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My Morgan Experience, courtesy of Christopher Ward

 
BY JODY FANNIN
RACING DRIVER
 


I recently spent the day at the Morgan Motor Company factory in Malvern, Worcestershire. I was invited down by Christopher Ward, in celebration of the launch of the C1 Morgan Plus 8 Chronometer, a limited-edition watch that they have created in collaboration with Morgan Motor Company.



My day kicked off with a drink and chat with James Gilbert, who is part of the press and media team at Morgan. We then started the official tour in Morgan’s original workshop with various cars on display, including the original Morgan Plus 8 (pieces of which are in the Christopher Ward Plus 8 watch), and the cars that competed at Le Mans in the early 2000s – a race that is close to my heart.

I was then shown around the wood shop where all the base chassis are made (just as they always have been), and then to where sheet metal gets shaped round the wooden base, forming the bodywork of the car. What really strikes you throughout the whole process is that everything is handmade, there are no machines in sight! Even the wood press we saw was original, and I was told that no one knows quite how old it is, from the look of it though it’s definitely been around a few years! This theme is kept throughout the whole tour; the essence of tradition within Morgan.

Tradition is what makes Morgan different; it makes each car feel that bit more special. From the car itself to bespoke stitching on the seats, like family crests, there is always a human element.

The final part of the factory tour is a visit to the paint shop where the cars are checked for any imperfections. There were a couple of the 50th Anniversary Plus 8s going through at the time of my visit and to see the personal care that is taken first-hand was impressive and in contrast to mass produced cars put together by unmanned robots.

After a tasty and relaxing lunch, it was time for me to finally go for a drive in the prototype Plus 8 (chassis 00/50), and what an experience it was!




I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Morgan Plus 8 but I was pleasantly surprised! The car felt not unlike a racing car, in the sense that it was very responsive. There is plenty of power from the engine and it accelerates very quickly. It is perfect for taking on scenic country roads like the ones that surround the factory in Malvern especially on a sunny day; old school wind in the hair motoring! It handles like a modern sports car but with a nod to the traditions of the past.




I was thrilled to be able to wear the Christopher Ward Plus 8 during the drive – the watch is a work of art. The fact that it includes a piece from the original Plus 8 road car is very cool, and the transparent back allows you to see the mechanism and craftsmanship involved in creating such a timepiece, not unlike the Morgan itself. The watch face’s elegant design is also in keeping with the styling of the road car.

Overall, I felt that both companies in the partnership, Morgan and Christopher Ward, complemented each other perfectly – I felt privileged to be able to immerse myself in the worlds of both brands and can’t wait to see what the partnership produces next!






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