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June 8, 2019

1909 Three-Wheeled Runabout, the First Morgan’s Vehicle

Morgan Motor Company celebrates the 110th anniversary this year. That’s more than a century!

It all started in 1909 when Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan installed a Peugeot engine in a tricycle he designed. This brilliant but simple design by H.F.S. Morgan became one of the most successful lightweight cars of the early days of motoring. The principal of fitting a powerful motorcycle engine and simple transmission into a light-weight chassis and body inspired a new type of vehicle which generically became known as the ‘Cyclecar’. Thus the fashion for ‘new motoring’ introduced the freedom of the open road to those of more modest means. The Morgan Runabout was at the forefront of this movement and therefore Harry Morgan can be regarded as the man who first introduced motoring for the masses.
Three wheels, a front mounted engine, one seat, and tiller steering on top of the independent suspension.
The prototype was constructed in 1909 and was a simple three-wheeler with a tubular steel chassis fitted with a 7 h.p. Peugeot V-twin engine. One of its main features was the unusual power to weight ratio of 90 brake horsepower per ton, which enabled this little vehicle to accelerate as fast as any car being produced at that time. H.F.S. had invaluable assistance from Mr Stephenson-Peach, the engineering master at Malvern College and Repton School in Derbyshire, in whose workshops much of the development work was carried out. Although not originally intended as a commercial venture, the favorable reaction to Morgan’s machine encouraged him to consider putting the car into production. Leslie bacon decided that this was far too risky and quit the partnership, although the two men remained close friends for the rest of their lives.

The first production Morgans were simple single-seat machines steered with a tiller and powered by either a single cylinder 4 h.p. engine or an 8h.p. V-twin engine made by the London firm J.A. Prestwich. A patent was granted, the patent drawings being produced by a bright youth who was later to become famous as Sir John Black of the Standard Motor Company. The Runabouts (as the machines were to be called) were unveiled to the public at the Olympia motorcycle show in London in November 1910.

Despite the interest shown just a few of these were built and sold, mainly because of the lack of a two-seat version and the somewhat old-fashioned tiller steering. However, to prove the soundness of the design, one month later H.F.S. Morgan entered the Runabout in the MCC London to Exeter Trial, and his remarkable performance won a Gold Medal. This was the first of many such victories in all forms of motor sport such as reliability trials, plus racing and record-breaking particularly at the Brooklands autodrome.

(via The Morgan Motor Company)



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