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THIS YEAR, 2014, the Morgan Motor Company is celebrating a 100th anniversary, which I find a perfect opportunity to recollect Morgan’s 75th anniversary that daughter Suz and I attended in Malvern Link, Worcestershire, U.K., back in 1984.
The arithmetically unchallenged may question the authentic date on which to base an anniversary, 1909 or 1914. Come to think of it, Morgan also celebrated anniversaries in 2010 and 2012.
Clarification comes in understanding what’s being celebrated.
In 1909, H.F.S. Morgan built his first 3-wheeler, a nimble configuration that qualified as a motorcycle and thus evaded the Inland Revenue’s stiff taxation of automobiles. A Morgan trike was exhibited at London’s 1910 Olympia Motor Show. In 1912, H.F.S. officially formed the Morgan Motor Company, Ltd. And, in 1914, the current works was established on Pickersleigh Road, Malvern Link, about 140 miles northwest of London.
Be prepared for a 2022 celebration; Morgan’s first 4-wheel prototype was built in 1922. And 2036; the 4/4, as in four wheels and four cylinders, was introduced in 1936. And, if you’re still around, 2052; the last trike left the works in 1952.
In any event, back to the 75th and a Morgan nugget shared at the time: Of the approximate 50,000 Morgans produced by 1984, it was reported that half were trikes.
There was a grand celebration in June 1984 when Morgan enthusiasts from around the world converged on Malvern Link.
Festivities included an official Noggin and Natter (read: cocktail party), car exhibits, competitions and plenty of lunches, dinners and get-togethers.
The North American contingent, close to 80 strong, held a boisterous dinner at Upton-on-Severn’s Star Hotel, presided over by Maurice Owen, who doubled as Morgan’s director of development and engineering.
Dear Maurice (pronounced English fashion, “Morris”). He described a special “No Parking—Police Order” sign posted in front of the Star Hotel: “That’s to leave room for interesting older Morgans.
“It’s actually our sign,” he confessed, “but every so often, the police pick it up by mistake so we have to go fetch it from them.”
The Pickersleigh Road works are set on a mild slope where cars are alternately rolled down—and laboriously pushed up—from station to station. In those days, the receptionist offered a one-page guide to work stations and simply said, “Mind the forge, now.”
Daughter Suz’s high school graduation was a good excuse to take her on the trip. A high point for both of us was being asked to marshal at the celebration’s Prescott Hill Climb competition.
R&T reported all these activities in its December 1984 issue. Artist Ken Dallison devised a wonderful array illustrating “A (Malvern) Link with the Past.”
A rally of Morgans, old and new, was part of the celebration. Suz and I spectated along the route and watched a rolling museum of my favorite marque.
One of my prized possessions is a Royal Automobile Club sign designating the rally route. It fell off a tree after the last car passed.
Yes, this fall was hastened by my snipping its ties. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2014