Getting back to beautiful basics

Getting back to beautiful basics

John Kelly, partner at insolvency practitioners Begbies Traynor, forgoes modern technology in favour of pure, driving joy behind the wheel of a classic Morgan.

In the spring edition George Jennings, a young associate of what has now become Billfinger GVA, test drove the impressive Bentley Continental GT V8S convertible. In this edition, a much older, mature partner (me!) drives the complete antidote to the modern car, the Morgan Plus 4.

What greater contrast in drivers and cars could you imagine. The classic design has hardly changed in the nearly 80 years they have been built by Morgan who originally started building only three wheeler cars.

They are one of only a few British built and owned cars and their history goes back over 100 years. It is a shame it has taken foreign ownership to bring out the best of our traditional British cars such as the Bentley, Rolls Royce and even our local Jaguar Land Rover.

I have been in the Corporate Recovery Business for nearly forty years and management skills have improved considerably over the years but it seems not fast enough in the past for some of our automotive manufacturers.

Morgan, on the other hand, has managed to survive and despite some recent board room shuffles is still British owned. And notwithstanding a visit from trouble shooter Sir John Harvey Jones, who recommended automation, the cars are still mainly built by hand. In fact, after his visit which highlighted the hand building skills the waiting list for cars increased.

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The Morgan for my test drive was the Morgan Plus 4, the mid-range model between the 4/4 and the Roadster which I picked up from the Morgan factory in Malvern. It has a lively Ford 2 litre engine linked to the rear wheels by a Mazda five speed gearbox – the perfect British Sports car layout.

Needless to say wooden dashboard and leather seats are standard. I am pleased to say on the day of the test drive it was dry and the sun shone in between the clouds. You soon learn it is easier to get in and out of a Morgan with the hood down.  Although power steering is an option, the model I was driving just had the standard steering set up with no power assistance.

In fact, by contrast again, to the Bentley, the Morgan has very few driver assists so it is a car that has to be driven. There is no need to act like Jeremy Clarkson and switch off the various electronic aids – there are none! You sit behind a small tactile steering wheel looking along a unique long louvered bonnet and you are ready to go.

There is no better view from a car than looking along the air vents of such a long bonnet which when warm disturbs the air in front of you. Start the engine and you realise the Morgan engineers have been playing with the sound of the exhaust system. You also realise why it is pointless having a radio – you would never hear it and what better sound can there be than that of a roaring exhaust which “bubbles” on deceleration.

And don’t even think about blue tooth, this is a real get away from it all car. Starting off challenges your arm muscles as the reality of a lack of power steering kicks in. However, once in motion the steering is amazingly positive and accurate. The car goes where you point it! I need to improve my muscles anyway. Out around the Malvern Hills with the hood down and in and out of the sunshine there can be no better car.

Morgan 02It accelerates well, corners brilliantly, even stops quickly when necessary. Is it an every day car? Not for me – I am constantly on the phone when driving between businesses. Is it for you? Not if you are a golfer there is no boot for golf clubs. But as you may gather, I am a fan. Always have been since I stopped wanting James Bond’s Aston Martin, and in 2009 I bought an anniversary R100 which is, and always will be, my pride and joy (after the wife, of course!)

BQ would like to thank Morgan Motors. The Morgan Plus 4 OTR price starts at £38,000. The model John drove is £42,000, both include VAT.  

For further information please contact James Gilbert, Morgan Motor Company Limited Tel: 01684 580151 or email: james.gilbert@morgan-motor.co.uk