Experiences with the Latest Morgan as a Hard-Used Staff Car

.AT. Earls Court last year the Morgan Plus Four, with 68-b.h.p. engine in an 8-ft. wheelbase chassis, was an exciting newcomer. On July 2nd this year MOTOR SPORT took delivery of one for editorial use. By September 2nil the 4,000th mile rolled up on the odometer as the writer was ambling along the pleasant lanes near Winclifield, Hants. In other words, the Morgan had been in almost continual hard use, although down at Malvern, while they maintain that the Vanguard engine does not need running-in, they also consider that until it has been driven 5,000 miles it hasn’t really settled down. When that mileage has been covered they recommend removal of the head for a decoke and a light valve-grind.

When I took delivery from the factory this blue two-seater had done only 10-i miles. In spite of the aforesaid assurances I drove it below 35 m.p.h. on the long run home and below 40 m.p.h. for the next. 800 miles, subsequently keeping to 45 m.p.h. until the sump had been drained and refilled with 11 pints of Castro] XL, after 566 miles. The Pool was also freely laced with Redex or Carburol during this period. Initial impressions were that improvements over the earlier ” 4/4 ” were legion—more room in the body, better sidescrecns, a single but deeper and lined cubby-hole, the latest Lucas doubledipping headlamps and separate foglamp (the latter swiped, alas, at Silverstone), bigger tyres, and infinitely better brakes. On the older car I had been conscious that the i.f.s. slides needed frequent greasing ; on the Plus Four you merely tread On a little button every 50 miles or so and engine Oil is pumped to these hard-worked components. The oilgauge flicks back 25 lb./sq. in. to reassure you that oil is going where you want it to ; the front tyres also bear visual indication that this is so

The 2,088-c.c. Vanguard engine, which satisfactorily fills the under,boxinet space, certainly endows the car with a very usable performance. The acceleration, even in the 4.1 to 1 top gear, is impressive, particularly from 80-60 m.p.h, making you “king of the traffic hold-ups,” and 40 m.p.h. on the speedometer comes up in second gear (8 tci 1), 60 m.p.h. in third gear (53 to 1). I have not tried for absolute screen-down maximum speed in top, but 65-70 m.p.h. is a happy cruising gait, with lots more to come. The engine pulls away well on the highest ratio from a mere 20 m.p.h., although so pleasant is the change on the Moss gearbox, of a type which the Plus Four shares with the Ili-litre jaguar, that the driver is encouraged to use freely the lower ratios. The Morgan is about the only car to retain ” vintage ” location of its gearbox remote front the engine, and consequently the rigid little central lever is absoluf ely to hand, yet works sans any lost motion, being a joy to use. All the changes are brisk ; the slowest is from second to third. Another” vintage “merit is the absence

or roll when cornering fast—and this’ Morgan can be taken round very fast indeed, without its Dunlops emitting more than a very occasional ” yelp.” This good roadholding, coupled with ” quick ” steering (1i turns, lock-to-lock), produces excellent averages, in the order of 45m.p.h. over give-and-take secondary roads in the -wet. The driver sits a thought too low, but both front wings, certainly both sidelamps and their reassuring indicatorwindows, are visible, although the central rear-view mirror and wiper rather obstruct the near-side view when cornering. The steering is light, with ample castor action, and transmits only a-minor degree of return motion ; I am disappointed, however, that it has _already developed over 2 in. of lost-motion.

The Plus Four encourages hard driving, so it is good to find the Girling hydraulic brakes (2LS at the front) really first class. Apart from emitting a shriek before their linings bedded-in, they have done everything good brakes should do. And, With no attention of any sort, after 4,000 fast miles they are still adequately powerful, although the pedalgoes down further than it did originally, of course. The handbrake is a trifle too far forward, its ratchet doesn’t grip and it doesn’t hold the car on hills, but I like the fly-off action. In spite of being driven fast and doing its very fair share of traffic, work, the Morgan is proving commendablyeconomi: in towns 23In.p.g., and 26 m.p.g. on long, wide-throttle runs. This is with the middle getting of three variants which can be had for the Solex carburetter; using the economy-setting and, doubtless, light throttle-foot, :foe Lowrey achieved an incredible 38.6 m.p.g. in the recent Cheltenham The engine starts readily, even fiercely,

with only partial choke. It runs too cool (55-60 deg. C., rising to 75 deg._ in London). With a 6:7 to 1 compressionratio it is very reasonably free from pinking even on straight “Pool.” So far no adjustments, not even plug-cleanlog, have been needed. It idles roughly, however, on its rubber mountings, conveying to the separate gearbox its impatience to be off. Oil pressure is a healthy 50 lb./sq. in. idling, rising to 75 lb./sq. in. at speed. The From filter appears to keep the lubricant in good condition, while consumption is about 1,200 m.p.g. No car is perfect and the Phis Four’s weaknesses are its hard suspension, so that you need a .good constitution if you are to hurry over secondary roads, in spite of the adequate upholstery in the cockpit, and a chassis that seems a bit hard-put to cope with bad roads. Over certain surfaces the scuttle floats noticeably and the body gets racked about a good deal, so that frequent tightening of the knobs which retain the sidescreens and the spare-wheels clip is necessary, for oxample. This may be somewhat accentuated because whereas the recommended tyrepressure is 16-18 lb./sq. in., I thriftily prefer 20-22 lb. Incidentally, this 16i cwt. car is generously shodwith 5.25-16Dunlopa which naturally show little wear so far. And two spares are provided I After 1,350 miles the clutch refused to free Mid, although conscious that racing driversdo not need this component, I spent 11/having things ” adjusted ” at local garages before discovering that a vital operating lever had bent over. However, Malvern had the engine out, a stronger lever installed, and the car back on the road in under six hOurs—a. good

” pit-stop,” and there has been no recurrence of the trouble since. Alas, after 1,750 miles the off-side steering damper was seen to have broken and when, about 250 miles later, its fellow went the same way, the car became unsteerable at under 40 m.p.h., due to

chronic wheel wobble. This, in turn, racked the radiator and started a tiny leak (enre(l more or less with one small tin of “Never-leak”). I needed the car and put up with this irritating complaint for a further 2,000 miles, but the police took to great an interest (on one occasion -we. were “arrested ” by no fewer than five mobile cops who wanted to know, couldn’t I see my front wheels ?—I couldn’t, of course, with those excellent, front wings in place !) So Morgan’s supplied new dampers and Archers, of Aldershot courteously fitted these wafer-thick affairs in 1 A days, for a charge of £1 185. 6d., discovering at the same time a broken near-side rebound. spring. Now the Plus Four and I can go to town again. But I await redesigned dampers with some impatience.

‘While on ” snags,” let me say that a bonnet bracket has broken despite gentle treatment, the screen wiper gets so hot you can’t lay a hand on it and an evilsmelling chewing-gum runs out (however, it goes as well as ever !), the choke sticks and its wire has pulled out, a wing stay has come adrift, and the silencer joints have blown somewhat (lovely nois(s, though !). Those, however, are the total mishaps to a Oar which has had to give maximum service with a mininnun of attention. And, after all, you must expect a few ” bugs ” from a new model.

The fact remains that the Plus Four is very good fun to drive, being remarkably handy in traffic, able to }add a speedometer 65 M.p.h. indefinitely, and possesSing very good accelerat ion, cornering stability and brakes. These are qualities that melt the miles. With hood and side bite up it defeats the worst weather, save for a leak round the wiper-motor nil font ing bolts and, although you then get pretty warm, the driver can signal via the screen flaps. There is good stowage space behind the seat, which, by the way, is non-adjustable. The Lucas lamps are excellent. the horn sensibly penetrating, the triple rear lamps are appreciated, here is eomforlable parking space for your ell ttelt foot between the pedals, the screen vil I fold down, the long, well-louvred !armlet enhances the very pleasing a Ph earat we of this low-hung, wel kited Car, and. although it unnerves inc. so far the aceelerator cable ltasti’l. broken. Furl her good points : excellent panel lighl log (but a horn, I red Ii (lit when the head lamps :ire midipp(‘d !), a real ” dashboartl, excellent loather upholstery, very aevessibie dip-stiek, good snap-open fuel filh.r.an11-gallon tank and in-built jacking. Th, batteries are rather tueked away, one spare wheel has to be removed to givase 111(4 back spring t run [lions, and he oil Idler eap is rather cruel to the lingers. lInt hese

are minor grumbles I am ,enitinely glad In forsake the editorial ellair for the driving seat of this game lilt le Morgan with the big engine.–W.