[From time to time fairly superficial histories of the Morgan 3-wheeler have appeared in various journals, but to celebrate the demonstration race by members of The Morgan Three-Wheeler Club at the V.S.C.C. Oulton Park meeting on the 19th of this month, I thought something rather more detailed was merited. Peter Morgan, Managing Director of The Morgan Motor Company Ltd., very kindly delivered to me his late father’s cutting-books, which greatly facilitated my task. What follows is dedicated to one of the most sporting economy cars of all time.—ED.]
H.F.S. MORGAN was born at Stoke Lacy Rectory, Hereford, in 1881, the son of the Rev. Prebendary FL George Morgan. He went to Stone House School, Broadstairs and Marlborough College and finished his education at The Crystal Palace Engineering College. He then served as an 18-year-old pupil under the Chief Engineer of the G.W.R. works at Swindon, graduating as a draughtsman, a post he held for about seven years. H.F.S. Morgan’s first motoring experience, we are told, was on a hired 34-h.p. Benz, which ran away down the hill between Bromyard and Hereford. He later owned an 8-h.p. De Dion Bouton-engined Eagle 3-wheeler and a 7-h.p. 2-cylinder Little Star, the latter a make not found in Doyle’s.
Leaving the G.W.R. in 1906, H.F.S. opened a garage at Malvern Link and ran a ‘bus service between there and Wells, and later between Malvern and Gloucester, using 15-seater 10-h.p. Wolseleys, as he had the Wolseley and Darracq district agency. His experimental work had included the design of a 3-wheeled tubular chassis and into this he installed a 7-h.p. vee-twin Peugeot engine intended for a motorcycle. Most of the machining was done in Malvern College Workshops by permission of the engineering master of Malvern and Repton and the vehicle was finished in 1909.
How it began.—It is significant that right from the start much of the construction was similar to that retained to the end of 3-wheeler production in 1950 and the i.f.s. of which is still found in similar form on the current Morgan sports models. The tubular ladder chassis had a central backbone tube and four tubes at the front acting as the engine bearers, the side tubes served in lieu of exhaust pipes for the vee-twin engine set across the frame, and independent front springing was provided by sliding-pillars and coil springs, a system which Lancia introduced for their Lambda after the war. Transmission Consisted of a simple clutch, a propeller shaft running inside the tubular backbone of the chassis to a bevel-box, and chains-and-dogs giving choice of two speeds to the single rear wheel, which was sprung on I-elliptic springs attached to a channel-section mounting across the rear of the frame tubes. No reverse gear was required on a 3-wheeler weighing under 7 cwt., and throttle control was by Bowden handlever on the steering wheel.
As the other classic pioneer of i.f.s., the Sizaire Naudin, which also used sliding pillars but with a transverse leaf spring, did not go into production until 1905 and the G.N. 4-wheeled cyclecar which also had dog-and-chain transmission, was not evolved until 1909 and did not have the engine set across its frame until 1912 (see MOTOR SPORT, August 1949), H.F.S. did his share of pioneering !
Favourable comment on his nippy little single-seater runabout decided Mr. Morgan to go into limited production. His father, the vicar, provided finance for some machine tools to be bought and the garage extended, and manufacture began in 1910. Patents were obtained on the i.f.s. system, etc., for which John Black (later Sir John Black of Standard’s) did the drawings. Morgan took a stand at Olympia in 1910, showing single-seaters powered by 4-h.p. single-cylinder and 8-h.p. vee-twin J.A.P. engines. These original Morgan 3-wheelers were very crude, with side tiller steering, and the simplest of bodywork, but they performed well and offered better protection, at all events for the driver’s legs and feet, than contemporary motorcycles.
The success of the Morgan tricar seemed assured when H.F.S. gained a gold medal in the M.C.C. London-Exeter-London Trial but a 2-seater was called for, which soon made its debut, powered by an 8-h.p. engine. The prototype was a very simple device, with no mudguards and side-by-side seating; it carried the same Reg. No., CJ 743, as the car H.F.S. drove in the 1911 A.C.U. Six Days Trial, although this had the now familiar open-fronted coalscuttle bonnet, mudguards and lamps, and was steered by wheel instead of tiller.
One of the nicest aspects of the Morgan affair, incidentally, was the personal interest which H.F.S. Morgan took in competition driving. He was frequently to be found driving in trials, from one-day to strenuous six-day events; accompanied by his wife Ruth, daughter of the Rev. Archibald Day, Vicar of St. Matthias, Malvern Link, while in later years George Goodall, who joined the Company in 1925, Competed with his son as passenger, just as Peter Morgan, who controls Morgan destiny today, drove 4wheeler Morgans in competition front t947 onwards, accompanied by his wife.
Orders for the Morgan 3-wheeler came in readily, some 30 being secured at its first Olympia Showing, and supply failed to meet demand. As none of the big manufacturers wanted to help, H.F.S. bought more machine tools, extended his workshop still farther, and in time for the great cyclecar boom of 1912, had formed a private company, The Morgan Motor Co., of which his father was Chairman and he was Managing Director.
All through the early days of the Company the Rev. George Morgan, Vicar of Stoke Lacy, was a staunch supporter of his son’s endeavours, and an even more prolific writer of letters to the motor magazines than S.F. Edge had been in an earlier era.
The Pre-Vintage Days.—At that astonishing Olympia Motorcycle Show of 1912, when the first issue of Temple Press’ new weekly, The Cyclecar, is said to have sold 100,000 copies, the Morgan 3-wheeler was well established. It was shown on Stand No. 18 as a still quite sketchy 2-seater, powered by an 8-h.p. vee-twin a/c. 85 x 85-mm. J.A.P. engine under the traditional bonnet, pulling high and low speeds of 4½ and 8 to 1. Steering was direct, the type size 26 in. x 2½ in., the bodywork, such as it was, being of wood and sheet steel, and the price being 85 gns. The weight was quoted as 3 cwt.
Excellent publicity had been secured when H.F.S. broke the cyclecar hour record at Brooklands late in 1912, covering 59 miles 1,120 yards in the 60 minutes in a narrow-track, high single-seater with a/c. o.h.v. vee-twin engine and fuel tank behind the leather-helmeted driver. The Vicar of Stoke Lacy, a tall figure in top hat and formal overcoat, was naturally present to encourage his son. The Morgan was responding to a G.W.K. challenge, this car’s record being 56 m.p.h.
This was by no means the Morgan’s only pre-1914 racing appearance. At Brooklands in 1913, A. W. Lambert drove a Morgan with 85 77.5 mm. (880 c.c.) engine into 3rd place in the First Side-Car and Cyclecar Race, lapping at 54.96 m.p.h. (E. B. Ware was still a Zenith rider), but already 3-wheelers were suffering from being neither sidecar nor cyclecar in the eyes of the authorities, not being allowed in subsequent B.A.R.C. Cyclecar handicap races that year. However, a 1914 Whitsun Light-Car and Cycle-car Handicap did include Ware’s 76 x 82 mm. (744 c.c.) Morgan, Which lapped at 48.92 m.p.h. and this driver’s Morgan-J.A.P. (of 77 x 83 mm., 773 c.c.) finished second behind a Bugatti, lapping at 63.76 m.p.h. The Morgan family took part in numerous reliability trials at this time, H.F.S.’s sister Dorothy being a regular competitor, while in a Cyclecar Club Fuel Economy Contest in 1913 R. D. Oliver’s 965 c.c. Morgan-J.A.P. won the 1,100 c.c. class with 69.4 m.p.g. in spite of its filler cap having been left off. It weighed 7 cwt. 6o lb. and used Shell petrol, and a B. & B. carburetter.
W. G. McMinnies, who was on the Editorial staff of The Cyclecar, owned a special single-seater Morgan called “The Jabberwick,” with s.v. 8-h.p. J.A.P. engine having a cylindrical tank behind it, which scaled 350 lb. with road equipment, could be started from the seat on the side handle, and gave 50 m.p.g.
In the field of serious racing, too, the pre-war Morgans were notably successful. In the 1913 Cyclecar G.P. at Amiens, McMinnies’ Morgan, with Frank Thomas who prepared it as passenger, although held up by a puncture and a broken truss-rod, was the first to complete the 163 miles, having averaged 41.9 m.p.h., but the officials said it was a sidecar and gave first place to a Bedelia. These G.P. Morgans had a chassis lengthened by 11 in., wooden bodies with seats several inches lower than standard, and steeply-raked steering columns. Those entered by Morgan and McMinnies had 90 77.5-mm. o.h.v. J.A.P. engines, Holder’s a water-cooled Blundield twin, a fourth entry a water-cooled Precision engine. In fact, only McMinnies’ winning car, H.F.S. and Rex Mundy started, the former breaking a piston, the latter a front wheel. The J.A.P.-engined model subsequently went into production, having a neat radiator with “water tower” filler of Napier type in its water-cooled form.
The war resulted in production gradually ceasing in favour of munitions, but not before Morgan had introduced a 4-seater model in 1915, developed from a remarkable long-wheelbase prototype obviously built to carry members of the enthusiastic Morgan family On a couple of simple, unprotected bench seats, their luggage pied above the back wheel.
Morgan prestige was enhanced during the war years because Capt. Albert Ball, V.C., D.S.O., M.C., the famous R.F.C. pilot, drove a water-cooled M.A.G.-engined model with disc Wheels, and Lieut. Robinson, V.C., who shot down a German zeppelin, also drove a Morgan, with discs on its front wheels and an aeroplane mascot above its “water tower.” Capt. Jack Woodhouse, M.C., another R.F.C. officer, had a O.P. model with pre-war long-stroke w/c. Precision engine and twin aero-screens, which Selfridge’s offered for sale in 1917.
As the war neared its close, Malvern offered a 10-h.p. a/c. model with enormous, vision-restricting hood and the w/c. De Luxe model was improved by deleting the fan (formerly belt-driven from the fly-wheel), as a new full-width radiator was used, with the wedge-shaped oil and petrol tanks behind it to aid air flow, while the bonnet louvres were replaced by gauze-covered openings and the pedals were enlarged and rubber-covered. For some time an improved Ferodo-lined clutch had been fitted. A 3/4-seater version was still available, and Cass’ Motor Mart offered a cloverleaf 3-seater Morgan for £155.
I must confess to being puzzled at a 1918 experiment, whereby a Morgan-J.A.P. was run with one w/c. and one a/c. cylinder! But there was no doubt about it, H. George Morgan, as he signed his published letters, was busily championing the simple cyclecar, even as a substitute for taxi fares. In 1917 The Light Car & Cyclecar tested a post-helium model with 82 x 103.5-mm. (1,093 c.c.) M.A.G. engine, which gave a speed range of “from 7-42 m.p.h., and slightly over 60 m.p.g.”
With the approach of the Armistice the Morgan models were announced as the Sporting Model, at £130 with a/c. M.A.G. engine, £135 in de luxe form (which meant with a door!), or £135 with w/c. J.A.P. engine, while the G.P. model was unchanged from pre-war days. Cars could only be supplied against Ministry of Munitions Priority Certificates and the w/c. M.A.G. engine was temporarily unobtainable. The de luxe Morgans had a new dash, with open cubbyhole.
The year 1919 opened with extensions to the Malvern Link factory, with a new body and finishing shop about half-a-mile from the original premises. Mr. Hales was the Works Manager, and about 50 post-war Morgans were nearing completion, although shortage of certain bought-out components, particularly tyres, was holding up production. The latest improvement was a hinged tail to provide access to the rear wheel, spring clips like those securing the bonnet normally holding it down.
About this time H.F.S. had an unfortunate mishap, falling into a lathe and having to suffer amputation of two fingers on his right hand. However, he drove CJ 743 in the 1919 M.C.C. London-Edinburgh trial, his car white with black mudguards, and gained a gold medal, in company with the Morgans driven by George Pettyt, Eric Williams. and Lt. H. G. Bell. Indeed, Morgan 3-wheelers were winning so many awards in the resumed competitions that to list them all is quite impossible.
E. B. Ware, of J.A.P.’s, had a 4-seater Morgan and C. Perham of the Admiralty a streamlined 22 in.-wide single-seater with 90 x 85 mm. M.A.G. vee-twin engine, pulling speeds of 3½ and 6 to 1, and capable of an easy 65 m.p.h. It used an Amac carburetter with 36 jet. Lt. if. Alan Hill’s w/c. MorganJ.A.P.,. which weighed 8 cwt., 3 qr. 14 lb., normally gave 60 m.p.g. and averaged 50 m.p.g. for the entire Scottish Six Days’ Trial, in which a puncture and a broken top-gear chain were its only misfortunes. Mrs. Hill went as passenger in this red G.P. Morgan, which gained a silver medal.
Inevitably prices rose, to £145 for the Sporting Model, £150, for the G.P. and a/c. De Luxe, £160 for the w/c. De Luxe. Disc wheels cost 75s. extra, but a special body colour was now 30s. extra instead of 50s.
In mid-1919 H.F.S. made fastest passenger-time with a stripped M.A.G.-engined Morgan at Stile Kop hill-climb (56.8 sec.) and P. Hollers pre-war G.P. Morgan won the cyclecar class of the Circuit de I’Eure race at 34.5 m.p.h. for the 178¾ miles. H.F.S. gained a “gold” in the A.C.U. Six Days’ Trial in his 980c.c. 759 lb. Morgan, in organising which T. W. Loughborough of the A.C.U. had tried out the bills with a Morgan and a 3½ h.p. Sunbeam. On Oct. 16th, 1919 new works of 38,400 sq. ft. were opened at Pickersleigh Road, Malvern Link, but the Machine shop, carpenters’ shop and tinmens’ shops remained in the old building near the Link station. This gave a total of over 50,000 sq. ft. and the aim was 40-50 cars a week.
Harry Martin had a special Morgan with o.h.v. J.A.P. a/c. engine and type-Z Claudel Hobson carburetter.
1920.—For 1920 a ball thrust in the clutch, longer bearings for the steering heads, and stronger bevels of different tooth formation were adopted. Awards continued to be won by Morgans in competition events of all kinds, and some 20 cars a week were being turned out in spite of a shortage of engines. Mr. Morgan owned a big Studebaker but still covered an appreciable mileage in Morgans and had patented a detachable rear wheel.
When racing was resumed at Brooklands Ware drove a single-seater Morgan-J.A.P. with a cut-down G.P. radiator and Hawkes a stripped 2-seater model built for the abandoned 1914 Cyclecar T.T., with an 82 x 104 mm. (1,098 c.c.) 8-valve M.A.G. engine and now known as the “Land Crab.” Ware’s was the more reliable, lapping at 59½ m.p.h. to win the 3-wheeler B.M.C.R.C. race. It had an abbreviated tail, disc wheels, a big cut-away 4-spoke steering wheel, bracing tubes from the tops of the steering heads back to the cockpit and a hoop across the back-wheel to give the spindle rigidity.
Mr. Morgan now owned an Austin 20, which made light Work of the 1 in 3 Old Wyche Cutting in Malvern carrying three passengers. Success after success was won by his 3-wheelers, such as H.B. Denley’s “gold” in the Scottish Six Days, five “golds” in the Edinburgh, etc., and a couple of Morgans served officials well during the I.O.M. motorcycle T.T. races. Hawkes eventually beat Ware at Brooklands, but Ware won a later race at 69½ m.p.h., Hawkes engine proving unreliable. H. George Morgan continued to bombard the Press with letters !
In the very tough A.C.U. Six Days’ Trial the Morgans of H.F.S., S. Hall and F. James gained “golds”; respectively they drove 980 c.c. 756 lb., 1.000 cc. 756 lb., and 1,100 c.c. 812 lb. cars. J.A.P.’s built Ware a special w/c o.h.v. 90 x 85-mm. Morgan for the Cyclecar G.P. at Amiens but a piece blew out of one cylinder’ and it finished the course slowly on one “pot.”
A private owner wrote to say his Morgan-J.A.P. won its class by 10 sec. from a G.N. in the Northants M.C. Speed Trials without any special tuning whatsoever, and a census on the North Road gave 3 count of seven Morgans, six G.N.s, three Rover 8s and two Tamplins amongst the light cars and cyclecars. The Light Car & Cyclecar then had the idea of a freak climb at Nailsworth Ladder; as in 1914 and in 1919, an 8-h.p. Morgan made a clean ascent, Hairs car getting up on an 11 to 1 bottom gear. The Morgan was now in production in France, taking fifth, sixth, ninth and tenth places in the Gaillon Hill-Climb. Advertisements proudly announced gold medals in the Scottish International and English Six Days’ Trials of 1920.
1921.—The 1921 Morgans shown at Olympia in 1920, when 30 a week were being built, had several important improvements. The new easily-detachable back wheel by means of a re-styled fork and chains of equal length was introduced, the high gear now being 18 x 33 (4½ to 1), against the former 14 x 25. Low gear remained at 8 to 1. The hand-brake now had a larger drum, 6½ in. in diameter, and the back wheel had a Leo Swain rim band to stop the cover creeping. Flat wooden guards over the chains protected them from mud off the tail and the back fork hinged on an improved, taper bearing. Bigger front-wheel taper hubs on 3/8 in. ball bearings, spun brass covers in two halves enclosing the springs to stop the upper crowns coming adrift from the upper cylinders, a guide and support for the starting handle, and a simplified clutch facilitating engine removal were other improvements, while a small flywheel pulley enabled a Lucas dynamo lighting set to he fitted (£25 extra). The dynamo clipped to the n/s. tube behind the engine and was driven by Whittle belt. The battery was under the seat, the switchboard on the left of the dash, over an oddments tray. The dash carried a clock.
A new model was the Aero, with V-air-deflector behind the radiator and streamlined tail. Prices were up to £228 for the De Luxe, the least-expensive being £206 for the a/c. Sporting Model with hood and screen but no lamps; H. F. Edwards of South Kensington offered a special streamlined model at £226 and Barkers Motors of Balham a detachable tail seating one adult or two children for £12 10s, in one flat coat of paint ready for the colour of the customer’s car.
It was claimed that the entire 1921 output had been ordered in advance by Morgan’s agents. Incidentally, while car tax was up to £1 per h.p., 3-wheelers paid £4 a year. Yet another variant of extra seating was the Pillionette, costing 18s 6d. and enabling a child to be carried on the tail of a Morgan, the invention of L. Marcus of Golders Green.
It is interesting that amongst Morgan drivers in the 1921 Paris-Nice Trial were Darmont and Sandford, both later to bring out their own versions of this 3-wheeler in France, while in England Eric Longden, who eventually brought out his own 4-wheeled cyclecar, raced a 988-c.c. Morgan.
In the A.C.U. Six Days’ Trial this year Morgan’s 983-c.c. Morgan which weighed 814 lb., Boddington’s 1,090-c.c. 928-lb. Model and Elce’s Similar Morgan which scaled 782 lb., all won “golds,” H.F.S. doing 67 m.p.g., 44 m.p.h. and 2,596 m.p.g. of oil in the various tests—it still carried Reg, No. CJ 743 !
In spite of the post-war slump the factory was working at full capacity, turning out “close on 129 machines per month.” vide one Press cutting. In listing the competition successes scored in June alone the Company proudly coined the slogan “The Private Owner can win on a Morgan.” Douglas Hawkes had evolved a very special racing single-seater, “Flying Spider,” built at Malvern, which dispensed with the frame tubes, relying only on the backbone, had the 8-valve M.A.G. engine set far back in the extended chassis with its crankcase streamlined, and so slim a body that the driver could only just get into it after removing some side panels. The B.A.R.C. no longer allowed 3-wheelers to compete at its meetings, so the car was confined to mixed club days and B.M.C.R.C. races, and its hey-day was yet to come.
Although Ware’s Morgan was supported by four French-built Morgans in the G.P. de Cyclecars at Le Mans it broke a push-rod and in the end only Stoffel finished, fifth and last. However, Ware’s 1,096-c.c. Morgan-J.A.P. held Class H2 records from 1 kilometre to 50 miles, its best speed being 86.04 m.p.h. over the kilometre, but in the J.C.C. 200-Mile Race his w/c. Morgan-J.A.P. retired with clutch failure. But racing Morgans were certainly doing the knots!
Although the “Aero” Morgan had been briefly mentioned, it was not among the 1922 models, being built to special order, with ship’s ventilators, snake horn, aero-screens and nickel fittings. The range comprised the new Standard 2-seater at £150, with shortened wheelbase and no running-boards, the G.P. costing £180, the a/c. and w/c. De Luxe models, priced respectively at £175 and £186, and the Family jobs, costing £180 with a/c. engine, £191 if water-cooled. Equipment included hood, screen, acetylene lamps, horn, tools and mats ! And so the Morgan was able to hold its own with L.S.D., T.B., Castle Three, New Hudson, Reynolds Runabout, Economic, Scott Sociable and other 3-wheelers when it appeared on Stand 63 at the 1921 Motorcycle Show, which opened at Olympia in a London fog.
1922.—Morgans continued to be as active as ever in trials and speed events, H.F.S. setting the example to drivers like F. W. James, N. Norris, W. A. Carr, G. H. Goodall, W. H. Elce, H. Sawtell, S. Hall, F. W. Dame, A. G. Gripper, R. Whiffen, A. C. Maskell, H. Beart, S. McCarthy, H. Holmes, the disabled P. Garrard, and others too numerous to list, while Ware continued to race his trim Morgan-J.A.P. against the motorcycle combinations and Hawkes’ single-seater “Flying Spider” won a Surbiton M.C. Brooklands’ race at 73.56 m.p.h. H. Martin’s 1,074-c.c. Morgan-Anzani also beat the sidecars in a B.M.C.R.C. race won at 70.58 m.p.h. Morgan advertisements in April proudly showed the A.C.U. “Stock Car” Trial team of six cars lined up outside the Worcester Road works. H.F.S. won the premier award and Norris the highest cyclecar award. The Rev. Prebendary Morgan went on letter-writing, defending his son’s 3-wheelers, for instance, against the £100 4-wheeler, which, he remarked, “one meets more often in the correspondence column than elsewhere.” An article headed “Will the 3-Wheeler Survive ?” spurred him to statistics. Taking “the outstanding events of the past 12 months—the English and Scottish Six Days, the three great M.C.C. trials and the A.C.U. Stock’ Trial,” the Rev. Morgan emphasised that the under-£200 4-wheelers, numbering about a dozen, had won two “golds,” five “silvers,” whereas the 3-wheelers, a mere half-dozen of them, took 23 gold and 12 silver medals, as well as six special certificates—and, he added magnanimously, ” these include the awards (three “golds,” one “silver”) obtained by the Castle Three and New Hudson, which should perhaps be excluded, as they cost over £200.” His letter brought a rebuke from A. Frazer-Nash of G.N.
In mid-1922 The Light Car & Cyclecar tested a w/c. Morgan-M.A.G. between Malvern and London, getting close on 60 m.p.g. from the still-stiff engine, at an average of 25 m.p.h. Eight gold medals were won in the London-Edinburgh and for the 1,100-c.c. class of the second J.C.C. 200-Mile Race at Brooklands Hawkes had a Morgan with 8-valve twin-carburetter a/c. Anzani engine, with a shaft-driven o.h. camshaft over each cylinder and a Best & Lloyd oil pump driven from the n/s. camshaft. No bonnet was fitted and a flat tank was mounted on a fairly normal tail. Ware had a s.v. Morgan-J.A.P. with open-ended tail, Martin a push-rod o.h.v. Morgan-Anzani, all three having a hoop over the back wheel to give anchorage to a Hartford shock-absorber. Alas, all these retired, Hawkes’ with a cracked cylinder, while Ware gave up the unequal struggle of trying to repair a leaking water jacket with tin-tacks!
An assortment consisting of H.F.S.’s 978-c.c. Morgan-J.A.P., S. Hall’s 1,096-c.c. Morgan-M.A.G. and W. Carr’s 1,090-c.c. Morgan-Anzani, normal 2-seaters, not G.P. models, came through the A.C.U. Six Days’ Trial with flying colours and three gold medals. By October prices were down to £135, £155 and £160 respectively for the a/c. Standard, De Luxe and Family models, and £160, £165 and £170 for the Grand Prix, De Luxe and Family versions with w/c. engine, either 8-h.p. J.A.P. or 10-h.p. Blackburne. A w/c. M.A.G. cost an extra £7, an o.h.v. w/c. Anzani £5 extra. Someone in Wakefield put a lofty coupe body on a Morgan, not the first incidentally, two proprietary reverse-gear conversions were announced, and for 1923 prices were again lowered, the Standard costing only £128, the w/c. G.P. £155.
A year which had opened with 3-wheeler owners in trouble with the Law unless they displayed car-size number-plates, ended with Hawkes taking several records with his 200-Mile Race Morgan-Anzani, the fastest the Class H2 f.s. kilometre, at 86.94 m.p.h. At Olympia, the Morgan Company showed eight cars and a stripped chassis on Stand 139, finished in green, white, dark mauve, dark red, yellow, grey and royal blue. The brakes on all models were now cable-operated. The star attraction, however, was an 8-h.p. o.h.v. w/c. Anzani-engined 200-Mile Race replica with Binks 2-jet carburetter, M.L. magneto, K.L.G. plugs and exhaust-heated induction pipe, the body being of polished aluminium, and radiator and tank nickel-plated. Priced at £200, it was called the Aero model in the Press but Morgan advertisements as yet made no reference to it.
1923.—By 1923 the conventional small car had already made life difficult for cyclecar manufacturers and many had expired. Now Sir (later Lord) Herbert Austin dropped that bombshell amongst them, the 4-cylinder, water-cooled, 3-speed, 4-wheelbraked Austin 7.
“Omega,” writing in The Auto, strongly attacked the 3-wheeler, remarking that he would rather have a Rover 8, for example, “than the finest 3-wheeler Mr. Morgan’s Company could produce, with all the “knobs” imaginable, and I feel now so bold as to predict that the number of people like me will steadily increase.” This led to correspondence with both H.F.S. and his father, although I cannot trace that this journalist, who had road-tested a G.N. in 1918/19, ever had his request for a trial run “in a representatively good Morgan” granted. Mr. Morgan was able to remark that “a 3-wheeler has never overturned at Brooklands” and that “the G.N., which Omega knew, is no longer with us,” while he countered the suggestion of The Auto‘s correspondent that he might “kick away the ladder which has served him so well” and make a 4-wheeler (an “Omega” prediction 13 years ahead of its time !) by commenting whimsically that “Some day, perhaps in the dim and distant future, it is possible that I (or perhaps my son, if he shall have taken my place) may duplicate the three wheels, and concentrate on a 6-wheeler!”
Meanwhile, the Morgan 3-wheeler continued to amass awards in all the leading trials. The Austin 7, in tourer or Chummy form, cost £165, and Morgans £128 to £153 in a/c. and £155 to £163 in w/c. form. The provision of front brakes on me new Seven was countered by Morgan announcing at the end of March that Bowden-cable-operated internal-expanding hand-applied front brakes could be fitted to existing Morgans at a cost of £6. A Standard-model £140 Morgan-J.A.P. fitted with these new f. w.b. scored one of its most convincing victories at this time. Driven by Ware; it won the Westall Cup for best performance in the searching J.C.C. General Efficiency Trial, a success Morgan was to repeat in 1924. In gaining maximum marks; 1,743.15 out of a possible 2,900, the Morgan achieved 56 m.p.g., lapped Brooklands at 55.71 m.p.h., averaged 13.4 m.p.h. up the Test Hill (fastest time), was best in the brake test, best on top-gear acceleration, and best in the s.s. acceleration test. It weighed 715 lb. unladen, the only lighter contestant being a 670-lb. Tamplin. This was a convincing performance, in a contest in which three G.N.s and Gordon England’s 957-lb. Austin 7 (48 m.p.g., 47.4 m.p.h. lap speed, 6.2 sec. slower up the Test Hill) took part. The final placings put Ware 76.55 marks ahead of Frazer-Nash’s G.N., Chinery’s Gwynne third. At the time Ware was greeted by a car-icature in The Light Car & Cyelecar reading :—
Did he once ride a tricycle,
Cool as an icicle?
Who knows? Perhaps.
Were his legs much too slow for him;
Not enough to go for him?
Who knows? Ask J.A.P.s!
The Morgan went on winning races as well, A. Horrocks, the Bolton agent, producing a nicely streamlined version, with curved nose behind the engine and the seats dropped below the prop-shaft tunnel, and Martin demonstrated hns 1,074-c.c. Morgan-Anzani on the 503-yard Herne Hill Cycle Track (1 mile in 1 min. 30.2 sec.). The Stratford Wireless Co. fitted up a G.P. Morgan with an overhead aerial and twin Magnavox speakers in front of the engine, the valve panel being placed vulnerably outside by the driver, to receive 2LO, Norris’ car with the new w/c. Blackburne o.h.v. engine did well at Kop and H. V. Hughes’ s.v. racing-bodied Morgan cleaned up four firsts and a second at Southport.
Towards the end of 1923 Hawkes’ Morgan-Anzani took the British Class 112 f.s, kilometre record to 92.17 mph., the mile to 90.38 m.p.h., and secured s.s. and longer distance records as well, while Norris’ Morgan-Blackburne cleaned-up the 1,100-c.c. Three-Wheeler Championship Race at a B.M.C.R.C. Brooklands’ Meeting, at 86.77 m.p.h. This atoned for Norris’ misfortune in the J.C.C. 200-Mile Race, when his car was destroyed by fire in London on the eve of the race. A normal w/c. Aero-Blackburne was substituted, but it retired with a broken valve rocker, but not before it had harried the Salmsons, lapping at 84 m.p.h. Ware’s s.v. w/c. Morgan-J.A.P., after some laps with its steering tic-rod trailing after a hurried wheel change(!), managed 70 laps but was unplaced, and Hawkes’ w/c. 8-valve o.h.c. Morgan-Anzani retired after 30 laps with a broken valve cotter. It had the radiator moved back 8 in, to accommodate twin carburetters, the fuel tank carried oil, and there was a 14-gallon petrol tank under the chassis.
To offset these “200” disappointments, at the end of the year Morgans held the Class J1 (750-c.c. single-seaters) f.s. kilometre record (Poiret on 668 c.c. in the Bois de Boulogne-77.92 m.p.h.), the 10-mile, 50-mile and one-hour honours in this class (Ware, at Brooklands, with J.A.P. engine, at 47.26 to 59.5 m.p.h.), the Class H1 1-mile to 5-mile records (for 1,100-c.c. single-seaters) by Hawkes’ 1,078-c.c. Morgan-Anzani, at 76.85 to 89.5 m.p.h. (the fastest British records did not count as World’s records), and the Class H2 (1,100-c.c. 2-seaters) 1-kilometre to 10-mile records, by Norris’ Aero Morgan with Blackburne o.h.v. 1,095-e.c. engine, at 85.78 to 90.82 m.p.h.
The Motorcycle Show saw the price of the a/c. Standard model reduced to £100(lighting £8 extra), while amongst the exhibits was a very exciting single-seater Morgan-Blackburne for which 75 m.p.h. was guaranteed. The Aero-model, Which now had an external gear-lever, beside the brake-lever, was listed officially, at £150 with s.v. w/c, engine, although the Grand Prix Morgan was still available, at £145, or £135 in a/c. form. By December a s.v. Aero was advertised at £148, an o.h.v. Aero at £160, the w/c. De Luxe was down to £140 and the w/c. G.P. cost £138. This Aero model, especially in later a/c. versions, was aptly named for, as C. E. Allen has observed, the cockpit was reminiscent of that of a radial-engined ‘plane, “that merry twinkling of the rocker gear: the odd sparks which fIy from the exposed exhaust ports at night, the odd spot of oil and grease thrown back onto the aero-screens, and on a bumpy road it’s rather like taxi-ing over a grass aerodrome. . . . No wonder they called it the Aero model! ” (To be continued)
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