At the end of last year, as the markets melted and fortunes evaporated like morning dew, more than a few cars got stranded on eBay. These were cars that had been placed on "no-reserve" auctions that could be expected, in normal circumstances, to bring a pretty sum, but whose bidding had stalled when the bottom dropped out. One such car was a 1949 Morgan 4/4 sports car; I threw in a low-ball bid that ordinarily wouldn't be enough to buy a Morgan parts car and was more than a little shocked when it was suddenly mine. It's the third Morgan I have owned. I had a very nice 1959 Plus 4 and a completely disassembled 1947 4/4 but sold both of these cars more than 10 years ago, figuring at the time that Morgans were not that rare and that I could always buy another. In the past decade, however, Morgan prices more than doubled, leaving my chances of Morgan ownership all but nonexistent. Until that twist of fate that destroyed Wall Street and the free enterprise system. To all of you who purchased houses far beyond your means to pay for them, I want to thank you for my Morgan.
My trusty truck and trailer carried me to St. Louis, where Don and his wife had tears in their eyes as they watched me haul away a car that they had owned since 1973. Don was a retired airline pilot who had purchased the car from Donald Hudgins, a fellow airline pilot who liked to import cars from Britain. He had brought the little Morgan over from England, having purchased it from Richard John Leeson from Surrey. How do I know this? The car came with its original green ownership and registration document, one that lists every owner since the car was first sold on March 1, 1949. I am the eighth person to have it.
Morgans all have their own personalities. How could they not? They are to this day built entirely by hand. Modifications are common and indeed the lads at the factory have always been more than accommodating when it comes to adding this or changing that. My car should have a 1,267cc Standard Special four-cylinder engine that Standard (which later owned Triumph) built just for Morgan. Instead, it has an 1,147cc Triumph Spitfire engine and gearbox that were cleverly grafted into the chassis in the distant past. This took place before the car ever found its way to the United States, so the Spitfire motor has actually been in the car longer than the original Standard Special sat under the bonnet. It has the requisite flat radiator and Lucas headlamps and, like almost every British sports car I've owned, the wiring under the dash is a spaghetti-like mess of bare wires, twisted together in the optimistic hope that electrons will flow. The seats are seedy and the paint is scuffed and scratched, but it is a Morgan, and it's mine.
This year is the company's 100th Anniversary and my plan is to get my ratty, scruffy old Morgan up and running in time to attend a few shows and whatever else comes our way. Like an aging tomcat with a torn ear and an oddly disjointed tail, it wears the circumstances of its history with pride and a bit of attitude, another stray that has found itself a home.