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:
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