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How Morgan Cars Are Made: by Hand, Out of Wood


Doing what they do best, and not changing in a changing world: this seems to work for Morgan

The Morgan Motor Company is proudly independent (even Ferrari is owned by Fiat, every sports car company seems to be a subsidiary of a larger manufacturer these days). These cars are not cheap ($44,000 for a base model, some cost as much as $300,000), the waiting list is more than a year (each car is made by hand) - can this company survive the severely affected luxury market?

London-based photographer Mark Obstfeld, who also wrote about the "James Bond's Latest Supercar" Aston Martin for DRB, returns with a look at this classic British car company which makes their cars still largely by hand, and largely out of... wood:

The Morgan Motor Company will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2011 - its long and lustrous history can be traced on this page - and is till run by the same family; the current CEO is grandson of the founder. The factory is a sight to behold (guided tours can be arranged on their website) and it's quite revealing to see how much tender-loving care goes into a hand-built car. Perhaps of interest is that, while the shell is metal, much of the car is still made of wood:

Workers putting finishing touches to a near complete car

A welder joining sections of the metal shell - this was later shown to be so expertly done that no joins are visible at all (the wood can be seen in this photo) -

Side-wings mounted onto the chasis

Working on the wood interior (left); worker uses metal shears to individually shape a hood - because Morgans are handmade, each is slightly different and has to be done this way:

Inside one of the construction rooms

Mr. H.F.S. Morgan guided the company for almost fifity years, beginning in 1913... "After a hair-raising first drive in a 3 h.p. Benz that ran away with him down the 1-in-6 gradient of a hill between Bromyard and Hereford, he emerged intact but considerably poorer." That was in 1906, the Benz did not kill him - and in 1910 Morgan patented his own three-wheeler "Roundabout". In 1913 the company was formed and has been a family business ever since.

One of the oldest surviving (re-conditioned) Morgan sports 4/4 cars:

The Morgan Motor Company had just opened a small museum and showroom, inaugurated by HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne). Here is the finished room (the Morgans appear to be quite popular despite the economic crunch):

Inside the museum, a collection of vintage toy Morgans:

An original 3-wheeler from the 1920's:

photos by Mark Obstfeld (right), left - ModernMechanix

The fabulous 1964 Morgan Plus Four Plus (restoration by owner Dennis Glavis):

photos via The Morgan Motor Company

Also 1964 model - the Morgan SLR - has an enchanting shape and graceful lines:

(image via)

A rather loud Morgan Aero8 (which we got to take for a spin) -

Futuristic-looking Morgan "AeroMax" (see images here) and The Morgan "Life" - zero-emission concept car, with Qinetiq hydrogen fuel cell:

(photos credit and copyright: Mark Obstfeld and The Morgan Motor Company)


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are some ugly cars!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally i think that these cars are beautiful, esspecialy the older ones.

Blogger Paul said...

Morgan have for a long time been one of my favourite car companies, they have one of the finest heritages around yet are very froward looking for a very small company. The Aero's do look a little cross-eyed but that's fine with me.

Anonymous Sergo said...

Those new 'concepts' are terrible. World car design is dead, and models/manufacturers are recognizable by the logos only.

If they bring them to life, they will destroy company's image.

Blogger Marrock said...

Enjoy them while they last, they'll be victims of the economy soon enough.

Blogger Aboozar said...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

whom ever said "these cars are terrible" has no artistic talent no latent abilities and is destined to work the same dead end job for the rest of his life, not because the car is terrible but because you have no appreciation for the work that is put into these pieces of art. also you are not required to like them because there are those of us that still do and have for nearly 80 years.

Blogger Richard said...

Whether you think these are beautiful or not is a matter of personal taste. However, facts dictate that, of almost any car, this is the one you buy if you don't want to lose much money. I have a 12 year old Plus 8, bought it new for £35k and I am reliably informed its worth between £25k and £28k now. I can't think of any other car that retains its value so well.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who ever said this company would not survive this fake manipulated 'recession' obviously does not understand the auto industry or money and stocks. If Morgan can servive the 'REAL' great depression they will certainly ride this speed bump out.
Especially when they are back ordered
long enough to ride it out. The est part is they don't have greedy money hungry stock holders insisting they have a certain percentage of growth and profits every year under the threat of selling out. They also have the fact that they are a small company that can change direction or do what ever they have to do with out having to put it through a committee for approval What it all oils down to is that they will survive AND prosper. PERIOD!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are some great cars. One has to enjoy the beauty of the workmanship that has gone into makeing these. Wish I had the money to buy some of them.
from Canada

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest that all you guys that drool over Morgans need to live with one and see how you feel about the scuttle shake, the frontend shimmey at 50mph and the bum pounding ride.
But in a corner or a fast sweeping road there is nothing like that sort of wind in the hair motoring. My 1952 plus 4 was good for 15second quaters and on a good day with no wind 110mph
any time anywhere. Blood Marvelous!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; indeed in this case the expression 'your eyes are mirrors', comes to mind. Long may Morgan, surely one of the few quintessentially English products left, survive, and go from strength to strength!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had a Morgan plus 4 now for two years and it's marvellous. Can't get enough of driving it. The feel and quality are second to none and they do perform brilliantly. Never regretted the purchase. Long live the Morgan !!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good news.

The Three Wheeler is coming back.


There are a number of videos (including a test drive by Jay Leno) on Youtube.

Anonymous kathyd said...

The three-wheelers are fab - had a test drive in one recently. It does't have a great turning circle, but is very responsive, soaks up bumps in the road and goes like the wind. Came back with aching cheeks - I was laughing the whole time and could see all the other motorists laughing, too. It was the most enormous fun. If we had the money, we'd buy one. Yes, you either love or hate Morgans; they are quirky and totally unsuitable for the British climate, but if it's your thing, there's nothing better than pottering around the countryside in one of these eccentric vehicles.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love these cars!!!! Went and saw some at the Morgan dealer for New York! Even better in real life than these awesome photos. Manhattan Motorsports (MMS) (www.morgan3w.com) even has the first and only (at the moment) US spec of the 3 Wheelers....loved it, bit the bullet and placed an order through them! Big thumbs up to Morgan and to their NY dealer. Really enjoyed the afternoon at MMS...now can't wait for Manhattan Motorsports to deliver my Morgan 3 Wheeler :-) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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