Morgan is the last automaker to remain solely in family hands. This small company from Malvern Link (United Kingdom) celebrated its centenary in 2009. Its most characteristic feature is the design of its models, which maintain the line of the 1930s, although with 21st century features. AUTO BILD travels to England to compare these two eras.
Morgan is the last automaker to remain solely in family hands. This small company from Malvern Link (United Kingdom) celebrated its centenary in 2009. Its most characteristic feature is the design of its models, which maintain the lines of the 1930s while their features belong to the 21st century. AUTO BILD travels to England and compares two eras.
Came to Malvern Link and I find myself the last survivor. A cast iron Morgan. A real British roadster for those who took cold showers, for real men with hair on their chests. Next to him, the heir to the family brand. It comes as a surprise to me that Charles Morgan Don’t greet me with an aviator jacket and protective glasses. This 56-year-old man, owner of the company in his third generation wear a look business casely speaks with restraint: “We have a vision and a plan for the future.”
Visions in Morgan? It sounds as unbelievable as the fire in an electric fireplace. But then he clarifies: “Our vision is based on the old Morgan values: low weight and simple, efficient mechanics.”
Long hood and sensations at the rear
I breathe a sigh of relief. “In the future we will also build cars with very long hoods, to aim at the target as if you had a shotgun in your hands,” continues Charles Morgan. Brilliant. “You will remain seated on the rear axle, with more sensations. But you will continue to believe that the car is just as comfortable as your favorite shoes,” he continues. Applause. And he concludes: “We will continue to be a family business, we will not be a business that counts chickpeas.” If his father, Peter, and his grandfather, Harry, had listened to him, they would pat him on the back with satisfaction.
It all started with Harry Frederick Stanleyan engineer specialized in railway construction, who conceived the first morgan in 1909 in the shape of a tricycle. The centenary vehicle, with a single seat, was driven with a tiller as a rudder, had 7 HPit weighed only 80 kilos and it accelerated with such enthusiasm that witnesses of the time classified it without hesitation as a sports car. At the front, the number of a very modern independent suspension was ostentatiously announced. The Morgan family has been so delighted with it that it is still used today. And in the V6 Roadster lasts more than 200 hp.
Yesterday: 100 years ago, Harry Frederik Stanley Morgan (abbreviated HFS) made the first roadster. It was a success
Today: Grandson now at the wheel: Charles Morgan plots Malvern Link factory route for next 100 years
“None of this means that the clocks have stopped at the Morgan factory,” grandson Charles bluntly defends. And he is right. Although the most purists may not always like it, behind the company’s old stone walls progress has been noted. To demonstrate this, Charles has brought the latest model from the house: a Aero Super Sports. It is similar to Aero 8but with a targa roof and 325 HP. It seems brought directly from another planet.
Hand work without assembly line
Beside him, the first Morgan seems trapped in time. Chris Bootha Morgan collector, has brought the original back to life with an authentic engine V2 of Peugeot. Only 12 kilos per CVwhich is equivalent to a mid-size Volkswagen Golf.
Chris Booth prepares to overtake the modern Aero Super Sports with his 1909 Morgan trike
The tricycle starts up with an expected clatter. 100 years ago, as much movement must have accelerated traffic as the projecting seat of a fighter-bomber does today. The steering is extremely direct and the seat is quite cool, due to the lack of bodywork and a very relaxed seating position.
After experience, it is clear that a Morgan is different from all the others
Yesterday: clear and ergonomic original cockpit: thin levers for starting and accelerating and thick levers for braking and gear shifting
Today: one hundred years can be seen in the Super Sports: more buttons, airbags, automatic transmission, air conditioning and electric windows
Very narrow and with too little wind for Morgan fans is, however, the habitability of the new Super Sports. Have Morgan’s people gone crazy with so much progress? Charles doesn’t seem worried. His argument is that the oldest roadsters were 73 years old when Morgan’s first four-wheeler was invented.
It is undeniable that Morgan’s guide is progress: to the right 1909, to the left 2009
Yesterday: The front axle has a round piece of steel that moves the wheel. This mechanism still exists in the roadster today.
Today: Goodbye to the fabric top: the Aero Super Sports has a two-piece targa roof. The question is whether it will be airtight
And even today they are built in the same hangars from 1918, everything by hand, as in the times of grandfather and father. Only with a little more efficiency, because today, instead of 40 hours, only 17 are needed for a new roadster. 750 cars a year. “But without stress,” adds Morgan III. “There is always time to talk a little with people,” he says.
“A lightweight among rhinos”
In 1990, a famous BBC expert opined that “whoever builds cars in this way will not survive for long”, as could be heard on all television stations in the United Kingdom. But viewers had a very different opinion. “After the broadcast, orders increased by 50%,” smiles Charles Morgan.
It sounds perfect, but what expectations does a brand like this have for survival today? “It will be hard. We have to build light and efficient sports cars that are fun, but without leaving dangerous gas clouds behind,” Charles projects. “We have to be a lightweight among rhinos,” he concludes. Just like 100 years ago with the tricycle, right?
Morgan from the inside: this is how they are made
There is no assembly line anywhere to be seen.. The exposed brick building on Malvern Link is dominated by workmanship. But the door is not closed to the most modern techniques: in the image, a stack of aluminum chassis for the Morgan Aerowhich contrasts with the traditional structure of roadster models.
Tradition with modernity: The aluminum casing of the spectacular Aeromax rests on an artistic ash wood structure. It is a trademark at Morgan. It provides less weight and is very resistant.
No hurries: 130 employees they build some 750 Morgan per year. And supposedly there will be more than 900, in the future. They follow the proven strategy of the last 100 years: excessive expansion in good years would have wiped out the small business in lean times. In the image, an Aero 8 with an engineBMW V8; It will now be replaced by the Aero Super Sports.
1909: the first Morgan. At that time, the tricycle was an economical alternative for motorcyclists.
1922: Morgan Threewheelers were highly prized. The sports model called Aero reached 145 km/h
1933: the tricycle matures: Ford’s four-cylinder F model arrives, expanding the range of V2 models
1935: Morgan discovers the fourth wheel in the car: 4/4 with 4 Climax cylinders (here, the prototype)
1950: the Plus 4 with 68 HP from Standard Triumph is added to the 4/4 – a very powerful Morgan
1961: a cannon: the Plus 4 Super Sports with 115 HP, perfect for winning Le Mans in its category
1968: Huge Plus 8: Rover’s V8 engine, fitted to the roadster. At the wheel, Peter Morgan
2000: Morgan presents the Aero 8 at the Geneva Motor Show. Mechanically, it represents a shrewd leap into the 21st century.
Great family gatherings
For the anniversary, 3,200 Morgans – 10% of the total – from 28 countries gathered in Cheltenham (England). Some came from New Zealand
Nose to nose: just as peculiar as Morgan’s cars tend to be their owners. What is not mandatory is to grow a beard that is more than striking.
Camping with a Morgan: For the anniversary party, some towed caravans with their Morgans. In the photo, a Plus 4 from 1955
Morgan with tent: the standard protection was intended only for emergencies
Plates that bring joy: Morgan drivers love to meet in associations and travel identified
Brand associated with luxury and a taste for the classic: gathering of Morgan units from various eras on the occasion of the centenary
Centenary gala dinner for Morgan owners, organized by the British brand itself