The future spells Austerity with a capital A, so we hope we may be excused for dwelling a while longer on the Morgan three-wheeler. The 3-wheeler is the most economic motor vehicle, apart from a motor-cycle, to tax (£5 a year), while it is also economical of petrol and tyres — particularly so in view of the very high degree of performance offered by the hotter versions. This being the case, and to fit in with Britain’s recently-announced Austerity Plan, we have dug out some experiences, sent into us by enthusiastic Morgan users in the form of articles too long for inclusion verbatim. H. F. Wedge acquired a most interesting Morgan in 1931, none other than a special job built up by H. Beart and first registered in 1929. It possessed a rather special frame, wide-track like the early “Super Sports” but with straight (in lieu of cranked-down) front cross-tubes. On Wedge’s car additional stays braced the steering heads to the body sides. At the rear the bevel box was made to carry the springs as in a normal, pre-M-type chassis, but Beart had plugged the ends of the lower pair of frame tubes and bolted steel stays from the rear angle to these plugs, thereby obviating movement of the bevel box under load. The rear brake was a useless contracting band, but at the front Beart had provided excellent 8 in.-dia. drums flanged to carry the wheel spokes, rather like the later 7 in.-dia. drums. A model-T Ford steering box gave geared steering, an 18 in. Bluemel wheel was used, and petrol was carried in a beautiful 10-gallon tank under the chassis, attached to the lower frame tubes by channels. The normal Morgan oil/petrol tank held oil only. The body was virtually standard “Aero,” but widened 8 in. and given a V-screen. There was a foot accelerator, outside gear-lever, belt-drive dynamo and the usual cone clutch and 2-speed chain transmission. The engine in this desirable “Moggy” was an air-cooled o.h.v. Blackburn, believed to have the Series-K.M.C. crankcase assembly, with cylinders and heads from an earlier series. The carburetter was a racing Brown and Barlow, so sensitive that an alteration of 1/64 in. in the needle setting would seriously affect the mixture and that suitable for National Benzol would suit no other No. 1 petrol. Wedge made several further modifications, including rebuilding the badly-worn front wheels with Morris Minor brake drums, converting the weak rear forks to single-slot type and fitting a nickel chrome rear spindle, high-tensile bolts throughout, an accurate rev, counter, etc. He reports maximum speed as just over 53 in bottom and around 80 m.p.h. in the 4.66 to 1 top speed, at around 5,000 r.p.m. Retarded, the engine would pull happily at 16 m.p.h. in top, acceleration up to about 75 m.p.h. “was fairly brilliant,” and hill-climbing outstanding. Roadholding and steering are described as really excellent at speed and on corners slides could be evoked with never any tendency to overturn. The wide track and Hartfords on the rear undoubtedly helped, and the latter also gave most creditable chain and rear tyre life. A car-type 27 in. x 4.00 in. Goodyear lasted more than 9,000 miles on the back, m/c style Goodyear rather less. Fuel consumption averaged 40 to 42 m.p.g. After digesting Wedge’s account of this non-standard specimen — Reg. No. P.G. 1018, incidentally, should previous owners spot these words — let us consider F. W. Pittuck’s reactions to 25,000 miles in a “Super Sports” Morgan with air-cooled Matchless engine, purchased new in July, 1939. Pittuck, by the way, graduated via a 1926 250 c.c. New Imperial, a 1927 o.h.c. 350 c.c. Velocette used for T.T. practice by Freddie Hicks, a 1928 509 Fiat 4-seater, a 1931 350 c.c. o.h.v. Sunbeam and a 1937 600 c.c. P. & M. “Panther.” To revert to his Morgan, it cruised at 55 to 60 m.p.h., its maximum was in the region of 75 m.p.h. and acceleration was “almost up to motor-cycle standard, but from rest was spoilt by a very slow gear-change.” Fuel consumption was a pleasant surprise — a regular 57 m.p.g. and over 60 m.p.g. on three occasions. Roadholding and general handling were found very pleasing, except at over 50 m.p.h. on bumpy by-roads, when rear shock-absorption might have helped matters. This owner, too, says that skids could be provoked without any terrors.
Lastly, Freddie Hambling, who bought his first Morgan-J.A.P. in 1920, bought a model-F, Ford Eight-engined example in 1940. He liked the driving position, gear-lever location, steering and seating. He found he could cruise at 50 to 60 m.p.h. on long main-road journeys and touched 50 m.p.h. in the 7.9 to 1 2nd gear and 70 m.p.h. in the 4.85 to 1 top gear, in spite of having replaced the Ford’s alloy head with a normal cast-iron head. Fuel consumption came out at 40 to 50 m.p.g. depending on conditions and Leeds to London was accomplished regularly in 4 3/4 hours. Again, Hambling emphasises how safe these cars are, stating that he has put a front wheel up an 8 in. high kerb at speed without upsetting, while all three wheels could be slid on corners without danger. He praises the later underslung rear springing but recommends checking rear forks, chain, spring brackets and wheel nuts every 2,000 miles and replacing the chain after about 5,000 miles — “long before it is likely to actually break.”
The foregoing are extracts from experiences of the three-wheeled Morgan both during and before the war. Reading between the lines, it seems that these cyclecars may well constitute a solution to many problems confronting enthusiasts in this present age of Peace.