100 Years of the Morgan

Morgan Super Sport 1934

Morgan Super Sport 1934

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Recreation, 1901 Morgan 7 hp Runabout Prototype was compleated in 1909.
Seen here at 59th Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance® 2009

 Morgan 7 hp Runabout 1901

100 Years of the Morgan 1909-2009

By Geoff Wheatley

A hundred years is a long time for any business. In the year 2009 the Morgan Motor Company celebrated a hundred years of service and production. Further more its still the independent company that it was when the founder, Harry Morgan borrowed three thousand pounds from his father, the Reverend Henry George Morgan, rector of Stoke Lacy, England, to build motor cars.

What is the secret of the Morgan success? Well my first suggestion is that it's still a family business with the family of the founder at the helm. Second the car is by any standards a fun vehicle; note the word fun which should not be confused with the word comfort as my wife will confirm when we owned a 4+4 a few years ago.

Even today with the new fiberglass super sleek version of the breed no one can say that it has changed its reputation! My Morgan had a Ford Cortina engine but had I purchased it new I could have chosen what ever power unit I fancied providing it was suitable and part of the Morgan selection process. This I suggest is one of the secrets of why the company has survived while others have simply faded away. There have been several attempts to buy Morgan by various people including the, (My way or the doorway,) CEO of Standard Triumph Motors, Sir John Black, who's gift to the British motor industry was the Triumph 1800 Roadster the car that he thought would replace the prewar SS Jaguar, also the Ferguson Tractor made under license with the Vanguard / Triumph engine!

Morgan LIFECAR 2009

Morgan LIFECAR 2009

Had one of these takeovers happened I doubt if the company would be around today, it would have sunk into the economic money pit encouraged by executives who were only interested in the bottom line and unions who thought the industry was too important to fail. (Where have we heard that before?) However, please do not think that it has been plain sailing since 1899, Morgan has had its fair share of problems including fierce competition from the likes of Austin Motors with its sports version of the baby Seven and a few years later with the Morris MG range. The introduction of this competition forced Morgan to produce a four wheel version of his marquee, a move which proved to be successful. However, he did produce and sell in excess of 2,500 three wheel Morgan's between 1900 and 1921, quite an achievement for a small, make that very small operation. (For the European buyer, we can't import them here, a similar vehicle is being offered today by special order, however, I would not like to pay for the road insurance!)

Back in the late 1990's the BBC featured the Troubleshooter Series where top industrial leaders were invited to look at small companies and offer advice. The then Chairman of the international corporation I.C.I took a look at the Morgan company and then in a TV interview asked the question, "How do you think you can survive with a six month waiting list, production based on ten cars a week at best, and most work dependent on skilled craft labor". Peter Morgan quietly pointed out that with at least a one year waiting list there was not much chance of the company running out of customers in fact it should be viewed as a good insurance for the future. The TV program had an interesting effect on the sale of Morgan cars, additional orders flowed in and the waiting time increased.

However, since then improvements have been introduced at the Morgan factory the production level has increased to around fifteen a week assuming that it's not a holiday week! You still have to go on a waiting list and dependent on your choice wait the required time before your new Morgan arrives at the local dealers for you to collect.

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