Monday, 9 June 2014

The Morgan Experience

My wife and I have just received an email from a very dear friend who has just enjoyed a drive in a Three-Wheeler as part of a Morgan Driving Experience.

The 90 minute drive took place from the Morgan factory and around the lovely Worcestershire countryside.

He so obviously enjoyed himself , that I knew my band of readers would relish his description of the drive as much as we did.

"........So arriving at Morgan I immediately see my 3 Wheeler ready to go. It's very new - I am told by the instructor (Ian) that Morgan had to modify the suspension after the early models proved a bit hairy - and am assured that I have got a good one. I am fitted with a waterproof jacket (luckily the rain holds off) and a crash helmet. I wouldn't ever choose a helmet of course - it blunts the perception and sensations that are the whole point of the vehicle - but one can see that as a business they have to insist. I am delighted to report that I received no lecture, no instructions, just a few words of advice which I think were "keep the revs up, be careful pulling out at your first junction as the turning circle is huge, and push this button to start her".

I heave myself in - both hands on the framework like the parallel bars at school whilst I try to wiggle my dangling legs under the steering wheel. Bit tight (not for porkies this car - I have read your latest blog. Pies, sausage rolls and chicken goujons but no mention of the salad eh?). Bit of a squeeze wrapping the seat belt around me. Snug is the word. 

The handbrake is fly-off Morgan as in the 4s. There are very few controls at all - one switch for lights on or off - no high beam malarkey. Turn key for ignition. Covered aircraft style button for start.  Lovely binnacle. The indicator stalk is a bit weird. Push the stalk to indicate as normal. And then push again the same way to cancel. Or they will self-cancel after 15 seconds. This was the only part of the design which annoyed me. You have to keep looking to see if they are on or off. Citroens used to have marvellous indicator swicthes - push switch to turn on, push again to cancel - simple & intuitive and I miss them. 

Orf we both jolly well go. First turn is a left out of the Morgan factory gate and I swing massively wide - the turning circle is lorry-like and we are briefly on the right-hand side of the carriageway. After this, careful approaches and positioning at turns become second nature and all is well. Ian's only role as instructor is to point a gloved hand in the direction of travel, saving me the bother of navigating the Worcestershire roads, which makes my drive very stress-less. I had expected a Germanic list of do's and don'ts but they do things casually in Malvern and so I am bursting with happiness.

The 3 pedals are very close together - no driving in hiking boots here - and there is no place to rest the clutch foot, not even behind the pedal, which I would find tiring on a long trip. But of course Morgan themselves admit this jalopy is simply for fun. (It is!) I have been allocated an hour but in the event I think I had 90 minutes. Great variety of roads - A, B, C and some tracks, plus tootling all the way through Great Malvern to get the idea of how she handles in start-stop. Some fast stretches dualling with HGVs, across some moorland with horses grazing at the roadside, then up into the hills where Morgan take their publicity pictures. The scenery is first class. I am sitting low down in the car and cannot really see where the left hand front wheel is or how close to the kerb, but it wouldn't take long to "get it".  Very little weather protection. Ride is fine. There is no real sensation of being in a 3-wheeler in terms of lean or stability. And I can sense everything. Engine very agreeable - this is not a high-revving screamer but a low, throaty torquey beast.

Most of the noise comes from the right-hand exhaust which is close to my ear. Burbles and roars, with occasional crackles and pops. Very agreeable sound. Less agreeable is the constant chirruping & whining from the transmission tunnel. Ian later described it as sounding like a bunch of caged birds. The gearbox come from the MX-5 so is fine.

I quickly feel "at one" and it seems an easy car to chuck around, though I know I didn't come anywhere near to fully exploring it - the guys at Morgan have special courses (I am tempted) to show owners what it can really do when you let rip. The central rear driving wheel is driven by a belt, and it's positioning was noticeable when we went up a track with a grassy/muddy strip in between two bits of tarmac (think farm track) as then the rear wheel suddenly started slipping and the car darted from side-to-side. Huge fun. 

It was all over too quickly of course - but well worth the trip. Everybody (and I mean everybody) stared as the car went by. An attention-seekers dream.

I cannot pretend to myself that I'll ever buy one of these, but I would love to be able to hire one now and again to enjoy a full day of pottering.

Wonderful, simply wonderful"

See what I mean?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the story. I quite fancy a test drive but never allow myself to try things that I may like but cannot afford. I did not realise that the turning circle was bad. sound worse than my wifes Landy Defender?
    Having had a Berkeley three wheeler as my first ever 'car' that was fun but only did 65mph flat out. Mind you, at the time, and coming down from a fast Triumph Twin, the Berkeley seemed fast at that speed. Mine was white, here is a similar red one.