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THE ISIS, a river renowned for its rowing and punting, flows through the English town of Oxford. When American Bill Fink was a student at Keble College, University of Oxford, he took part in rowing competitions. Indeed, today at the age of 75, he is still active with Oxford Old Boy crewing.
Reflected his rowing enthusiasm, when Bill established a U.S. agency for Morgan sports cars in 1968, he named it Isis Imports Ltd. Originally on Eddy Street in San Francisco, the company outgrew this location and resettled at the end of San Francisco’s Pier 33, not far from Fisherman’s Wharf. These days, Isis Imports also has a second location in Bodega, California (yes, of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds fame!).
The 1960s were great times for Morgan, with the U.S. its largest export market. Then came the 1969 advent of clean air and automotive emissions controls. Buying its engines from larger automakers, Morgan was hard-pressed to keep up with enhanced stringency of regulations. Its U.S. market all but died.
However, Bill was more than just an astute businessman (I suspect he’s snickering at this moniker as he reads it). He was, and remains, a Morgan enthusiast. After extensive discussions with federal authorities and scads of paperwork, beginning in 1974 Bill was able to convert new Morgan Plus 8s to propane power and renew their legal importation.
In addition to Bill’s propane expertise, the U.S. Plus 8 Morgan required other modifications to meet evolving federal standards: different bumpers, reinforced doors, padded sun visors, standard inertia seatbelts, and fitting of the Morgan four-passenger model’s higher windshield with added reinforcement. Eventually, Morgans got airbags, another feature Bill helped develop.
Maurice Owen was responsible for developing the Morgan Plus 8, whose Rover engine began life as the U.S. Buick V-8. Brit Eoin Young drove an early Plus 8 for R&T in December 1968. As R&T engineering editor, I tested other Plus 8s in August 1980 and June 1999.
Bill and his wife Judy became friends. Drives up and down the coast between Newport Beach and San Francisco’s Pier 33 were more than just pleasurable work. In fact, on a trip to Malvern Links, Worcs., the home of Morgan, Wife Dottie and I enjoyed the hospitality of Maurice and his wife.
I experienced another bit of Bill’s engineering of Morgans in my drive of Isis Imports’ Chevrolet-engine Plus 8. And not just any Chevrolet engine, but a 6.0-liter LS2 Corvette V-8 producing 400 hp (versus the Rover V-8’s nominal 190) and 400 lb.-ft. of tyre-churning torque.
R&T reported on the LS2-powered cars in April 2006. This Plus 8 Plus did the quarter mile in 12.6 seconds at 112.1 mph. Its 0-60 time was a quick 4.2 seconds; the Brit magazine Autocar shaved this to 3.8.
The year 2018 is especially significant for Bill Fink and for Morgan. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Morgan Plus 8 and also the 50th anniversary of Isis Imports.
Double cheers, Bill!
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2018
Bravo to Bill, Judy and Tcherek! They are wonderful Mogs and I have the privilege and pleasure of knowing them these past 20 years. Cheers to them always, gordon
Many Congratulations on 50 not out, guys. A special hello to Tcherek from her European wheels man. Andy
Congratulations ISIS!! (Ya’ll will always be Isis to me). My 1995 +8+ with the LS3 engine is wonderful and after over 60,000 miles since the conversion is just getting better all the time. Joe Speetjens/Mississippi
Congratulations from a fan in Northern Ireland .. wonderful wonderful cars,
Many congratulations echoed from a U.K. Based Morgan and Conan Doyle fan( of the dad not the sons ). My daughter still wears her SMogGhis T shirt.
G’day & Congratulations Bill, Judy & Tcherek. A marvellous achievement! Keep going mate.
Roger / Oz
Congratulations a great achievement against great odds. What a team.
Congratulations! Since 1982 I have been a Customer. One brake part at a time as well as many needed +8 parts. Just found out from Tcherek that ISIS was a river. The original name of the Thames. I thought I knew it all.
William M. Button
Good work Bill, lots of great times and friends, this is my 50th year of Morgans too.
Saw my first Morgan in 1968. Have been addicted ever since. Have owned my Plus 8 for 33 years and now have a 2016 Three Wheeler.
Dennis , Thanks for this ! Bill ,Thanks for a life long commitment .You know what I mean ! Chris Towner
A life well lived for every name mentioned here, Hear, Hear ! Please, all of you keep up the good work.
Thanks for all the help and exciting innovations in the Morgan world, and many more! Scott Lankton Ann Arbor, Michigan
You’ve been there for all of us for a long , long time (since early 70s for me).
Many thanks and best wishes for continued success!
Hi Bill, forwarding this message from the Naughty Boys Corner, Morgan Discussion Group:
Congratulations from icecold Holland! Still look back with very good memries to the visit to your place in 2016!
Gerard de Gier and marian.
Met vriendelijke groet/kind regards
Gerard D. de Gier – Holland
Great summary.. thanks for the fun pix… I remember, one Highschool summer, improving my welding skills helping to build a second teer of re-purposed steel girder racks for that original shop, also learning to remove and replace a Mog body to a new frame, ah yes, when cars were , and some still are, built with steel, wood, nuts and bolts and a few wires… Happy Anniversary Bro Bill, n Judy, Tcherek and Ameliana.
I am probably Bill’s greatest fan who never even bought a calendar from him. I was a young Naval officer at Moffet Field in 1975 when I wandered into Bill’s Eddy Street sanitarium and couldn’t believe seeing a row of totally unique cars lined-up against against a back wall. Having owned a series of British cars, I finally got a 68’ Morgan 4/4 and loved it until it things started to fall off of it with alarming regularity. After I lost my brakes and almost took out a 90 year old lady getting her mail (she looked down at me as I passed her), I decided to sell it and I am still regretful. Hopefully I have another 4/4 in my future and I would very much like to get it from Isis once my wife eases up on my ‘no more British cars’ proclamation. Thanks Bill!
Another of my Morgan heroes!