The Morgan Motor Company is a British motor car manufacturer based in Malvern Link, an area of Malvern, Worcestershire, United Kingdom. The Brits are known for their painstakingly and lovingly handmade sports cars made of wood and aluminum. With over 100 years of history Morgan provides you as a visitor an interesting look into the history of automotive production and car building process.
The company founded in 1910 by Harry Frederick Stanley Morgan remains proudly independent to this day, run by Charles Morgan, grandson of the founder, it is the only family-owned car builder in the whole world. The luxury car manufacturer employs less than 200 people, which are all part of the Morgan family and produce less than a thousand pieces a year. Every single Morgan is special because of its true historical heritage and the craftsmanship used during the development. The waiting list for one of the cars can range from a year to two, simply because each car is put together by hand.
GTspirit visited the factory and was granted a full day of Morgan experience following the company’s history from Edwardian times until the present day, developments in automobile technology, and the experience of automobiles. Our first stop of the day was a tour through the historical grounds of the Morgan factory, which included access to the production facilities, the ancient production methods and the development of the brand Morgan throughout the past 100 years.
The success of the Morgan Motor Company was founded on an icon, the Morgan Three-Wheeler. The simple design by H.F.S. Morgan became one of the most successful lightweight cars of the early days of motoring. Following many successes and the first sales of production vehicles, H.F.S. purchased a plot of land on Pickersleigh Road, Malvern Link in December 1913. The open farmland just a quarter of a mile from the initial Worcester Road factory formed the basis for two large workshops. Since then the site has been the location of the present factory, which has traditionally been known as the “Works”.
The first cars made by the British company were two-seat or four-seat three-wheelers, and were considered to be cycle cars. Three-wheeled vehicles avoided the British tax on cars by being classified as motorcycles. Morgan’s first four-wheeler was the 4-4, for four-cylinder engine and four wheels. The first production four-wheeled Morgan was released to the public in 1936 and it continues until today. The production of the initial three-wheeler stopped in 1952.
Over the years the development of four-wheeler sports cars has been the main subject for Morgan. Models like the Plus 4, Plus 8 and the Aero line up are familiar faces on car shows and have unmistakably been the money makers for the company over the past years. The historical background of the company is clearly visible in the way the products are being designed and produced, and have made Morgan a familiar face in the automotive world.
In 2011 Morgan got back to their roots and reinstalled the production of the Three-Wheeler. Nearly sixty years since the last Morgan three-wheeler was built. The 2011 Morgan Three-Wheeler is a fusion of modern technology into a classic design. By fitting a modern V-twin engine and Mazda five-speed gearbox the car provides ‘get in and drive’ simplicity and reliability. One which we experienced some months ago in our own road test.
Entering the premises of the Morgan Motor Company let’s you step back in the times of handbuild production of cars, the use of hand tools and the clear professionalism of handwork with wood and aluminum. The tour starts at the highest point of the factory and in one of the two buildings constructed in 1913. The place is now used as a storage and display of historical Morgan cars, and is no longer used for production purposes.
The true history lesson starts when entering the next door two buildings lower on site. A collision of noises, sights and smells like nothing else in the car industry awaits you when you enter the production facilities. There is no production line, only single production bays with piled up aluminum and wooden underbodies where craftsman use production techniques you will never come across in any other car factory in the world. The fast majority of men use hammers, bending tools and other hand tools to shape the wood and aluminum into a Morgan sports car.
The Brits combine the use of these materials – which act as the hart of the Morgan car – with contemporary parts like Ford and BMW engines, automatic gearboxes, electric wiring harnesses and the latest suspension techniques. The rolling chassis are manually pushed through the factory from one building to other. The workmen use gravity when pushing the chassis down the slope of the factory grounds. In a steady rate, wooden cabin bodies, doors and engine covers are finished and attached, followed by aluminum and steel panels.
While walking through the halls you smell a combination of ash wood chippings, glue and varnish while the cars’ bodies are cut out, shaped, treated, glued and screwed together. This clearly feels like history, this is the way cars were build throughout the start of the 20th century. And no it is not a museum, it is the Morgan Motor Company, a place where generations of craftsmanship has been shared between father and son. A family of people carrying a legacy of volume car-making standards that shows so much activity, so much hand work and so much dedication. A place for every true petrolhead trying to understand the future of the automotive world and willing to learn the history of car building.