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JF MUSIAL: What you're about to see is the most authentic,
honest car factory in the world.
Welcome to the Morgan Motor Company.
Unlike other factory tours that take weeks of phone calls
and emails just to orchestrate,
Morgan is an open book.
Every other car factory we've been to, we're always ushered
past secret rooms that hold future designs and technology
worth millions of dollars.
This Malvern, England based workshop holds no secrets.
All you'll find here are happy designers, craftsmen and
women, the smell of wood, glue, leather.
And did I say wood?
So what do you need to know about this place?
Well, this is the oldest car company in the world owned by
a single family.
Their designs, not much different from
five decades ago.
They produce a three-wheeled car called,
well, the three wheeler.
And simply put, this is just the coolest [BLEEP]
place you'll ever visit as a car enthusiast.
And what better person to give us a tour than a Morgan?
A Mr. Charles Morgan.
So, Charles, where are we right now?
CHARLES MORGAN: Right, well, this is
where it starts, really.
This is the start of the Morgan assembly line.
It all starts with the chassis, of course, that we
actually import in from Birmingham, which is only
about 30 miles north of us.
But this is built for a [INAUDIBLE]
shape to our designs, obviously.
It's designed on a CAD [INAUDIBLE].
And as I said, it's cohesively bonded aluminium.
You've got what is the same principle as the racing cars.
In other words, what I'm saying is, the chassis does
all the work.
It provides all the stiffness.
It provides all of the mounting points for the engine
and the gear box and the power train.
And we even, of course, fit the fuel tank.
We fit all the electric wiring, which is neatly hidden
inside the chassis.
And you can actually start the car.
You can drive it as a chassis.
It's not actually driven.
But we do run it.
And of course we run it because we have a quality
check that is demanded by BMW or by one
of our engine suppliers.
And that means you go through all the diagnostic checks on
the engine.
And what I quite like about that, doing it as a chassis,
is that everything is visible.
So if there are any leaks, or if there is any problems at
all, it's all accessible to put right.
And that's particularly pleasant if you're an
electrical engineer, for example, because modern wiring
[INAUDIBLE] are very, very complicated.
What happens in this e-box, there's actually five
computers, I think, in this car.
This is actually the 4.8 liter BMW, which it's still a
current engine, but they've built it especially for us.
And the reason they do that is they've gone twin turbo 4.4
liter to keep the emissions down.
But actually, the 4.8 in this car, because it only weighs,
less than 2,000 pounds--
it's about 1,150 kilos.
This car is ultra light.
So actually, the emissions are very low anyway.
So we didn't need to go to the
complications of the twin turbos.
But this is the diagnostic check equipment, so that
allows us to run the engine up.
-Are you sure that doesn't pick up any Nazi frequencies?
CHARLES MORGAN: It's an early mobile phone actually.
I think one of the reasons why BMW quite like working with
us, to be honest, is that most of their cars are still
And they tend to be a lot heavier than an aluminium car.
So the engineers--
I'm not talking about the marketing people here, but the
engineers quite enjoy seeing their product in our
lightweight frame.
Dr. Schmidt-- who's left unfortunately, I think he's
gone to Ford-- but he was the head of engine
power train at BMW.
And he got out one of the earlier versions of this and
said, at last, Charles, I can feel my engine.
Because normally it's so quiet.
JF MUSIAL: I wouldn't be able to do a full episode on the
history of Morgan.
It would just take too long.
But here's what you need to know.
The roots of the company come from HFS Morgan, with a basic
vehicle formula--
Powerful motorcycle motors, light chassis, simple,
resourceful, and fun.
And for Malvern, where every road somehow leads up a
mountain, that's especially useful.
So let's start off with-- what is this thing?
I've seen it before, but I have no idea what it is.
JONATHAN WELLS: OK, well, this is our 2009 life car concept
vehicle, really.
And this was a car that featured a hydrogen fuel cell
platform underneath it.
So it's a completely zero emissions car.
It was a great advertisement for the company, because
people see a zero emissions car, and they go, wow, Morgan,
a sports car maker is building something very
environmentally friendly.
But then you actually to get into Morgan and the brand, and
it does a lot more.
When you realize that all the materials in this car are
locally sourced.
And the factory itself isn't using big machinery, and it's
hand crafting these vehicles.
It's a low energy manufacture.
The car is very lightweight.
You've got all these other fantastic environmentally
friendly accreditations that they're adding to it.
So although it is a zero emissions vehicle, every
Morgan is actually very environmentally friendly.
They have a long life span.
They're kept for a long period of time.
So, it was just a testament to the way in which we build cars
JF MUSIAL: I think the one thing that we all notice when
we first come in here is the smell.
CHARLES MORGAN: Yes, this is the wood shop.
This is very unusual to find a wood shop like
this in a car factory.
You'll find veneers in a luxury car factory, but you
won't find guys putting together solid hard wood
that's this grand.
Obviously these are the back presses.
When you laminate some wood--
this is really heavy-- ah, I can't pick it up.
But when you laminate wood, obviously you put the grain in
the different directions, and then you bond them together.
And of course, you want to take all the air out of it
that you can to stop the air bubbles in the glue, so that
creates a bonded laminate.
And that's a very strong component.
And of course, it's got a lot of spring in it.
And it seems to last forever.
That's partly why we use wood.
We also use wood, to be honest, because it's
environmentally correct.
Because it encourages people to plant forestry.
And it's the young trees that clean the air.
So it's our, if you'd like, bit of greenness too.
But we're actually using wood in sustainable forestries
that's being kept going by people who use wood.
But I suppose the other thing is it gives us a unique
And these days, basically, there's so much competition in
the car industry, we want to maintain
something that's very Morgan.
Something that's very different.
And as you said, the smell's very nice, too.
The 1950s.
Plus Morgan plus four coupe.
And we've got it here just to show that we can actually
build the cars and keep the cars going on the road.
For instance, Morgan probably has got about 30,000 or 40,000
cars around the world.
And they do say that a Morgan never dies.
The wood--
it's not in brilliant condition, is it?
But the fact is that you can replace it.
So basically, what people tend to do with Morgans, is that
they re-chassis them.
They re-body them.
And they keep them going with components, which again, is
very, very good from the environmental point of view.
Because ideally, what you want to do is produce a product
that generation after generation, like a watch, is
going to want to keep going.
That's very much part of our philosophy.
Now, one person definitely is responsible for a chassis and
for a wood frame.
So if you like that, that gives the
ownership to the operator.
And he signs it off.
He could actually sign it.
Sometimes they do.
They sign it.
But I think it's very important to recognize that a
car is a combination.
It's not one person that build the whole car, but it's a
combination of different people who actually are really
skilled in their own particular area.
The wood's ash.
It's English.
It grows fairly straight.
Comes from England or Europe.
Not America.
It's faster growing in America, but
it's a slow grow here.
What's good about it is the grade.
You don't tend to get too many knots in it, and so you can
use a lot of it.
And it grows fairly straight, whereas oak tends to go in
lots of different directions.
But it's the same material as a handle of a
cricket bat, for instance.
It absorbs shock really well.
In the old days, in the Italian factories, they have
this thing called Superleggera, and that was the
aluminum body.
And then you added some tubular steel frame
And in a sense, this is exactly the same.
This is the structure underneath the aluminum body
of the three wheeler.
Under this, of course, is a big tubular chassis.
Yeah, but this if you like, is just a way of keeping the
aluminum taut and acting as a little bit of a cushion
between the chassis and the body.
The problem with Superleggera, of course, is that it was
steel against aluminum.
So of course the aluminum reacts with
the steel and corrodes.
We don't have that problem with the wood.
So to an extent, this is Morgan Superleggera.
Without the problems.
When you actually treat the wood, and obviously this is to
a certain extent, how much work you want to put in.
A bit like a favorite pair of shoes.
They tend to get better with age.
CHARLES MORGAN: And so will wood.
And it will look better and better and better the more you
rub it and polish it.
This is obviously [INAUDIBLE].
So I prefer this style of luxury interior to veneers.
Veneers are an acquired taste, really.
Veneered cigar boxes and all that kind of thing.
This is more honest, I think.
Proper real wood.
And of course, what you get here is you get the same
thing, where you get every bit of wood slightly different.
So you've got a very personal product out of wood.
These jigs are slightly fascinating.
They've been here since the war, I suppose.
JF MUSIAL: What is the jig for?
CHARLES MORGAN: Well, this is the real [INAUDIBLE]
for one of the traditional cars.
JF MUSIAL: Oh, cool.
CHARLES MORGAN: And as you see, it's just three bits of
ash with the grain going a different direction.
JF MUSIAL: So you've got the vacuum stuff over there.
That's the modern version of this?
This is just sheer brute force.
JF MUSIAL: And how long are they staying in here for?
Six hours.
It's very cool.
JONATHAN WELLS: But what I brought to the design team
essentially is 3D surfacing.
So Matt would sketch the ideas out, and I'd draw with him.
And then we needed some way of relating these concept
sketches and aesthetic design training to the way we build
cars in the shop floor.
So my job would be to take the sketches and model these in
3D, sometimes in clay as well, but mainly in 3D on the
computer screen.
We'd apply textures and materials and colors to this,
and visualize exactly what this car is
going to look like.
Show this to Charles, and say, here you go, Charles, this is
your car in 3D.
Once we have the sign-off, we would then chop this car up on
the screen, take out some printed plots to the wood
shop, they would make this out of wood, and then the plan
would be to hand craft this entire car.
So everything you see here is hand beaten from a flat sheet
of aluminum.
JF MUSIAL: It's amazing you've from modern technology back to
old vintage technology.
JONATHAN WELLS: Exactly, yeah.
-And that brings up an interesting point.
Every corner you turn your smell something new and
wonderful, like a chef walking into a fresh produce market.
But not only that, you start looking at the faces.
Less than 200 people work in these work shops.
Everyone from designers to wood craftsman.
It's a close-knit family.
Men and women with 40 years of experience between these walls
training young teenagers.
There are no instruction books, no Volkswagen era
just-in-time logistic systems.
Everything is taught by word of mouth with the hands of
And despite the archaic methods,
it's all just working.
It will continue to work for years to come, even as they
ramp up daily production.
CHARLES MORGAN: So once you've got the wood frame, then we
cover it in aluminum.
And the panels are a combination of pre-formed and
literally hand assembled.
So what you'll see is somebody actually
wiring the edge of this.
So he's turning it around and putting a--
JF MUSIAL: It's all hand done?
CHARLES MORGAN: Hand done, yeah.
This is actually a 1950s or 1960s body.
It's a lot narrower.
People were smaller in the old days.
JF MUSIAL: Seems that way, yes.
CHARLES MORGAN: Cars were smaller, but
they're all very light.
Once you've--
Could we both pick it up?
CHARLES MORGAN: Yeah, of course.
That's the whole car.
JF MUSIAL: That's incredible.
CHARLES MORGAN:This, again, is about a six-hour process to
assemble the aluminum panel.
We tend to have a half day cycle throughout the factory,
so that things move on every half--
I think you'll still find the affordable cars,
they're using aluminum.
The new Jaguar F type is very much an aluminum car.
And we pioneered that technology on the Aero, so
yes, we're not perhaps pathfinders anymore, but we
were pioneers then.
The trouble with carbon fibers is there's a very
short supply of it.
It's mostly wanted by the aircraft industry.
So the price has gone through the roof.
So it's really only super car territory.
And our buyers are not necessarily people who want to
pay 500,000 pounds for a car.
JONATHAN WELLS: There's certain elements that have a
nod to a more classic era of motoring.
And that's what's nice about a Morgan.
Morgan doesn't conform to generic car design.
It doesn't follow any rule book.
Nowadays, car design can be quite constricted by the rules
and regulations and positions of certain parts of the car.
We try not to get too blinded by that.
We like the proportion of the Morgan car.
The wind line in vehicles like this, we try to add a bit more
tension to it, and strengthen it a bit, and give it a bit
more stance and purpose.
But, as you say, that classic form is very much there.
It's the British Coke bottle proportion on
the side of the car.
But, as I mentioned, some of these lines are sped up a
great deal.
There's a lot more sharp edges, which break the air
away cleaner, and improve the aerodynamics, while staying
true to what we can achieve with the actual materials.
CHARLES MORGAN: So, this is our paint shop.
As I say, once the car's disassembled,
they all come in here.
And each component is painted.
We've actually got two paint shops because the constraints
on our production system is paint, really.
It's the slowest process, is baking the paint.
JF MUSIAL: Waiting.
CHARLES MORGAN: And waiting for it to dry.
JONATHAN WELLS: In the development department,
there's 10 of us.
Very closely tight knit team.
JF MUSIAL: Are you all in the same--
JONATHAN WELLS: Literally all in the same room.
And everybody is a genius and a specialist in their own
right that gets involved with lots of different things.
And as you mentioned, you do have to conform to things like
harmonization, and get this passed off.
In a lot of companies, the design may happen, and then
enters the next division where you can't do this
and can't do that.
And something's lost.
And then it moves on again, and the material engineers
can't quite work with this, so something else is lost.
And you end up with a fairly generic form.
But for us, when we're drawing and we're sketching, I've got
harmonization here looking over my shoulder going, oh
those headlights need to be a bit higher.
So I scrap that drawing, and I work on the next thing.
And arguably, that could compromise the design in some
instances, but what we find is when you do hit the nail on
the head, and you get something that works, really
exciting concept sketch, and harmonization are happy
straight away.
And so are the material engineers.
So is everyone else.
That idea has got more chance to make it all the way to the
road, to the end user, with that same
excitement and drama.
I think essentially over the last 10 years, it's been a
roller coaster at Morgan.
Cars like the Aero have come along and shown people that
you can build super cars with this DNA.
And when you are building vehicles, with those
performance figures like the Aeros-- and even the three
wheeler on the other end the spectrum-- do have, you do
have to consider a lot more suspension dynamics, and
aerodynamics, and all sorts of stuff.
These tests are very expensive.
Wind tunnels are very expensive.
So small companies like us are encouraged, really, to start
using a lot of onscreen simulation.
So we do.
We run every single CAD model through onscreen CFD.
CHARLES MORGAN: Oh, nice and quiet.
CHARLES MORGAN: We're now smelling cow or leather, as we
would call it.
But no, essentially as I say, the assembly goes back
together, and then we start to trim the inside of the car.
And this is where you see the different specifications that
a customer wants coming out.
We actually use Scottish leather.
The cows are from Scotland.
I think there's less barbed wire out there, so they don't
scratch them.
But no seriously, that's the reason, actually.
JONATHAN WELLS: We had the idea for three wheeler, and we
started sketching it.
And 18 months later, we're all in the workshop doing a
48-hour stint building the things up ourselves, and
seeing this design come to life.
And it's at the Geneva Motor Show.
A matter of a few months later, the first cars are on
the road going to production.
So from a sketch to a full complete production car on the
road, you're talking less than two years, which is no time
really, compared to other companies.
JF MUSIAL: Comapred to the big manufacturers.
The Americans, the Germans, the Japanese, who spend six,
seven, eight years designing--
JONATHAN WELLS: I think that's testament to the
way in which we work.
And the way the factory and development and technology are
all united in this pot.
CHARLES MORGAN: This is basically where all the cars
come after they've been road tested.
JF MUSIAL: Every car gets road tested?
CHARLES MORGAN: Every car gets road tested.
And then it comes in here.
And this is the detailing, if you like.
So it enables us to really, really inspect the paint work.
Essentially, each car will spend about half a day in
here, get a thorough inspection, and then be passed
off for quality control.
JF MUSIAL: Who's the final person that signs off on a car
going to the customer?
CHARLES MORGAN: One of these guys.
JF MUSIAL: Each person is assigned a
car and sign it off?
They go through a checklist of things?
JONATHAN WELLS: I think Morgan design is uncompromised.
I think it's excitement and fun.
It's happiness.
I think people see a Morgan, and it makes them feel happy.
There's no pretentiousness, there's no arrogance.
It's a very honest design, which is challenging,
uncompromised, and there's a lot of stories to it.
There's a lot of story.
There's a lot of meat to talk about in the pub,
when you pull up.
CHARLES MORGAN: Morgan's link with motor racing, really, is
that we've used it as a test bed.
So essentially, we feel that if a car performs well on the
track, then it's going to perform
quite well on the road.
There are now, of course, test tracks as well.
And that's another thing.
The German manufacturers will tell you that if you can drive
a car 200 miles an hour, it's going to be really quite good
at 100 miles an hour.
So there's an element of that in it.
But we also, of course, were one of the first cars to have
a bonded aluminum chassis--
adhesively bonded aluminum.
Now, when I told that to my father, he said, is that a
good idea, Charles?
I know we made those air fix kits, but should we actually
make a car like that?
So we thought it would be quite a good thing to test it
on the track first before some poor owner actually finds out
that the bonding doesn't work.
Seriously though, Le Mans is a 24-hour race.
So if a car lasts 24 hours at the max at Le Mans, then it's
pretty sure it's going to be a good road car as a chassis.
So we use the long distance endurance racing and the GT
championships to bottom out exactly what this chassis
would do under great stress and under great strain.
And of course, you do put bigger strain, because
typically a modern sticky race tire will
pull 3G, perhaps more.
Whereas a road tire will only ever go up to one
or a bit over one.
So you're putting a hell of a lot more stress into the
That's the main reason we do motor racing.
Because it's all about enjoyment when it
comes down to it.
We are about actually a car factory, which provides people
with the experience of having fun behind the wheel.
And I think you still can in safety.
The super car world, and to a certain extent, the racing
world has just gone out of--
it's gone completely out of the possibilities of the
normal person, and that's a shame.
Because to an extent, Morgan was really about offering an
affordable way of going racing,
going into motor sport.
I've got some lovely stories.
In fact, one of them is American.
The very first race at Sebring,
the 12 hours at Sebring.
And in fact, a competitor had had his car blow up and was in
the pub, when a Morgan owner arrived.
He'd only just bought his car.
I think it was a week old.
And he came to watch the race.
And the guy in the pub said, do you want to enter with me?
Because my car's blown up.
And this poor bloke went, well, all right.
So he ends up doing the race, and they came 13th overall.
JF MUSIAL: With the car just off the showroom floor.
That's cool.
CHARLES MORGAN: So that was the philosophy behind Morgan,
really, was to provide a car that without much work, you
could enter in a race and do quite well.
Those days are certainly gone.
Well, internationally they are.
But that doesn't mean to say that we don't still believe in
that philosophy.
This is the top of the hill.
We have a very sophisticated assembly line, actually.
It's gravity feed.
Well, it's only gravity feed relatively recently because an
engineering guru came around here.
And he said, gosh, this is brilliant.
You've got this business of no expensive equipment because
you just push the car down the hill.
And I said, but the problem is we're pushing them up the hill
at the moment.
So we've changed it now.
We are pushing them down the hill.
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Morgan Motor Company: The Most Honest Car Factory in the World - /DRIVEN

4417 Folder Collection
稲葉白兎 published on November 1, 2014
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