Once a year we try to hold a board meeting and enable the FACTA members to experience a factory visit with some relevance to our industry. This year we undertook a visit to Morgan Motor Company who have been hand building motor cars for over a 100 years.
Why Morgan Motor Company? Well for one they have been using traditional methods in a similar manner to our members who also hand fabricate access covers so we felt that this would be an ideal opportunity for the members to experience something different to what they have been used to.
Morgan Motor Company History
Morgan Motor Company was established in 1909 by H.F.S Morgan with the design of the now iconic Morgan Three-Wheeler. This was followed in 1936 by the Morgan 4-4, which continues to be produced today, and is the longest running production car in the world.
The authenticity of Morgan, one of Britain’s longest established motor manufacturers, has remained unchanged for over 110 years: from design and engineering, to craft and manufacturing, through to sales and tailoring, every Morgan is designed and built to be as individual as its owner, a bit similar to some of the products which our members themselves undertake.
Each Morgan is hand crafted using three core elements: ash, aluminium and leather. Every Morgan is entirely unique, built to the highest standards by passionate craftsmen and women, whose skills are handed down through generations and perfected over a lifetime, bringing together heritage, innovation and cutting-edge technology.
Our guide for the day was a gentleman by the name of Ian, he was an enthusiast himself and very passionate about the brand, he has owned a Morgan for several years and has been involved with the factory tour for more than 5 years himself. He told me that Morgan Motor Company has around 30,000 visitors per year which is a testament to the brand.
The site in Malvern currently employs 220 people and have been manufacturing cars on the same site since 1914. The skills which they use have been passed down by the generations which have worked there and they undertake each year an apprenticeship scheme to ensure that the traditions are maintained.
The tour commenced with a 10 minute video explaining the history of the brand giving insights of what was to come on the main factory tour.
We started in a converted workshop area which housed some of the cars that had been created for events such as the Le Mans 24 hour race, it was also good to see other Morgan cars which had some sort of historical bearing on the brand complete with race livery.
From here we assembled into the chassis building, Ian explained that Morgan were know using component assembly techniques where a team of people were pre building parts in order for the assemblers of the chassis to fix them into position. He went on to explain that this modern day approach had reduced some of the lead time speeding up production without compromising quality. The chassis itself was brought in from a local company in Ross on Wye, and each chassis was put together using high bond adhesives, no welding was carried out.
Progressing from here the body panel shop was next in line, it was quite unique how each workshop was connected through a small passageway leading from one shop to another. The cars themselves were wheeled by hand through doorways at the end of each shop, there was no mechanical production line involved like you see at high volume production facilities.
The body panel shop used components either made in house from sheet aluminium formed using traditional fly presses, plate rollers, saws, hammers, dies etc. or they brought the panel in from a local supplier in Worcester. Each panel is manipulated into place and additional strength is added by folding the metal and adding Ash wood. All woodworking was carried out in the adjacent wood shop.
Once all the panels were installed the car was moved to the paint shop. On completion of painting the final stages were to put all of the finishing trims onto the car, all the leather seats were built from scratch as was the hood for the roof, all of these were hand fabricated.
The last stage of manufacture was a final check of the paint finish and then off on the road for final checking and adjustments.
Each car was accompanied with a build book signed off by the operators involved during the manufacturing process, our guide informed us that all the cars were built to order and each car was individually tailored to the client’s requirements.
To finish off the tour of the factory we headed into the facility which manufactured the Morgan 3 wheeler, this was a car which utilised a motorcycle engine and 2 wheels at the front and a wheel off a car engine at the rear. This car was manufactured using the same traditions as the 4 wheel vehicles combing wood with metal to create a truly unique motor vehicle.
On behalf of FACTA I would like to thank Morgan Motor Company for their hospitality during the day and for the very experienced guided tour of the factory.
Lee Henley - Chairman FACTA