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Tour of the Morgan Motor Company - Malvern, England

Photos and text by Michael Miles,
Beaverton, Oregon

71 photo slide show

Michael Miles is a participant on the MSCC UK email chat list Mogtalk. Michael provided the Mogtalk group with a link to a web site to view photos he took of the AeroMax on his recent visit to the Morgan plant. Michael was willing to share his photos and observations with members of SBCC. This is an opportunity for SBCC members to see and enjoy the ingenuity of one of the last great coach makers, the Morgan Motor Company. In 2009 Morgan will celebrate it's Centennary.

Michael's Notes

In taking the tour (following the red zones on the floor) I went through the factory in the recommended sequence (which is not the actual build sequence), then reversed myself through some of it, took a lunch break, then wandered through and shot some additional views of things I found interesting.

I lingered quite a bit in the body framing/skinning shop for several reasons: they had a body that was identical to the one I am restoring (1961 +4, four seater) so I wanted to capture as many details as I could; and the sounds and smells were simply marvelous - to watch the craftsmen working away with care yet not lingering. They knew what they were doing (as much as the rest of us romanticize it, its still a job involving work and they get to get the job done) and they were doing it as expeditiously as possible.

I aldo spent a long time drinking-in activity and atmosphere of the Aero shop (Aero8 and AeroMax). I'm finally at peace with the Aero8 styling details although its still not the direction I would choose to take the vehicle design. The Aero8 type 3 is a very well sorted car from a style point of view. What really rocked me (and I was not expecting it) was the AeroMax. I have seen photos and thought it was pretty cool but seeing it live and in person pushed me over the edge. The design evokes a melding of three of my fanourite s - the Jag E-type coupe, the 1937 Talbot-Lago T150 Figoni et Falaschi coupe (more so than the Bugatti Atlantic; and the Morgan of course.

My first live encounter of the AeroMax was at the factory entrance and I was drawn to it as a curiosity with some appeal, later I saw another (deep blue) in the finishing shop and though it was quite possibly the more attractive of the two up to that point. I then saw a gray with black wheels and decided then and there that when/if ny ship comes in I need to get one somehow. My only qualm with them is that I just don't see any way to fit a golf bag in it. I suppose one doesn't worry about such things since one keeps the bag at ones club away!. Other observations I had while walking through included :

There were scads of body frames alreagy built and not skinned, stacked 3 or 4 high. A visual feast- ironically it is probably no different than what it might have been 90 years ago when the 3-wheel production was booming.

The bonnet makers were working fast and furious. I was surprised to see three of them working simultaneously. I didn't expect that - 14 cars per week would require that amount of effort but I suppose they were simply doing a large batch before moving on to some other metal forming task.

All the workers were very kind and considerate to visitors. I didn't want to intrude but they also made me feel that I was not intruding.

I saw various mechanical details of the Aero chassis (I'm a Mechanical Engineer) that I would love to explore, understand, and work to refine (the engineering bent).

The general ambience in the old building (refinished but uneven wood floor, gentle lighting, exposed brick, etc) was hearwarming to see- it shows that thereis an ancient heart to the place that is respected and honoured.

I was thrilled to see the 60's era 4 eater body frame being built, as well as seeing a similar era DHC body among all the later versions. Similarly, to look ariund the framing shop and see the pattern frames that were hanging from the walls and realize that all of them represent hundreds or thousands of cars that had been built with that particular frame was insprining.

The contrast of the wood frame for an AeroMax and the craftsman doing the final shaping of its sill board with a hand pane was almost a zen-like moment. I was entranced and would have enjoyed watching him for an hour (but I did not want to disrupt his concentration by staring too long). He obviously cared about the result and knew exactly what needed to be done.

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