11 Sep

My Return to Morganmania by Bob Britton

My Return to Morganmania
By Bob Britton
I was 13 or 14 when I first laid my eyes
on a Morgan. My older brother who had
recently graduated from college bought a
stunning Morgan DHC in Ferrari Yellow.
It was such a different looking vehicle
compared to the popular Mustangs and
other American and British cars starting
to hit the roads during the early to mid-
60’s. I was completely smitten by the car
and fantasied about owning one when I
was older.
Fast forward to my freshman year at
college when I returned home for spring
break and saw an ad in the NY Times for
a 1965 Morgan +4 for sale in a town close
by. Well, with some money saved up from
both summer and college jobs I had just
enough cash to buy the car for the asking
price of $1500, an almost fortune for a
19-year-old college kid at that time. I
called a high school buddy to drive me to
go see the car, with cash burning a hole in
my pocket. Just as we pulled up outside
the seller’s house and rang the doorbell
another potential buyer showed up in a
cab, which he had taken from the local
train station after traveling from NYC.
Of course, we both wanted this beautiful
black with red interior Morgan. Luckily,
the owner gave me right of first refusal
as I had beaten the other guy by mere
minutes to the house. Glad we did not
stop for that cup of coffee on the way
over or otherwise I would probably never
have owned a Morgan.
So, with $1500 less in my pocket I drove
the car home, with “borrowed” plates

from my mom’s car, no insurance, and I
did not know how to drive a stick shift
either. That was an interesting ride
back home, especially learning to drive a
standard with the archaic Moss gearbox.
So back to college in the Boston area I
went for the spring semester with my
Morgan. I sure had some envious
classmates back at school when I showed
up with this car. Most had no idea what
it was as the campus was primarily full of
VW’s, small to mid-size American cars, a
few muscle cars, or other British sports
cars. Some kidded me about it being a
“wooden crate” when they learned it had
a wood framed body. That sure did not
bother me because I had the one of
coolest cars on campus.
For the next two years I drove the
Morgan everywhere, many times back and
forth from MA to my home in NY,
commuting to summer jobs, a trip once to
Watkins Glen to attend the Formula 1 GP
race and any chance I got to drive it. Of
course, I also learned a few things about
car repair and maintenance as well. Once
it left me stranded at Jones Beach, NY
late one night while on a date when the
steel pin that operates the aluminum
throw out sleeve broke. A call to one of
my buddies with instructions to get a
piece of rope to come get us so he could
tow the car home led to a rather long
night. Now of course I would just call
AAA.

My first Morgan, 1965 +4 circa 1969

In the spring of my junior year a college
buddy offered me $2500 cash for the

Morgan. He was dropping out of school
and heading to the west coast and needed

a “cool” car to get him there. I thought
to myself… “I paid $1500, drove it for 2
years and could now make a $1000
profit”. Being a business major, it was a
no brainer…. SOLD. And off he and the
car went to California, both never to be
heard from again.
But I had Morgan withdrawal soon after
selling the car. A few weeks later I saw
an ad in the Boston Globe for a 1967
Morgan 4/4 in Kingfisher Blue, with an
asking price much less than I sold my +4
for. Yep, I was a Morgan owner again in
short order.
That car got me through to the end of my
senior year at which time I sold it and
bought a Porsche 911 to begin my work
career.
About a year after graduating from
college while working in the NYC area I
saw an ad for a Morgan for sale in the
same town I was living in. Having already
owned two Morgan’s I could not resist
going to see the car. As you can expect I
bought it even though it was not running
and needed quite a bit of work. Later I
discovered this was a rare Morgan 4/4
Series V Competition model. Soon after
acquiring this Morgan, I accepted a job in
Boston.
Off to Boston I went, got myself settled
into an apartment on chic Newbury St,
and then started to look for a place
where I could store and work on the
Morgan. I found a single car garage in a
nearby town for $15/month rent including
electricity. So, again I reached out to a
buddy who just happened to have a car
with a trailer hitch, we borrowed a trailer
and proceeded to tow it to Boston.

Over the next several years I would
spend weekends and some nights sorting
through the Morgan, replacing rotten
pieces of wood, having a new interior
made and then eventually the body work
and fresh paint. As luck would have it my
brother offered to rebuild the engine for
me since it was basically the same Ford
engine as in his Lotus Super 7 race car.
So off to CT I went one weekend with
that little 1500cc engine in the trunk of
my car so my brother could rebuild the
engine. He just so happened to have a
shelf full of extra performance engine
parts which he no longer needed that
found their way into my engine, including
a mild race cam, forged domed pistons, a
dual set of Webber DCOE 40 carbs, a set
of tuned headers and a few other
performance goodies. Those Webber’s
required a unique bump in the bonnet
which you can see in the photos of the
car. My brother estimated that the
engine he built was putting out
somewhere between 110-115HP, a bit
more than the stock 84HP of the Series
V Competition motor. Also, at my
brother’s recommendation I sourced a
Cortina gearbox from a junkyard which
had closer ratio gears and a remote
shifter which got rid of the push/pull
shifter in the 4/4’s. This was one
amazingly fast Morgan with that engine.
And, as it was not my daily driver, I had
the luxury of keeping it in my rental
garage to use primarily on weekends,
trips to the Cape, going to car shows or
even venturing to a few Morgan meets.
In 1978 I drove the 4/4 to MOG 8 in
Luray, VA with a girlfriend. At some
point during the meet, I heard an

unwelcome noise coming from the engine,
which turned out to be a broken valve
spring. As luck would have it a Morgan
enthusiast attending MOG 8 was a
mechanic at the local Ford garage and he
thought a Ford Pinto valve spring would
work so off to his dealership we drove so
he could replace the broken spring. I
drove that car for an additional 7 years
with the Pinto valve spring in it. And, to
my delight my car won 1st place in the
4/4 class. Two years later I returned to
MOG 10 with a new girlfriend, who
eventually became my wife, and that year
my car took 2 nd place in the 4/4 class.

Bob and future wife at car show, MOG 10

My 4/4 on Skyline Drive, VA 1980

In the fall of 1980, my future wife and I
took a trip to the UK to visit some of her
English relatives. We took a few extra
days to tour Wales and when I noticed
that we were going to be traveling near
Malvern Links I said to her…. “We have to
stop at the Morgan factory”. So, a quick
detour took us to the hills of Malvern to
tour MMC. Visiting MMC is like no other
factory tour one can imagine. After
being cheerfully greeted by the
receptionist we were just instructed to
wander around the factory and ask any
questions we might have of any of the
men or women working in the shop. We
freely walked around everywhere. We
even got to see Mrs. Peter Morgan’s
personal +8 Automatic, supposedly the
only one ever made by MMC. After our
tour I ask if we could say to hi to Peter
Morgan and without hesitation, we were
escorted into his office for a brief chat.
He was a very charming fellow and was
keenly interested to learn that my
girlfriend’s mother was English and had
moved to the US just after WWII to
marry her father, after they meet while
he was stationed in the UK during the
war.

Frame Shop at MMC where it all begins

Panel Beating at MMC
I owned the 4/4 for about 10 years
before I decided, as a new Dad, that I
should sell it since there was no room for
three in the car. So, I placed an ad in the
Boston Globe and a young Doctor from
Puerto Rico doing his residency in one of
the Boston area hospitals bought the car
and had it shipped back to Puerto Rico. I
often wonder if the Morgan is still
running around the island and being
enjoyed by him.
Of course, after owning 3 Morgan’s over a
period of sixteen or so years I was having
British car withdrawal so I convinced my
wife that if I could find a sports car that
had four seats, as we now had a second
daughter, we should buy it. My initial
quest was to find a Morgan 4-seater.
Unfortunately, four seat Morgan’s were
not that plentiful, especially in NH, where
we were now living. However, I knew that
Austin Healey’s had little jump seats in
the back, so I ended up buying an Austin
Healey 3000 in 1991 and immediately
installed two sets of seat belts in the
jump seats for my daughters. They were
4 and 7 at the time. The Healey became

our new “family” sports car for many
years. I have attended every British
Invasion in Stowe, VT since 1992 and my
older daughter, now 37, who now lives in
VT, often comes to spend the day with
me at the show.
But even after all the years owning the
Healey, a truly magnificent British
roadster in its own rights, I still had the
desire to own a Morgan again. I thought
initially I wanted a DHC, just like the
first one I saw so many years ago, so I
began to look for one of these rare
Morgan’s. I started to watch BaT
auctions, checked out ads in Hemmings,
spoke to Morgan owners at British
Invasion and other car shows to find a
DHC for sale.
I eventually test drove a beautifully
restored 1967 +4 DHC but the price was
more than my budget. While visiting my
brother who is now retired in FL, we test
drove the rarest of all DHC’s, a 4-seater
“Snobmog”. But being an early 50’s model
it just did not have the performance I
was hoping for.
My brother, who now owns a Morgan 4/4
himself, mentioned that he knew of a
fellow Morgan club member in GA who
had several Morgan’s including a DHC so I
reached out to him to see if he might be
interested in selling it. As it turned out
he was, and he also mentioned he had an
early +8 that he wanted to sell as well as
a rare Super Sport. Of course, the SS
was way out of my price range but the
early Moss gearbox +8, the holy grail of
+8’s, perked my interest. That was it. I
was going to buy that car instead of his
DHC. So, after a many months of back-

and-forth phone calls and viewing
numerous photos as I could not fly down
to see the car in person due to the
pandemic, I purchased the car sight
unseen and had it shipped to me in the
fall of 2020.
This +8 is a low mileage 1971 model, 1 of
49 legally imported that year before
Morgan Motor Company withdraw from
the US market due to being unable to
meet DOT regulations. And as you already
know Morgan’s had a hiatus from the US
market for a few years until Bill Fink
figured out how to get them legally back
into the country again using propane
instead of gasoline to meet emission
regulations.
What appealed to me most about this
Morgan is it was one of the 484 +8’s
produced that was based on the low and
narrow body +4 Morgan’s with the Moss
gearbox.

My 1971 Plus 8 upon arrival in NH
While an excellent original example of
this rare and desirable Morgan model I
decided to give it a “re-freshening” over
the winter including a new leather
interior and two-tone paint job of Royal
Ivory with Connaught green fenders.

04 Jul

MOGSouth Name Badges – Do You Have Yours??

[I posted this once before however with the number of new members we have, I am sure there are folks out there that want MOGSouth Name Badges. If you are new to the club, or simply can’t find yours, we’re here for you!! In case you are wondering, they look like the picture below. They are available for $8.00 plus shipping. I can’t remember what the shipping is, so let’s say $2.00 each. If you want one, simply send an email to sbschepens@gmail.com and provide us with what you want the badge to say (Name, nickname, Alter Ego, etc.), put a check in the mail to Stacy Schepens (address on the membership roster) and we’ll get the process started! And, be patient. They will take a bit of time to get created and mailed. FYI, they either come with the little magnetic device that magically attaches to your garment but leaves no holes or the old ‘pin it to your shirt’ style! Let me know if you have a preference. Cheers, Mark]