We recently provided an insight into the prestigious history of the Morgan Motor Company and, in so doing, mentioned some of our achievements on the track. Since our establishment in 1909, we have remained at the forefront of the motor industry both in terms of racing and the broader world of manufacturing, and we believe that it is important to celebrate that.
Here, we’re going look closer at some of our proudest achievements on the track. To do so, we will go back to the early twentieth century and aim to provide an insight into the years that followed.
Before the outbreak of war in 1914, Morgan landed ten British and World Records and achieved multiple victories on the race track. During that illustrious spell, Mr. Henry Martin won the first International Cyclecar race, before Harry Morgan then won the Cyclecar Cup with a 1100 c.c. one-hour record, travelling just under 60 mph.
Success at the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb then followed, before the most significant victory of the company’s early years: W.G. McMinnies at the Amiens International Cyclecar Grand Prix. Racing against a number of four-wheel cars from the rest of Europe, McMinnies and Frank Thomas claimed victory even after an enforced stop. The victory cemented Morgan as a household name, especially after the aforementioned McMinnies wrote about his car in “Cyclecar”, the magazine he edited.
Breaking the Barrier
At the banked race track at Monthléry, south of Paris, Mrs. Gwenda Stewart broke the one-hour World Record. In doing so, back in 1930, she exceeded 100 mph and would later achieve 117 mph in a single-seater car. Breaking the 100 mph barrier in the 30s was, in itself, an achievement; for one person to do it twice is an exceptional feat for both Mrs. Stewart and the vehicles she drove.
The following year saw the Morgan manufacturers continue to build upon this success, and heralded the beginning of a new transmission system with a three-speed and reverse gearbox, a single chain, and detachable wheels. All Morgans would, in time, come to adopt this engineering, with the arrangement representing a crucial aspect of the company’s development throughout the mid-twentieth century.
TOK wins Le Mans
Morgan’s next greatest success on the world stage came in 1962 at the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race, where a Plus Four Super Sports competed in and won the 2-litre class. Christopher Lawrence and Richard Sheppard-Baron drove at an average of 94 mph and covered 2, 261 miles on their way to victory. When thirty-two minutes of driver changes, refueling, and other maintenance work are accounted for, the car’s actual running speed can be calculated at 97 mph.
The car was driven back to England on public roads after the victory, providing a fitting conclusion to a successful tour overseas.
The 1975 Production Sports Car Championship
Morgan’s pedigree on the track was further enhanced in the 1970s, when both the Fred Dixon Modsports Championship and the BRSCC Production Sports Car Championship were both added to the trophy cabinet. Further success followed throughout the next two decades, before the Plus EIght’s capacity was increased from 3.5 to 3.9 litres in 1989. This adjustment made sure that the Plus Eight maintained its reputation as one of the fastest accelerating road cars; the model was crowned “the world champion for flexibility” by Germany’s “Auto Motor und Sport”, after they dubbed it the fastest car they had even driven in fifth gear.
The Morgan Sports Car Championships
Following several decades of success, the end of the twentieth century heralded a new era for the Morgan Motor Company. 1987 witnessed the start of the Morgan Sports Car Championships, a yearly championship that featured only Morgan cars, and gave owners the chance to test themselves in a one-make series. The series’ success led to a Hill-Climb Championship that was, also, exclusively for Morgans, cementing the company’s championships as not only prestigious, but varied.