Morgan Plus 4 Crosses Continents and Oceans for New Owners
Photography by Christian Baumann, Controluce, for Petrolicious
Cars often take long journeys on their way to our ownership, and sometimes it is not just the number of miles on the odometer, but the criss-crossing of continents too. In 1955, Mr. Robert Riley, then an eighteen-year-old American soldier serving at the British Royal Air Force base in Scunthorpe, England, purchased a car that checked all the boxes for him–two seats, convertible, and…wood framed. Yes, it could only be the Morgan Plus 4. With a two-liter Triumph engine and skinny tires all around, the Morgan must have been sprightly. And while 100-horsepower doesn’t sound like much today, because of the wooden frame underneath, the car is very light. Robert had the car shipped back to his home in Maryland when he returned stateside three years later.
He kept the Morgan a couple more years before selling it, and the car made another journey, this time further westward. The Morgan went to Californian Mr. Glenn Streeter (later the owner of the “Rock-Ola” company that continues to manufacture and sell jukeboxes to this day). Glenn exercised the Morgan regularly around the Los Angeles city of Torrance, and continued Robert’s meticulous and documented upkeep. Receipts from the freight insurance of the car’s shipment across the Atlantic, to a bill for sixty-five cents for “filling up the battery,” everything is still there, and helps tell the story of a car that was clearly cherished.
Around the time the original owner was serving in England, current owner Mr. Helmut Marten was born in California. He now calls the gentle hills of Taunus, Germany home. But in 2009 when looking for a Morgan to add to his collection, Helmut found the one that Robert and Glenn had enjoyed, close to his birthplace! He didn’t think twice. He booked a flight, checked the car out and drove it, then purchased it on the spot. Once more, the car crossed the Atlantic Ocean.
For Helmut, the Morgan is the perfect car. He fits into it perfectly, likes that the Morgan is handcrafted and that he can perform repairs and maintenance in his garage. In 2013 Helmut made another journey, the 1000 kilometer (~600 mi) trip all the way up to Malvern, England where this Morgan left the factory in 1955. Another journey home.