40 Years In The Barn: 1938 Morgan 4/4

1938 Morgan 4-4

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When it comes to iconic and beautiful British sports cars, one of the first that always comes to mind for me is the Morgan 4/4. They aren’t incredibly quick cars, nor are they the best handling, but boy are the wonderful to look at! This 1938 example was just recently pulled from 40 years of storage in a barn. It’s quite rough, but looks complete and original. It is set to be auctioned off on April 25th by Clwyd Car Auctions in Ewloe, Wales. Read more about this car here on eBay.UK.

1938 Morgan 4-4 Barn Find

The 4/4 is the car that really kicked it off for Morgan and incredibly is still in production today! Prior to build the 4/4, Morgan focused on three wheels that were powered by v-twin motorcycle engines. With the addition of a 4th wheel, also meant offering a more conventional 4 cylinder engine. This one is powered by a 1.1 liter Coventry Climax engine with just 34 horses. That’s not much power, but these really don’t weigh much!

1938 Morgan 4-4 Sports

This is one dirty barn find and would really benefit from a good cleaning. I’d say this one really did sit in a barn for 40 years! The auction house is also offering a Bristol 403 that came out of the same barn and it looks like the Morgan is in much better condition. Given the amount of rust and moss growing on the Bristol, you’ll want to check the Morgan’s chassis for decay. I just hope someone brings it back to its former glory!

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Charles

    Cool find!

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  2. RayT

    The auction site shows a couple of other cars I’d be tempted to bid on — if I was in the neighborhood. Just wouldn’t be able to resist the Minor, Austin A35 or Ford Anglia….

    I wonder if Morgan still offers spares for their old cars? I believe at one time you could get replacement frames, body panels and the like directly from the “works.” This 4/4 really doesn’t look like it would need anything out of the ordinary restoration-wise.

    Never drove any of the four-cylinder Mogs, just a couple of Plus 8s. But if you like driving old Brit cars — a bit rough-riding, wind-in-the-face, and all that, plus a healthy dose of regular tightening, adjusting, lubricating and general fussing — which I do, this would be a choice acquisition!

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    • DolphinMember

      Every photo story or report that I’ve ever seen on the Morgan factory, including recent ones, show workers forming or finishing parts to be used in the new cars. They also talk about restoring older Morgans. I think if someone contacted the factory about parts for an old Morgan they would be able to help, even if it meant making the part from scratch.

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  3. Roger Owen

    How beautiful is this car. Just standing there it exudes a taste of how much fun it would be to drive!

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  4. skloon

    I love the dual spare tires

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  5. Fred

    This car has an imposing presence, even in this condition.

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  6. Matt Tritt


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  7. Bill

    I really like this car. I’d have to leave it as-is. It has aged so beautifully

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  8. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    I agree with Bill, Make it run & stop reliably, and clean it up. They are original cars only once. I’ve been to the Morgan Factory many times over the years, and within reason, the factory will make the parts needed if they have the specs. I suspect this version has a custom body, possibly a one-off car. Would love to have it parked next to my other rare cars.

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  9. MG'zer

    In past BF post, someone said these cars are coustom. Meaning each panel is made for that car and fitted to it. If restoration your going to need carpentry, sheet metal and machanacle skills sets. Good luck! I would love to tackle one. I’m still young (56), maybe soon

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  10. Jesper

    All Morgan cars, are hand build.
    A shame they have stayed in a chiken house, and not a decent garage.

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  11. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    Jesper –

    I know Charles Morgan, grandson of the founder. We used to correspond back in the 1980s, and I will never forget a letter he wrote me where he talked about the government asking him to increase production, standardize parts using huge presses for body parts, and employ many more people. He sought my opinion on the subject, and we discussed this quite a bit. I don’t have room for details here, but the basic decision the Morgan family came to was after all that work, the family would not benefit financially from the additional work, & they would have to give up the “family atmosphere” the employees loved.

    Charles pointed out that instead of employing a hundred or so highly skilled [& well paid] people, they would instead employ twice or three times the number of people, but with modern automation would come lower skill levels and wages. Plus, the family feared once it was easy & cheaper to buy a Morgan car, they would lose a lot of the prestige associated with the iconic brand.

    The only financial winner of this larger scale of Morgan would be the British government, as the VAT [value added tax] involved in ALL phases of the car construction would be a huge cash influx to Her Majesty’s revenue stream. Unlike the USA tax system where sales taxes are only collected from the end user, the VAT is collected on the value of the product or materials used in manufacturing a product at each stage of the manufacturing process, starting from the wholesale purchase of the raw materials, to the finished product. [This is one reason why Morgan still makes a large percentage of their own parts in-house.]

    So yes, the cars are still constructed in what can be described as a series of connected sheds, with employees pushing rolling chassis from shed to shed, making 10 cars a week, no more, no less. 50 weeks = 500 cars a year, with 2 weeks off for holiday. Specialty “makers” there still create the gas tanks, radiators, brake rotors/hubs, grill shells, engine bonnet halves [running sheets of steel thru a set of hand cranked rollers until it fits correctly] and body parts, by hand.

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  12. Jesper

    Hi Bill. Thanks for story. I didnt know that much about Morgan, i just have seen tv about the company.
    Its oldscool car building, not like a modern factory :-)
    Cool you still can get new chassis, and all other parts for them.

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  13. Roger Owen

    Thanks for sharing that Bill, very interesting – what a nice outfit they are! I grew up with friends who had Morgan 3 wheelers (I was not so rich and contented myself with a BSA trike instead). One chum went on to a 4/4 and then a +4, all great fun cars. In later life wife number one paid a deposit to get a new Morgan built but unfortunately the length of the build time outrun the marriage – I’m guessing she sold on the deposit, and probably at a good profit.

    I think the ‘Flat Rad’ is the nicest – how about relaunching that design?

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  14. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    I have to issue a correction to my original post; So much has changed [for the better IMHO] since I last visited Pickersliegh Ave, Malvern Link, 22 years ago. Someone I know who is still connected with Morgan, and a Barn Finds subscriber too, sent me a PM explaining some of the changes. [My contact has expressed a desire to remain anonymous.] The changes & improvements include:

    A series of larger buildings to the right of the original line of buildings. The buildings include a larger final assembly area, and state of the art painting facilities. Also enlarged offices and parts department.

    The company now produces about 1,300 cars/year, but I’ve been promised they are all still created & assembled by hand wherever possible. A big change was the need to introduce CAD/CAM systems, but not for production, the CAD is to aid in the design of the cars, especially helping with safety & emissions work to keep the cars in compliance with the US and Euro standards. CAM has a limited use in creating parts requiring precision standards required to meet the company’s high standards.

    Due to the archaic & mostly idiotic “Health & Safety” requirements* created by the UK Government, while there is still no “assembly line” like other manufacturers, they now utilize electrical/mechanical equipment to move vehicles from shed to shed, and no longer use a dozen men to remove the 10 “ready to roll” chassis off the sawhorses at week’s end.

    He asked me to include the link for the website: Morgan-motor.co.uk

    Roger: I’m told that for the 4-4 cars, if you are willing to spend the additional money, they will create a car for you with the flat radiator! And if I remember from the press photos, the new Morgan electric 3-wheeler has a flat rad, but there is a curved fairing at the base. I was delighted to see a 21st century production auto manufacturer build an authentic re-creation of an iconic 100 year old design, with electric propulsion, built to 2016 standards. [The Morgan EV3.] I’ve included a pic of the new EV3.

    * The widely despised Health & Safety standards: The last time I was an exhibitor at the big Beaulieu Autojumble, The H&S required me to fill out a multi-page form stating [among many things] that my vehicle was facing uphill at all times, the gearbox placed in Park or Reverse, handbrake on, wheels cut to the side. 2 wheel chocks, one on each side & axle of the vehicle. I had to certify that my tent met their requirements by ticking off the boxes, even though I didn’t have a tent [there was no box to tick saying I didn’t have a tent!] I had to fill out a statement indicating an evacuation plan in case of fire or emergency, for a 10 ft X 20 ft outdoor space!

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  15. Ted Tracey

    Just a word from the UK – there are several firms that can make you a new ash frame (with or without the metal skin) and also at least one company who make new chassis. The Morgan Motor Company will also make body parts. Engine parts for the original Standard Special and Coventry Climax engines and gearbox parts are however difficult to find. Photo shows my car having just completed a 3 year rebuild.

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    • Roger Owen

      Your car looks great Ted,

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