A life with Morgan
This article was published in "The Morgan World", issue 10, page 32
My life with 13 Morgans
Derek Day, the Morgan Sales Director went down on his knees as he peered into my brand new Morgan on that foggy day in late October 1973. "And please", he insisted through the side windows, "don't forget to use the one shot lubrication plunger every 3oo miles!" His words were still ringing in my ears as I roared out of the factory and to the left on Pickersleigh Road. Derek and the peculiar greasing system have since retired from the Morgan Company but my affection and love for the marque have endured for the next 30 years to come.
On that Friday I had just become the owner of a brand new Morgan Plus 8, my first one of the 12 to come after him, it was in deep
brunswick green. My dealer, the late Torben Krogh, had successfully convinced me that all Morgans had to be green and also that "leather tended to crack"
and that the modern PVC interior was the only choice to take. And of course I needed a bonnet strap. When I was about 10 miles from the factory my car
suddenly acquired "cruise control" i.e. it went 100 mph all on its own because the accelerator pedal had become stuck I needed help quickly and drove on
to the next petrol station for aid but the attendant obviously had already had enough similar expiriences. Without further comment he muttered "Go right
back!" and pointed in the direction I had come from. The problem was dealt with at the factory right away and I was again on my way to Harwich. The next
fuel stop was interesting when to my surprise the answer to my “Fill it up, please!” was “I can only give you petrol for five pounds.”
- the side screens must be stamped with an approval, melted in!
I did however manage to pass the exam usually on the second or third try. Now to some more enjoyable matters. The German Morgan Club had just been founded and the first meetings were held. In 1975 there were only 90 Morgans registered in Germany. In 1975 I had the privilege to drive Peter Morgan around at the Clubs meeting in Berlin. It was Mr Morgan's first visit to our new Club. To get to Berlin in those days required you to transit the then communist Eastern Germany. Funny thing occured at the border where the Guard at first felt sympathetic for us, because we, just like him, had to drive what he thought were old and obsolete cars and that we just like him couldn't afford a new one. When, however, he learnt that the cars were in fact current production and cost a few grand his smile disappeared and we were waved on with the usual grim. My Plus8 performed very well, the only problem having been the overheating radiator. The cooling fan capacity of the earlier models was simply not sufficient and on hot days I feared traffic jams more than anything else. Peter Morgan took personal care at the meeting in Berlin and I was duly furnished with a new model. Great product support! I covered around 5ooo miles with my first one and went to numerous Clubmeetings also to the Danish club, where I discovered that most of the cars were indeed green. After 2 years I sold the car and was ready for a new one. During the last 30 years I have had the pleasure of owning 13 Morgans. I always ordered another new one when taking delivery of the current model. So I have always had the fun of driving one and dreaming about the next one, thus indulging in the process of choosing colour, model extras and so on and discussing it with family and friends. I got to know all models over the years in all variants .On average I got a new one every 2 years which also was the average waiting time for me. My personal preference summed up over the years would go like this: colour either dark green or dark blue, leather interior, wooden dash, motoloita steering wheel and that's about it for alterations. No doorhandles, no bonnet strap, no twotone color, no metallic, no radio, no wire wheels on Plus8s, no tombstone seats, no badge bar - just what I consider the real thing; but it took me some time to come to that conclusion.
Anyway in 1975 my second Plus8 arrived and it looked stunning, Admiralty blue (being a naval officer, I just had to have that)
leather and roof in white, wow! The car not only looked great but it also performed well, 5speed gearbox. But never take white leather! Unless you took your shoes off upon entering
and wore felt sandals you had black scratches everywhere, and also where engine fumes entered the cockpit the colour turned to yellow. I had to resort to white toothpaste.
Loveley fresh mint odour though! I drove this car on an almost daily basis when my dealer rung me up in 1977 would I want a brand new 4/4 2 seater.
Over the years I was also able to notice an increasing improvement in quality, much better rustproofing, better chroming and painting, With the quality the price also went up at a steady rate. When I compare my first Morgan with my present one they look alike on the outside and at a first glance, but they are a world apart on the inside. My earlier models tended to crack around the front lights, rusted on the sidepanels and the rear. Rust was even present when the car was being collected at the factory, alas only in the engine compartment. Waxoiling prevent the worst. I once had chrome wire wheels on a 4/4 and they needed more brushing then the 3oo man crew of a destroyer. When visiting the factory and talking about this I could get a smile and hear an answer like 'We never heard of that before' or 'Well, it's a Morgan - you have to work on it'. To work on a Morgan was a task that was aided amongst others by a Morgan Lunatic on the outskirts of London who had opened a business to supply the afficionado with all these extra goodies the factory did not install. If I remember correctly his name was something like Marvin Nutter or so.
In 1983 and 1986 two more 4-seaters appeared on the family inventory. More necessary then ever, son Robert mandating true 4-seater capacity. If, however I thought that our 2 children would enjoy riding the Moggies as I did I was wrong. Because enduring sitting on the high backbench of a 4-seater was for the most time a chilly and windy experience and they preferred mothers VW instead. So these were my last 4-seaters ever. I always had a great time when collecting a new car at the factory and so every two years I could notice subtle changes and modernization trends there. For example the Sales Director now had a computer. The fact that he kept it unpacked under his desk and still continued to serve the world market out of 2 tinboxes did not change my impression of an excellent and reliable efficient service. The next 2 cars were 4/4 two-seaters because in the meantime I was posted to the island of Sylt in the North Sea with barely 50 miles of usable road and not much sense in firing up 8 cylinders there.
It never was a problem to sell the cars, all it took were 1 or 2 ads and they were gone. The 4/4s did the job of daily transport well but you guess what was missing, yes the V8 brabble sound and the acceleration. So after the next two years I duly picked up a blue Plus8 with wonderful magnolia leather, this one was maybe one of the nicest cars i owned. But believe it or not , I dont have a single picture of it. My next car was a green 4/4 again and this time I went to Malvern Link with daughter Caroline and meeting up with my agent Alan Hall who had become Morgan Dealer after the early death of Torben Krogh. He had a journalist with him and they made a nice Centerpage story in Jyllandsposten, a Danish Daily.
After 2 years, yes another blue 4/4 arrived and we are by now in1996. As always I covered about 5000 miles in it, always only one service necessary, because by now I could do the regular maintenance by myself, knowing every screw and nut. This car was sold to an artist from Berlin who glided in by plane with chauffeur and had him drive it home. Well, they come in all shapes and sizes, these Morganeers. Before you get too bored and quit reading I have already my last 4/4 in the Garage, a nice blue one with grey leather. This was sold to a lady in Lisbon, that got it as a present from her sons. Nice chaps, weren't they. I enjoyed the 2500 mile journey to Portugal, excellent weather and no problems whatsoever. In 28 years of constant Morgan ownership the cars had not let me down once, never ever presenting me with a situation like the one I had to bear in a Rover 3500, which in hot weather got steam bubbles in the petrol lines and had to be parked beside the autobahn to cool down, when an English Gentleman in a Fiat drove slowly by and shouted “'British car isn't it”?'. No such thing with my Morgans, although Lucas, the Prince of Darkness was lurking around the corner on some occasions. But Morgans have always been the victory of aesthetics over technique, and at least one could always smile when looking at them. Coming home from that Lisbon trip I was leaning back in my armchair, having retired from the Navy meanwhile, and only flying for a regional airline in the summer months as a commercial pilot, and thinking about the essence of it all. What was to be my last and final Morgan?
Well, you can see it in my garage, its the ultimate, a Plus8 4,6 ltr, black with black leather. A delight to drive and an excellent car any way you look at it. In 2002 I took a trip with it to Gibraltar, and was astonished, no left traffic there but the pound sterling alive. This car is a joy in every respect, and I think they don't come any better any longer. The Aero8 does not seem to be on my wish list and so I think I am happy with what I got. I still tremendously enjoy climbing into the car and pausing for a moment to let my eyes wander around the dash and over the bonnet, firing up the big V8 and listen to the big bore, no muffler sound. I love the wind entering the cockpit on the autobahn, the raindrops entering the cockpit also and - by the way, I never forgot to press the plunger on the one shot lubrication system, Derek!
Thank you HFS, and all the men and women at Malvern Link.
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