in 1909, at the age of twenty-eight, Henry Frederick Stanley
Morgan (HFS as he came to be known throughout the motoring world)
designed and built his first single-seater three-wheeled experimental
car, he could never have dreamt that he would become one of the
world's major manufacturers of three-wheeler motor cars.
son of a country clergyman, HFS was lucky not to be forced to
enter the church as a profession. Far from discouraging
him from making his own way in life, his parents and grandparents
gave him every assistance. He was educated at Stone House,
Broadstairs, and Marlborough College and then entered Crystal
Palace Engineering College in south London, and it was here that
his design and artistic talents developed." In 1906
he opened a garage in Malvern, Worcestershire. "The
venture flourished and HFS was then able to turn his thoughts
to making a car of his own design.
prototype, completed in 1909, was a single-seater fitted with
tiller steering. It also incorporated Morgan's special form of
sliding pillar independent front suspension. With the addition
of such refinement as rebound springs and shock absorbers,
this form of front suspension is still used on modern four-wheeler
Morgans. The whole car was very light and was powered by a 7 horsepower Peugeot
Boxing Day 1910 HFS entered the first London-Exeter Two Day Trial
in the JAP-engined single-seater fitted with tiller steering.
He won a gold medal and received favorable press coverage. So
well did his cars do in competition that at the Motor Cycle Show
in November 1911 he was inundated with enquiries and orders. He
realized that to maintain momentum he must enter as many sporting
events as he could.
1912 the company became the Morgan Motor Company Ltd, and made
a small but significant profit of 1314pounds...
After the war (WWI) public demand for motors far outstripped supply...By
1923 Morgan were being manufactured under license by Darmont
In 1936 the government announced that the following year
it was going to abolish the Road Fund Tax, which did away with
the three-wheeler's tax advantage..."
That year Morgan Motor Company introduced the four wheeler called the
4-4, for the four cylinders and four wheel car. The 4-4 model
Morgan is still in production.
World War II the company was converted to the war effort and no
car were built. After the war the company slowly began producing
They concentrated on producing cars for export.
Morgan's son, Peter Morgan, was educated at Oundle and in 1936
entered the Chelsea College of Automobile Engineering; on the
out break of war he enlisted
in the Royal Army Service Corps... After being released in 1946
with the rank of captain, he immediately joined the company...
in 1958 Peter took over as managing director...
In 1962 success was achieved again
at the 24 hours endurance race at Le Mans. A Plus Four Super Sports
prepared by the company and Christopher Lawrence
competed and won the 2 litre class. The car was driven by Lawrence
and Richard Sheppard-Baron and covered a total distance of 2,261
miles at an average speed of
94 mph. Driver changes, refuelling and adjustment took a total
of 32 minutes, so the actual running speed of the car was 97 mph.
After the race the car was happily driven back
to England on public roads.
In 1964 the Morgan chassis was used as the basis for the SLTR,
a racing car designed by Chris Lawrence and John Sprinzel. The
aerodynamic body gave a top speed
far in excess of the 134 mph. Achieved by the Plus Four at Le
Mans on the Mulsanne Straight.
traditionalist. . . and a survivor"
BY DOUG NYE
PHOTO BY GEOFFREY GODDARD
from Road and Track Magazine August 1980
Profile: PETER MORGAN November 3 1919 - October 20 2003
MORGAN MAKES no bones about it: "If it hadn't been for the
American market the Morgan Motor Co would not have survived the
difficult years in the early Sixties. I mean it when I say it's
sad we're not in the U.S. today after the help they gave us when
the going was tough here at home and in Europe. Without them we
would have been down to producing about two cars a week-and I'm
not at all sure we could have survived at that; being down to
five cars a week was bad enough."
time the evergreen Morgan sports car has gained ground rather
than lost it. In an age when nostalgia and the old values of open-air
sports car motoring seem so attractive, the flaring-fender traditional
Moggie has the extra clout of being the real thing, not just another
replicar. But at the time, 1961-1962, things looked black, and
Peter had not long been in control.
absolute rock bottom at five cars per week because there was a
recession in the California aircraft industry. Rene Pelandini
in LA couldn't take a car off me for about 11 months, he seemed
to have about 80 in stock and he'd previously been good for 10
a month. It was the east coast market which just about saved the
day, and I was in LA surveying the problem when I got a call from
home because they'd had a cable from New York saying to cancel
cars. I could only say, on the spur of the moment, 'Don't worry,
I'll be there in a day or two, just tell them they've been shipped,'
and they did take the cars, sales recovered and we kept going.
It was a worrying time, our worst, in fact."
time for the Morgan Motor Co came very early in Peter Morgan's
management of the concern. Born on November 3, 1919, he had grown
up with the cars, first 3-wheelers, then four, and after spending
the war years in Africa he started work in the factory at Malvern
in February 1947. George Goodall retired from running the firm
in 1958 and Peter's father, H.F.S., said, "Come on, let's
see how you do as Managing Director." The Morgans, father
and son, enjoyed an all-too-short year together before H.F.S.
died in June 1959. Peter was on his own. His relationship with
his father had been very close, more like younger brother than
son, he says. "We were tremendously close, we got on marvelously
well. I used to co-drive with him on trials and rallies prewar.
When I first started here as a draftsman I wanted to design a
new body for the car. Working on my own I built a 14-in. model
and did drawings of a new 2-seater which I brought into this office
to show him, and he said, 'Yes, that's all right, but now go away
and do the 4-seater.' Of course, he knew it would be virtually
impossible to do a really good-looking modern 4-seater body on
the Morgan chassis, and that's very important to us because remember
we were always scratching to sell cars and he figured most people
always said he had had a lot of luck but he was a very shrewd
man-not only a good practical engineer and designer but also a
good businessman. He loved functional things and was a superb
sketcher, had a superb grasp of line at a time when bodybuilding
was an art. Occasionally the engineer in him triumphed over the
artist. He was so keen on making things as simple as could be
that he just stuck the headlights straight onto the curving wing-line
of the sports car rather than fairing them in. He reasoned that
the curves would be expensive and complicated, which is true,
but the result looked lousy. The same applied to the flat grille.
Eventually the foreman in the sheet metal shop and myself made
up bending jigs, worked out ways of making the sections and built
the new front up like that."
that his son's period of ownership of the business was going to
have troubled times, as would any specialist sports car manufacturer.
"One year I remember being on the Motor Show stand when somebody
came up and said, 'Harry, you know you're a lucky man being able
to make cars as a hobby,' and I caught father's eye and he frowned
a bit. When this chap had gone, father turned to me and said firmly,
'Even if that were true, and plainly it's not, you can take it
from me it will never be like that in your time.'He knew ... mmmm
... he knew..."