A Bit Or Two Short: 1963 Morgan +4

morgan

While this Morgan +4 is missing a few parts, particularly on the front end, the car is relatively solid and the seller has included a lot of pictures, especially undercar where a little rust is showing. The four-seat Morgans always look a little ungainly to me with the top up, but down (as a Morgan should be driven) they look almost the same as the two-seat versions. This one is located in Maple Shade, New Jersey and is listed for sale here on eBay where bidding is low at just over $3,000 with reserve not yet met. Other than some rust around the rear of the frame, the seller notes some body filler in the front fenders, and of course the obvious missing grille, front bumper, and headlights. The engine is seized, but with the wet-liner Triumph four cylinder, you can replace the cylinders as well as pistons if necessary when rebuilding. What do you think about this great find from Peter R?

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Comments

  1. David Frank David Member

    The rust and engine are easy. It all depends on the condition of the wood body. Did you see the episode of Wheeler Dealer where the Morgan looked great but the wood was rotted? It was a lot of work and expense to replace. Morgans are usually junked because of the wood failure.

    • David Frank David Member

      The knowledge that everyone on this site is willing to share is wonderful. Thank you one and all. Ignorance is not all bliss.

      Here is a fellow I met in Tirano, Italy, last fall while drooling over his Morgan. He found this Morgan sitting neglected in a garage in England the summer before. He was really lucky. It had no problems. After having it checked out and serviced, he and his wife drove it back from England. He and his wife love driving it in the Alps where he is a well know cheese maker. Lucky fellow!

  2. Phouha

    A prime candidate to create a fixed head, airline coupe’.

    Like 2
  3. Dolphin Member

    The underside looks OK as far as rust and floor rot is concerned, but as David said the wood subframe for the body panels definitely needs to be good or this will be a big, expensive job requiring expert work. With all due respect to the shop owner, his assurance that the car is a great resto project isn’t worth much compared to someone who knows these cars well. Real vintage can get real expensive.

    Since it’s a 4 seater it will never be worth what the more sporting and desirable 2 seaters are worth. Add in the seized engine and I would definitely be looking for a better project or a good used +4. I’m guessing that’s what the owner is doing too.

  4. James

    This Morgan’s frame is kaput. The steel chassis frame. Check photo #8 which shows the cracked frame just past the jack pad in front of the firewall. The lightweight Z section chassis often cracks at or near this point. A spot to look at for cracks or a bodged repair.

    I prefer the four seat Morgans, but would not attempt such an ambitious restoration project as this appears to be – even if the wooden body frame is OK. I’ve wandered, at my leisure, through the Morgan factory in times past and one must remember body parts are “made to fit” not stamped out cookie cutter style. Add up the corrosion, the need for upholstery, side curtains, a new hood (top), not to mention the seized engine, other running gear question marks, brakes, etc. and one has an extensive and expensive laundry list.

    Perhaps there’s a young enthusiast with time, skills (and a little money) who might take this on – depending on sale price.

    • Neil

      Well spotted James. To be fair to the seller, at least they included the pictures so buyers can make an informed decision, something that seems to be getting rarer and rarer these days!

      You’re absolutely right – this is a hugely ambitious resto. Whilst I would quite happily take on a Morgan that had mechanical or electrical issues, anything involving the chassis, the body skins or the body frame would be out of most peoples’ capability unless they plan to write a lot of large cheques.

      Most mechanical things on a Morgan can be fixed with a hammer, a crimper and some new parts. Most things related to the bodywork can also be fixed with a hammer, except you need to be a time-served metalwork panel beater familiar with an English Wheel and bodywork hammers (rather than my Mk.I Engine Hammer) to get it right! Although the missing brightwork is easily sourced, as you rightly point out, one cannot just buy ‘a wing’ or a ‘a door’ or ‘a hood.’ One has to have them fashioned… by a craftsman.

      As much as I love them – I would genuinely get on the waiting list for a new one if the lottery win came up – this is one of the trickier machines to restore I’ve seen on this site, as well as being not one of the prettiest Morgans.

      A ‘Pass’ from me. This car looks a lot easier to fix than it actually will be and I would be looking to start with a better one that had simpler issues.

    • Dolphin Member

      Yes, well spotted, but a question or two. It looks to me as though the lift pad was badly placed immediately ahead of the short reinforcement plate on the bottom of the chassis longitudinal, instead of at the plane of the firewall, and might have contributed to the break that you noticed. Maybe the car was damaged by the lift for the sake of the photos. Any thoughts?

      I have heard of Morgans needing complete replacement of the chassis. Is that what would be needed here, or would a piece welded over the break and along the chassis longitudinal work? Your use of the word ‘kaput’ tells me that you think it needs a new chassis, and that repair will not work—correct?

      If not, and if this car needs a replacement chassis, then for me the technology and build of these cars is perhaps too vintage. Maybe only the best cared for cars that have lived in dry places and not been driven so much as to raise stress cracks should be considered.

      • James

        The placement of the lift pad had it been a few inches back could have, by chance, hidden the crack but it wasn’t the cause. Fifteen years ago I had a business meeting in Montana and before catching my return flight had time to check a Plus 4 I’d seen on a used car lot. It was a late 60s, reasonably clean and had only a little surface rust, but I turned down a test drive after checking for and finding a cobbled chassis “repair”. Dealer was interested in selling it not that it could pose an accident and liability risk.

        Chassis repair is not an option for this one. I would be surprised to not find additional chassis problems once the car is dismantled. A new chassis which does not include the front suspension cross member is not expensive. The full kit of parts is quite another thing.

        To check out chassis, suspension drawings and parts price list go to www dot morgan-spares dot com and search under +4 parts and peruse their parts menu.

        I’ve never watched an episode of Wheeler Dealers and do not know the reason the chassis on this reasonably new Morgan was slated for replacement – perhaps a MOT failure due to corrosion. You can see they’ve already removed the front subframe and suspension but it shows what’s involved in removing engine and body to separate the frame from a “good” car. 2:23 video:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxbuCHk26sw

  5. jim s

    yes, good eye. i think maybe parts car if the reserve is not to high.

  6. David Frank David Member

    The knowledge that everyone on this site is willing to share is wonderful. Thank you one and all. Ignorance is not all bliss.

    Here is a fellow I met in Tirano, Italy, last fall while drooling over his Morgan. He found this Morgan sitting neglected in a garage in England the summer before. He was really lucky. It had no problems. After having it checked out and serviced, he and his wife drove it back from England. He and his wife love driving it in the Alps where he is a well know cheese maker. Lucky fellow!

    • Neil

      And that beautiful car is why someone will buy this project thinking that maybe they can get it for $5k, throw $15k at the restoration and have something like your picture. I’ll stifle a small chuckle now…

      Nice ones here in the UK, where they are reasonably plentiful, change hands for around $36k to $50k depending on rarity and there are specialists you can go to for assistance. Trying to restore this in the USA would be like trying to get trim parts for an Eldorado Biarittz in England – doable, but you better mean it when you say ‘money is no object’ !

      I love these, and I hope this gets restored but I wonder if it will just end up being one of those cars that comes up for sale every six months or so as the buyer realises what they’ve got themselves into.

      In the 1980s, a florid chap called Sir John Harvey-Jones was brought into Morgan as part of a TV show called ‘Troubleshooter’ to help them get out of financial trouble. I can’t find a link to the original show where Morgan basically tell the businessman to ‘bugger off and not come back until he understands what hand-crafted means’ but the follow-up made in 2000, which is equally as fascinating, is on YouTube:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBu5ewmEP2E

      If anyone wants to know what goes into a Morgan, there are lots of high quality documentaries there. If those doesn’t put you off a restoration, nothing will :)

  7. Chris A.

    Morgan cars are just special. They are so likeable yet again, with no insult intended, so English. I’ve worked on a Riley with wood framing. Just the wood working skills required to get everything right are way beyond good hobbyist level. And metal forming and fitting panels again requires a master, especially as some of the panels are aluminum. Have I read correctly that you can buy a new frame from Morgan? As a doable project, I’m thinking rebuilt mechanics and electrics with a TR size replica Devin body shell. But that Morgan Airline coupe picture really caught my eye. I’d like Toly’s thoughts on this project.

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