No, The Morgan 3-Wheeler Is Not Normal
Photography by Yoav Gilad
“What is that?!” The words still echo in my ears, more than a week after returning the car to Morgan West in Santa Monica, California.
There are probably hundreds of reasons that the Morgan 3-wheeler isn’t for you, most of them related to practicality and the fact that you’re not a superhero living in an underground lair in the sparsely populated English hill-country. No, the Morgan is certainly not for you.
Superheroes are used to attention and publicity, even if they are reclusive, and can handle it. You, my mortal friend, are not ready for the attention. Believe me. For while I am certainly no vigilante upholding justice, clad in tights, and leaping tall buildings in a single bound, I do enjoy attention. And I’ve also been lucky enough to drive some of the most outrageous cars in production: Ferraris, Lamborghinis, etc… But most people don’t really care if your car is just over one meter high and very, very quick.
Apparently however, nearly everyone cares if your car has only three wheels and is doing its best impression of a Supermarine Spitfire. Really. And for what it’s worth there aren’t any truly good reasons to perform a traditional road test review of the Moggie because it is not a normal car or motorcycle (which it’s classified as). So let’s get over the specifics quickly and I’ll tell you what makes this car so compelling.
The Morgan has a zero-to-sixty time. It costs something. It also has an engine, which burns fuel, probably gasoline but maybe petrol. And it has two seats. Oh! And it can turn left or right.
If this isn’t enough for you I suggest you check out YouTube where you can find literally trillions of videos about the Morgan’s performance figures that will bore you into a coma. I’m here to tell you about the car’s main selling point. And contrary to those videos’ opinions, the Morgan isn’t about fun, freedom, or bouncing around the open roads around your hill-country lair. Consider those aspects bonuses.
No, the primary reason to drive a 3-wheeler is because you will instantly become the most popular person within sight. Driving this car turns you into U2’s Bono, while he hands out hundred-dollar bills or papal indulgences (pick your poison). Allow me to share two anecdotes.
First, a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday morning, I headed straight to Abbot Kinney Blvd. located in Venice, California to meet a friend for coffee. This street was named “the Coolest Block in America” by GQ magazine in 2012 because everything from their style guide could be found on this short strip. And while it may no longer be the Coolest Block, it’s always one Lindsay Lohan shoplifting escapade away from the front page of the gossip mags.
My friend and I bought our coffee at Intelligentsia (the name should tell you all you need to know), and proceeded to lap the neighborhood on foot several times. Every single time we passed the Morgan, a different crowd was checking it out, taking photos, and oohing-and-aahing. Why? It’s because it isn’t really a car or bike. It’s a curiosity, a conversation piece you strap into. It’s a Disneyworld ride you can take with you.
Its two-liter, V-twin S&S engine even sounds like the little gas-powered Disneyworld cars of my family-vacation youth. That was the typical response wherever and whenever it was parked. But do people notice it while it’s moving, I mean it’s pretty compact and you don’t sit up high like when you’re on a motorcycle?
Yes. This might actually be the safest vehicle ever built because everyone sees it. If you’re ever in collision in a Morgan you were probably moving too fast to be seen. Had you been driving a bit more slowly, people would have noticed and said, “omigod there’s Bono and he’s handing out hundred-dollar bills! Or are those indulgences?”
I saw so many people raise their phones while driving to shoot photos and video that I couldn’t believe it. People would shout from moving cars to ask what it was, how much it cost, and how much fun it was. And at almost every single traffic light the window of the car next to me would slide down exposing an inquisitive, friendly face.
Really? Yes. Second anecdote: a public bus pulled up next to me at a light and the driver slid his window open. “Hey man!” he yelled.
“Hey” I yelled back.
“What is that thing?!”
“It’s a Morgan 3-wheeler.”
“It’s got three wheels? Damn, that thing is crazy! It’s soooo cool.”
One of his passengers started yelling that his light had changed to green. Then the car behind the bus began honking.
“Where is it from?”
“England. It’s from England!”
More yelling inside the bus. Honk honk honnnnnnnk.
“That is so cool!” Is it electric?”
“No, it’s gas-powered!”
I gave it a rev and his traffic light went yellow. There was more yelling and cursing inside the bus, the driver turned his head and yelled back at the passengers, then turned back to me.
“So you can just fill it up?”
“What is it again?…”
People don’t care about normal and that’s why they care about the 3-wheeler. It isn’t normal; it isn’t a car, motorcycle, or some other goofy contraption. It is pretty. And it’s a novelty that makes everyone smile. There are many reasons that the Morgan is a fun ride, but most important is that it isn’t from our world and turns you into a superhero too. Maybe what it is is a transformer.