Vintage postbag, December 1962

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Travels of a Vintage Morgan

Sir,

Some of your cyclecar enthusiast readers might be interested in a few further details of my recent experiences with a Morgan three-wheeler, mentioned in the October Motor Sport. The car is a 1925 Acro-Blackburne o.h.v. W.C. 1,096 C.C. 2-speeder, with front wheel brakes and geared steering. Last year, in company with a vintage Austin Seven, we crossed some 14 major Alpine passes, including the Furka, Stelvio and Grossglockner. This year we added another 14 over 4,000 ft., including the Grand St. Bernard, Galibier and, highest of all, the Iseran.

Being two up, with camping gear, I used sprockets from a Family Morgan, giving ratios of 5 and 10 to 1. There was always ample power, even at 9,000 ft., where I myself was getting a bit breathless hauling it round the last few hairpins. We did have some mechanical troubles, but only little things like acouple of inches falling off the front-end of the frame, under the stress of holding up the number plate—and what nicer spot could you pick to construct and fit a new head gasket than the Promenade des Anglais at Nice ? Spoke troubles, however, did driveus to a French garage mechanic, who announced, after two wrestling with a split rim wheel, “La voiture de la Belle Epoque, ca m’en merde! ” The Italians were very thrilled with the car, and most helpful. A mechanic in a small village constructed and fitted a new cone clutch lining in half a day, for about 10s.; of course, any good blacksmith holds a large stock of Morgan spares.

We found some very vintage passes. I strongly recommend the Col de la Finestre (6,400 ft.) in Italy, from Fenestrelle to Susa, to anyone who rejoices at the thought of 25-miles single track dust road, with a 3,000 ft. lift by means of numerous hairpins, with unfenced drops and fabulous scenery: or the Col du Champexa theoretical short cut on the Grand St. Bernard. This was the only occasion that I’ve done five miles the wrong way up a oneway .street. I was so intent on getting a good run at the first hairpin that I missed the sign, saying that traffic might only ascend during even hours!

One slightly depressing thing we have noticed, in the course of over 6,00o miles of Continental motoring, is the decreasing response to a cheerful wave to another ” G.B. ” car. Admittedly roads in the North of France frequently have more British cars than French, but to receive the usual cold glance in the deepest Alps is rather chilling—Jaguars, as usual, being the most stuck-up of all. Surely they can’t all be long-suffering motoring Correspondents forced by their wicked employers to slave at driving E-types to Monte Carlo and back in a day or so.

However, I .shall continue to take vintage tars abroad, to show the light to the heathen, and to enjoy some real vintage motoring, on decent uncluttered roads, far away from Marpledom.

Parkstone. ROGER S. RICHMOND.