1932 Morgan Three-Wheeler
January 19, 2009 2:30 AM
The oldest continuous British automobile manufacturer, the Morgan Motor Company was founded in 1909 by H.F.S. Morgan. A trained engineer, Morgan opened a garage business out of which he also sold cars and started one of England's first bus lines. After purchasing an early three-wheeled vehicle, Morgan decided to build one for personal use, with economy and speed as his ultimate goals. Morgan began driving his Runabout in 1909, and was eventually persuaded to engineer a two-seater. What followed was a flurry of race winning, favorable press and record breaking, including an early record for fastest hill climb at 22 mph. By 1912, Morgan was inundated with orders and was forced to expand, and the great era of the Morgan three-wheeler had begun.
Selling for around £100, Morgans became popular based on their simplicity and low maintenance, with better economy and performance that their more expensive four-wheeled counterparts. Another advantage which appealed to working-class customers – three-wheeled vehicles were registered as motorcycles in England, a tax loophole which made for super cheap licensing fees.
Jay's Morgan hails from one of the company's golden eras… sort of. In 1931, Morgan introduced a model with three speeds and reverse, chain drive to detachable rear wheels and sliding pillar independent front suspension. Weighing in at less than 850 pounds, this particular Morgan was powered by a water-cooled 990cc MX4 Matchless V-twin, also used in the Brough Superior, and considered to be the most powerful and reliable English engine of its day. The last of the V-twin three-wheelers were produced in 1939, but in 1946, a final shipment of ten Super Sports with all "luxury" accoutrements were assembled from leftover parts and shipped to Australia. So Jay's Morgan is both a 1932 model and a 1946 model at the same time.
Although no longer manufacturing three-wheeled vehicles, the Morgan Motor Company is still in business in Malvern link, with a lengthy waiting list for their hand-built vehicles. Jay acquired his Morgan Three-Wheeler 20 years ago, unable to resist its completely unique driving experience. He prefers to crank its machine gun engine to life rather than opt for the electric starter. Back in the day, Mrs. Gwenda Steward set a land speed record with her Morgan at 117 mph - Jay claims his can still hold its own on the freeway, but riding so close to the road, 80 mph feels a lot more like 180.