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Morgan three-wheeler failed reliability trial

Ian Hooper entered sprints and high-speed reliability trials in his Morgan three-wheeler. Picture: Ian Hooper

Ian Hooper entered sprints and high-speed reliability trials in his Morgan three-wheeler. Picture: Ian Hooper

Ian Hooper

Ian Hooper took to the track for spints and high-speed reliability trials in his Morgan three-wheeler with mixed fortunes.

Having read and enjoyed your regular My First Car feature, I felt mine would be of interest.

The car was a 1937 Morgan three-wheeler. It had a 998cc overhead valve engine (OHV) air-cooled Matchless V-twin engine.

The car was purchased in about 1959 which pleased my parents at the time as it marked the end of noisy, dangerous motorcycles.

It was unusual in that it had only two seats, side by side, and a very small cockpit. There was not room for three foot control pedals – only a brake and a clutch – so the accelerator was mounted on the steering wheel spoke, together with the advance and retard mechanism. The accelerator was operated with your thumb. This was made possible by very direct steering – half a turn lock to lock – so your hands did not release the wheel.

Starting was with a handle, making sure the ignition was fully retarded as a backfire, which often happened, meant a severe rap on the knuckles.

The gearbox had three forward and one reverse gear. It was a crash box with no syncromesh – you had to double declutch – depress the clutch in to neutral, then depress the clutch in to the selected gear.

The brakes were pretty basic – known as ‘string and pray’ – a Bowden cable to a single acting mechanical lever operating the brake shoe, and no hydraulics.

Being young, I wanted to use the car in competition, so I entered a half-mile sprint making three runs and only losing a mudguard. I next entered a high-speed reliability trial at Silverstone.

You are given a set average to make for one hour. The intoxication of driving on a flat surface, as fast as you can, with no one coming the other way in a 24-year-old car has an inevitable result. I damaged a main bearing and watched most of the event from trackside.

Tell us about the adventures you had in your first car – email your memories with a picture of the car to motoring@archant.co.uk or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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