Harry Gaunt’s 1956 Morgan Plus 4 Racecar, Number 1

3 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Harry Gaunt’s 1956 Morgan Plus 4 Racecar, Number 1
Morgan Plus 4

Harry Gaunt’s 1956 Morgan Plus 4 Racecar

Owner: Harry Gaunt

City: Indianapolis, Indiana

Model: 1956 Morgan Plus 4

Engine: Triumph TR2 2170cc four-cylinder

Race prepared by: owner

Morgan Plus 4: from Introduction through the 1950s

Morgan introduced their Plus 4 model at the Earl’s Court Motor Show in October 1950. Although it looked like the already familiar 4/4 model, the new Plus 4 body was two inches wider at the doors, six inches wider at the firewall, and two inches longer for more driver legroom. Like the 4/4 the new Plus 4 was offered as a two-seater, a four-seater, or as a drophead coupe (i.e. a four seat convertible with more rear seat headroom and more luggage space in the trunk).

Plus 4 styling features evolved through the 1950s. Specifically, a variety of radiator grilles and headlight treatments were tried, but generally the Plus 4 retained a pre-war appearance.

The Plus 4 was both more powerful and smoother riding than its predecessors. The Morgan Motor Company still didn’t build its own engines. For the Plus 4 they only offered Standard Motor Company produced engines, whereas the 4/4 model continued in production for many years with Ford engines.

Shortly before the start of Plus 4 production, Standard consolidated their engine production to a single specification. Consequently, the Plus 4 was introduced with the 2088cc Standard Vanguard engine, rated 68 brake horsepower at 4300rpm. 788 Morgan Plus 4s were built with Vanguard engines.

The Plus 4’s front suspension was softer riding than its predecessor due to a change in geometry. The sliding pillars were simply angled slightly inward at the top, which made room for longer and softer coil springs. One quirky new feature was a foot-operated valve by which the driver could divert engine oil to the sliding pillar bushings.

Lubricating these bushings was desirable because earlier Morgan front suspensions characteristically suffered friction and binding issues, which robbed handling and ride quality. The Plus 4 also featured Girling telescopic front shock absorbers and hydraulic Girling lever-arm rear shock absorbers. Brakes were hydraulically operated and nine inch drum brakes were fitted all around.

When Standard’s engine range was extended to support that company’s Triumph sports car division, Morgan was happy to update their cars accordingly. The new 1991cc Triumph TR2 engine was rated 90 brake horsepower at 4800rpm.

Morgan Plus 4

Harry Gaunt’s Plus 4 is one of just 338 produced with the Triumph TR2 engine, which was first offered to customers in mid-1954. Technically the TR2 engine was available from Morgan through June 1958, but in fact it was made obsolete through concurrent availability of the even more powerful Triumph TR3 engine. 1795 TR3-powered Plus 4s were built between March 1956 and February 1964. Similarly, Morgan gradually phased in Triumph’s TR4 engine in the early sixties.

The sixties also brought the famous Plus 4 Super Sports model, but that’s well outside the scope of this article.

Harry Gaunt’s 1956 Morgan Plus 4

Harry Gaunt bought his Morgan Plus 4 new in 1956, and he began racing it right away. He competed in Sports Car Club of America races in 1956, 1957, and 1958.

In the early 1980s, Harry decided to restore his old racecar and to enter it in vintage racing events. He has raced it frequently since 1983, and has even taken the Morgan on two trips to Europe where he raced at the N#252;rburgring in Germany and at Circuit Zolder in Belgium. Since 1956, Harry has completed 105 races in his trusty Morgan race car.

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