Three wheels on my wagon

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014


I'VE never had a bucket list of things I wanted to do before I fall off my perch. But since I was a boy, I've always yearned to drive a Morgan Three-wheeler. So when Morgan cars invited me last month to tour their factory in England and test-drive one of these legendary cars, I jumped at the chance.

The Morgan story began in 1909 when H.F.S. Morgan decided to make his own cars in the small English town of Malvern. The only difference between Morgan and other modern day car manufacturers is that the Morgans are still hand-built in small numbers just like they were a hundred years ago.

And this has been the key to the company's extraordinary success. So keen are Morgan enthusiasts they are prepared to wait several years before taking delivery of their beloved cars.

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Morgan came to prominence before World War II with its famous sporty Three-wheelers. Three-wheeled vehicles were classified as motorbikes so they avoided the high British car tax. These splendid looking contraptions quickly clocked up many race victories.

Morgan started making four-wheel sports car in 1936 and today the company offers a range of much sought-after classics like the 4/4, Plus 4, Plus 8, Roadster and the sublimely modern Aero 8.

In a surprise move in 2011, Morgan reintroduced its famous Three-wheeler. From day one, Morgan knew they had made the right decision. Almost immediately, the company was overwhelmed with 600 orders and since then the factory has been working flat out to meet the demands from around the world.

So, what's the attraction of this quirky-looking vehicle? Quite simply, it was one of the most thrilling driving experiences I've ever had. The car has loads of character, the steering and handling are terrific and the engine response and noise are awesome (and I use that word in its proper sense).

Before I set off for my test drive I was concerned the cockpit might be too small for me. But no worries, I was able to ease myself into what was a comfortable, though not overly large, cockpit. Needless to say, the cockpit is pretty sparse, but instruments are well-placed and easy to read and operate. And the finish of the cockpit is excellent.

It was a scorching hot day as I roared out of the Morgan factory. I was a little nervous because the pedals were rather close together and I was fearful I'd hit the accelerator rather than the brake. But I soon got the hang of it and roared off into the nearby country lanes.

The engine note was quite magical - it roared like an angry lion. Acceleration was impressive.

The Three-wheeler is much like the original Morgans of the 1920s. The company has taken what it believes to be the best V-twin for the job. Now, as then, it's a motorcycle engine. But now, unlike then, it's made by American engine maker S&S. It displaces 1,982cc and punches out almost 80bhp and 100lb ft of torque, with peak revs at 5,200rpm.

The S&S X-Wedge is a two-valve, fuel-injected, dry-sump engine, with 56.25 degrees between the cylinders for cooling purposes.

The top speed is around 125 mph (200 kph) and acceleration is 0-60 mph (96 kph) in about 6.5 seconds.

As I set out on my test drive, Morgan's James Gilbert said that drivers testing the Three-wheelers always come back with a smile on their faces. He was right. I was tickled pink to have fulfilled a childhood ambition and one that was so much fun.

There are over 80 Morgan dealers around the world, with the Philippines as the latest. Morgan cars, including the Three-wheeler, are now available here through their local distributor White Knight Automobiles in Manila.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 06, 2014.

Lifestyle

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