1960's Car Stories: Morgans

Three Wheel Morgans

The first Morgans were three wheelers with two wheels and V-twin motorcycle engines up front. Oddly enough the latest are three wheelers also.

Though not the company’s original four wheeler, the Morgan plus 4 models with Triumph TR2-3-4 engines are the most commonly recognized Morgans even today. Though not as common as MGs, Triumphs, or even Big Healeys, they were written up in magazines and were familiar to enthusiasts. Their styling, similar to the last of the MG “T” series, the TFs, remained attractive long after other makers had abandoned the “wings” type fender for an integrated fender and hood concept in the mid fifties.

Morgan Plus Four

I grew up in Quebec, Canada, and owned an AH-Bugeye Sprite. So did several of my friends. We hung around together, went to the Jersey Shore together in the summer and generally raced against each other, usually at night, at every opportunity. One of our group swapped his Bugeye for a Morgan Plus 4 and promptly lost his license. For six month the rest of us joyfully drove the “powerful” Morgan car, and him, around. Morgans had a frame made of ash and for some reason this was deemed a pejorative and the butt of jokes by owners of other sports cars, myself included. But they were quick at the track and after I had driven one I thought it was fine. Seating in a Morgan is very comfortable, possibly due to the leather seat surface and the inflatable seat cushion. Either way, you feel part of the car, in it, not on it. Compared to our “cute little” Sprites this was a real sportscar. It was capable of over 100 miles per hour and faster than the MGAs and TR-3s of the day. The cockpit smelled of leather, wool, and wood. The car sat low and you sat low in it. The leather seats and door panels spoke of luxury. Our utilitarian sprites had vinyl seats and rubber mats. Pretty basic stuff.

In winter we mounted inexpensive “recapped” tires on the back wheels. That was our winterizing process and so equipped we challenged the winter blizzards of Quebec. And they were frequent. We weren’t bright but we were brave. The heaters in Sprites made mockery of the name. Morgans, like Triumphs, may have been worse. Actually, the heaters themselves were probably equal. But the holes in the firewalls left by long departed rubber grommets and the space between the top and the side curtains, particularly at speed, easily negated the output of the heaters.” Windscreen defrosting” was but a cruel joke in the owner’s manual. And thousands more did weep than laugh at it.

Morgan Plus Four

Morgan Plus 4s are cool. But if you can find a Plus 4 SS, you have indeed found a rare beast. Tucked in neatly behind the passenger side hood scoop are two menacing Weber carburetors and that model, is the coolest Plus 4 of them all.

Later, they lost the wire wheels, widened the body, and wedged an aluminum Buick/Olds/MGB/Triumph/Rover V8 engine in it. That model makes it into the top five of our desirable car list.

So if we are making a list and checking it twice, the Morgan is definitely on the list.

Morgan Motors of New England have been servicing Morgans since 1977 and they have the largest inventory of Morgan spare parts outside Britain. The only new Morgans available in America at this time are the Morgan 3 Wheelers. Visit their site to view their used Morgan Plus 4 inventory: http://www.morgan-spares.com.

PB