|Engine||Power||Torque||0-100kph||Top speed||Weight||Basic price|
|Cyclone V6, 3700cc||280bhp @ 6000rpm||280lb ft @ 4900rpm||5.5sec||225kph||950kg (295bhp/ton)||$81,600|
And as is to be expected with 1930s roadsters, a few issues have started to crop up as we leave the city limits behind and plough on into the highway segment of our journey. I’m still getting used to the floor-mounted clutch pedal, which is incredibly heavy and mounted too close to the brake pedal for my size 11s to use without occasional mishap: every so often I either depress the clutch and glance the brake pedal, or come off the clutch and get my Converse caught under the brake. At 60kph I was thoroughly enjoying the Morgan’s English civility, but at highway cruising speeds, the wind is now starting to batter me from seemingly every direction. I’m even wary, given the daintiness of the door locks – and indeed of the doors themselves – to lean my full weight on the section of panelling where the driver’s side window traditionally is for fear of throwing the whole thing wide open.
But does any of this really bother me? No. Not even close. Like the 3 Wheeler before it, the Roadster 3.7 has its quirks, but each proves an invaluable addition to the experience and the adventure, one made all the richer by the sense of heritage through both Morgan’s lineage and the true-blue English identity. And whereas in the 3 Wheeler the temptation to drive as fast as you dared was still there despite it not being the most stable of vehicles, the sense of occasion and fun in the Roadster is actually more tangible at lower speeds. As I find when we finally pull off the highway and head towards the mountain roads.
It’s here that I get the first real chance to put the handling to the test. And golly, am I in for a shock.
Turn the non-power-assisted steering wheel and there’s a pause between input and turn-in, just enough to unnerve me into the high-sweeping left and right-handers: atop the sound of that Ford V6, my cries of “wwhhhhooooaaaa” get no less emphatic as the corners come and go, and it’s some considerable time before I’ve got the hang of it. Sitting almost on top of the rear wheels, the sheer size of that bonnet also becomes clear as I heave the incomparably thin steering wheel to position the nose. Which, given my seating position, is quite tricky: I’m as far back on the runners as I can be, but there’s still no room between the bottom of the steering wheel and my legs, meaning I have to shuffle the wheel through my hands like I’m re-doing my driving test. It’s terrifying. And I’m loving it.
Even with this low centre of gravity, there is lean as the Roadster rolls into the corners: several times I worry that the passenger side front and rear wheels are going to lift off the road entirely. It’s clear that the Morgan, despite a fair amount of grip through the tyres, is not a performance machine, even with the impressive amount of power being churned out under the bonnet hinges. But then again – after landing in the beautifully detailed cabin – I wouldn’t have expected the Roadster to shine on these roads. And I’d have been disappointed if it had.
Since landing in the beautifully upholstered retro seat, ‘performance’ has not crossed my mind. And why should it? The Ford V6 may kick out a healthy dose of power to keep acceleration entertaining, but I’ve not at any stage been looking to ‘push the limit’. The opposite in fact: I’ve wanted a drive. Just a normal drive, complete with character and a sense of heritage that’s impossible not to feel when sitting at a Morgan steering wheel. It’s the fascination with an English cruise that sparked my interest in the Roadster in the first place. And in-between beautiful design and an occasionally knuckle-whitening ride, it’s produced exactly that. It’s been an experience completely apart from the 3 Wheeler, and that’s exactly what I was looking for. And I’m no less enthusiastic about it too.
Though I have greatly enjoyed the drive to our shoot location, the time has come to tackle the fabric fold-down roof for the first time, which we’ve been assured is as simple as lift, unclick, click, press, click. Easy. Surely.
Having lifted the canvas roof from its mooring point, Yazan and I are struggle to align the clips with their housings, and several attempts at ‘delicacy’ have consistently brought us back to where we started. Soon we decide that since finesse and delicacy don’t appear to be working, brute force is required. Accordingly, as Yazan holds the roof from the inside, I throw all my might into one terrific swing to latch the clips into place. It’s ultimately Yazan’s period cap that saves his life on this day, and once the effects of a metal support arm clouting off the temples has subsided, we finally manage to get the fabric sort of into place just long enough for shots to be taken.
Sure, I’m nursing a few bruises, but it’s not left me bittersweet about my second Morgan adventure. Like the first, it’s left me amused, bewildered and on occasion fearing for my life. Unlike the first though, there’s been no sense of the downright bizarre. There’s been a sense of aristocratic living, a sense of my national identity that’s sometimes hard to relive in the Middle East. Hell, it’s just been a lot of fun. More so than the 3 Wheeler? Perhaps not but both have left me with a realization. Be it with three wheels or four, a windscreen and a sense of etiquette or just plain old fashioned barminess, Morgan is fast becoming one of my favourite car manufacturers.
Full technical specifications on page 3