A Saturday Special on 3 wheels

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A Special Encounter

Only Three Wheels?

By Ron Amadon

NEW LONDON, NH – The late June day was just right. Low humidity, lots of sun, a sometimes brisk breeze with big puffy white clouds and a brilliant blue sky above.

My goal was to renew acquaintance with this Norman Rockwell come to life New England town that fortunately, in this fast changing word, has changed very little since I last viewed it some three decades ago.

I was just getting out of my car next to the 1792 vintage New London Inn when two young men yelled, “What is that?”

A fair question since “that” was an extremely rare Morgan 3 Wheeler. A tingle of joy ran down my spine because it was the first Morgan of its kind that I had ever seen on the road.

I waved at the older gent behind the wheel and gave him an enthusiastic OK sign – a brief moment of kinship of sorts between two men who love such extraordinary cars.

He smiled, waved and motored up the street past the scrupulously maintained white colonial houses and the tall pillared building that marks Colby Sawyer College

Then I turned to the younger generation to explain what “that” was.

Yes there were two wheels up front and only one to the rear. In full view, since there is no hood, was the two (!) cylinder engine that is matched to a Mazda produced 5-speed gearbox.

The little two produces just 82 horsepower but the Morgan’s light weight means a run to 60 from a standstill takes only 6 seconds according to its maker with a top speed of 115. In fact, the 3 Wheeler still holds long distance speed records for a one liter car set back in the 1930’s. And yes, they are still partially made from wood!

“Contrary to popular belief Morgan cars have never had a wooden chassis. However they do have wooden frames. This is not only traditional but hugely beneficial to the driving experience. The ash wood is extremely lightweight, strong and gives a solid platform to attach the aluminum body panels. The frame consists of 23 pieces which are made from scratch then hand assembled on the trestles. Curved pieces are sandwiched between ply to give extra strength,” said Morgan.

It is the only car maker in the world to have survived for a century under the ownership of its founding family.

“When did you last regard a journey by motor car as an adventure? The Morgan 3 Wheeler is designed to bring fun and passion back to personal transport. Lift the safety catch from the ‘bomb release’ starter button, hear the massive twin cylinders detonate and choose your favorite destination,” the traditional English car maker on Pickersleigh Road in Malvern Worcestershire proclaims.

Indeed!!! What joy it was seeing that modern day bare bones throw back to the past that proves to one and all that three wheels and 82 horsepower can be as much fun, and more, as anything else on wheels.

 

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