In September 2022, the science and technology group eventually got to visit the Morgan factory in Malvern. It was originally booked for 2020, but had to be cancelled due to, you guessed it, Covid!
The tour started with a short video on the history of the Morgan car, then we were shown the 3 current versions of the car: a 3-wheeler, harking back to their older 3 wheel version which has again become very popular, and 2 versions of 4-wheel cars with either a big engine, or an even bigger engine.
The Morgan cars are famously hand made. This means that they can, and are, built to order. Once you’ve chosen the basic car, engine size, and manual or automatic gear box, you then choose the body colour, the material for the dash board, the material and colour of the seats, whether you want piping on the seats, if it is the same colour as the seats, the stitching colour and pattern … the list goes on. There are millions of permutations, which is why no two Morgans are the same. The basic car starts at £45,000, averages at about £65,000, and goes up well past £1,000,000.
We were taken around all the different stages of manufacturing. The Morgan has moved from a steel chassis, to an aluminium one. The frame is made of ash wood, and the external bodywork is pressed steel. The engine is a bought-in item from BMW and gearbox from elsewhere. The engine and gearboxes had to be tweaked to fit inside the bodywork of the car. Like all cars these days, the Morgans now have lots of electronics.
The waiting list for a Morgan used to be up to 8 years, but they have modernised some of their processes such as the pressing process to form the aluminium bodywork parts, and changing the glue used to form the curved woodwork which new dries in 90 minutes rather than 6 hrs, so they can now make 6 pieces per day, rather than just 1 piece per day. Now the waiting list is about 6 months. But it’s not all new. Some of the machinery is so old that no one knows when they were first bought, though they still do their specialised jobs beautifully.
The craftsmanship and care used to make these cars is remarkable. Unfortunately, we didn’t see many of the processes first hand, as we were going through the factory at lunchtime, and everyone had stopped for their lunch.
There were only 2 processes that we didn’t walk through. The paint shop for health and safety reasons. The final clean and polish process before they are finally collected by (or sent to) their new owners; the last thing they wanted is us putting our horrible fingerprints on their sparkling new cars!
Some group activities and meetings are held at Ty Price, St Thomas Community Hall, St Thomas’s Square. There is no off street parking here. The approach on foot is a gentle slope to double entrance doors. The ground floor of the building is fully accessible and there is a disabled toilet. The stairs to the first floor are wide and well-lit with a handrail on both sides, but there is no lift. There is a hearing induction system on the ground floor.