2003 Morgan Plus 8 – SFGate

14 Jun 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2003 Morgan Plus 8 – SFGate
Morgan Plus 8

2003 Morgan Plus 8

Ed Abramson is a retired psychology professor who writes and teaches workshops on obesity and eating disorders. He lives in Oakland with Bagel, his corpulent cat.

My Morgan Plus 8 attracts a lot of attention. In addition to the numerous honks and waves, there are the inevitable questions whenever I stop, like How old is it, Is it an MG, Do they still make them, and from the more knowledgeable car buffs, Does it still have a wood frame?

Questioners are invariably surprised to learn that it is only 10 years old, and the body panels are indeed attached to a wooden frame.

This is the fourth Morgan I’ve owned. My previous three were Plus 4 models, which have a four-cylinder engine, while this car has a small-block V8. Although the body style goes back to the 1930s, the mechanics of my car are modern.

It even has air bags, and unlike the earlier cars it’s reliable — although equally impractical.

My love of fanciful English sports cars started at age 16, when I spent a semester with my father in Cambridge, England. When the time came to buy my first car, I wanted a sports car. MGs and Triumphs were too common, and I couldn’t afford a Jaguar, so I got a Morgan.

It was three years old and cost $1,200. The Morgan was not only impractical – if it had snowed overnight I’d find a mini-blizzard on the seat when I came out in the morning – it was also unreliable.

The starter, generator, fuel pump, or distributor (all made by the infamous Lucas, better known as the Prince of Darkness for his dubious electrical systems) would fail with surprising regularity. It got so bad that fellow students would dodge me on the way to the parking lot, hoping to avoid helping me push the car so I could pop the clutch and get it started.

When I started graduate school I drove the Morgan from New York to Gainesville, Fla. The drive down wasn’t too bad, but the drive back in December with a canvas top and ill-fitting side curtains was very uncomfortable. I remember stopping at a gas station in Virginia at 2:00 a.m. and standing next to a wood-burning stove for half an hour to defrost before resuming my trip.

I sold the car shortly thereafter but went through Morgan withdrawals, so a few years later I bought another one. It had four seats and was great fun taking my kids for a ride in the country, and fortunately, this time it wasn’t my only means of transport. Since I’m not much of a mechanic, the frequent need for mechanical attention got to be prohibitively expensive.

Frustrated, I again sold the Morgan. Several years later I found a reasonably priced two-seater in Marin County, so I succumbed with grandiose plans to restore the car to its previous glory. Needless to say, again I got frustrated and sold the car.

Thus began 16 Morgan-less years.

Several years ago a friend and fellow Morgan enthusiast told me that the Plus 8s were real (i.e. reliable) cars so I started thinking about trying again. I was working under a tight deadline for my book, It’s NOT Just Babyfat, when my friend called to tell me about a lovely blue-on-blue Plus 8 in Seattle. With a little encouragement from my daughter, I bought it.

It’s not an everyday driver, but when the weather is nice I like to take it to my Lafayette office or drive up the coast to Bodega Bay. In August, a childhood friend and I drove down to Monterey for the classic car races at Laguna Seca, and some other old car events.

Monterey and Carmel are filled with dozens of red Ferraris, but there’s only one blue Morgan. I’m pleased that, aside from a troublesome seat belt, it only requires routine basic maintenance. I think this one is a keeper.

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