[engine revving] [music playing] jf musial: what you’re about tosee is the most authentic, honest car factoryin the world. welcome to the morganmotor company. unlike other factory tours thattake weeks of phone calls and emails just to orchestrate, morgan is an open book. every other car factory we’vebeen to, we’re always ushered
past secret rooms that holdfuture designs and technology worth millions of dollars. this malvern, england basedworkshop holds no secrets. all you’ll find here are happydesigners, craftsmen and women, the smell of wood,glue, leather. and did i say wood? so what do you need to knowabout this place? well, this is the oldest carcompany in the world owned by a single family.
their designs, not muchdifferent from five decades ago. they produce a three-wheeledcar called, well, the three wheeler. and simply put, this is justthe coolest [bleep] place you’ll ever visitas a car enthusiast. and what better person to giveus a tour than a morgan? a mr. charles morgan. so, charles, whereare we right now?
charles morgan: right,well, this is where it starts, really. this is the start of themorgan assembly line. it all starts with the chassis,of course, that we actually import in frombirmingham, which is only about 30 miles north of us. but this is built fora [inaudible] shape to our designs,obviously. it’s designed on acad [inaudible].
and as i said, it’s cohesivelybonded aluminium. you’ve got what is the sameprinciple as the racing cars. in other words, what i’m sayingis, the chassis does all the work. it provides all the stiffness. it provides all of the mountingpoints for the engine and the gear box andthe 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 actuallystart 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 becausewe have a quality check that is demandedby bmw or by one of our engine suppliers. and that means you go throughall the diagnostic checks on
the engine. and what i quite like aboutthat, doing it as a chassis, is that everything is visible. so if there are any leaks, orif there is any problems at all, it’s all accessibleto put right. and that’s particularlypleasant if you’re an electrical engineer, forexample, 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 literbmw, which it’s still a current engine, but they’vebuilt it especially for us. and the reason they do that isthey’ve gone twin turbo 4.4 liter to keep theemissions down. but actually, the 4.8 in thiscar, because it only weighs, less than 2,000 pounds– it’s about 1,150 kilos. this car is ultra light.
so actually, the emissionsare very low anyway. so we didn’t need to go to the complications of the twin turbos. but this is the diagnosticcheck equipment, so that allows us to runthe engine up. -are you sure that doesn’t pickup any nazi frequencies? [laughter] charles morgan: it’s an earlymobile phone actually. i think one of the reasons whybmw quite like working with
us, to be honest, is that mostof their cars are still [inaudible]. and they tend to be a lotheavier than an aluminium car. so the engineers– i’m not talking about themarketing people here, but the engineers quite enjoy seeingtheir product in our lightweight frame. dr. schmidt– who’s leftunfortunately, i think he’s gone to ford– but he wasthe head of engine
power train at bmw. and he got out one of theearlier versions of this and said, at last, charles,i can feel my engine. because normallyit’s so quiet. jf musial: i wouldn’t be ableto do a full episode on the history of morgan. it would just take too long. but here’s what youneed to know. the roots of the company comefrom hfs morgan, with a basic
vehicle formula– powerful motorcycle motors,light chassis, simple, resourceful, and fun. and for malvern, where everyroad somehow leads up a mountain, that’s especiallyuseful. so let’s start off with–what is this thing? i’ve seen it before, but ihave no idea what it is. jonathan wells: ok, well, thisis our 2009 life car concept vehicle, really.
and this was a car that featureda hydrogen fuel cell platform underneath it. so it’s a completelyzero emissions car. it was a great advertisementfor the company, because people see a zero emissions car,and they go, wow, morgan, a sports car maker is buildingsomething very environmentally friendly. but then you actually to getinto morgan and the brand, and it does a lot more.
when you realize that all thematerials in this car are locally sourced. and the factory itself isn’tusing 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 otherfantastic environmentally friendly accreditations thatthey’re adding to it. so although it is a zeroemissions vehicle, every
morgan is actually veryenvironmentally friendly. they have a long life span. they’re kept for a longperiod of time. so, it was just a testament tothe way in which we build cars considerably. jf musial: i think the one thingthat we all notice when we first come in hereis the smell. charles morgan: yes, thisis the wood shop. this is very unusual tofind a wood shop like
this in a car factory. you’ll find veneers in a luxurycar factory, but you won’t find guys putting togethersolid hard wood that’s this grand. obviously these arethe 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, andthen you bond them together.
and of course, you want to takeall the air out of it that you can to stop the airbubbles in the glue, so that creates a bonded laminate. and that’s a very strongcomponent. and of course, it’s gota lot of spring in it. and it seems to last forever. that’s partly why we use wood. we also use wood, to behonest, because it’s environmentally correct.
because it encourages peopleto plant forestry. and it’s the young treesthat clean the air. so it’s our, if you’d like,bit of greenness too. but we’re actually using woodin sustainable forestries that’s being kept going bypeople who use wood. but i suppose the other thingis it gives us a unique proposition. and these days, basically,there’s so much competition in the car industry, wewant to maintain
something that’s very morgan. something that’svery different. and as you said, the smell’svery nice, too. the 1950s. plus morgan plus four coupe. and we’ve got it here just toshow that we can actually build the cars and keep thecars going on the road. for instance, morgan probablyhas got about 30,000 or 40,000 cars around the world.
and they do say that amorgan never dies. the wood– it’s not in brilliantcondition, is it? but the fact is thatyou can replace it. so basically, what people tendto do with morgans, is that they re-chassis them. they re-body them. and they keep them going withcomponents, which again, is very, very good from theenvironmental point of view.
because ideally, what you wantto do is produce a product that generation aftergeneration, like a watch, is going to want to keep going. that’s very much partof our philosophy. now, one person definitely isresponsible 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 importantto recognize that a car is a combination. it’s not one person that buildthe whole car, but it’s a combination of different peoplewho actually are really skilled in their ownparticular area. the wood’s ash.
it’s english. it grows fairly straight. comes from england or europe. not america. it’s faster growingin america, but it’s a slow grow here. what’s good aboutit is the grade. you don’t tend to get too manyknots 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 materialas a handle of a cricket bat, for instance. it absorbs shock really well. in the old days, in the italianfactories, they have this thing called superleggera,and that was the aluminum body. and then you added sometubular steel frame
underneath. and in a sense, this isexactly the same. this is the structure underneaththe aluminum body of the three wheeler. under this, of course, isa big tubular chassis. yeah, but this if you like, isjust a way of keeping the aluminum taut and acting asa little bit of a cushion between the chassisand the body. the problem with superleggera,of course, is that it was
steel against aluminum. so of course the aluminumreacts with the steel and corrodes. we don’t have that problemwith the wood. so to an extent, this ismorgan superleggera. without the problems. when you actually treat thewood, and obviously this is to a certain extent, how muchwork you want to put in. a bit like a favoritepair of shoes.
they tend to get betterwith age. jf musial: yeah. charles morgan: andso will wood. and it will look better andbetter and better the more you rub it and polish it. this is obviously [inaudible]. so i prefer this style of luxuryinterior to veneers. veneers are an acquiredtaste, really. veneered cigar boxes andall that kind of thing.
this is more honest, i think. proper real wood. and of course, what you gethere is you get the same thing, where you get every bitof wood slightly different. so you’ve got a very personalproduct out of wood. these jigs are slightlyfascinating. they’ve been here sincethe war, i suppose. jf musial: what isthe jig for? charles morgan: well, thisis the real [inaudible]
for one of the traditionalcars. jf musial: oh, cool. charles morgan: and as you see,it’s just three bits of ash with the grain goinga different direction. jf musial: so you’ve got thevacuum stuff over there. that’s the modernversion of this? charles morgan: yes. this is just sheerbrute force. jf musial: and how long arethey staying in here for?
charles morgan: half a day. six hours. jf musial: cool. it’s very cool. jonathan wells: but what ibrought to the design team essentially is 3d surfacing. so matt would sketch the ideasout, and i’d draw with him. and then we needed some wayof relating these concept sketches and aesthetic designtraining to the way we build
cars in the shop floor. so my job would be to take thesketches and model these in 3d, sometimes in clay as well,but mainly in 3d on the computer screen. we’d apply textures andmaterials and colors to this, and visualize exactlywhat 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, wewould then chop this car up on the screen, take out someprinted plots to the wood shop, they would make this outof wood, and then the plan would be to hand craftthis entire car. so everything you see here ishand beaten from a flat sheet of aluminum. jf musial: it’s amazing you’vefrom modern technology back to old vintage technology. jonathan wells: exactly, yeah.
-and that brings up aninteresting point. every corner you turn yoursmell something new and wonderful, like a chef walkinginto a fresh produce market. but not only that, you startlooking at the faces. less than 200 people workin these work shops. everyone from designersto wood craftsman. it’s a close-knit family. men and women with 40 years ofexperience between these walls training young teenagers.
there are no instruction books,no volkswagen era just-in-time logistic systems. everything is taught by wordof mouth with the hands of experience. and despite the archaicmethods, it’s all just working. it will continue to work foryears to come, even as they ramp up daily production. charles morgan: so once you’vegot the wood frame, then we
cover it in aluminum. and the panels are a combinationof pre-formed and literally hand assembled. so what you’ll see issomebody actually wiring the edge of this. so he’s turning it aroundand putting a– jf musial: it’s all hand done? charles morgan: handdone, yeah. this is actually a 1950sor 1960s body.
it’s a lot narrower. people were smallerin the old days. jf musial: seemsthat way, yes. charles morgan: carswere smaller, but they’re all very light. once you’ve– jf musial: whoa! 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, isabout a six-hour process to assemble the aluminum panel. we tend to have a half day cyclethroughout the factory, so that things moveon every half– i think you’ll still findthe affordable cars, they’re using aluminum. the new jaguar f type is verymuch an aluminum car.
and we pioneered that technologyon the aero, so yes, we’re not perhapspathfinders anymore, but we were pioneers then. the trouble with carbon fibersis there’s a very short supply of it. it’s mostly wanted by theaircraft industry. so the price has gonethrough the roof. so it’s really only supercar territory. and our buyers are notnecessarily people who want to
pay 500,000 pounds for a car. jonathan wells: there’s certainelements that have a nod to a more classicera of motoring. and that’s what’s niceabout a morgan. morgan doesn’t conform togeneric car design. it doesn’t followany rule book. nowadays, car design can bequite constricted by the rules and regulations and positionsof certain parts of the car. we try not to get tooblinded by that.
we like the proportionof the morgan car. the wind line in vehicles likethis, we try to add a bit more tension to it, and strengthenit a bit, and give it a bit more stance and purpose. but, as you say, that classicform is very much there. it’s the british cokebottle proportion on the side of the car. but, as i mentioned, some ofthese lines are sped up a great deal.
there’s a lot more sharp edges,which break the air away cleaner, and improve theaerodynamics, while staying true to what we can achievewith the actual materials. charles morgan: so, thisis our paint shop. as i say, once the car’sdisassembled, they all come in here. and each component is painted. we’ve actually got two paintshops because the constraints on our production systemis paint, really.
it’s the slowest process,is baking the paint. jf musial: waiting. charles morgan: and waitingfor it to dry. jonathan wells: in thedevelopment department, there’s 10 of us. very closely tight knit team. jf musial: are youall in the same– jonathan wells: literallyall in the same room. and everybody is a genius anda specialist in their own
right that gets involved withlots of different things. and as you mentioned, you dohave to conform to things like harmonization, and getthis passed off. in a lot of companies, thedesign may happen, and then enters the next divisionwhere 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 afairly generic form. but for us, when we’re drawingand we’re sketching, i’ve got harmonization here looking overmy shoulder going, oh those headlights needto be a bit higher. so i scrap that drawing, andi work on the next thing. and arguably, that couldcompromise the design in some instances, but what we find iswhen you do hit the nail on the head, and you get somethingthat works, really exciting concept sketch, andharmonization are happy
straight away. and so are the materialengineers. so is everyone else. that idea has got more chance tomake it all the way to the road, to the end user,with that same excitement and drama. i think essentially over thelast 10 years, it’s been a roller coaster at morgan. cars like the aero have comealong and shown people that
you can build super carswith this dna. and when you are buildingvehicles, with those performance figures like theaeros– and even the three wheeler on the other end thespectrum– do have, you do have to consider a lot moresuspension dynamics, and aerodynamics, and allsorts of stuff. these tests are veryexpensive. wind tunnels arevery expensive. so small companies like us areencouraged, really, to start
using a lot of onscreensimulation. so we do. we run every single cad modelthrough onscreen cfd. charles morgan: oh,nice and quiet. jf musial: yes. charles morgan: we’re nowsmelling cow or leather, as we would call it. but no, essentially as i say,the assembly goes back together, and then we start totrim the inside of the car.
and this is where you see thedifferent specifications that a customer wants coming out. we actually use scottishleather. the cows are from scotland. i think there’s less barbed wireout there, so they don’t scratch them. but no seriously, that’sthe reason, actually. and– jonathan wells: we had the ideafor three wheeler, and we
started sketching it. and 18 months later, we’re allin the workshop doing a 48-hour stint building thethings up ourselves, and seeing this designcome to life. and it’s at the genevamotor show. a matter of a few months later,the first cars are on the road going to production. so from a sketch to a fullcomplete production car on the road, you’re talking less thantwo years, which is no time
really, compared toother companies. jf musial: comapred to thebig manufacturers. the americans, the germans, thejapanese, who spend six, seven, eight years designing– jonathan wells: i think that’stestament to the way in which we work. and the way the factory anddevelopment and technology are all united in this pot. charles morgan: this isbasically where all the cars
come after they’vebeen road tested. jf musial: every cargets road tested? charles morgan: every cargets 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 willspend about half a day in here, get a thorough inspection,and then be passed off for quality control.
jf musial: who’s the finalperson that signs off on a car going to the customer? charles morgan: oneof these guys. jf musial: each personis assigned a car and sign it off? they go through a checklistof things? charles morgan: absolutely. jonathan wells: i think morgandesign is uncompromised. i think it’s excitementand fun.
it’s happiness. i think people see a morgan, andit makes them feel happy. there’s no pretentiousness,there’s no arrogance. it’s a very honest design,which is challenging, uncompromised, and there’sa lot of stories to it. there’s a lot of story. there’s a lot of meat totalk about in the pub, when you pull up. charles morgan: morgan’s linkwith motor racing, really, is
that we’ve used itas a test bed. so essentially, we feel that ifa car performs well on the track, then it’s goingto perform quite well on the road. there are now, of course,test tracks as well. and that’s another thing. the german manufacturers willtell you that if you can drive a car 200 miles an hour, it’sgoing to be really quite good at 100 miles an hour.
so there’s an elementof that in it. but we also, of course, were oneof the first cars to have a bonded aluminum chassis– adhesively bonded aluminum. now, when i told that to myfather, he said, is that a good idea, charles? i know we made those air fixkits, but should we actually make a car like that? so we thought it would be quitea good thing to test it
on the track first before somepoor owner actually finds out that the bonding doesn’t work. seriously though, le mansis a 24-hour race. so if a car lasts 24 hours atthe max at le mans, then it’s pretty sure it’s going to be agood road car as a chassis. so we use the long distanceendurance racing and the gt championships to bottom outexactly what this chassis would do under great stressand under great strain. and of course, you do putbigger strain, because
typically a modern stickyrace tire will pull 3g, perhaps more. whereas a road tire willonly ever go up to one or a bit over one. so you’re putting a hell ofa lot more stress into the components. that’s the main reasonwe do motor racing. because it’s all aboutenjoyment when it comes down to it.
we are about actually a carfactory, which provides people with the experience of havingfun behind the wheel. and i think you stillcan in safety. the super car world, and to acertain extent, the racing world has just gone out of– it’s gone completely out ofthe possibilities of the normal person, andthat’s a shame. because to an extent, morgan wasreally about offering an affordable way of going racing,
going into motor sport. i’ve got some lovely stories. in fact, one of themis american. the very first race at sebring, the 12 hours at sebring. and in fact, a competitor hadhad his car blow up and was in the pub, when a morganowner 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, doyou 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 justoff the showroom floor. that’s cool. charles morgan: so that was thephilosophy behind morgan, really, was to provide a carthat without much work, you
could enter in a raceand do quite well. those days are certainly gone. well, internationallythey are. but that doesn’t mean to saythat we don’t still believe in that philosophy. this is the top of the hill. we have a very sophisticatedassembly line, actually. it’s gravity feed. well, it’s only gravity feedrelatively recently because an
engineering guru camearound here. and he said, gosh, thisis brilliant. you’ve got this business of noexpensive equipment because you just push the cardown the hill. and i said, but the problem iswe’re pushing them up the hill at the moment. so we’ve changed it now. we are pushing themdown the hill.