Paul Drawmer, a member of the Christopher Ward Forum, organised a trip for his fellow forum members to attend a factory tour at the Morgan Motor Company’s factory in Malvern, Worcestershire. With all photography provided by Richard Jarrett, here are Paul’s thoughts of the Morgan experience.
Earlier this month, a group of Christopher Ward enthusiasts and I went on a CW Forum-organised factory tour at the Morgan Motor Company, with the recent partnership between CW and Morgan providing an excuse for having a look at how their cars are made. Following lunch at a local hostelry, we met in the reception at their Pickersleigh Road factory. Actually this wasn’t as straight forward as it sounds; several of us were keen to look at the many interesting cars found in the car park!
Once assembled inside, we met Robert Dance, our factory guide, who introduced us to the company with a short film. We were then kitted out with personal receivers so that we could hear Robert telling us about the history and construction of the cars whilst we toured the factory.
Morgan Cars are unique. They are not mass produced, but are hand assembled by a small team. Each car has a separate chassis and body, and whilst the chassis and body components are made on jigs and brought together for final assembly, every car is unique. The fit of the body to the chassis, and the final shaping of the aluminium to the ash frame is all done by hand, just like a bespoke suit.
We started our tour looking at some finished cars awaiting delivery to their owners. Each car is made to a specific customer order, and there is considerable customisation. As the car makes its way through production, each step is signed off by the craftsman who completes that job. These build sheets form part of the history of the car, and each car leaving the factory has the order and build sheets with relevant sign-offs that becomes the first part of the history file for that car.
Each car build starts with the chassis, onto which the suspension and running gear are fixed. Each build step is undertaken by one craftsman, who is responsible for selecting the correct options according to the build sheet, and signs-off his work before handing the car on to the next operation. Once the rolling chassis is complete it is rolled down a ramp into the next workshop where the body is fitted. The ash frame for the bodywork is bolted to the chassis, and then the aluminium panels are individually fitted to the frame. Each one is a separate fit, fettled by hand.
Now that the car is looking like a car, albeit without any interior trim, it gets painted. For this operation, the body is actually taken apart and all the panels painted separately. This is because there are plastic gaskets between the panels that do not need painting. So when the car is reassembled, the body joins are perfect with their gaskets in place.
After painting, the interior trim is fitted. The owner can choose from many options for colours and materials inside their Morgan, and when the carpets, seats and trims are in place the car is ready for final inspection before delivery.
Morgan Cars really are craftsman-built. Each car is a statement of the owners desire and a testament to the collective skill of the factory in producing a hand-built car to be a true piece of kinetic art.
After our tour, we stopped at the factory restaurant for afternoon tea compliments of Christopher Ward, with Chris himself in attendance. He had brought along examples of the special C1 Morgan Chronometers which will only be available to Morgan owners. It was really good to see these ‘in the metal’ and are well up to being a ‘Morgan’ watch.
We had a great time and our thanks go to Morgan Cars for letting us in, Robert Dance for his excellent guidance and commentary, and to Christopher Ward for a great tea. Thank you very much.
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The new Morgan Chronometer Collection is available here.