The man who guided the destinies of the Morgan car for almost fifty years, H.F.S. (Henry Frederick Stanley) Morgan, was born at Morton Jeffries Rectory, Herefordshire in 1881. His father was the Reverend H G Morgan at Stoke Lacy and he married Ruth, the daughter of the late Reverend Archibald Day, formally vicar of St Matthias, Malvern Link.
H.F.S., as his loyal workers and personal friends knew him, was educated at Stone House, Broadstairs, Marlborough College and at the Crystal Palace Engineering College. He began his career as the 18 year-old pupil of William Dean, Chief Engineer of the Great Western Railway Works at Swindon, where he worked as a draughtsman in the drawing office for seven years.
While making a modest contribution to the history of steam H.F.S.'s loyalties were divided between the locomotive and the motorcar.
After a hair-raising first drive in a 3 hp Benz that ran away with him down the 1-in-6 gradient of a hill between Bromyard and Hereford, he emerged intact but considerably poorer. Damages to the car cost about £28 for repairs and delayed his ambition of owning his own car.
He left the GWR in 1906 and at the age of 25 opened a garage and motor works in Malvern Link where he ran a most successful bus service with a special 10 hp Wolseley 15 seater. These ran from Malvern Link to the Wells and later from Malvern to Gloucester.
Eventually he could afford to purchase a motor vehicle, an Eagle Tandem. In the tradition of Henry Royce and James Packard, the engineer in Morgan told him he could do better. With the help of a professor named Stephenson Peach, Morgan drew up a simple but well-thought-out design that was a significant improvement on the Eagle. Like the Eagle, it was a three-wheeler, a design that had significant advantages in lightweight and ease of manufacture. The first Morgan Runabout had been born!
The Morgan name made its very first public appearance at the Olympia Motor Show in 1910. Two three-wheelers, both single seaters fitted respectively with 8 hp Twin and 4 hp Single cylinder J.A.P. engines, secured some orders, but it soon became apparent that for the vehicles to be universally popular they would have to become two-seaters.
The Morgan Motor Company was formed as a private Limited Company in 1912 with the Reverend H.G. Morgan as Chairman and his son as Managing Director. The site of the first factory was on the Worcester road leading into Great Malvern. H.F.S. and his wife Ruth lived next door in a small terraced house.
During this period the Morgan name was heard for the very first time in racing circles when a Mr. Henry Martin easily won an International Cyclecar Race at Brooklands. In 1912 H.F.S. Morgan broke the 1100 cc. One-hour Record traveling at a fraction short of 60 mph for one hour at Brooklands. His father the Reverend H.G Morgan was present and this is probably the only time a top hat has ever been worn at the popular circuit.
The evolution of the Morgan with a model of family dimensions (designed in 1912) came in 1915 when a four-seater was produced for Mr. Morgan and his family. After the Great War this model was marketed as the Family Runabout and sold in large numbers.
The demand for inexpensive transport was great and a new factory was built at Pickersleigh Road to enable production to reach fifty cars a week. This made Morgan one of the largest British car producers at the time.
The Pickersleigh Road Factory
Situated on the Madresfield estate, the new factory was opened in 1918 and H.F.S. Morgan's daughter, Sylvia laid the cornerstone. This is now the site of the present factory, which has traditionally been known as the "Works".
Mr. George Goodall joined the firm in 1925, taking over the position of General Manager from Mr. A Hales who had been with H.F.S since 1911. George went on to become Managing Director of the Company, a position from which he retired at the end of 1958 while still retaining a seat on the Board.
1933 "F" Super Two-seater with Ford 10 hp engine
1933 was a vintage year for Morgan, bringing in its train a large number of world records and the advent of a new model fitted with a Ford engine. With its flat radiator this was the most popular three-wheeler ever produced and encouraged a number of firms to copy the idea.
In 1936, after a prototype had been tested in trials and on the track, a four-wheeler was exhibited at the London and Paris Exhibitions. The new model was called the Morgan Four Four to differentiate it from the three-wheeler, indicating four cylinders and four wheels. The car had a Z section full width steel chassis with boxed cross members and the body was an ash (baseball bat wood) frame paneled in aluminum. The combination provided the durability of a coachbuilt car with the lightness required for a sports car. The car was an immediate success.
1940 - 1950
After the war, the three wheelers didn't last long - the last of them were built in 1950 - but the 4/4 proved evergreen, sliding through the fifties with a few revisions and an occasional shift in the engine supplier.
1957 - Plus 4 four-seater touring in Colorado, U.S.A
Morgan owner's clubs expanded their membership throughout the 1950s. This helped make sure damaged cars were rebuilt and helped owners find original spare parts. As they say in America a Morgan may be "totaled" but will never be thrown away. The Morgan Sports Car Club formed in July 1951 with thirty members now claims a membership of over 3000. There are also national Morgan clubs in the USA, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal and it is possible to meet a vast network of friends simply by expressing an interest in the Morgan car.
As a bigger-engined version of the 4/4, the Plus Four morphed into the Plus Eight, in July of 1968 when the revised model was shown with a Rover V-8 engine that was based on an early sixties Buick design. Remarkably, more than three decades later, the two closely related vehicles, the 4/4 and the Plus Eight, are the mainstays of the Morgan lineup.
2004 - October
The Aero 8 makes its UK debut at the British International Motor Show 2000 in Birmingham. The Morgan Motor Company achieved the worldwide registration of the shape of its cars, including the waterfall grille, something that no other car manufacturer has been able to achieve.
The Morgan Motor Company is still owned and run by the Morgan family as it has been since its inception in 1909. Since the sad passing of Peter Morgan, Joint Managing Director and son of founder H.F.S Morgan, the reins have been passed to his son Mr. Charles Morgan. Charles is supported by Alan Garnett (Executive Chairman of Morgan Motor Company) who was previously on the board.