Having recently published a pretty comprehensive history of the vintage Morgan 3-wheeler, it seemed appropriate to call at the Pickersleigh Road works when we were in Malvern and see modern Morgans being made.
Here, in cloistered peace and tranquility, these sports cars are individually hand-assembled. The Z-section boxed chassis frames, the box-section increased in recent years, are supplied by Rubery Owen and the engines on transporters from Ford. Engines by Ford have always been popular for specialist cars of this kind but the older side-valve engines were not quite what was expected for a sports car and Peter Morgan, Managing Director of the business founded by his father before the First World War, found it desirable to supercharge his personal Morgan. That has all been changed by the introduction of o.h.v. Ford power units in the smaller capacities. For the Morgan 4/4 most customers chose the Weber-carburetted 1,500 c.c. Cortina GT, although the normal 1,500 c.c. Cortina engine is available if preferred.
The engine is installed complete with the excellent Ford gearbox but the low scuttle of a Morgan necessitates a horizontal gear lever to give remote control, this being pivoted at its forward end to the bulkhead and coupled about half-way along to the base of the Ford lever, which joins it at right-angles.
For the Morgan Plus Four the Triumph TR4A engine is used, fitted with twin Weber carburetters obtained from Fiat at Wembley and with the Lawrence-tune camshaft. To this engine is mated a Moss 4-speed gearbox.
The famous vertical-pillar coil-spring i.f.s. as used on the original Morgan 3-wheeler is manufactured in the Malvern Link factory, with the exception of the front mounting frame, which is part of the chassis. I imagine this i.f.s. was designed originally for low-cost construction rather than its independent wheel springing but it does endow the modern Morgan with notable stability. The blade-type friction dampers are still used but since I was a Plus Four user a Cam Gears steering box has replaced the Burman box which functioned admirably on the 4/4 but was much less satisfactory on the Plus Four and some subtle stiffening of the frame with gusset-plates has taken place. The track-rod, a Thompson product, has also been considerably strengthened—I used to be able to flex mine with my fingers.
The Morgan Motor Co. makes its own bodywork, an ash-frame with fixed bench seat, covered with steel sheet, or with alloy sheet on the Super Sports model. The upholstery and hood-making is also all done in the factory, in spite of the increasing difficulty of obtaining the right sort of operatives. The finish is of a high standard, two hand-sprayed coats of synthetic enamel being used. There is a choice of four body colours. The cars are shod universally with Dunlop tyres. Incidentally, the drop-head coupe is still made, as is the Plus-Four-Plus glass-fibre GT coupe.
The factory at Malvern Link is devoted entirely to sports cars of a vintage flavour. They are very definitely hand-built, at a rate of nine cars per week. The Americans love ’em and the bulk of this small output leaves the pleasant Worcestershire country town on contracted transporters, bound for Liverpool and shipment.
Things haven’t changed very much down the years’, and in Peter Morgan’s office hang pictures of his late father in his “Prince Henry” Vauxhall, accompanied by an early Morgan 3-wheeler, reminder of the Company’s origins. In contrast, other pictures testify to the 4-wheeler Morgan performances at Le Mans. The present output is sufficient to keep a useful number of local people employed and for the present Managing Director to do his motoring in a Ferrari.
Although Morgan design has remained purposely stereotyped for many years, I can disclose that there will be a fresh development in time for Earls Court—a lower radiator cowl will be used for the Plus Four 2-seater, to bring the bonnet line on a level. with that of the 4/4, which is admired by Morgan customers….—W. B.