Possible Rally Car: 1959 Morgan Plus 4

1959-Morgan-Plus-4

The seller of this 1959 Morgan Plus 4 touts it as a possible period rally car. They present some proof, but don’t offer any documentation or photos to back up the claim. I thought it would be fun to review the evidence and let everyone here come to their own conclusions. Some race history may add to the car’s value, but either way this is going to be a very expensive project. Find it here on eBay out of Atlanta, Georgia where bidding ends in less than 8 hours!

moto-lita-steering-wheel

The first evidence of this Morgan’s racing past is the Moto-Lita steering wheel. That in itself does not mean much. Many sports car owners swapped out their steering wheels for smaller ones in order to make ingress easier. It was a common occurrence with the back of enthusiast magazines crammed full of ads offering them. But when you combine it with a few other modifications it does make you wonder about the car’s history.

machine-turned-dash

Take a closer look at that dash. Normally there would be a slab of wood where that engine turned aluminum panel now resides. Again, this could have just been a previous owner’s attempt at making it their own. Look even closer though and you will notice a kill switch, hour meter, and map light amongst a whole slew of gauges. Now this makes me start to think this really could have seen some road rally duty.

hrg-valve-cover

Now lets take a peek under the hood. Power was normally provided by a Triumph TR3 engine, but this doesn’t appear to a standard offering here. The finned HRG valve cover hints at what might be inside, but the seller had not cracked open the block to see what internal modifications may have been made. Again, this could have just been a cosmetic upgrade that a previous owner made or it could mean that this engine was indeed hopped up for sporting purposes.

leather-hood-strap

No obvious changes to the exterior are evident except what appears to be a leather hood strap. Many events required an external fastener to make sure the the hood stayed in place. Even if all these little changes were not actually done in order to participate in rallies, this is still a highly desirable car. It will sell and it will be interesting to see if the next owner keeps the upgrades or takes everything back to factory stock. Personally, I would be tempted to keep all the little tweaks as they add character and make you wonder about the car’s past. So, what do you think? Could this really be a period rally car or is it just someone’s interpretation of one?

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Comments

  1. Jimbosidecar

    There were so many rallies and gymkhanas back in the 50s and 60s that this could easily been modified for such use. A “rally” car does not necessarily mean an internationally sanctioned one, it could have been a local rally. I participated in a few even in the early 1980s in NH.

  2. Catfishphil

    Every Morgan I’ve ever seen has sported a leather belt across the bonnet… not attempting to discount the Rallye theory, but why use a longer wheel base/heavier model for racing? All cars have a kill switch – mostly operated by a key. :) And the gauges are a great addition, perhaps by a former owner who was a pilot (or a rallye driver)… the oil temp gauge is a nice addition.

    • Phil

      The 2 seat and four seat are built on the same wheel base with nearly identical chassis. The belt was a racing requirement for supplemental restraint for those that raced, became a fad for those that didn’t race and has become legend. The dash is probably the result of several of the instruments in the stock 4 in 1 instrument cluster failing thus needing a new dash without a huge hole in it and parts store gauges Poor thing.

  3. steve

    It really is hard to say it was a rally car without some documentation. All the mods are neat but nothing definitive. The map light on the dash suggest a navigator would use it to read directions. The gauges are great. The beauty of SCCA rallies in the 50’s + 60’s is just about any car could be pressed into service since often it was Time, Speed, Distance.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think rally history in the US brings much additional value unless, of course, the dash has a Halda setup.

    It is still a neat find.

  4. jim s

    the mustang BF just sold had rally history and i don’t know if that added value to the car or not. this is going to take a lot of money/work to get back on the road. i do hope someone does make a driver out of it. great find

  5. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    I’d rally it from front door to work 3.5 miles away !

  6. Dolphin Member

    “SCCA race rally car”?
    Very unlikely. It’s a 4-seater.

    Has finned valve cover and ‘modified’ dash
    Maybe this Morgan was in a rally or two many years ago, or the owner had a copy of the ‘MG Mitten’ catalog of aftermarket sports car goodies from around 1960 and sent away for a bunch of bolt-on accessories. Which is it? Who knows?

    “The beauty of restoring a Morgan is how easily they are assembled. These cars have a metal body affixed to a wooden subframe which is then attached to a steel chassis.”
    Restoring a bad Morgan body takes more work and skill than most amateur restorers bring to the job, I think. It’s really work for a specialist if you want a proper job that will look good and stay together. These are flexible enough when they’re in perfect condition.

    Better to pay up for a decent driver that doesn’t need everything and maybe even has a known history. They aren’t scarce and they don’t cost a lot.

  7. julian

    Make it roadworthy and start your own history

  8. Mark E

    It’s too bad that one of the readers did not snag this car. I’d love to get reports on the restoration. It’s cars like this that my emotion starts to overwhelm my common sense and I find myself wishing I could get it and restore it. Then my common sense chimes in about what a long, expensive task I’d be letting myself in for.

    BTW, I’m sure this car has an interesting story none the less. Did you notice the tires (that’s tyres to you brits)? Dried & cracked by age, they still have the new tire ‘whiskers’ on them.

  9. ORacer

    I agree with jimbo, lot’s of local rallies in the 60’s, some got more serious than other with mods, also I agree with Phil about the likely reason the dash was changed and engine turned metal was the rage in period.

    As for other mods, the Morgan factory in the 60’s offered a ‘Competition’ model (at least on the 4/4’s) which included a finned alloy valve cover, wood rim wheel and wire road wheels. I know my ’65 4/4 was sold as such and never did more than period local fun rallies…without any success I might add.

    This car has needs, the good, all the parts are available, the bad, if the wood frame is toast, it will get expensive and very time consuming

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