Sunday, 30 October 2011

Birthday Lunch

My birthday tomorrow, how I reached 68 so quickly I'll never know. Anyway age is just a number and I feel much the same as I did when I was 30.
To celebrate this occasion my wife and I are driving in the Morgan, on what is a soft sunlit autumn day, to the Horns Inn at Goosnargh, near Longridge, Lancashire As a family we have been visiting this wonderful restaurant for possibly 60 years or so and what is more I don't think the menu has changed, at least the bit of it that we are interested in hasn't. We will be ordering soup and a main course of duck, the same order I have been making personally for 50 years!!
The sun is out and so will the Morgan be in an hour and then it's off on a lovely drive into the foothills of the Bleasdale Fells for what I know will be yet another memorable meal.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Porridge with Whisky and some Haggis for Breakfast!

It was clear that the cows had only recently been herded down the road as their fresh excrement splashed the underside of the car. I imagined the mess and the cleaning that would be necessary on our return home. However I was not plunged into too much misery as the road was a beauty, one of many roads in Scotland that are single track with passing places and this one was taking us from Farr, the village where we were staying, to Fort Augustus in the Great Glen.

Fort Augustus
Apart from a couple of rail trips to Edinburgh and a brief caravanning holiday in Galloway, it had been forty years or so since my wife Helen and I had driven in our 1936 Morris 10/4 fixed head coupe (cost £30 in 1964) up to the Highlands. On that occasion we eventually reached Mallaig after an involuntary stop in Balloch, south of Loch Lomond, to replace the brushes in our dynamo. Bearing in mind that the car was then around thirty years old, the fact that the appropriate brand new Lucas item was produced from within the dusty recesses of a tiny local garage almost immediately, is remarkable by present day standards. Anyway there had been no similar incidents on this trip as our 4/4 gobbled up the miles with gusto.
After the usual deliberations about what size of bags we were going to take, a discussion that turned into a rather one sided affair, concentrating as it did on whether or not I felt I could manage with one small bag containing a pair of trousers, one shirt and a sweater for the ten days, we finally set off from our home in Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire.

South East of Farr
 It was some 6 hours and 340 miles later that we arrived in the small village of Farr, just south of Inverness, where we self-catered in the South Gatehouse at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed home of fellow Morgan owners, Hans and Ria Van Kessel, whose advert we had spotted in ‘Miscellany’ What a lovely couple and what wonderful accommodation. With the Morgan cosily garaged, deer roaming the garden, red squirrels at the nut feeder and fascinating bird life, this enchanting place is highly recommended. Incidentally, neither of us had heard the sound of a cuckoo for a very long time and were therefore delighted to hear them here and throughout Scotland.

Outside the South Gatehouse
Our first day was spent, leisurely getting to know the spectacular area around Loch Ness, including a splendid local Inn where we watched the Monaco Grand Prix with the locals and enjoyed a good real ale that, at £3.60 a pint needed to be slowly savoured!
On the following day we decided to be more ambitious and tackle the long 270 miles, 7 hour round trip to John O’Groats, primarily because it was there, using the same rationale as mountaineers considering an attempt on Everest! It was worth the effort, a wonderful coastal drive, amazing views from the quayside at John O’Groats towards the Orkneys about 8 miles away and interesting to consider that we were then at around the same latitude as Stockholm.

John O'Groats
 We then drove along the coast road to Thurso passing the Castle of Mey, the Queen Mother’s favourite bolt-hole, before driving south. Passing through Inverness we saw a red Morgan travelling north with a loaded luggage rack. Unfortunately our cheery waves were lost across many lanes of traffic but ironically, later in our holiday, we met a man who had stayed in Thurso and had seen a red Morgan there on the day after we’d seen it. So it appears that we were not the only Morgan at the mainland’s northern frontier.
The island of Skye beckoned and on a murky day we set off for the Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye Bridge, which is gloriously free and a more stable crossing than the Cal Mac ferry, especially on a windy day. Skye, impressive as it is, certainly whet our appetites, but sadly due to the overcast weather we did not see the island at its best and did not linger but departed with the firm intention to return.

Skye Bridge
 Back over the bridge we visited the beautiful village of Plockton whose shore is blessed by the Gulf Stream, a fact that was lost on my wife as she wrapped herself even more tightly to keep warm as we ate a picnic on the harbour wall. The local Inn was warm enough though and there we savoured a locally produced ale before heading back by the northern route to Inverness, the road following the route of the railway for much of the journey. The scenic beauty of the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh line is widely known and ranks alongside the Fort William to Mallaig route as one of the most spectacular rail journeys, both enhanced occasionally by steam hauled trains.
It would be sad when journeying in Scotland not to include a whisky producer and so, under great duress, we made our way to the Glenlivet Distillery in Speyside where we had a guided tour of the plant, although it has to be said that little came from the tour in the way of understanding due in part to the rich Scottish accent of our guide! The gratifying part of these tours is the tasting session that follows! Suitably fortified, it was on to the Glenfiddich Distillery to visit their shop and then back to Farr, on a blistering drive through the Cairngorms National Park that caused my illustrious navigator to remark that the drive had been like taking part in the Monte Carlo Rally without the snow.

View from Skye towards the Crowlin Islands
After a splendid week we motored down the Great Glen and on to Benderloch, 8 miles north of Oban, to a gorgeous B&B culled from Alastair Sawday’s Guide. Called ‘Dun na Mara’, it’s gardens sweep down to a pebbly beach with views across Ardmucknish Bay with the Isle of Mull in the background, an incredibly romantic spot that brought to mind a scene out of a Daphne du Maurier novel. Certainly its ambience suited the Morgan well, but then again on reflection, after hearing many comments from the fairer sex with regard to the car’s undeniable eccentricities, it’s possible that Morgans may have caused many a romance to founder! However, it is with quiet confidence I can say that in our case, the 4/4 has brought us even closer together, being some 3 inches narrower than a Plus Four!

'Dun na Mara' Benderloch
When you peruse a breakfast menu that includes porridge with whisky and a full Scottish breakfast including haggis, it has to fill you with a good measure of expectancy and it did not disappoint. Nothing about the place did, it’s gorgeous and proved to be an excellent base for circular tours.
The first of these took us down the west coast, visiting the Isle of Seil and passing by Loch Melfort, through Lochgilphead,  Inverary and Lochawe. The second took us through the beautiful Glen Orchy, where we had to drive on to the grass verge to manoeuvre around a fallen tree en route to Bridge of Orchy. Then it was across the desolate Rannoch Moor, through Glen Coe, Ballachulish and down the coast road and back to Benderloch. Fabulous! Yes fabulous, apart from a very near miss with a Seat Leon that was overtaking a line of cars up the other side of the blind summit we were approaching. Utterly frightening, the result was another trip up the grass verge and a cloud of smoke from burning rubber as our wheels locked. Oh dear, I said, as I pondered the possible consequences!

View west from the Isle of Seil
 Oban is an interesting place with lots of shops and like any port, plenty of waterside activity to watch. The seafood is a must and we had a great evening meal in a local seafood restaurant that overlooked the harbour. Earlier that day we had been sitting with a local lady who, as well as entering into a long discourse about the many and various attractions of her home town, warned us about the seagulls that were swooping down above us, saying that they were not averse to the odd egg butty or fish and chips, so we must take care if we were eating any of the aforementioned consumables!

Loch Melfort
 After three days in Argyll it was time for the journey home, the route taking us along the shores of Loch Lomond, through Glasgow and south through the Borders and Cumbria, arriving home some 5 hours later after a good drive, that is if any long drive on motorways can be described as good. We had travelled 1700 miles and remarkably, due to generally fine weather, 95% had been completed with the hood down. This brought the mileage on our 2008 car to 11100 miles, so it’s just run in!

We’ve now enjoyed two touring holidays in France and this one in Scotland and look forward to many more. We love the car, which is also appreciated and admired by the many people we meet on our travels and can’t understand why some owners just don’t seem to use theirs. It’s almost becoming an embarrassment to have clocked up the mileage we have, when you see so many cars advertised that are 10 years old and completed very few miles. However, I am satisfied that we are doing what the car was built for....driving it, and what is more, driving it with passion!

PLEASE NOTE : 'Dun na Mara' is now a private residence. Very nice too!

Article first published in 'Miscellany' July 2010

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A Very French Tale

With a friendly sounding of the horn and a cheery wave from the driver, who was dressed in appropriate aeronautical attire, the French TR2 sped passed us in the fast lane of the N165 in a flurry of spray and disappeared into the gloom. Two minutes later the heavens opened again and our 4/4, fortunately with the hood up, was in the grip of one of the most intensive rainstorms that we had ever experienced.
In response to this story, people inexperienced in motoring Morgan style, and at this stage we were definitely in that category, would say, “well thank goodness you had the hood up!” Looking back now, I think that this was the defining moment when we were truly initiated into the Morgan community as we tried to dodge and stem the raindrops that seemed to come from everywhere. To add to our woes we were at a virtual standstill due to road works and our little car (they do seem very small at times like this!) started to belch forth steam from the radiator. A quick check of instruments assured me that all was well. It must have been the sheer volume of water evaporating from the exterior of the radiator...but it didn’t half give the French drivers some amusement.
Helen and myself had only been Morgan owners for six months and had started our first continental trip in a Morgan at Saint Malo. The weather was splendid and we made our way through the glorious Brittany countryside arriving for our first stopover at the lovely ‘Le Manoir du Menec’ at Bannalec,  just inland from Pont Aven. The hotel, under English ownership is used regularly by the Bentley and Rolls Royce Drivers Clubs as well as others and comes highly recommended by us as being a perfect place from which to tour Western Brittany.
During the three days we spent there we could cover only a small part of this lovely region, visiting charming seaside towns such as Benodet with it’s bustling marina and the pretty, although very touristy, town of Pont Aven, with it’s Art Galleries, floral displays and a beautiful harbour. Our stay also included a visit to the spectacular Pointe du Raz and it was there that we met a lovely French couple who, on being told by the Payment Booth Attendant that there was a car just like theirs in the crowded car park, had searched for our car and had parked next to us. They were busy fixing their tonneau cover when we returned from our walk and noticing their UK registration plate we assumed that they were fellow Brits. It was only when we greeted them that we realised they were French. Our French is somewhat limited and therefore, although we exchanged many words in our respective languages, you would be correct in deducing that precious little came from that discourse in the way of understanding, except for the fact that they had bought their car in London and came from Northern France! Despite our linguistic shortcomings we shared a very special common interest and they were a delightful couple clearly loving every Morgan moment. This was the first of many occasions on our holiday when we were made to realise that we were now members of a much extended family and it was a great feeling.

Pointe du Raz
We somewhat reluctantly left Le Manoir, but were keen to continue our tour and after the enlightening ‘drowning’incident, detailed above, arrived at our second hotel, ‘Domaine de Bodeuc’ in La Roche Bernard for a couple of nights. Le patron kindly allowed us to garage the Morgan in his barn, a gesture that was much appreciated, although at the evening dinner it did not compensate for an exhaustive wine list of, what we considered, overpriced wine! But there again at our age we are probably out of touch! Regardless of that it was a good stay in this wonderfully eccentric French manor house.
After spending time exploring that part of Brittany, in what were very mixed weather conditions, we moved on and had a wonderful ‘top down’ drive to Breze, just south of Saumur, where we spent a delightful week at the superb ‘La Charpenterie’, which advertises in ‘Miscellany’. I hesitate to recommend it for fear of us not being able to get in ourselves when we wish to return.
Our next door neighbour while we were there was fellow MSCC member Stuart Harrold and his wife, from Ross on Wye, with their 1976 4/4.  Sharing daily experiences, he was also able to reassure me regarding the aforementioned quirks and intrinsic characteristics of the marque, which is why he always carries strips of towelling in his car to plug the various offending orifices!

By the River Thouet
‘La Charpenterie quietly nestles amongst the rolling vineyards of the region, yet is close enough to restaurants in Saumur if you wish to eat out. The owners, Rodger and Margaret John are keen ‘top down’ motorists and indeed during our stay, Rodger had taken his track car to a race meeting in Dijon.
Notable moments whilst there included a wonderful drive and visit to the Chateau of Villandry, a similar drive through vineyards to Montreuil-Bellay where, not only did I meet my childhood hero, the long distance athlete of the 1950’s, Chris Chataway, but also a French ‘athlete’. He was actually a white van driver who had stopped at a halt sign in a very narrow road , spotted his lover behind him and had promptly entered into a torridly passionate embrace with her over the bonnet of her car!!!! And this was in front of five highly amused schoolgirls sitting on a wall opposite. The couple locked together were clearly totally engrossed and wouldn’t move despite the approaching Morgan. We could barely get passed this human roadblock. Ah c’est la vie! It could only happen in France. In fact thinking about it now, this was the only time in France where we did not attract a single glance in our direction.

Montreuil Bellay
 The 11euro four-course lunch including wine, enjoyed at a local bar/restaurant, frequented by lorry and van drivers and situated a short walk through the vineyards from our gite, was truly memorable as was the beer we quaffed at the ‘Le Saint Cloud Bar/Restaurant’ in Saumur whose owner Herve Lemercier has promised to see us at the Morgan Centenary celebrations at Cheltenham in his Roadster. The local organiser of the Morgan Club of France and also a member of the Jaguar Owners Club, he is always delighted to see fellow owners who can always be assured of a free dish of crudities!
After our week at ‘La Charpenterie’ we travelled to our final one night stop at ‘Le Quesnay’ (also ‘Miscellany’ advertisers), a lovely Chambre D’Hote, where we sampled first class hospitality, super accommodation and a beautifully prepared evening meal which we enjoyed sitting around the dining table with the owners.
The final leg was the fast ferry from Cherbourg to Poole where, due to the fact that I had mentioned our low ground clearance, we were the sole occupants of Row11 prior to boarding and were finally ushered into a very nice spot on the car deck with two feet to spare on one side and twenty feet on the other, and were almost first off at Poole.

Early start from 'La Charpenterie'
 Our shock at arriving back to the congestion in the UK is worth mentioning, after experiencing the joys of the quiet open road roads of France. The mayhem certainly raised some rather unsavoury comments as we clawed our way north.

What a wonderful trip, in a car that performed beautifully and was rightly admired wherever we went.
We are currently organising our 2009 touring holiday in France. Once again a garage awaits us in Breze for the first two weeks of our trip and then it will be either further south or west for a further two weeks, we haven’t decided yet! Well, you’ve got to have something to look forward to!

Article originally published in 'Miscellany' November 2008


Last week I was alarmed to find that the metal plate on the exhaust manifold was rusting, this is the bit that is bolted to the engine block, out of which come the exhaust pipes ( you can tell that I'm not a 'petrol head'!) The rust was discolouring the lovely aluminium block and clearly something needed to be done. I think I know why Morgan do not fit a stainless steel manifold and that is the cost, but it seems such a shame to 'penny pinch' on an item such as this when the rest of the car is immaculate.
A stainless manifold would cost £1000 and with dealer labour costs at £60/hour there was only one thing to do. Don the overalls and get stuck in!
The plate was rubbed down with emery paper to get rid of the loose rust, treated with 'KuRust' from Halfords, carefully masked and then painted with a very high temperature matt black paint from a local auto parts supplier.
I have been assured that the paint is the best available, the job looks really good and the engine bay is now back to it's impeccable self.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Bloody Morgans!

My wife and I had stayed overnight in Great Malvern in Worcestershire, so that we would be refreshed for our visit to Morgan Cars I was both excited and intrigued by the prospect of visiting the factory, having always had an interest in Morgans but, until recently, had never had the means or the opportunity to purchase one. My only real knowledge of the factory and the company’s unique manufacturing methods was gained from watching the BBC’s ‘Troubleshooter’ programme presented by Sir John Harvey-Jones, the rest was hearsay. I was fascinated by the prospect of seeing the place for myself. We hurriedly consumed our breakfast, booked out of our hotel and with great expectations we made our way to the factory for our 10 o’clock visit. We were not to be disappointed.

The ash frame taking shape
 The tour of the factory was indeed both stimulating and memorable. Watching a highly skilled workforce demonstrating their skills, creating a most beautiful product in a happy, civilised environment, was most refreshing in these days of mass production and perhaps soulless working conditions. It was fascinating to realise that my first car, a 1936 Morris 10/4 fixed head coupe, purchased in the early 60’s for £30 from the Secretary at the bank where I then worked, and which now resides in the Holker Hall Motor Museum in Cumbria (more about this in a later posting), was built in a similar way to the cars whose assembly we were now watching. The only difference it seemed to me was the fact that it was aluminium that was being formed around the ash frames rather than steel. The whole experience was truly inspiring and at a ‘fiver’ each, represented superb value. It is an attraction that I would recommend to any one whether they intended to purchase a car or not. However, as far as we were concerned, that first visit, which was made during September, hardened our resolve to perhaps buy one of those little beauties.

The idea of bringing a Morgan into our lives had formed in my mind following the deaths of my mother and father within two weeks of each other in 2007 after, it has to be said, a very creditable innings. However, this sad event had brought about increased intimations of my own mortality and a heightened awareness that life is for living and their ain’t much of it. How the hell had I reached 64 so quickly anyway? I still felt much the same as I had done in my 30’s! Something had to be done, but what?

Assembly line
Fortunately, when my parents’ estate was finally settled,  there would be some funds available that were ‘surplus’ to everyday needs. Put it this way, it was money that we had never had and we were managing reasonably well on what we had now. Yes, I suppose the sensible thing to have done would have been to salt it away in a building society, but an alternative was proving to be more appealing. It could be used to finance something, an interest, which would allow my wife and me to frolic with some gusto, into even older age.
We retired some four years ago now, from the family business, a large village newsagents, which we had taken over from my parents on their retirement. Although it is an extremely demanding trade, I was able, during the 20 years we were there and in the limited time available, to pursue my lifelong interest in sailing.
During that time I had owned a number of small yachts that I sailed on Windermere and Ullswater, so perhaps another boat would provide a means of enriching our retirement. However the problem with that idea is that my dear wife, alas it seems like many other ladies, does not share my interest in nautical transport and indeed has a strong reluctance to get into anything ‘tippy’ like a boat! The reality was that I would be sailing on my own. Not an undesirable prospect I hear you cry, but for someone like me who does enjoy his wife’s company it was a prospect only to be relished occasionally. Indeed, during the period when we were in business I sailed at most once a week, depending on the weather, and frankly, although I thoroughly enjoyed the days I spent on the lake, I was pleased to get home for a gin and tonic and relate the day’s adventures to a wife who at least pretended to be interested!
Build No. 48/07
No, a boat was not the answer and would clearly not be used fully. To have a boat worth several thousand pounds swinging on a mooring or in a marina and not being used is absolute nonsense, which is a thought that occurs to me every time I see a marina or harbour full of highly expensive boats! It had to be something that we could both enjoy and share.
Over the years both of us had regarded caravans with some amusement and with a measure of annoyance, especially when driving on narrow roads with one in front of us. However, our Volvo did have a tow ball and it was a pursuit that we could both be involved in so we decided to give it a try.
The caravan was purchased and we started to use it mainly for short breaks but occasionally for longer periods. The fact is that we did enjoy it, once we had arrived at our destination. The problem,  and it invariably turned into a minor saga, was getting everything ready and loaded properly. During this process my wife thankfully reminded me about the various departure procedures that I had failed to complete and which could have led to disaster, like raising the steadies or not removing the wheel lock. Then of course there was the tow itself. My wife used to hold on for grim death telling me to slow down (damn it I was only doing 50!), informing me well in advance of approaching hazards, whilst I pretended to be totally relaxed and completely at one with the car and the big white lump that was following closely behind. And that was another concern...would it still be there when we arrived! It was all too stressful, not for the many who started in their younger days, like some of our friends and former customers, but for the two of us, we decided that we’d started too late.
So often, stress levels were high and it was too much like hard work, something that frankly we did not need and could do without. So, after a very brief career as caravanners,  we sold it and considered what other interest might fulfil our requirements.
Then it dawned on me. We had never had a sports car. Why the hell not while we were still able to get into one! The prospect of idyllic picnics filled my mind. Lounging by a babbling stream in the Trough of Bowland, the Lakes, or the Yorkshire Dales, concerts in the park, point to point races, always in glorious sunshine of course, with the National Trust rug spread out, a hamper brimming with fine wine and sophisticated food and that beautiful car in the background. I could see it all, the joy of it, the sheer joy. Driving to the south of France past fields of sunflowers and vineyards, with the wind streaming through our hair, well my wife’s anyway! Yes, oh yes, this was the answer. Something we could do and enjoy together.
Looking good!

Decision made, and for us the only sports car to fulfil all those desires was a Morgan, an icon and so quintessentially English. We visited our local dealer in Southport, had a trial drive, talked about the possibility of finding a good used example, visited the factory for the first time and I started to plan our garden to accommodate a second garage. Hours were spent, digging, demolishing part of the garden pond and rockery, transferring loads of topsoil to other parts of the garden, trips to the tip, moving a mountain of hardcore in preparation for the arrival of the concrete for the base. Was it going to be worth it, I asked myself. At least I’d lost a few pounds which meant that my planned New Year resolution to cut down on beer was now not such an imperative!
At this point and before the garage was erected I phoned the dealer as arranged to ask him to start looking for a nice used 4/4, which I felt would be quite sprightly enough for a Volvo driver of advancing years!
“I’m glad you’ve called , said he, I’ve got a building slot for a new 4/4. I’ve had to give them a specification and if you were interested we’d have to move fast to change it because they’re starting to build it next week and once they’ve started they won’t be able to change it. I’ve asked for Le Mans green paintwork, stone leather trim with green piping, green carpets with stone piping, stainless wires, mesh grill, walnut dash.....”
In the showroom awaiting collection.
I began to get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Was it adrenalin? I must fight it, I must not allow myself to be distracted by the conflicting thoughts that were now pervading my whole being. Get thee behind me Satan! My wife was hovering in the background (they’re good hoverers especially at times like these!), decisions, decisions. It was the classic car buying scenario and one where I know you should stand back and stick to your guns or at least give yourself time. Don’t rush in, use your head and keep cool. Damn it, I didn’t want to spend all that money, we’re not rolling in it. I only wanted a good second hand one. Oh bugger, I could feel myself falling for it. The car sounded great. The prospect of our car being hand- built for us. It was something that happened to other more fortunate people. But I was taking the bait and I knew it and what is more I didn’t care. Oh sod it, sod it. Surely my father would be delighted at the thought that I was spending some of his legacy on such a glorious thing. Don’t kid yourself lad, my alter ego said, no he bloody wouldn’t!
“You were saying that we would have to act fast if we wanted to change the spec. How would it be if we came this afternoon and then we can talk some more? That would be fine said he”. Oh bugger, thought I!
As we walked up the road to the dealers some two hours later, I could once again see those cars in the showroom. They were there beckoning to us like sirens. Those bloody Morgans!
We walked in like lambs to the slaughter. We had fallen hook, line and sinker for the charms of these little beasts and we left with the specification for ‘Build No 48/07 in our hot little hands. Which is why some three weeks later we found ourselves once again in the trim shop at the Morgan factory looking at our new acquisition in all it’s glory. What a beauty!
Yes indeed, what a beauty!

By the way we’ve called her ‘Nellie’ after my mother, who, along with father made a major contribution to our future enjoyment! At least that may go some way to assuaging him!
Although the car was delivered to the showroom on 19th December 2007, we are not taking delivery until March 1st 2008 as the new garage is being finished to a standard appropriate for a lady of her quality and we are escaping the British climate for most of February.
Roll on Spring!

Article first published in 'Miscellany' May 2008

Monday, 24 October 2011

How the Morgan love affair began!

I am completely new to blogging and have relied on one of my son-in-laws to assist me during the last couple of days in setting the thing up. He has now gone home so anything could happen from now on!
My eldest daughter has been suggesting that I should put fingers to keyboard for a long time, knowing that over the last four years I have written a couple of articles that have appeared in the Morgan Sports Car magazine 'Miscellany' and have a propensity to responding vigorously by letter or verbally to any organisation or individual with whom I might have issue.
Anyway, as far as the Morgan is concerned the following item appeared in the May 2008 issue of 'Miscellany' and as you will read, marked the very beginning of the affair. Sorry if there are certain thoughts that overlap the first item I posted.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


On my retirement and following many years of single-handed sailing in the Lake District, an interest not shared by my wife, we decided in 2007 to buy a sports car, while we were physically still able to get into one! It would enable both of us to share an interest and enjoy fully the freedom that retirement affords.
In my opinion there was only one car to choose, a car that I had lusted after for many years, the quintessentially English, Morgan.
So it was that in November of that year we found ourselves at the Morgan factory in Malvern to see our car being built. What a unique and fulfilling experience it was, seeing the high levels of personal skill being lavished on our car. For the payment of a modest sum of money this is a factory visit that I would commend to anyone with an interest in true craftsmanship, so refreshing to see today.
On March 1st 2008 we travelled to the dealer in Southport to see the finished result of the company’s efforts and to pick up our new Morgan 4/4 (four cylinders/four wheels). What a memorable first drive that was, with the wind in our hair and grins from ear to ear!

Sunflowers in the Tarn region of France

Joanna Lumley described the driving experience beautifully in 1986 when she said,“ the Morgan is extraordinarily eye-catching, with a flirtatious and rebellious quality. She is an old fashioned English sports car with unparalleled charm. Her road-holding at 60-70 mph on a country lane is superb, she is as eager as an under exercised racehorse and goes like a bat out of hell.”
When I first considered the prospect of owning one, my imagination went into overdrive with sensuous thoughts filling my mind. Pootling down beautiful country lanes passed sleepy villages, sun kissed picnics in the local fells by babbling streams or in Europe where we would enjoy driving top-down in the searing heat by fields of sunflowers, vineyards and olive groves.
We are living that dream. In almost four years we’ve completed three tours, embracing much of France and northern Spain plus memorable drives in this country amounting to around 16,500 miles and we’ve enjoyed every minute. The car’s light weight, teamed with a 125 bhp 1.8 litre engine gives a top speed of around 125 mph and a 0-60 time of around 7 seconds, so it’s no slouch and quite fast enough for us.
I cannot describe more succinctly just one aspect of the Morgan driving experience than the journalist who said in a 1993 road test of the 4/4, “and boy does the chassis communicate, yapping away like Ruby Wax, telling you things you would rather not know about the road surface. And somewhere in all that cacophony there are messages that will get you around the next corner in one piece.”
Yes, it’s exciting to drive and what’s more it attracts attention wherever we travel. We’ve even had a car drawing alongside us at 65mph on the French autoroute in order to take a photograph, been surrounded by Japanese tourists with their cameras in the centre of a French village as well as the numerous appreciative comments that the car receives on every occasion that it emerges from it’s garage.
It’s all tremendous fun, a rolling tribute to English tradition and engineering at its best and has truly enriched our lives.