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The most amazing vehicle I’ve ever driven doesn’t have four wheels

Jeff Glucker April 4, 2013 All Things Hoon, Featured 47 Comments

alex roy morgan three-wheeler lead

Certain vehicles reach deep into your chest and affix themselves permanently to your heart. To your brain. To your very soul. One of the greatest vehicles I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting in my driveway is, without a doubt, the Hotchkis E-Max Challenger. For new machines, I still have strong memories of my time spent with the Aston Martin V12 Vantage. Just recently, however, I had one of the most memorable motoring experiences of my entire life. While in New York for the 2013 NYIAS I was attending an event at the Classic Car Club of Manhattan. Also in attendance was equal parts famous and infamous Alex Roy, he of cross-country glory and owner of assorted automotive awesome. Roy had parked his Morgan Three-Wheeler just outside, and I found myself staring at it with a near child-like wonder.

I introduced myself to Roy, we chatted briefly about the Morgan, and I asked him if it would be alright if I sat in it. He paused for a beat, looked back at me and said “Why don’t you drive it?”

There was no hesitation with my reply. “Yes, of course!” were the words that came forth from my face, not as a shout but definitely not at standard street-side discussion level either. Alex procured his extra helmet from somewhere within the cramped passenger-side footwell and handed the lid to me. This was really happening.

I didn’t so much as slide as I did shimmy my way into the driver’s side of the Morgan. The steering wheel is removeable, and it’s very necessary that it behave in such a manner. These are cozy confines, and my size 12 Clark’s boots weren’t in love with the amount of space available for shifting gears. It didn’t matter though, because I’d make this work even if I had to drive the car barefoot. I didn’t have to resort to that and I actually found that it felt like I had more room than first impressions led me to believe once we were underway.

To get moving, I press the starter button that gives life to the nearly 2,000-CC S&S motorcycle engine mounted very visibly up front. Power is supposed to be somewhere between 80 and 100 horsepower, and it all gets routed a five-speed manual gearbox plucked from the Mazda MX-5. The curb weight of the Three Wheeler is around 1,200 pounds and, even with the combined girth of Roy and myself, we’re still riding far lighter than every other vehicle around us. Save for motorcycles of course.

alex roy morgan three-wheeler tall

Alex warns me before we pull away from the curb that the trike does have a few issues. Within the first week of ownership the throttle actually fell off. he mended it, and it feels fine now. Not too long ago one of the side exhaust pipes waved good-bye to the Morgan but Roy reunited the two. I can see that the left front headlight is partly supported by duct tape, and I am finally being told that first gear may be missing a few teeth. This is confirmed as the rear end makes a rather large and startling banging noise when clutch and throttle are pushed into opposing directions.

The build quality is utter crap. The driving experience though… is simply stunning.

Following some navigation tips from Roy, I wind up blasting through New York’s SoHo neighborhood as stunned fancy folks have no idea what they’re looking at. It’s midnight, and there’s a chance they don’t quite believe what they’re seeing. I don’t blame them as I don’t quite believe where I’m sitting. Still, it’s eyes up, two hands on the wheel, and careful shifts to avoid recreating that awful noise from the rear end.

The Morgan is eager to play in traffic, and there’s plenty of playing to do. My eyes sit at the same height as the door handles found affixed to the sea of taxi cabs we’re passing through. Both taxi drivers and their passengers all turn to stare out the windows, and then angle their eyes downward to locate the sound of the S&S motor. Still more onlookers appear on street corners, at intersections, and in crosswalks, and all of them stand with a slight slack-jawed wonderment. I’m officially the most interesting man in New York City at this very moment, and I’m savoring every second of it.

Of course, the entire time this is happening both Alex and I are laughing our heads off. I’m serious when I say we were both laughing nearly the entire time. In fact, I started to cry because I was laughing so hard. The entire process and experience of driving the Morgan is utterly ridiculous. The front darts from side to side like Stevie Wonder as he enters the chorus of Higher Ground. Potholes become potchasms. Still, the handling is sharp and very direct, the brakes respond instantly to haul in the lightweight machine, and the available power can be summoned easily thanks to the responsive (and re-affixed) throttle and the always-excellent Miata gearbox.

Driving the Morgan Three Wheeler is the most fun and memorable experience I’ve had behind the wheel of any machine I’ve ever driven. I know that’s a bit of a bold statement, but it is the truth. One of my greatest passions is simply hopping into a fun car and going for a drive. I love cars, and I love the act of driving. With the Morgan, the experience has been distilled into a far more potent product. You’re having fun as you’re also hanging on and alert to make sure the fun continues. I only got up to speed once or twice, hitting maybe 50 miles per hour on an open stretch of road, and things get exponentially hairier with the three-wheel setup.

Roy said it best once we got back to our original starting point. “There’s no way a guy can pull up next to me in Aventador and claim to be having as much fun, especially for the price.”

He’s right. I’ve been fortunate to drive some amazing machines, but the Morgan has reached into my brain and fused the experience of driving it to my very being. My life is now measured in Before Morgan and After Morgan… and I need to get more Morgan in my life.

[A very special thank you to Alex Roy for letting me drive his Three Wheeler]

  • http://hooniverse.com/ Tanshanomi

    "The build quality is utter crap. The driving experience though… is simply stunning."

    I have some small inkling of how that can be.

    <img src="http://tanshanomi.com/temp/sport-t-buggy-small.jpg"&gt;

    • http://www.washington.edu/news/archive/52703 mdharrell

      Ditto. Much of the text seemed familiar.

      <img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3550/5733681301_89a874e566.jpg&quot; width="450">

      I laugh a lot, too.

      • Irishzombieman ♠

        I drove a Meyers Manx once. Looked like this one would if you left it in the sun for a decade and sandblasted it with soda twice a year.. The body stabbed me with fiberglass splinters as I climbed in and out.

        I never stopped giggling.

        <img src="http://images.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/754468.jpg&quot; width=400>

    • Raphael Orlove

      I drove Alex Roy's Morgan once…then I went out and bought a Baja Bug. All seems right with the world.

      I did manage to get Alex behind the wheel of my baja, and we both spent the entire time cracking up, too.

  • calzonegolem

    I've wanted one of these ever since I laid eyes on one. Every time I read something about them it is positive and makes me want one more. Maybe after I'm tried of Rat-L-Trap I'll look into building myself something similar.

  • Scandinavian Flick ★

    "The build quality is utter crap. The driving experience though… is simply stunning."

    That statement seems to sum up most of the cars we like the most…

    Great writeup, you lucky twat. That did very well to illustrate exactly what there is to love about this quirky little beastie.

    • http://www.Hooniverse.com Jeff_Glucker

      I now need a Caterham in my life… Yes, I will gladly accept the extra wheel.

      • Scandinavian Flick ★

        Oh god yes… Ever since I found out they make extended wheel base versions for taller people, I need a Gulf colored Caterham…. What would you pick to power it?

        • wunno sev

          i dunno man. that couple extra inches of chassis sounds like it could be awful heavy don'cha think?

          • Scandinavian Flick ★

            I'll poop before driving it to compensate.

            • wunno sev

              shave your eyebrows, with a windshield that small it will have the double benefit of aerodynamics too

          • bhtooefr

            I believe every new Seven now – including the lightest ones – is on the Series V (tall/fat people) chassis.

            (SV does mean Series V, for what it's worth. The Classic is based on the dimensions of the original Lotus Seven Series III chassis.)

      • CherokeeOwner

        If you're ever in Denver, you can stop by Caterham's US headquarters in Arvada.

    • http://www.Hooniverse.com Jeff_Glucker

      Also.. did you add a star next to your name?

      that is fucking hilarious.

      • Scandinavian Flick ★

        Wish I could claim credit for that one, but that idea was stolen from this thread: http://hooniverse.com/2013/03/26/hooniverse-asks-

        • http://www.flowerpowerkc.com Alff

          I'm digging your new avatar. If I'm not mistaken, ours came from the same source:
          http://hooniverse.com/2012/09/24/truth-in-adverti

          • pj134

            $kaycog yelled at me the last time I tried to change mine…

            • http://www.flowerpowerkc.com Alff

              She only yells because she cares so much.

          • Scandinavian Flick ★

            Yup! I think a few of us took avatars from that thread. That whole thing was hilarious.

            I'm thinking about switching it up again soon.

  • 1slowvw

    Truly a car that is greater then the sum of it's parts. A parring down of the driving experience that I'm sure is unlike anything else. The Morgan 3 wheeler is definitely on my list of things I need to drive before my time is up in this world.

  • Tree88

    most of the build maladies (much like on a Harley) can be fixed with the liberal application of Loctite.

  • Al Navarro

    I've never driven a Morgan 3-wheeler, but have owned and driven a Seven (and very shortly will be in possession of another) and I TOTALLY KNOW what you're talking about. The "helmet-suggested" part. The eyes at bumper level part. The shite build quality (actually, my old Caterham was put together fairly well for a Seven). The googly-eyed onlookers. The laughing passenger & driver. The feeling that, no matter what anyone else on the road is driving, they probably aren't having half as much fun as you are.

    It is why, almost immediately after selling my old Seven, I was into another one (albeit in project form) within a year. As I've remarked to Sam Smith: Those obsolete, simple, and truth be told, scary to step into, British lightweights are automotive crack.

  • http://www.wegmuller.org dwegmull

    Anyone knows if a motorcycle license is required to drive one in California?
    I'm asking for a "friend"…

    • http://www.washington.edu/news/archive/52703 mdharrell

      I believe the answer is no, just a Class C license:

      http://www.dmv.ca.gov/motorcycles/motorcycles.htm

      It appears a helmet, however, is required because the Morgan is not fully enclosed:

      http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d12/vc27803.htm

      • http://www.wegmuller.org dwegmull

        Cool, thanks!

        • http://www.washington.edu/news/archive/52703 mdharrell

          No problem. Here in Washington I'm fairly sure it would be plated and insured as a motorcycle but would require neither a motorcycle license nor a helmet to operate.

          • bhtooefr

            For what it's worth, in Ohio, it would be registered as a motorcycle (I believe it can't be registered as a car in any state, due to being held to FMVSS for cars if it were a car – Ohio actually does support three-wheel proper cars, but that class is pointless), and would require a motorcycle license.

            Helmet would be required for both driver and passenger in the first year of the driver having a motorcycle license, but after that, not required.

  • Mike

    More than likely not. A traditional sidecar motorcycle which also has 3 wheels is a Class C vehicle according to the CA DMV.

  • http://www.proofnpudding.com muthalovin

    Of all the cities in the US, I think NYC would probably be the best for a Morgan. Better than LA, better than Dallas, Miami, Roswell… Maybe Honolulu would be as good.

  • JayP2112

    I was down that British crack road in high school and college.
    MGs, TR, whatever came around I wanted to drive it. They weren't fast by any means, which was the opposite of what high school was about (pal had a Javelin 390). So I took my lumps. But they were fun to drive and gave a real sense of being in the car, not on top of it.

    So yea- my dream date is to build a Caterham.

  • http://www.hooniverse.com LTDScott

    Sounds like you took a sip of the potion.

    • http://www.Hooniverse.com Jeff_Glucker

      then hit that three-wheel motion…

      • http://www.hooniverse.com LTDScott

        Yessss, thank god someone got that. I was afraid I might be too gangsta for this site.

        Interestingly, Firefox does not want to correct the spelling of "gangsta."

        • http://www.Hooniverse.com Jeff_Glucker

          One of the best rap songs of all time…

  • http://roadworkuk.com Rust-MyEnemy

    A Morgan Three-wheeler is the exact antidote to the VW Jetta Diesel. They should actually come packaged together.

    • http://www.washington.edu/news/archive/52703 mdharrell
      • http://roadworkuk.com Rust-MyEnemy

        Forgot all about that! I always kind of hated it, strangely.

        It always seemed like accepting sweets from a politician.

  • Jay_Ramey

    Roy is cool like that, he lets people play with his cars. He showed me around both M5s.

    Jeff, did he say whether he still had the Citroen SM? I hadn't seen that one since 2010.

    • http://www.Hooniverse.com Jeff_Glucker

      That's because it's in California. Yes, I'm trying to drive that one too…

      • Jay_Ramey

        He bought it from one of the Citroen club officers, a really sharp example with excellent paint, squeaky clean all around. I was there when he took delivery. Fully sorted, ready to go.

        Tough to find one like that, even among Citroen people, as a lot of SMs are driver grade, not club concours grade like his.

  • http://www.limitedslipblog.com LSB Scott V

    I wish I knew you better when this happened. I would have met you somewhere, just to see this all unfold.

  • roguetoaster

    I swear I read almost exactly the same article on the site that presumes to give the truth about automobiles within the last week. Same organizational pattern, same ideas, same comments from Mr. Roy. How odd.

    • http://hooniverse.com/ HycoSpeed

      I am guessing Mr. Roy was getting a little free publicity during the auto show, it seems like he knows his way around the media scene.

      Jeff's is better.

  • nutzforautos

    Road and Track featured the same vehicle this month. Got the edition in the mail Tuesday. Almost the same (if not the same) lead picture. Same overall sentiment too.

  • http://hooniverse.com/ HycoSpeed

    I want to hang out with you Jeff! A three-wheeled Morgan has been on my short list for a long time, since I got some old black and white pictures from an auto show my grandfather went to once (those little pictures, before 4×6 was standard) back when I was about 8 and first discovered the Morgan.

    And you succeeded in making the wants worse.

  • Squirlz

    Ours will be here soon. Can't wait!

  • dculberson

    I saw this exact Morgan at this weekend's Lemons race at MMC. I would have liked to say hi to Alex but we were a bit busy. Good weekend and awesome car though!

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