1967 Morgan 4/4

This picture was taken just prior to the start of the 1993 Emerald City Vintage rally(we finished seventh overall). A lovely little car with all aluminium bodywork. I had always wanted a Morgan, ever since college when I went to look at one. I don't know whether anyone remembers the old Mickey Rooney movie "The Big Wheel" ,but driving a Morgan for the first time reminded me of the final scenes of the Big Wheel where Mickey Rooney is leading the race at Indy and is crouched low behind a big steering wheel, sawing away at it like mad. His engine bursts into flames and they are licking around the cockpit but old Mick-he just keeps sawing away at that wheel and wins the race. Anyway, that first drive had me hooked on Morgans. You sit way down in 'em and that big wheel is about an inch in front of your nose. Didn't buy that car. I was a penurious graduate student at the time but I kept 'em in mind. Even named my son Morgan.

The car is a RHD example I bought in England in 1986. It is powered by a 1600 Ford crossflow engine with twin DCOE 40's on it, big valve head, a mild cam and 4 into 1 headers. For those of you who don't know, the model designation of 4/4 means "4 cylinders and 4 wheels". This basic model came out in, I believe, 1934 and was restyled in 1953(headlamps placed in front fenders and grille rounded). That's pretty much it for Morgan's restyling effort. Morgans aren't styled as much as evolved.

I totalled the car about two years after I bought it and, since the Morgan factory will make any part for a four wheel Morgan, regardless of model or year, I decided to rebuild it. Ordered a new frame, bonnet, front cowl, grille, front bumper, RH front fender and front suspension crossmember from the factory. No part numbers- just tell 'em what you want. Total cost for all of this, including shipping, was under $2,000.00. Downside was that it took just about one year for the factory to build and deliver the parts to me. I also learned woodworking since the wooden frame supporting the firewall, cowl and dashboard was destroyed in the crash. Don't tell anyone, but I used teakwood for the replacment frame components. Should have used proper Belgian Ash. I have included some pictures of this rebuild here. But, be forewarned, there's about 500K of stuff in this link.

Another downside was that, although all the body parts arrived accepably finished, none of them fit. I had to redo nearly all of the parts to get them right for my car. This is not surprising since Morgan's are handmade. I watched them being assembled at the factory. All the major body parts are fit by eye and a pair of tin snips. The fitter offers up, for example, a front wing to the car-looks at it for a bit-shakes his head- removes the wing and trims some material off with a pair of tin snips-puts it back on and repeats the process until he thinks it looks "right". Bonnets are made last since they have to fit a number of contours on the car. Suspension points on the chassis are hand drilled using, as I recall, a wooden drilling pattern. A trip to the factory is a trip back in time although I do understand that Charles Morgan(Peter's son) has installed a PC in the factory.

A tour of the Morgan factory in Malvern. Be advised, there's probably 1MB of pictures lurking behind this link.

As you may have heard, the ride is pretty rough. The rear suspension is very soft and only has a few inches of travel so, if you are going to take a bump at speed, HANG ON, because it will tend to pitch you out. Braking is quite good but the steering, even with new components is a little sloppy. Handling is quite good on a smooth road but the antique suspension system lets the car down on rough surfaces. Performance with the modified engine and aluminum body is rewarding. The car comes fitted with a suspension oiling system. The drill is to start the engine and then push on a pedal located on the firewall with your foot. This opens a valve which forces engine oil into the front kingpin bearings. The factory recommends this about every 500 miles. Sure keeps the underside of the car oiled.

I have driven this car through many of our Western States and it never fails to draw a crowd. People's reactions to my different cars are somewhat predictable. Folks usually smile at the Morgan and then wave at me. The TR3a and b oftimes aren't noticed but, when someone does, I can generally expect a long recital about their experiences with a TR. The Lotus Super 7 gets the kid's attention before the parents notice it. Usually the man doesn't know what to make of it and the woman kinda likes it. "Cute" is often heard. Young people, particularly the women, go potty over the E-Type. The women just have to touch the car. The MGA is generally only noticed by other MG folks(I don't know why it doesn't seem to get attention-I think it's one of the most graceful cars I own).

One last comment regarding the Mog and, please remember, this comment is only directed at the visitor who doesn't know much about these cars. NO, they do not have a wooden frame. They have a steel frame upon which a wooden superstructure is bolted. The body panels are screwed or nailed to the wooden superstructure. The picture referenced below is of a replacement frame being packaged at the factory for shipment to a customer.

Take a look at the famous wooden frame.