First up, letʼs get
one thing straight - the title of this story refers to the slope of the site of the
‘works’, not the fortunes of the Morgan Motor Company, which are, thankfully,
The Company will sell
just over 1200 cars in 2013 - a record for the small, auto atelier based in the
beautiful Malvern Hills in the south west of England. Its hand-built cars are
treasured by their owners, many remaining in the same family after the owners’
death. Even now, the waiting time for a Morgan still hovers around a year from ordering!
Charles Morgan, grandson of the founder Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan,
presided over the production of the car worldʼs most contemporary anachronism.
Thanks in part to a lack of ʻprogressive modernismʼ.
This could have been
at the heart of a recent management decision to remove Charles as head of the
company. Now bound up in a Group, called Morgan Technologies, which was
incorporated in 2010, Morgan Cars is increasing its rate of production - a
decision bitterly opposed by Charles.
The new Managing
Director, Steve Woods, who together with Charles Morgan was, from 2003-2010,
part of a ‘management team’ , says Morgan needs to take advantage of new
developments, cut the waiting time for a car and improve profits. This suggests
that Charles Morgan, like his father Peter before him, and the founder, Henry
Morgan felt that the ‘old way’ of doing things was just fine.
The company was
founded by HFS Morgan in 1909 andits
first model was a three-wheeler, designed and built around a tax structure for
motor vehicles which favoured less than four wheels, thus not competing with
four-wheeled, horse-drawn carriages, which were still popular in the early
Today Morgan Cars
employs around 170 people. Virtually all of them craftsmen and women, who toil
over hand-made cars like no other factory in the world today.
Yet, despite the
age old car-making traditions; the quaint assembly line process; and the smell
of sawn ash timber, the Morgan Motor Company is as modern as it needs to be.
Although the waiting
list for a car might be 1-2 years, the product will be the result of a company
which has achieved ISO 9001 quality certification, so it’s definitely modernized many of its processes.
In 2007 just 640 cars
flowed from the antiquated production process, where the ‘build’ begins in a
large garage at the top of the hill, and as the vehicle reaches a particular
stage in the manufacturing process, it is moved down the hill, to the next
The five buildings, descend
the hill, to where the trim shop, and the new ‘final finish’ area awaits the cars.
A tour of the factory
(which can be pre-arranged) is an eye-opener, because what looks like a period movie set surprises with
many innovative manufacturing ideas lurking behind the apparently old-fashioned
The integrity of the structure, and tolerances are
impressively tight for a hand-assembled product; the paint job is exceptional
and the care and attention to detail of the assembly is enough to convince any
would-be buyer that this is a car which has been lovingly put together, just
The workers are a
jolly lot, and the vibe in the ‘works’ is positive, confident and calm. Maybe
that’s the secret - just like happy, contented free-range hens going about the
business of laying eggs.
Does that make a
Morgan as satisfying as a well-fed egg? Who knows, but anyone who has owned a
Morgan will tell you there’s nothing like the exhilaration of driving one!