11 Dec

A Christmas Tale (©John Chatwin)

Trevor and Andy peered between the two houses. Sure enough as advised there was a shed down the driveway.   ‘D’you think this is the house` asked Trev. Andy replied that the address was right and if the rumors were correct the Morgan should be in that shed.

They approached the front door and rang the bell. A pleasant lady answered the door and smiled. Trevor introduced himself and explained that he and his friend were following up a story that an old three-wheeler was in her shed. “Oh that old thing” she smiled and asked them to come in.

She was Margaret and explained whilst making tea that that the Morgan was her late husband’s. The two friends admired the photographs on the sitting room wall several of which showed a smiling couple, one whom was clearly Margaret some years ago, in front a smart Super Sports. Margaret appeared with tea and cakes which they gratefully accepted and sat smiling at each other.

At length Trevor asked what had become of the old car. Margaret explained that it was still in its garage at the bottom of the garden. They were both excited when she offered to show them. With much trepidation they followed her down the garden.  Margaret explained that as her dear late husband had died two days before Christmas some eight years ago the garage was not used.  There in the gloom stood the Morgan, very sad in its dirt and cobwebs.  Andy spotted a small urn on the seat, he looked at Margaret who explained and said Yes, it’s Tom. He always went for a drive on Christmas day so I put him there and left him in peace. She wiped a tear from her eye and the two men thought it wise to return to the house.

Over more tea she said that she thought he had been there long enough and in answer to their question agreed that it might be nice if the old car could again give someone some pleasure.  After negotiating a price, Tom was placed on the shelf by some pictures of his car which was then loaded on to the trailer.  They left promising to keep in touch and to show Margaret the restored result.

A year passed and as most of the work apart from the new paint job had been cosmetic the time came to test drive. This all went well and the two pals agreed it had been a worthwhile operation; so it was decided that as Christmas was but two days away they would again visit Margaret and show her the restored car.

The next morning being cold but dry. Trev opened the garage and to his horror the Mog had gone. Andy was called and in short order the police.  Evidence was sought, locks and keys were examined but there was nothing to indicate what had happened. Photographs were asked for but as they had planned a finished photo shoot there was little other than progress pictures. Andy remembered that in the old garage was a series of pictures of the complete car, so it was decided that these would be better than nothing.

The two friends despondently made their way to Margaret’s and over tea and mince pies told the sorry tale. She was as upset as they and agreed to them taking the photographs. They trooped down the garden and opened the shed door.  The three of them stood open mouthed, for there covered in cobwebs with its old faded paintwork sat the Mog.

Closer examination found the urn, back on the seat…

First published in the Morgan Three Wheeler Club’s Bulletin

[Traditions are traditions, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.  And, Morgan traditions are especially good.  Happy Holidays!! Mark]

04 Dec

Morgan Aero GT: new ‘race-inspired’ sports car coming in 2018 (www.carmagazine.co.uk)

► Morgan Aero GT
► Last Aero 8 car from brand
► Full reveal at 2018 Geneva motor show

The gloves are off, according to Morgan. The cottage industry car maker has just dropped its first teaser of a new, ‘race-inspired’ sports car – the Aero GT.

Thankfully though, these shadowy images of a front wheelarch aren’t the only information we have to go on.

Power will come from a BMW-derived 4.8-litre V8, with 367bhp-worth of shove being sent through a six-speed manual gearbox. A 0-62mph launch time of 4.5 seconds is possible, as is a top speed of 170mph.

Morgan says that since the engine is no longer in production over at Munich, this will be the last hurrah for both the Aero 8 and the naturally-aspirated engine the brand uses.  [This is old news. We are expecting to have an announcement on the replacement in March, at the Geneva Show. Mark]

Just eight Aero GTs will be built but all of them are already sold to existing Morgan customers. Each of the eight cars has been tailor-made to each owner, and all will have ‘bespoke customer-requested additions, in line with Morgan’s hand-crafted approach.’

The Aero GT marks the end of the Morgan Aero 8’s 17-year-long production cycle at Morgan’s Pickersleigh Road production site. Every panel of the bodywork has been hand-shaped by Morgan’s metal workers, and features new wing top louvres and a ‘drastic’ rear diffuser.

The new British sports car will be officially unveiled at the 2018 Geneva motor show, so set a reminder for early March 2018.

08 Nov

University Funding Drives Business’ Expansion (www.insidermedia.com)

[This story shows cooperation among businesses and academia which in itself is always a good thing.  However, the article points to a interesting development for Morgans, e.g. the potential of a factory implemented automatic gearbox.  Factory implemented and supported ‘auto-boxes’ are available on the BMW powered Plus 8s and the Aero 8s, but are available only in the after market for the ‘traditional’ cars.  (Not that I have ever seen one?) 

This may mean we will soon see the MMC announce an optional ‘auto-box’ for the traditional cars.  This would be viable way to make the cars quicker and more fuel efficient.   Let’s see what get announced in March in Geneva!   Mark]

The University of Derby has awarded a Leicestershire automotive business almost £100,000 to expand and make new international relationships.

Vitesse Global provides specialist engine, gearbox and ancillary components to a niche market in the automotive sector.

The business, based in Hinckley, is aiming to use the £97,650 to exploit a gap in the market where British sports car manufacturers do not offer automatic gear boxes to buyers.

Morgan Motor Company had said it was keen to work with Vitesse Global to produce an automatic gearbox, but it needed support.

The funding from the university, which comprised of a grant of £65,000 and the remainder as a loan, has covered the costs of the mechanical design and software development, leading to the development of the final product.

Vitesse Global’s new product has now been sold in Dubai, France, the UK and New Zealand.

The company’s managing director Tim Henderson said: “We saw there was a market, and we knew there was a demand, but we did not have sufficient investment capacity on our own.

“We saw Invest to Grow as the stepping stone, providing us with the time and input required to deliver the product.”

Invest to Grow has also enabled the business to employ three new staff members, with the hope to employ more, and increased its capacity for innovation and research and development.

Mark Wheddon, head of strategic programmes at the university, said: “We are pleased to support Vitesse Global with the expansion of their business that has led to new international relationships being created.

“The business has a lot to offer and we can expect great things from them in the upcoming months.”

 

02 Nov

Trouble in Paradise – Palm Beach Morgan Dealer in Hot Water

Photo Courtesy www.bizjournals.com

[Reports in the press indicate that there are problems with the South Florida Morgan dealer  Chariots of Palm Beach. The truth of the matter has not yet been determined, and I certainly don’t want to jump to conclusions.  This is something that will eventually be sorted out by the courts.  As always be careful and ‘Caveat Emptor’.   Mark. ]

Luxury car dealership in Palm Beach files Chapter 11 with over $10M in debt (https://www.bizjournals.com)

Luxury car dealer Chariots of Palm Beach filed Chapter 11 reorganization and asked the court to appoint a chief restructuring officer.

The West Palm Beach-based company filed a petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on July 27 listing assets of $1 million to $10 million and liabilities of $10 million to $50 million. An affiliated company, H&S Inc., also filed Chapter 11 and will have its case managed together with Chariots of Palm Beach.

The dealership at 2400 N. Florida Mango Road sells pre-owned BWM, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Rolls-Royce and other luxury vehicles. Its showroom has room for 80 cars, according to its website. The company also rents luxury cars.

The debtor has yet to provide a detailed list of its assets. Attorney Steven S. Newburgh, who represents the debtor in Chapter 11, declined comment.

County records show that Chariots of Palm Beach owns a 0.7-acre lot with a 14,910-square-foot auto sales building. It was last valued at $1.33 million by the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser.

The largest unsecured creditors listed in the bankruptcy petition were Alan and Susan Gilison in Sands Point, New York with a $756,000 claim and Robert Berens, also from Sands Point, with a $284,833 claim.

The company has yet to disclose its secured creditors. However, a county record search shows Chariots of Palm Beach signed mortgages of $500,000 in October 2016 with North Florida Mango Credit and $1.5 million in April 2016 with Palm Beach Gardens-based Anchor Commercial Bank. Neither of those lenders have pending litigation against Chariots of Palm Beach in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

[and another . . .]

Did exotic car dealer scam ex-congressman Mark Foley? (www.miamiherald.com)?

Former U.S. Congressman Mark Foley says he’s been ripped off by one of South Florida’s highest-profile exotic car dealers in what he claims is a pyramid scheme as la Bernie Madoff.

The Republican ex-congressman, who represented a Palm Beach to Fort Pierce district for five terms before he resigned his seat after sexting with underage male congressional pages, is among dozens of expensive-car owners who may have been taken for a ride by the owner of a bankrupt car dealership that specializes in used Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Aston Martins, Ferraris and other exotic wheels.

The West Palm Beach-based Chariots of Palm Beach, according to federal court papers, could leave investors, banks and buyers as much as $50 million in the hole.

“We’re not dealing with billions like Bernie Madoff,” Foley said, referring to the former Wall Street investor now serving 150 years in a federal penitentiary after bilking investors out of $13 billion. “But I am the victim of a classic pyramid scheme.”

Until it closed recently, Chariots of Palm Beach was a fancy consignment store where multi-millionaires dropped off cars they no longer wanted. The dealership then tried to sell those cars for a commission.

Over the past few months, according to the bankruptcy documents, Chariots of Palm Beach founder Hugh Bate is believed to have used the titles to cars he didn’t own to secure millions in loans he can’t pay back.

“It’s a real mess,” says Foley. “A federal court might have to determine the ownership of hundreds of cars.”

Foley explains that on Aug. 10 he was coincidentally at the Chariots of Palm Beach showroom when a shopper decided to buy the silver-colored Porsche Macan Foley wanted to get rid of.

Foley had bought it last year for $68,000 cash, and took it to the dealership in May. The 63-year-old ex-pol says the man paid the dealership $57,886 for his car before peeling off as he waved bye-bye.

Two months later, Foley is still waiting for the dealership to pay him, and he is worried he might never be shown the money.

“I feel like I’d been carjacked,” Foley now says, “except that nobody stuck a gun in a face and yelled at me to get out of my car.”

Foley says the buyer of his car, a Broward County developer whose name he forgot, did nothing wrong.

“He probably thinks he now owns a nice Porsche. It’s the dealership that did God knows what with my title,” Foley said, adding he didn’t personally sign over the title to the new owner.

Which begs the question: Why would a savvy fancy car lover like Foley go to a consignment store instead of an official Porsche dealer?

“Chariots had an extraordinary reputation,” Foley said, pointing out that the dealership was the area’s go-to place for rare exotic wheels. “They were able to get a better sales price for used cars than the official dealerships.”

And now, the ownership status of dozens of consigned Aston Martins, Bentley Azures and Ferrari Spiders, some of them worth in excess of $400,000, are in limbo.

The list of original owners included in the bankruptcy reads like a who’s who of East Coast business and society, including: New York real estate company owner Stephen Haymes; Palm Beach philanthropist Ross Meltzer, who brought a convertible Bentley to Chariots of Palm Beach months ago; Wolf Von Falkenberg, who’s famous in Palm Beach for his marriage to Standard Oil heiress Anne Terry Pierce McBride while she was on her deathbed; and Washington, D.C., developer Albert Van Metre Jr.

Former Assistant Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Rick Facchine, whose BMW M4 is gathering dust in the shuttered up showroom, is also among the alleged victims. His car wasn’t sold, but he can’t get it back because the title may have been used by Bate to get a lender to loan him money.

Facchine declined comment.  Foley says he and others have filed criminal complaints with West Palm Beach Police and the FBI.     No criminal charges have been filed.

 

 

23 Oct

Thousands Gather for Morgan’s Inaugural Run for the Hills (justbritish.com)

 

Morgan Motor Company celebrated over a century of innovation and craftsmanship at the inaugural Run For The Hills event last weekend (26th & 27th August) with 1000’s of Morgans from a 108-year history returning home to Malvern.

Held at the Malvern Three Counties Showground in association with the Morgan Sports Car Club, Morgan owners and aficionados from around the world gathered for two days of family fun, just a few miles from the Pickersleigh Road home of the iconic coachbuilder.

The RFTH weekend saw over 5,000 owners and enthusiasts enjoy activities for the whole family including an open house at the Morgan Motor Company factory, hot air balloon rides, Morgan AutoSOLO track experience, live aerobatic displays, racing simulators and male grooming and beauty treatments and a freestyle motocross stunt display.

Visitors were also treated to a stunning lineup of Morgan dealership displays as well as a concours and historic area celebrating Chris Lawrence and his significant impact on the Morgan marque. All three Morgan SLRs were displayed alongside TOK258, the Morgan that Chris Lawrence drove to victory at Le Mans in 1962.

Visitors on Saturday morning witnessed a special 3 Wheeler cavalcade from the factory to the showground, showcasing Morgan’s iconic 3 Wheeler models from over a century of the marque’s history. The oldest models were built in 1909 by H.F.S. Morgan while the newest model had rolled off the assembly line that week. The cavalcade included over 50 3 Wheelers and was led by the all-electric EV3, driven by Managing Director, Steve Morris.

A grand Gala Dinner took place on Saturday night, hosted by the world’s greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes. The British hero thrilled guests with stories from over five decades of his expeditions in the world’s most perilous climates. The Gala Dinner menu celebrated produce and companies from across the 3 Counties, and was local sourced where possible. A charity auction hosted by auctioneer Philip Serrell raised £22,000 for the British Heart Foundation. Stand-out lots included a clay model Aero 8 created by Jon Wells, and an EV3 Junior.

The climax of the weekend was the Morgan prom on Sunday evening, with the English Symphony Orchestra playing iconic pieces of music for a packed arena, with the backdrop of a spectacular fireworks display bringing the weekend’s celebrations to a close. A highlight of the event for many, the concert provided a fitting ending to a truly memorable weekend.

Steve Morris, Managing Director of Morgan Motor Company, said:

We have had such a wonderful weekend here at Run For The Hills. We are continually blown away by the unrivaled passion that our owners and enthusiasts have for the marque. There were many highlights for me, however seeing the 3 Wheelers leave the factory on Saturday morning and then watching the English Symphony Orchestra concert and fireworks closing the event were perfect book ends of the show.

We welcomed well over 1,500 Morgans home to Malvern throughout the weekend from early pre-war cars to latest production cars, returning home from all over the world. The strong attendance of the event and the superb atmosphere throughout the weekend is a signal of great strength for the Morgan community. On behalf of the Morgan family, directors and staff, I would like to thank all those involved in helping to make this event a success. We are already looking forward to our next event.

23 Oct

‘Want wind-in-the-hair fun and a trip to a gentler time? Nothing beats a Morgan’ (www.carmagazine.co.uk)

 

When the sun shines, a young man’s fancy turns to sports cars.  So this (old) man heads to Malvern Link, home of Morgan, and to the driver’s seat of a 4/4, the world’s oldest new car, now in its 81st year of production.

Now of course Porsches and Ferraris go faster, Mazda MX-5s are sweeter to drive and Caterhams steer and stop better. But if your priorities are wind-in-the-hair fun, turn-up-the-volume driving engagement and a passport back to a gentler motoring era, then nothing can beat a Morgan.

They are mostly made as they always were: hand-built using mallets and files and saws and human sweat, and crafted from traditional materials. Indeed the frames of the oldest ‘classic’ models, like the 4/4, are still made from ash. They are far more hand-wrought than any Bentley or Rolls-Royce, whose bodies are invariably made by machine and whose hand-craftsmanship is typically confined to cabin carpentry and trim leathersmithery, plus the odd specially commissioned bespoke flourish.

Little has changed since the 4/4 was new. Morgan is still an independent family-owned company. The manufacturing technique is so unusual and old-fashioned that factory tours (£20) are a popular attraction. Last year, 30,000 people took the tour and, in typical English style, it includes afternoon tea. It gets five stars on Trip Advisor.

Our Morgan has a modern 110bhp 1.6-litre Ford engine and a previous-gen Mazda MX-5 five-speed gearbox but in every other way it’s about as mechanically similar to a new saloon as a Spitfire is to a 787.

Take the windows. There are none. Instead, we find side screens that we unclip and leave behind. It is a beautiful summer’s day, so no need for weather protection. Also, no need to put up the fabric roof, coiled behind our heads. There are only two seats and entry is by a tiny shallow door, opened by a latch. The door has leather pull-straps. It appears to weigh nothing.

The steering wheel is wood rimmed and alloy spoked – forget about an airbag – and it’s large and upright, closer to your chest than a modern car’s. The dash is a plank of varnished walnut. The only digital display is total mileage. This is not a digital-age car.

Out front there is a little upright chrome-ringed windscreen, and a long bonnet, elegantly sculpted, hand formed and tethered by leather straps. Little louvres help the engine breathe. We see twin headlamps standing proud, like frog’s eyes, and elegant sweeping round fenders.

The (optional) side-exiting exhaust is just under your right shoulder. It barks into action when you turn the key – you can smell the fumes on start-up – and the engine soon settles into an uneven and throaty idle.

Its smallness and all-aluminium body makes for a light car, just under 800kg. There is no power steering, so turning the big wood-rimmed wheel when stationary or at low speed requires shoulder and arm heft. Clutch and brake pedal are also heavy.

It feels and sounds fast but isn’t. This is a car that’s all about sensation, not measurement. Just as cycling at 20mph feels faster than driving at 60mph, so the Morgan feels fast beyond the speedo’s numbers. The ride is firm and easily unsettled and the handling lacks finesse. But what do you expect from an 80-year-old design, whose rear suspension owes more to a wheelbarrow than double wishbones? Like all old cars, it needs manhandling and heft; anticipation and concentration; and, yes, just a little love and understanding.

It’s designed for the winding narrow roads of England of 70 or 80 years ago, which still gently crisscross much of the country’s rolling green land. They are wonderful driving roads. Speed is irrelevant. The slower, the better. You’re always interacting with your environment: with the weather, with nature and its many scents and sounds, and with the car itself. It is a different type of motoring, totally alien to the hermetically sealed air-conditioned cabins in which we today rush hither and thither, isolated from everything around us, in a world bulldozed for speed.

Every once in a while, it’s good to be transported back to sports cars of yore and to the driving world of yesteryear.  Only an old classic, or a new Morgan, can do this. It helps us to understand how much cars have improved and, just as important, how much raw driving enjoyment has been diluted.

23 Oct

2018 Morgan 4/4 – First Drive Review (www.caranddriver.com)

 

Pretty much an Edwardian Miata.

The idea of giving cars a rapid model cycle and built-in obsolescence was born in the U.S., but it has long since spread to the rest of the world. Few mainstream models are still in production by the time the earliest versions of a generation reach their eighth birthdays, and there likely will have been one or more facelifts or refreshes squeezed into that brief span. The first rule of automotive marketing remains, as always, that this year’s car is the best one.

HIGHS

Suddenly it’s 1936, only with a modern engine.

LOWS

No modern conveniences, nor even any vintage conveniences.

That doesn’t play in Malvern, the small town at the edge of the frequently mispronounced English county of Worcestershire (“Wooster-shire”, the locals say) and home to Morgan Motors for more than a century. Morgan doesn’t change things unless it has to. And, thanks to steady demand for its hand-built sports cars, it rarely needs to. So this 2018 Morgan 4/4—a gleaming press demonstrator with just 1000 miles on the clock when we picked it up—is largely identical to the 2008 version. Or, indeed, the 1998, 1988, or 1978 iterations.

Morgan claims that the 4/4 has been in production for longer than any other car in the world, having been first launched in 1936. Its name referenced the fact that it had both a four-cylinder engine and the then novel (to Morgan) layout of a wheel in each corner, earlier Moggies being exclusively three-wheelers. (We tested a modern Morgan 3 Wheeler a few years back.)

Production of the 4/4 stopped during World War II, and there was another hiatus in the early 1950s. But even if it chose to trace the origins of the current car to the launch of the Series II in 1955—which integrated headlights with the fenders for the first time—it still scores 62 years of continuous construction, making it older than many auto companies. Not to mention many Morgan drivers.

Many details have changed, but the similarities are striking; you could park a modern 4/4 next to its mid-’50s ancestor and struggle to tell them apart. The fundamental construction is identical: a steel chassis with aluminum bodywork fitted over a timber frame (the popular belief that Morgans have structural woodwork is a myth). Suspension is still the archaic combination of sliding pillars at the front and a live axle hanging between two elliptical springs at the back. Disc brakes arrived in the 1960s, but there remain precisely zero driver aids—no ABS, no power steering, not even a brake booster.

Engines have changed through the ages; Morgan has always been agnostic when it comes to powerplants. The Series II launched with a 1.1-liter Ford side-valve engine that produced just 36 horsepower in standard form (40 horsepower with the optional twin-carburetor competition package). The modern car uses a Ford Duratec 1.6-liter inline-four with 110 horsepower that’s pretty much identical to the engine in the base Fiesta as sold in the United Kingdom. This sends torque through a five-speed Mazda manual gearbox, the same transmission that’s fitted to the 3 Wheeler. The 4/4’s lightweight construction and a curb weight of roughly 1900 pounds mean that, in terms of power-to-weight, it’s pretty much an Edwardian Miata.

Elemental Accommodation

The secret of Morgan appreciation is to reset your expectations. By modern standards it is deeply flawed in almost every dynamic regard. But those imperfections add up to something completely different from anything else on the road and—once you get accustomed to some of its most egregious foibles—something that is utterly compelling.

By the standards of vintage cars, the cockpit actually is pretty accommodating. The steering column doesn’t adjust for reach or rake, the footwell is narrow and has some painfully sharp edges, and the floor-hinged pedals are stiff and awkward to use until your ankles adapt to the need to work sideways. The only packaging concession for drivers of different sizes is the ability to slide the seat on its runners, and getting in with the fabric roof in place requires an undignified scramble through the narrow door aperture and around the sizable wood-and-metal steering wheel. Collapsing the roof isn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing, either—our experience involved about three minutes, two swearing fits, and at least one bloody knuckle.

The cabin is narrow enough to have you trading cooties with any passenger. Instrumentation is limited to some appropriately old-fashioned dials (although with modern General Motors–sourced instrument stalks). Trim materials are durable rather than upmarket—Morgan reserves plusher interiors for the more expensive Plus 4 and Roadster models—and there is plenty of evidence that the car has been built by hand, from exposed screw heads to finding occasional bits of swarf from drilled holes strewn about inside. Equipment is limited: Even the plastic side windows come only with the optional upper door halves. (The old word for this is sidescreens.) Our test car had been fitted with a DIN-sized audio player hidden under the dashboard, which proved to be completely inaudible at more than 30 mph. Oh, and although there’s a heater, there are no face-level air vents, the 4/4 predating their invention.

Fat Torque, Skinny Tires

The engine is an unlikely star. In its Ford applications, the Duratec comes across as a utility-grade powerplant that delivers only modest performance. But the lightweight Morgan and sweet-shifting Mazda-sourced gearbox (from the third-generation MX-5 Miata) transform it into something genuinely special, with a free-breathing sports exhaust exiting on the driver’s side for better auditory appreciation. Throttle response is excellent, low-down torque is strong, and the little engine gives its modest all with a zinging enthusiasm. The result is a car that’s not fast per se, but which never feels slow.

The unassisted steering is vein-poppingly heavy if you try to turn the wheel when stationary, but it lightens as soon as the car starts to move. But only for the first half-turn or so of lock, beyond which it firms up again. Constant slight corrections are required to keep the car on course, just like in an old movie, and there’s little feedback beyond vibration that gets through to the rim.

There’s not much for the steering to talk to you about anyway: The period-patterned 165-width Continental tires are positively self-effacing in their lack of grip. The front wheels threaten to lock up under what feels like normal levels of retardation at low speeds. Lateral adhesion feels stronger, but the front tires give up long before the rears. Excessive speed produces understeer rather than anything more exciting; given the slow steering, that’s a good thing. Ride quality is poor, especially on the narrow and bumpy British roads we drove over, with the 4/4 clumping and crashing over even the smallest imperfections, the car’s structure shivering like a wet dog all the while.

Yet, truly, none of this matters. Comparing the Morgan with a modern car is to miss the point entirely. The very modesty of its limits is the key to its appeal. Contemporary cars try to isolate their drivers from distraction, allowing through a carefully controlled amount as officially sanctioned feedback. The 4/4 gives you the lot—noise, vibration, harshness, and (despite the low-cut windscreen’s best efforts) occasional bugs in your hair. It’s like a motorcycle, a vehicle that you have to work with and anticipate both risks and opportunities well ahead of time. A half-hour is a true driving adventure during which 45 mph feels like at least double that, and every successful passing maneuver feels like a race-winning overtake.

A Replica of Itself

While many automakers try to dress themselves in contrived tradition, Morgan wears the real thing. Visitors flock to the Malvern factory to see cars being built using techniques unchanged since its foundation, the company boasting that some workers are fifth- and even sixth-generation employees. And, for all its faults, the 4/4 remains the glorious exemplar of the brand.

Morgan hasn’t sold any of its four-wheeled models in the United States since the Aero 8’s exemption from smart airbags lapsed in 2008, but it is contemplating a return.  As we told you last year, the company is seriously looking at bringing back some of its older models under the exemption in the FAST Act for replicas of cars over 25 years of age.

Let’s hope that happens, but let’s also hope that—if it does—Morgan doesn’t change a thing.

 

23 Oct

Morgan’s latest car being made in Coventry (www.coventrytelegraph.net)

RDM Group has been appointed to manufacture and assemble the EV3 Junior.  

Morgan’s latest model is being made in Coventry it has been revealed.

The Morgan Motor Company might be synonymous with Malvern but a new partnership with a fast-growing Coventry automotive firm will see an electric Morgan vehicle built in the city for the first time.

But before anyone gets too excited, this Morgan is strictly for children – and with a price tag of £7,995 is strictly for those with deep pockets. [That’s only $10,551.24 in today dollars (11/23/17), not to mention the shipping.  Go for it!! Mark]

The Morgan EV3 Junior

RDM Group, which has been hitting the headlines for its work in driverless vehicles, has been appointed to manufacture and assemble the EV3 Junior, a direct replica of Morgan’s popular 3 Wheeler.

A team of eight engineers build each car to order at the firm’s Bilton Road Industrial Estate, with each one taking between four to six weeks to complete.

To date, 14 have rolled off the production line, with one being sent to a customer in California.

Launched six years ago, the 3 Wheeler represented something of a revival for Morgan as it was inspired by a cyclecar launched in 1910 which first got the company going.

Tim Lyons, RDM Group’s chief operations officer, said: “Our Advanced Manufacturing Centre in Coventry is set up to do very niche build work and assembly so we are delighted to be working with Morgan on this exciting project.

“We currently do a lot of bespoke trim work for the actual full-size 3 Wheeler so they knew we were capable of reaching their high standards.

“The EV3 Junior features a bonded carbon fiber monocoque, a natural wooden dashboard and hand-stitched leather trim. It also has functioning headlights, a real suspension system and each order can be custom built to the tastes of the customer, who can specify color and additional extras.”

Mr. Lyons added: “The EV3 Junior is powered by dual lead acid battery and is capable of going 10 miles per hour and over a 10 mile range before needing to be recharged.

“I suppose you could say it’s the ultimate in children’s cars.

“They were on sale in Selfridges last Christmas and they are now available via the Morgan website and their dealership network across the world.”

 

23 Oct

Maker of ‘coaches’ bets at once on digital thread and work done by hand (http://advancedmanufacturing.org)

Morgan Motor relies heavily on humans to manufacture its retro cars, but it leaves nothing to chance

[Just another ‘proof statement’ that the MMC is not stagnant in its methods or processes.  Something that gives me some assurance that they will continue for some time.   Mark]

Morgan Motor Company, which HFS Morgan established in 1909 with the design of the Morgan three-wheeler, today calls its products “coaches” and caters to people “yearning for the classical look of the original Morgans and that nostalgic feel: the wind in the face, pulling the top down when the rain stops,” said Dave Olson of Verisurf Software in Southern California.

The British firm’s vehicles are also still handcrafted, he said. “Rather than using a robot to assemble parts of their frame, there’s this great attention to detail. The fixture they use to assemble and then weld that frame up is handcrafted. They haven’t lost the element of people caring about how it’s going together. A robot doesn’t care how it goes together; it’s just putting things in place, and moving a welder to weld.”

A traditional hand-styled clay model of the Morgan 4/4 [it may be just me but isn’t this a clay model of an Aero 8??  Mark]  is scanned to create a digital design nominal of the surface profile.

But Morgan is by no means behind the times. To help ensure people spending sometimes $100,000 for a car get what they are after, Morgan Motor has for the last four years been using the Verisurf metrology software suite, which costs $10,000–$20,000 depending on the configuration.

Morgan Motor uses Verisurf for three primary applications:

  • 3D modeling. “Verisurf uses a 3D laser and reverse-engineering technology to scan the motor car, capture a point cloud, convert that point cloud to a 3D mesh, convert the 3D mesh into NURB surfaces (a mathematical expression for complex profile surfaces), and finally create a watertight solid model that can be used for manufacturing,” Olson said.
  • Tool-building. “Verisurf is used to assemble fixtures, toolings and jigs that are used to assemble the automobile. Verisurf works with a variety of metrology devices, including laser trackers and portable CMM arms to position mounting holes, and position tooling, and jigs, and clamps so that the assemblers can assemble the frame and weld it up, and/or assemble the frame and glue and screw it together. And create assembly fixtures for wiring harnesses,” he said.
  • Dimensional inspection and quality reporting. “The software is used to connect with pretty much any brand of portable CMM and/or stationary CMM, but in this case they were using primarily portable CMM arms,” Olson said. “They use that to take measurement inspection points and compare them to the CAD model, and display the deviation and create deviation reports, if any, in order to track the quality of their manufacturing process.”

The primary benefits: speed of development, manufacture and inspection.

“It’s all about time to market, or getting the design to market quickly,” he said. “Another major benefit is the improvement in quality. In order to improve quality, you must be able to measure your current conditions and have set goals for improvements, and then measure those.”

And then there is the money saved by reducing scrap. If you get it right the first time, scrap reduction is a tangential benefit.

“If you can implement in-process measurement, you can head off major errors sooner, reduce scrap, and often times save parts that [would otherwise be] scrapped, maybe ones to which you have added a lot of value,” Olson said. “When you look at cost, schedule, and quality, Verisurf helps manufacturers address all of the three major aspects of that product manufacturing.”

Morgan Motor also needs software like Verisurf’s to help it with its production part approval process, aka a “first article inspection report,” required by upper management.

Morgan Motor uses Verisurf’s software along with the Hexagon Romer articulating scanning arm.

Production line players submit those reports as if to say, “Look, everything is in place: We have all the individual parts. We have the production approval process in place. Give us permission to buy material, and I’ll produce x-number of vehicles.”

Verisurf, which founder Ernie Husted named when he designed the software for the verification of surfaces, is also used by Honda and Nissan.

But its largest uptake has been in the industry that’s really stuck on three-wheelers: aerospace. Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

The thing they all have in common: “Mission critical components,” Olson noted. “If there’s a problem in making them, lawyers get involved.”

To avoid legal issues, manufacturers use model-based definition (MBD) workflow—to maintain data integrity and relevance as part of the overall design and manufacturing process.

For Morgan, a key requirement in selecting a measurement solution was that it had to be based on a CAD platform, he said.

When using MBD, the CAD model is the nominal against which all parts are measured and inspected, keeping the all-important digital thread intact—from design to manufacturing to inspection and quality reporting.

Everything that defines the part exists in a single digital archive, including how to manufacture and inspect the part.

In the end, then, Morgan Motor cars rely at once on humans to sculpt them and digitized data to verify those sculptors of sorts did their magic as expected.

 

 

02 Sep

Thousands Gather for Morgan’s Inaugural Run for the Hills (www.justbritish.com)

Morgan Motor Company celebrated over a century of innovation and craftsmanship at the inaugural Run For The Hills event [August 26 – August 27] with 1000’s of Morgans from a 108-year history returning home to Malvern.

Held at the Malvern Three Counties Showground in association with the Morgan Sports Car Club, Morgan owners and aficionados from around the world gathered for two days of family fun, just a few miles from the Pickersleigh Road home of the iconic coachbuilder.

The RFTH weekend saw over 5,000 owners an enthusiasts enjoy activities for the whole family including an open house at the Morgan Motor Company factory, hot air balloon rides, Morgan AutoSOLO track experience, live aerobatic displays, racing simulators and male grooming and beauty treatments and a freestyle motocross stunt display.

Visitors were also treated to a stunning lineup of Morgan dealership displays as well as a concours and historic area celebrating Chris Lawrence and his significant impact on the Morgan marque. All three Morgan SLRs were displayed alongside TOK258, the Morgan that Chris Lawrence drove to victory at Le Mans in 1962.

Visitors on Saturday morning witnessed a special 3 Wheeler cavalcade from the factory to the showground, showcasing Morgan’s iconic 3 Wheeler models from over a century of the marque’s history. The oldest models were built in 1909 by H.F.S. Morgan while the newest model had rolled off the assembly line that week. The cavalcade included over 50 3 Wheelers and was led by the all-electric EV3, driven by Managing Director, Steve Morris.

A grand Gala Dinner took place on Saturday night, hosted by the world’s greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes. The British hero thrilled guests with stories from over five decades of his expeditions in the world’s most perilous climates. The Gala Dinner menu celebrated produce and companies from across the 3 Counties, and was local sourced where possible. A charity auction hosted by auctioneer Philip Serrell raised £22,000 for the British Heart Foundation. Stand-out lots included a clay model Aero 8 created by Jon Wells, and an EV3 Junior.

The climax of the weekend was the Morgan prom on Sunday evening, with the English Symphony Orchestra playing iconic pieces of music for a packed arena, with the backdrop of a spectacular fireworks display bringing the weekend’s celebrations to a close. A highlight of the event for many, the concert provided a fitting ending to a truly memorable weekend.

Steve Morris, Managing Director of Morgan Motor Company, said:

We have had such a wonderful weekend here at Run For The Hills. We are continually blown away by the unrivaled passion that our owners and enthusiasts have for the marque. There were many highlights for me, however seeing the 3 Wheelers leave the factory on Saturday morning and then watching the English Symphony Orchestra concert and fireworks closing the event were perfect book ends of the show.

We welcomed well over 1,500 Morgans home to Malvern throughout the weekend from early pre-war cars to latest production cars, returning home from all over the world. The strong attendance of the event and the superb atmosphere throughout the weekend is a signal of great strength for the Morgan community. On behalf of the Morgan family, directors and staff, I would like to thank all those involved in helping to make this event a success. We are already looking forward to our next event.