Morgan wideHow many car factories have you visited? A word of advice: One is great, two is one too many. Ah, and then there is Morgan.

Morgan is a fascinating car company. It has been building cars at Pickersleigh Road, Malvern Link, about two-and-a-half hours west of London, for more than 100 years and, the manoeuvrings in the international car industry being what they are, is now the biggest British-owned car company. It’s also the world’s oldest privately owned car maker. Morgan makes about 1000 cars a year and Australians have bought 14 so far this year. Think around $90k to $250k.

The thing about Morgans is that they look like they were made in the 1940s. These are open-topped sports cars of the square-rigger, MG-TF variety with running boards, mudguards and canvas tops that are unfolded and folded up again by hand. In the 21st century Morgans make no sense at all and that’s why they sell.

Now the company has made an eight-and-a-half minute factory-tour video, and the factory reflects the product in every respect. I have visited countless car factories from Kia to Ferrari and if I ever see another one it will be too soon. But I’d like to visit Morgan.

The first thing I noticed was all the people working there. People are things you see very few of in car factories, in fact in some areas you can stroll the length of an assembly line and only see two or three.

Morgan longIn this entire video there isn’t a single robot, or anything even vaguely resembling one. But there are people everywhere, including guys who push car bodies from assembly to paint shop, where there’s a guy mixing paint in beakers to get one of the 40,000 colours Morgan offers (or he’ll mix one up specially). Then he spray paints the car. By hand. Machines do this more efficiently and way faster, but then automated paint shops don’t offer 40,000 colours.

I also noted all the wood. Beautiful ash not just for the dashboard and trim, but for door frames and body structure, meticulously shaped and glued, beautifully worked by people who have been doing this all their lives. I can’t recall ever having seen nails in a car factory, let alone planes and sandpaper and bandsaws. Should a Morgan be regularly inspected for termites?

It takes four weeks to build one of these. For any other car maker this would be ruinous but here they pause to smell the roses, and have time to look for imperfections. The guy with the best job in the place road tests every car they build. He drives with the top down. I’d like to have a beer with him.

Go to www.morgan-motor.co.uk and click on the ‘Making a Morgan’ video. Wonderful.

Published November 2014

 

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