Investindustrial private equity group that previously owned Aston Martinuntil its recent market flotation.
Ask around at the firm’s visitors’ centre as to why that decision was taken, and the answers come very honestly. “It was the right offer, when all the others over the years just weren’t,” one staffer said. “We’d reached the point where the family was beginning to hold the company back rather than drive it on. Growing the business now needs investment and well-connected, industry-savvy leadership. Which, we’re hoping, is what we’ve now got.”
At the same time as announcing that change in ownership, back in March, Morgan also announced its first ground-up new car in 19 years: this one, the Plus Six. In development since 2016, this’d be better thought of as the old regime’s parting gift to the company rather than the first fruit of the new one. Ironically, though, it’s definitely ‘all-new’ enough to feel like the latter.
Based on a new aluminium box-section monocoque chassis twice as stiff as the old Aero-series chassis that served under the Plus Eight, but also no more heavy, it’s also the first factory Morgan with a turbocharged engine: BMW’s 335bhp ‘B58’ turbo straight six hooked up to the familiar ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. Unlike any Morgan before it, the Plus Six has electromechanical power steering, and its new chassis has even been designed to accommodate electric drive motors in future.
What’s it like?
You’re getting into a little bit of the company’s future, then, when you click the chromed button door release, swing open the tiny, cut-down driver’s door, and step over one of those famously wide running boards to lower yourself carefully into the Plus Six’s all-new cockpit. The seats remain pretty narrow, just like the footwells – but the cabin has clearly grown for length, with this 6ft 3in tester is genuinely spoilt for leg room. There’s both reach and rake adjustment on the steering column, and a very sound layout of controls overall. I’m not sure that footwell leaves room for a third pedal except at a squeeze, though there has been talk of a manual version. Even so, chances are you could be comfy here for a few hours at a stretch, almost regardless of how you’re built.
The Plus Six’s
cabin finish is generally very good. Our test car had attractive ‘box weave’
carpets, embroidered headrests and soft, attentively stitched hides – though it
could have done with a more appealing-looking steering wheel. Instrumentation
is by traditional analogue clocks placed, in Morgan convention, in the middle
of the fascia – and the more distant positioning of the speedo than the rev
counter, together with the size of its numbering, makes you glad there’s also a
small digital trip computer screen with a digital speedo visible through the
orbit of the steering wheel rim. If not for that, you’d need to take a
passenger with you at all times, just to tap you on the knee as you hit the
national speed limit – which, for all I know, may very well be what Morgan
owners do anyway, just in case.
And it really wouldn’t take long to hit that limit, by the way. That BMW straight six sounds a bit tuneless at times, offering a lot more turbo induction noise than exhaust burble under load – although an ‘aftermarket’ exhaust which might, I suspect, be fitted to your car even before it leaves the factory, apparently adds greater audible fruitiness.
Assuming it adds enough of it, there’d be very little else to find wanting here about a powertrain with more torque than a top-of-the-range six-pot Jaguar F-Type operating in a car weighing half-a-tonne less. The Plus Six is instantly quick, picking up from dawdling speeds with real swiftness. It is not a car that needs to be driven at all hard to go fast, or to feel enlivening for its outright pace. That’s new ground for Morgan, in my experience. There’s no doubt that a good manual version would be more involving and, to this tester, would suit the car better. Still, the ZF auto’s manual mode is quick enough to feel like a very acceptable compromise, and it’s as slick as anywhere when shifting by itself (although I do wish Morgan had found some nicer-feeling shift paddles than the somewhat flimsy, plasticky ones familiar from the PSA-Peugeot-Citroen parts bin).
On to that new
chassis, then, which pretty plainly gives Morgan a great deal of fresh
opportunity for enhancing and fine-tuning the handling of this car – but which
you wouldn’t say it had fully explored just yet. It has certainly helped to
banish some of the worst dynamic traits that Morgan owners may be used to from
this car. The Plus Six tracks very straight over bumps taken at speed. It has a
reasonable amount of supple compliance in a ride that remains only medium-firm
feeling; one that doesn’t feel nearly as wooden or brittle as some Morgans
have, over the years, but that still struggles to keep perfect close control
over pitch and squat.
The new chassis has
put a little bit of extra length into the car’s wheelbase compared with that of
its predecessor model, and yet it retains steering that’s uncharacteristically
slow by sports car standards, with almost three full turns between not
especially tight-feeling extremes of lock. It’s also suddenly quite light of weighting.
For both reasons,
while the Plus Six handles gentler faster bends with appealing precision, it
doesn’t feel quite as agile, wieldy or keen as it might through tighter ones –
and for what remains a small, light sports car, you really do notice. It was a
contributing factor, for this tester at least, in eroding slightly the
immediacy of control you’d ideally like over the car’s steered axle – the other
being the sheer distance between that axle and where you sit in the car, which
is another way in which this appealingly small two-seater is made to feel
larger than it might.
Should I buy one?
certainly have to get used to the proportions of the Plus Six – likewise the
slightly athletic entry and exit routine, the placing of the minor switchgear,
and the intricate sequence of doing and undoing of steel pop fasteners and
opening and closing of latches necessary to get the roof up quickly in a
shower. So much of all of that feels akin to memorising the password for the
manned door of the owner’s club. It’d all be a labour of love to get to know,
I’m sure – and, for the lovers, the dynamic strides that Morgan has taken with
this car will surely seem great.
For me, it’s what this chassis might go on to do that’s really interesting – because while the Plus Six is a lot better than you expect it might be in some ways, and in others quite honestly just a lot less bad than you might have feared, it now seems tantalisingly close to becoming a much better driver’s car with the right kind of dynamic tuning. I’m not suggesting it’ll ever handle like a Porsche, Lotus or Alpine – and neither would anyone want it to. But it’s certainly diverting to wonder, for now, just how close it might get.
Morgan Plus Six specification
Engine 6 cyls in line, 2998cc, twin-turbocharged petrol Power 335bhp at 5000-6500rpm Torque 369lb ft at 1600-4500rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 1075kg (dry) Top speed 166mph 0-62mph 4.2sec
[Don’t believe everything you read. It is not a twin turbo (e.g. two turbos) , rather it is a single twin-scroll turbo. Mark]