Members Reports

Blyton Park October 12th October 2012

I received an email from Brian & Evelyn Lofty forwarded from Steve Hole, editor of Total Kit Cr Magazine, asking if we could get a representative with a JZR for a 3 wheeler photo shoot .
As this was on a Friday I rang around but the ones I contacted were all working so it was left to me.
Steve sent me all the details and the venue. Friday came along, 6.45am and the JZR was out of the hanger to a very dark morning, but the roads are dry and running clean and green with no rain.
Steve wanted us to be at Blyton Park just north of Gainsborough by 8.30am – timing not far out as arrived at 8.40am, travelling a total of 50.5 miles. On arrival there was a welcome cup of hot coffee. There was a cold wind coming from the north and on an old WW11 airfield in flat Lincolnshire it was necessary to wrap up well.
There were 11 three wheelers on display of all different types – a group photo was taken, this took about an hour for the two photographers. They had to get the cars in a set position. My JZR was moved 5 times. Then each Trike was taken further up the track for a single shot. At lunch time there was more coffee, followed by bacon sandwiches, crisps, kitkat biscuits, all provided by TKC Magazine. As I looked round after lunch I saw that the JZR was the only three wheeler to come under it own steam. It was now time to go onto the track. Only one Trike was allowed at one time, so I sat, being the second to go around. Then I was given the green light to follow the photo car. Just one lap of the track with the two photographers both laid on their stomachs, both cameras looking down at me. I was beckoned to get closer, then beckoned to go to the right side and then the left, then again beckoned to get closer to them. At one stage I was only three to four feet away from them and we were travelling at 35 to 40 mph (remember that when following so closely you cannot see in front of you.)
Each photographer wanted to get the best shot. A great adrenalin rush. The write up will be in Total Kit car Magazine in the Jan/Feb issue, an American magazine and The Daily Telegraph.
The run home was excellent with sun and a dry road and she is now safely back in her hanger.
I would like to thank Steve Hole for a great day out. Zipper


Tales from the Woodshed, or.....Johan's account of the 4th WELSH WANDER
Well we arrived at Llandeilo Graban at approx 13.47hrs or it could have been about dinner time I'm not quite sure. We were greeted with a big hug from Fran & a waggy tail from Bess the trusty dog. We like to do our own thing so we moved our kit into the woodshed for the weekend. Lovely and dry, loads of space for cooking and dry sawdust on the floor. Throw down the sleeping bag on top of Lilo Lill - [the blow up air bed!] and job's a good'un! Fran then returned with a big thick army blanket -'It might get cold tonight'. It did and the blanket was much appreciated.
Now, Ian Avery normally does the write ups for the Welsh Wander but unfortunately, according to the word on the street, himself and Jo are banged up in a Gulag somewhere in Siberia for selling home brewed vodka to the locals. Ah well, let's start with the introductions:
The Pilots & Crews [Not necessarily in order of appearance]
Kath Shaw
Brian Pearce
Brian & Pat Fereday
Henry & Lauren Tierney
John de Ritter & Roger Arnold
Kevin Aldhouse
Stu the pipe + Eric & Scruffy
Support Crew [In order of appearance]
Fran [Captain]
Bess [Co-pilot]
Vivienne Aston & Des [rear crew]
Later in the afternoon Kath arrived from work and greeted us with “hope you've brought snorkels & flippers - the forecast is crap!” At least we had a dry run over to Wales. As the day wore on the crews started to arrive, some arriving well after dark. How the hell they found the place at night time beats me.
Fran did her usual job of welcoming, feeding & watering, how she copes with the sudden influx of bodies never ceases to amaze. Anyway time for a pint, oops, no - time for bed.
As dawn broke there was a steady drizzle but gradually the weather cleared up. The crews staying at the farm fired up and headed off to the craft centre to meet up with the rest of Kath's Flying Circus. A couple from the Netherlands were fascinated by the assembled cars and peppered us with questions.[Or were they just being polite to this mob of loonies about to roar off in open top cars when a blind man could see it was about to hiss down].
Anyway roar off we did along the little winding roads that Kath always finds for us. The cars were going steadily, the crews enjoying the sun and scenery. Next thing we were in Builth Wells for an unscheduled fuel stop! This was not on the original plan and as Kath had written mine in Welsh I sat and had another look at the map. No this was not in the script - but then I know only a few words of Welsh. It was a right turn out of the garage so by the time Johan got out the rest were disappearing left over the bridge and into the town centre. I was No: 6 in the convoy and pulled in to wait for Brian & Pat running as tail-end-charlie to appear. Due to the traffic it took a couple of minutes for them to catch up. In the meanwhile the rest of the team had disappeared; we just carried on slowly up the main street. I was hoping a local would shout/wave/or just point the way the team had gone. It was not to be. At a suitable point I just turned up a B road and pulled in. Brian & Pat were still there thinking I knew where I was going! At this stage Fran rounded us up, and as luck would have it we were pointing in the right direction! We soon re-joined the convoy and Kath somehow got us back on the planned route.
We climbed steadily past Llangynog before turning south towards Brecon. We then motored on west, skirting the top end of the Brecon Beacons, lovely scenery and still only the odd shower. At Sennybridge we headed south again and started a steady climb into the hills. Fan Nedd on our right & Fan Llia on our left - fan is the welsh word for the Scottish ben, it's spelt ban in the dictionary but changes it's first letter to 'f' after certain words [hope that was helpful] (It’s a mutation, due to the fact that Welsh is a spoken language not a written one and makes it easier to speak. Trust me – Ed). I was admiring the scenery as we trundled along thinking how lucky we were with the weather considering the atrocious forecast.
The blind man must have had a chuckle and then pulled the plug from under a big black cloud. Seven cars simultaneously pulled into the side of the road & up went the brollies as the rain hissed down! Again it didn't last for long so off we went again. After a few more miles we stopped to admire the scenery.
All the male contingent didn't take much notice as we headed into the bracken for a pee! We didn't stop long as it was the ladies turn next. [They can hold their water better than us] The nearest town was Hirwaun so after a quick recce lap the appropriate facilities were located and everyone sighed in relief! At this stage of the trip we were just up the road from Merthyr Tydfil at the head of the Welsh Valleys - not a male voice choir to be found. So off we went again to our dinner time stop at the Garnwnant Forest Centre. While we were sat down Fran said that she wished that she could have videoed the impromptu brolly stop, in her words “It was like watching a lot of multi coloured mushrooms popping up at the side of the road.” The crews fed and watered, the JZRs fired up and off we went once more. A marvellous run back over the Beacons then down through Talybont, Bwlch &Talgarth on Kath's magical mini backroads. A short blast up the main road and we were back at base, All in all a grand day out.
After a brew and a snack we wandered back into the yard, discussed the day and inspected each others JZR for recent modifications. Brian Fereday's mod to the front suspension was brilliant allowing him to 'A' frame the car. He had also fitted the cut down sporty backend for the rally. Strong rumour says he is about to make a 'beetle' back this winter. [Look Brian, if you are driving a marked vehicle, just keep changing the number plate]. Kath's engine rebuild paid off - no more smoke on hill climbs. Henry and Lauren were well pleased after last year’s disappointment. But let's be fair, despite the combined efforts of all concerned in no way could we have done anything with a US CDI unit on the car park. Time for everyone to report to their respective messes for the evening meal, and so to bed.
Sunday dawned overcast and drizzly once again. Fran & Kath carried on as normal feeding the livestock. I gave moral support with a brew and a bacon buttie from the comfort of the woodshed. The rain stopped for a time so the remaining JZRs were marshalled in front of the farmhouse for a photo shoot. [Sorry, Kevin had enjoyed himself so much he had to return home on Sat, before he was overcome with euphoria]. Right, back to the photo job. By the time the girls had us moving backwards, forwards, further apart, closer together it started to drizzle again. Pictures were taken & it was time to head off to the Craft Centre to meet up with Brian Pearce for the next sortie.
All in order, Kath fired the maroon and off we went. We had only just passed Paincastle when the blind man started to ease open the celestial tap. We motored on to Knighton and stopped for fuel. The rain alternated with drizzle. As there was not much to look at the pace seemed to pick up. Dolfor, Llandrindod Wells and eventually Llanwrtyd Wells where we pulled in to the forecourt of the Neuadd Arms for the dinner stop. Kath said she never went over 50mph but at the backend there seems to be a whiplash effect, braking on the down hill bits to keep clear from the car ahead then going like the clappers to catch up two minutes later!
All parked up and wet weather gear off we trooped in to be greeted with a lovely open fire. [More kit off - steady on John.] The Flying Circus took their seats either side of the dinner table. The top end would grace any gathering; I was sat down the bottom end with John & Roger where it was more like a chimp’s tea party. While we were all enjoying our meal the blind man was having another laugh - the rain had stopped, the sun was out cracking the flags and steam was rising from the rapidly drying street. We finished our meal and kitted up for the afternoon run. John and Roger were returning to base via A-roads to load up for home, the rest of the team followed Kath for the last bit of the run under a darkening sky. The route took us through some lovely countryside then a steady climb towards Upper Chapel. The cloud-base had lifted somewhat and we pulled in to view the most amazing panorama of the whole trip. Looking south we could see the Sennybridge Ranges and the Brecon Beacons, in fact, another angle on the area we had driven over the day before.
As we carried on our way the sun even popped out for a short while, John & Roger you missed a treat. Kath led us onwards and upwards along a fantastic single track road with fantastic views until .......... yes the blind man played his trump card. It went dark, the heavens opened and with nowhere to park up we got soaked. It seemed to last for ages but in reality could have been no more than 5 minutes, if that. The sun came out again and stayed with us for the last few miles back to base.
On our return we found John & Roger still loading up. The same cloudburst had forced them to pull up and wait for normal service to be resumed. After waving them off it was time for Henry and Lauren to load up and depart homewards. The rest of us would go our various ways the next day. I said cheerio to Brian Pearce that evening as he was not staying at the farm. So time for food and then bed once more. [“goodnight Maw, goodnight Paw, goodnight John-boy, goodnight Mary-Beth......now sing along.......ding a ding ding, ding ding”]
It's morning once more [funny how that happens]. A good fry up and a brew whilst watching the girls carry on with the daily feeding. Time now to 'break camp' and stow all the gear back into Johan. Job done it was final farewells to Brian & Pat Fereday and to Fran, Kath and Bess. On behalf of all the crews attending a BIG THANK YOU. We appreciate the planning & the rationing that goes into these weekends, apart from the daily tasks of caring for the livestock. Before signing off I hope Brian Pearce gets similar support for next year's Ingleton Run, I for one am looking forward to another run up and down the Yorkshire Dales.
Tales from the Woodshed' is being dramatised and adapted for BBC Television early in the New Year. Regards, Stu the Pipe. Time for a pint!
[Tailpiece: the front brakes lived up to expectations


A Piece from the Organiser.
I feel I should write a little something here, not because Stu hasn’t done a very good job, but just to add something from the front and defend myself from the speed slurs!
Obviously planning for the next Wander starts early, almost as soon as the last one is over, then it is completely forgotten until about a week before everyone is about to arrive. We follow a well rehearsed schedule that involves buying far too much food (good job I have access to a food wholesaler), and general panic. The route is designated by choosing a nice looking/interesting destination and then randomly driving down ever diminishing lanes until we get there and back without going back on ourselves. The roads with grass growing down the centre are then rejected, for obvious reasons (which never seem clear enough to those in the support vehicle!).
It would be very sensible to rehearse the final route before I actually have to lead others round it, but this has only happened once (and that was in the dark, on the Speed Triple, about an hour before everyone arrived!) as evidenced by the few puzzling moments we had at junctions this year. Never mind, there’s always room for improvement next year........
The weekend started in earnest with the putting up of the signs at all the important road junctions. I then rushed off to work. By the time I returned a vagabond had arrived and set up camp in the woodshed. Satisfied it really was Stu, I did indeed regale him with my gloomy weather forecast for the weekend, he laughed at that point but we knew better! Stu had bought a special new friend with him this year and a photo opportunity was set up........I think Bess is on the right!
After checking carefully, Bess (the brains of the outfit) and I left him to finish setting up and went for a walk. As we returned down the road Bess could hear a strange rumbling echoing round the hills. Yes, the Fereday’s were on their way. Brian tried to pretend he had driven all the way from the Big Smoke but we weren’t fooled, especially as Pat couldn’t stop laughing behind him. Turns out they stopped off and unloaded the JZR off the A-frame because Brian wanted to pretend he was doing a hill-climb on the road up to the farm, I think he had fun as he was grinning from ear to ear!
During cake and tea everyone else slowly arrived, with newcomer Kevin the last to arrive in the dark. We were expecting him so saved some stew, which seemed to go down very well. Pudding was then demolished and we retired to bed ready for the off early in the morning. Livestock checked the following morning and everyone marshalled we shot off down to the Craft Centre to meet various members of the party who wisely decided to stay somewhere else. Suddenly there was an electronic ringing as everyone’s mobile phones came into signal. At one point I turned round to see almost the whole party either texting or listening to answer phone messages. Various relations and friends were reassured that their loved ones were ok and hadn’t been eaten by dragons; we set off into the wilds. I’m not going to tell you where we went in case I want to use the route again, but it was all ok and no one had to reverse when I nearly missed a turning.
Carefully timed comfort breaks in the middle of nowhere seemed to be appreciated and we made it to the lunch stop in the middle of a forest. As usual we created quite a stir when we pulled up, especially with the contingent of vintage bikers who were also using the cafe as a refuelling stop. Luckily John de Ritter got fed before we left, but it was a close call. After skirting showers and storms all morning we got caught in a biggie after lunch. At the front the heavens opened and a solid sheet of water poured out, I carried on until I was struggling to see. Unfortunately I started laughing at that point and my mouth filled with hailstones, at that point I felt it was time to stop and take cover. Being the only person without a brolly I threw myself under my tonneau cover while the others sprouted the multi-coloured mushrooms. The rain was short lived and we continued on the route with no major storm damage back to the farm for an evening of unplanned fun and laughter. In response to the accusation of speeding I can say that we only touched warp speed once Officer. Did you not order the upgraded engine package from JZ, Stu?
As Stu has already mentioned the Sunday dawned grey and drizzle-y. Participants were given the option of staying inside, but no one took up that option and I was forced to go back out and lead the second day. We waved goodbye to Kevin who had to leave due to family commitments, but before he left we made him promise to come back next year (we’ll find you Kevin, don’t think you’re safe across the border.....). After messing about trying to take a group photo to send to the Wanderers who missed this year due to illness,
(Men! Take a hint: just do what you are told, when we tell you!) we set off again. This time the weather was atrocious, despite the wearing of the lucky waterproof trousers. Once we got out of civilisation and went north the heavens opened and we were soaked. I continued for as long as I could until my woolly hat was saturated and was forced to stop for the donning of the bike helmet. Those that started the day in theirs were looking quite smug; Henry, Lauren and myself just looked drowned. Helmets on, we continued for a bit longer to the drumming of the rain on the helmets, I spent the time wondering where I could fit a bracket to hold my iPod to keep it dry. Eventually the sun came out again but it was too late by then as we were inside eating dinner, still not sure what was so mysterious about my chocolate pudding? After lunch we set off after giving John and Roger detailed instructions on how to get back to the farm quickly. The route included a run over one of the most desolate roads I’ve ever been down, but the views were amazing.
Shortly after this photo was taken our luck changed and the weather closed in again, this storm continued for quite a while and most of us discovered that putting slits in the side of waterproof trousers, so you can get into pockets, was not a great design idea. The water can get in quick but only leaves slowly. Quick thinking meant the mobile phone was thrown into the passenger footwell because it was drier there than inside my waterproofs. Luckily it was a simple route back home and we all met up before crossing the river to get home again. Once dried out I left everyone to it and went back to work for some peace and quiet.
The following morning we waved off the last few lingerers, Stu trekking across country and the Faradays off to their luxury canal boat for a bit of R&R. The fun didn’t end there because Mum, Bess and I joined up with the Feredays' for a canal cruise at the end of the weeks. We all had a fantastic time, even Bess who prefers not to get involved with water. Thank you to Brian for letting me steer despite my driving display the previous weekend and to Pat for constantly providing refreshments! We finally waved them off the following day after admiring the Bishop’s new rear end and attachment points. Thank you everyone who turned up, we would still run it without you! And commiserations to those that had to cancel due to ill health, glad to see you are getting better. See you all next year. Kath



DAVE’S DRIVEL
The evidence of the rain showers, suffered travelling home from Newark, having been removed, it was just a question of checking oil level and tyre pressures before the Ardingly weekend arrived. That rear tyre proved to be keeping it’s distance from those wear markers and will easily convey “355” for the weekend, without risking the wrath of the boys in blue. I have yet to check the new tyres’ price...........fear is a powerful disincentive.
Following the torrential rain during the night, Saturday dawned dry and sunny. And so it was that, a little after 0700hrs, “355” rolled free from the hangar and set off for the Dartford Crossing. Having been afforded a free passage, as befits a Tricorn, a pleasant run to Clacketts Lane Services was next on the menu prior to filling the tank. A pleasant, though uneventful, drive had “355” into the showground and ‘on pitch’ by 0830hrs. If you are unfamiliar with this show, it is worth mentioning that it caters for ‘vintage and classic’ vehicles that are not horse-drawn. There is always a steam driven fairground and usually, a steam powered mobile sawmill converting tree trunks into 4x3s complete with a steam powered crane to move the heavy stuff and there’s a large auto jumble. “355” sits amongst the micro cars on a prominent plot very near the exhibitor’s entrance. The aforementioned auto jumble failed to provide me with those much sought after tyre valve caps which are both short and hexagon shaped. Short round caps there are aplenty and I am ‘running alive’ with long hexagonal caps, they always look like short ones on the web! The only occasions that I have seen what I want, they have been part of a £20 kit and that is more than I am prepared to pay for four valve caps!
Back at the show, things were progressing nicely. I was watching some of the big steamers going round the parade ring when the near side corner of one suddenly dropped. A puncture? Surely not! Then its wheel toppled over and leant against the side of the steamer’s footplate. The poor ‘invalid’ was left marooned in the ring, acting as a centrepiece for the rest of the displays that day. Come the close of play, the steam crane from the ‘saw mill’ was called upon to remove the offending wheel prior to the steamer (all 5 tonnes of it) being hauled onto a low loader for return to a suitable workshop for repair. No, you can’t get punctures in solid iron wheels, it was the axle that broke and I doubt that RAC membership would have been of any benefit, so it was lucky that it actually broke in the showground where the relevant equipment was easily available. But I fear that the manufacture and fitting of a replacement axle could well exceed the cost of a fairly comprehensive JZR kit! In passing, I once enquired as to a big steamer’s top speed. “Probably well in excess of 40mph,” said its owner, “but at that speed it would take at least two miles to bring it to a halt, which is why we always stick to a more leisurely pace.”
Ardingly is a reasonable commute, 60-70 miles each way at a guess, and I had very enjoyable runs, to and fro, before the Sunday session. It stayed dry both days (so it proved well worth while sacrificing that small boy on the previous Thursday!) and a good weekend show was the verdict of the micro car crowd. On the Sunday the show closes at 1700hrs but I crept away at about a quarter to. The reason? Much as I love steamers, it takes them an age to negotiate the narrow road ‘twixt the showground and the junction for the M23, so it makes sense to leave before any of them do, or make a late night of it. Thus, I was home in plenty of time to obtain a take-away and finish the day in style. I have already made a note to reserve the same weekend next year, for a repeat performance.
The M25 mob’s meeting for August arrived and guess what? It dawned with teeming rain! So it was that I set off in the Trolley with the wipers earning their corn. The wipers had been reduced to the intermediate setting by the time that we entered the M25 tunnel next to the A10 junction. We emerged into bright sunlight, and the tunnel is not much more than a hundred yards long! Thus I was the only one not JZR mounted to attend the feast. Roger parked his shiny new rebuild, and a beautiful job he has made of it. Malcolm and Brian F. made up the number for a convivial chat and pilot’s refuelling session. The Trolley carried me home over trouble-free and sun-baked roads, so that it could join an unused “355” in the hangar.
The M25 mob’s meet was to have been that rear tyres’ swansong. It has not actually worn to the wear markers, but it is very, very close and at 2152 miles must have set some record for a motorbike front tyre. So a new one has been ordered........ £122.00!!! (Why is it that tyres never suffer price increases in single pounds?)But then when I tried a different make, some time ago, it proved to be as lethal as a cross-ply, and had to be consigned to the local tip after just a couple of hundred yards of road work. Now that is the sort of economy I can do without. So best stick with the devil I know, bite the bullet, look big and pay up!!!
I buy “355”’s tyres from “My Tyres Direct”, who operate from Germany. An internet order for a complete set was placed at about 2400hrs on the Friday, I received an e-mail on the Monday informing me that I would be contacted as soon as the order had been despatched. Then on the Tuesday another e-mail arrived to say that my order was on its way. 1130hrs on the Wednesday was heralded by the doorbell......... my tyres had arrived!!! (And all the paperwork was in German). I contacted my local friendly bike dealer and arranged to take the loose rear wheel and new tyre, on the following morning, for the fitting to be accomplished. Thursday dawned with torrential rain, flooded roads and I was almost deafened by the sound of the rain on the hangar roof. Merely transferring the wheel and tyre across the road, from the Trolley parking spot to the bike shop, had me soaked to the skin and I swear that I could hear “355” laughing back home in the dry. However the job was completed, the wheel refitted and “355” was returned to the horizontal position prior to my getting out of my sopping wet clothes. So I now have the new front tyres in stock and ready for fitting, but this little job is not urgent, it can be left until the present tyres have worn a bit more and I can predict having two consecutive free days.
“TWO days?” I hear you cry! Well you see, my nearest knock-on, wire wheel tyre fitter is a goodly drive away and he don’t stock “355”’s size of front tyre. “355” doesn’t have the room to transport a pair of tyres and so: on day one, the Trolley delivers the tyres to the fitters. On day two, “355” presents its self to have its new boots fitted and wheels rebalanced. “355”’s original front tyres were of a slightly higher profile than the make that I am presently using. This means that the front wheels can now be removed without disturbing the mudguards, which can be well worth noting should a wheel need to be removed in some stygian, remote and rain swept lay-by. A problem with the rear wheel is, due to its more convoluted mode of extraction, a definite recovery irrespective of the time weather or location.
The M25 Mobs September meet arrived on schedule and the Gods provided a dry morning for the new rear tyre’s first outing. The roads proved to be extremely quiet (mayhap there was actually a decent programme on the ‘haunted fish tank’?) and a pleasant meeting ensued. Apologies for absence having been received, there was only Brian F. and self to put on a display of JZRs while we fed and nattered. In the course of my homeward journey I encountered an unusually large number of vehicles sprouting waving arms and/or cameras. And I have always thought the “355”’s age related plate would allow her to blend in anonymously with the other traffic! Now that there is only one more show before the end of the season I may soon have to commence my preparations for fitting snow chains to the Trolley. Where did the much heralded ‘Global Warming Summer’ strut its stuff? Surely I didn’t manage to sleep away a whole day? Rol


The following article is reproduced from the Australian Classic Car Magazine. It was written by Denis Gregory who is car enthusiast and president of one of the local car clubs. Thank you Denis.
THREE IS A CROWD PLEASER.
As a 20-year-old doing engineering part-time at the University of New South Wales, John Baker had his heart set on owning a Triumph TR3A. His daily drive was a humble Austin A30, but he wanted something sportier and reckoned the TR3 fit the bill.
He regularly drove through the Sydney suburb of Fairfield on his way to a friends place. One afternoon he saw a ‘for sale’ sign on a Morgan Plus 4 in someone’s front yard. He stopped for a closer look, but found it had a cracked windscreen and was in a grubby condition.
Its owner had raced the car, and although it has set class track records at several tracks, it didn’t appeal much. But a day or so later John went past again with his parents. His father (who had owned a three-wheel Morgan) commented it was the first Morgan he had seen in years and wanted to stop and check it out.
By this time the owner had given the car a wash, and despite the cracked screen it didn’t look as bad a John had first thought. “The owner took me for a drive and the sensation of going from an Austin A30 to a race-prepared Plus 4 Morgan was quite amazing,” John says. “It also had the same engine that was in the TR3, although modified and a lighter body – and that’s what sucked me in. So I bought it for about $1000.”
The Morgan was used as normal transport, including going to and from university four times a week, but when John graduated he sold it and bought a short wheelbase Land Rover so he could drive around Australia. He still has the Land Rover, which has a damaged clutch and has been parked in one of his large sheds for a while.
In 1979, John – who now ran his own business and was a keen motoring enthusiast - bought a Morgan Plus 8 for $10,000. He took a liking to the Marque after owning the Plus 4. “It’s no different to people getting into Fords or some other brand. After buying the first Plus 4 Morgan, I followed that up buying more when they came up and just carried on from there.” Naturally an iconic Morgan three-wheeler was on the wanted list. His first choice was one with a V-twin motorcycle engine, and when he found one for sale in Victoria, he was quick to have a look.
He says it was a basket case, all in pieces, but it had a Matchless engine so he bought it for $11,000 (that was in 1981). It sat in the shed ever since and he has only just got around to starting a full restoration job – it will be a show-stopper when finished.
But, unable to say no when another three-wheeler came up in 1982; he coughed up another $12,000 for the ‘F4’. It was originally exported to New Zealand in 1952, and spent most of its early life there as daily transport. After a full restoration, including a new aluminium bonnet, it was put on the market and one of John Baker’s friends in the Morgan Club went over in 1991 and bought it, flying it back in a 747 cargo plane. The pilot was also a member of the Morgan Club and couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the immaculate little car. He wished it was his!
A month later the new owner entered it in a standing quarter mile at Castlereagh drag strip near Sydney and won class 6A with a time of 22.99 seconds. He had the car for only 14 months, and when he decided to sell it in May 1982, John Baker was there with his cheque book. Then in 1991 he bought a rare Plus 4 drophead coupé for $35,000 – taking the Morgan count to four. Morgan cars go back more than 100 years. It was Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan, a clergyman’s son, who guided the destinies of the cars in England for almost 50 years. He began his career as an 18-year-old draughtsman in a railway office. While making a modest contribution to the history of steam, his loyalties were divided between the locomotive and the motor car, so he left the railway in 1906 and at 25 opened a garage and motor works in Malvern Link in Worcestershire, where he also ran a successful bus service with a 10hp Wolseley 15-seater. He also became the district agent for Wolseley and Darraq. For his own transport he bought an Eagle tandem, a three-wheeler fitted with an 8hp water-cooled De Dion engine, and it was from his experiences with this machine and a 7hp two-cylinder car called the Little Star that he had the idea to make his own three-wheeler.
He bought a 7hp twin-cylinder Peugeot engine and mounted it in a light three-wheeled tubular chassis - and so the first Morgan runabout was born. With limited facilities for machine work in his garage, he got help from Stevenson Peach, the engineering master at Malvern and Repton colleges and the grandson of the man who designed the rocket.
H. F. S. Morgan’s first design succeeded because of its rigid frame, light weight and independent front suspension. He did not intend to market the vehicle, but after keen interest from potential buyers, he decided to build a couple. So with capital for machine tools and an extension to the Malvern Garage that his father, the Reverend H. G. Morgan, provided, he began making Morgan three-wheelers in 1910.
The Morgan name made it’s first public appearance at the Olympia Motor Show that year, and it’s two three-wheelers (both were single-seaters; one had a4hp single-cylinder JAP engine, the other an 8hp twin) won some orders. But the buying public wanted another seat.
The first, two-seaters debuted at the 1911 Olympia Show, fitted with 8hp engines. The Morgan Motor Company was formed the following year with Reverend Morgan as chairman and his son as managing director. It wasn’t long before Morgans appeared at various race meetings, and a Henry Martin won an international cyclecar race at Brooklands. H. S. F. Morgan’s sister Dorothy was a regular competitor in trials while Morgans were also setting records at hill climbs and endurance events.
So Morgan was a cottage industry that grew from small three-wheeled beginnings to become a company employing around 160 people who hand-make over 700 cars a year. The cars are exported to more than 30 countries. The same family still owns the company. It is run by H. S. F. Morgan’s grandson, Charles.
Morgans appeal to John Baker because they’re very simple and people with basic mechanical skills can easily maintain them. He also likes the nostalgic styling. His F4 four-seater was the eighth last three-wheeler made and is the youngest in Australia. It is also one of the youngest remaining in the world and is still in showroom condition.
Unlike earlier models, it’s simple but strong chassis is made from pressed steel but retains the centre tube that connects the engine and gearbox. The car is powered by a Ford E93 Prefect side-valve engine linked to the rear gearbox via a prop shaft, and then a chain drive to the back wheel. The front suspension is an early Morgan patent and was used on all Morgan three-wheelers. It can even be found in the latest Morgan 4/4, Plus 4 and Plus 8s.
The main simple parts are a kingpin, sliding axle, a main spring and a rebound spring. The back wheel is attached via a hinge at the back of the gearbox and sprung by quarter-elliptic leaf springs.
Until 1932/33 the front wheels were technically different from the back wheel. With the introduction of the 18in x 3in Dunlop magna wheel, the front and back wheels became interchangeable – so it made sense to take along a spare-wheel. It was mounted first on an angle on the top of the tail panel and later put flat on the top until it was finally integrated into the tail. This model became known as the barrelback while the older one was called the beetleback. The foot brake operates on all three wheels. John says the car goes well, but he expects the one with the Matchless engine will go harder when it’s on the road. Production of the Ford-engined three-wheelers finished in 1952. He says the three-wheeler is easy to drive, but if pushed really hard - as if on a race track – the instability of three wheels takes over and the car will lift.
“Too much oversteer and it will barrel roll and you have to be aware of that, although it’s way outside normal road speed limits. So the first thing you have to do is not let it get into that situation,” says John. The three-wheeler attracts lots of inquisitive looks from other motorists. Some of the younger drivers have a laugh, but that’s water of a duck’s back for John.
“It’s a great little car and lots of fun to drive,” he says. “And it will wind out to around 60mph and that’s about the speed limit on the road.” Morgan surprised the automotive world when it revealed a new three-wheeler earlier this year. The car retains the original’s shape and is powered by a Harley Davidson V-twin joined to a five-speed Mazda gearbox and belt drive. As well as the four Morgans John has two Austin Healy Sprites, a JZR which is a modern clone of the Morgan three-wheeler, a Giocattolo, a Westfield Clubman a couple of historic motorcycles, two Land Rovers and a Subaru WRX. l on Exeter, before I brace myself for Christmas.


go to home page