Thursday, 28 July 2016

All Morgans' Day, The Morgan Roadster, Blenheim Palace & Help for Heroes featured in the August 2016 issue of MOG Magazine

All Morgans' Day, The Morgan Roadster, Blenheim Palace & Help for Heroes

All featured in the August 2016 issue of MOG Magazine

The River Bridge at Blenheim Palace.

At this point I should offer an apology for the poor quality 
of the Photos taken from the Magazine with the centre 
spine flattened. 

As one of the Morgan Centenary Roadster 100 Register Sponsors for our 2016 All Morgans' Day held at 
Blenheim Palace on 3rd July, MOG Magazine decided 
to feature all four topics in their magazine's August Issue 
Cover Story.

The R100 Register has fund raised in support of 
Help for Heroes over the previous six years 
raising £17889.48.
At All Morgans' Day this year, we decided to support 
Combat Stress, The Veterans Mental Health Charity.

Editor Julia's letter.

The Introduction

 W   We arrived at Blenheim Palace early, ahead of the 
crowds and before the All Morgans' Day had kicked off 
for some uninterrupted Roadster testing. Rising high above 
us was a stunning structure bedecked with beautiful 
carvings and a rich golden-coloured stone 
- that was just the gatehouse.

Blenheim Palace was built as a gift to the 1st Duke of
Marlborough. John Churchill the military commander who 
led the Allied forces in the Battle of Blenheim on 13th 
August 1704.
The palace itself is appropriately imposing with the 
largest courtyard we have ever seen, in the middle of which 
sat our brand new white Roadster looking very much 
at home alongside this glorious British national treasure 
of a building 

Brash, demanding and oh-so fast, the V6 Roadster is 
Morgans bad boy - but it wasn't always so. When Morgan
decided to drop a V8 into a Morgan back in the '60s, it
created an epic legend. Stacks of power in a light car with
traditional suspension, the Plus 8 was as brilliant as it was
demanding. But, with the Plus 8 discontinued in 2004,
Morgan plugged the gaping hole in the market with this 
- the V6 Roadster.

       In 2013 the Plus 8 returned, but the modern car is a
much more refined machine than its traditional cousin. 
With the Plus 8 back, you might think the Roadster would 
be confined to the history books - but its still here - and, 
in some ways, it embodies that traditional Plus 8 spirit.

" The Roadster can make you
break out in a cold sweat, 
and it knows it"

even more than the modern version. It seems there will 
always be a demand for an outrageously powerful 
traditional Morgan.
     But why? Its got leaf springs, sliding pillar suspension 
and the old ladder frame - all of which are surely more 
suited to the lower power cars of the '50s, right? It sounds
downright scary and, in many respects, it is. Well, rather 
it can be - if you let it. This thing is fast - really fast > 

At the Lygon Arms in Broadway

      The Roadster is the unsung hero in many respects ; it's 
not got the Plus 8 fame, it doesn't have the 80 years of 
history of the 4/4, and it doesn't have the Le Mans victory 
that the Plus 4 has. It sits on its own with those traditional
looks, quietly confident, smiling to itself. The Roadster can
make you break out in a cold sweat, and it knows it.
       As we jumped in and picked out a circular route, we had
our first taste of Roadster roaming. With that much power
coursing through the back wheels it's like releasing a
thoroughbred from the starting gate. Give the accelerator 
a push and your greeted with a guttural scream, the engine
reacting as though it's trying to move the lumbering 
Mustang for which it was designed. But with only 950kg 
to shift, it's as if it's constantly overreacting.  

       That said - all that really is required is an adjustment in 
the driving style. After driving mainly 4/4s and Plus 8s, we
discovered the Roadster really is a different experience. The
other models you can drive spiritedly much like a modern 
daily driver, but the Roadster takes some adjustment.
Although its closest brothers are the Plus 4 and the 4/4, it
shares more in common with the 3 Wheeler. Its visceral, 
raw, and a lot of fun; the Roadster can make the hairs stand 
up on the back of your neck. 
       To drive sensibly, and sedately, simply change up earlier
and it behaves itself quite well. Many owners find the car 
a good tourer, and we can see why; nothing would trouble 
the Roadster - it's got all the power you'd ever need and 
eats up the miles.

        Cruising around the country lanes, its great fun. It feels
much faster than the Plus 8 - which is probably an illusion
created by the traditional chassis. It doesn't take much to 
feel as though you're going fast; often we'd glance at the 
speedo expecting to see 120 only to read 70.
        All Morgans force you to sit up and pay attention, you
have to drive them, but the Roadster makes you feel as 
though you've had a packet of Pro Plus for breakfast, swilled
down with a double espresso. Every bump, every corner, 
every incline requires input and reaction from the driver.
        The Ford six-speed gearbox is direct and firm - not quite
as satisfying as the MX5 box in the other traditional models,
but plenty good enough. It seems to be very long in its gearing,
which makes sitting in third around town nice and easy. 

"It's not quite like wrestling a bull, but we'd wager it causes just as much adrenaline release" 

Given to us with hardly any miles on it, we did find the 
clutch very springy, making it difficult to pull away 
smoothly, but it hadn't bedded in, so no doubt would 
loosen up with use. It Brakes, although serviceable, 
perhaps don't give as much confidence as they should 
with drum brakes on the rear and discs on the front. 
It's not quite like wrestling a bull, but we'd wager it 
causes just as much adrenaline release. Heading out 
into Oxfordshire, through Chipping Norton and > 

At the Crown & Cushion Hotel, Chipping Norton

Moreton-in-Marsh, and over to Tewksbury, we make the
beast do its cruising thing - changing up early and 
smoothly. Between the villages, on the straights it's a 
joy to give the accelerator a blip and enjoy the sound 
and power.
      The country lanes, with their potholes and broken 
surfaces do make things a bit more of a challenge. After a 
short stretch we felt as though we'd been 12 rounds with 
Mike Tyson, but with leaf springs and sliding pillar, that's 
part of the traditional Morgan character. In all honesty, 
it says more about the terrible state of the UK roads, 
as when on the better-kept tarmac it's more than 
comfortable enough.
      Acceleration is the Roadster's signature dish. From 0-62 
it blitzes it in 5.5 seconds, although we didn't attempt that 
on the open road, we could have sworn it could do it in 3. 
The Roadster isn't the fastest car on paper but it gives you

"The Roadster isn't the fastest 
car on paper but it gives you 
the impression you could 
outpace a Mclaren F1."

the impression you could outpace a Mclaren F1. That's the
Roadster's charm; it's unassuming, understated, and it gives
you a thrill like no other car we've ever driven.
    We may have touted the Roadster as a raw machine, but
it does have some refinement in the way of power steering.
The steering isn't as direct as a 4/4 or a Plus 4, and a little too 
loose at high speed, but works well for the most part.
Without it, we've no doubt the Roadster might be a little
too much of a handful > 

The Great Court at Blenheim Palace

Driving the Park Roads at Blenheim Palace.

After our round trip, we are back at Blenheim to hand 
the wheel over to a special guest for a different perspective.
The All Morgans' Day has been working for Help for 
Heroes for many years now, raising money for 
ex-servicemen and women. This year the event raised 
money for Combat Stress, an affiliate to Help for Heroes.
    Graham Hudspith served in the Royal Navy for 15 years
before suffering an accident in an inter-naval rugby match
while docked in Spain. This injury resulted in him being 
unable to work in the Forces and elsewhere for a long period 
of time. He also suffered from Cancer, the treatment 
for which gave Graham nerve damage, adding further 
difficulty to everyday life. Thankfully, Help for Heroes have
given Graham a hand.
    "Help for Heroes has been great" Graham tells us. "If
you were in the Forces, they'll help you in any way they
can, even if you weren't hurt on duty. They've helped me 
with rehabilitation, both health-wise and socially, so I can
enjoy my life again."
      Graham has done some incredible things with Help for
Heroes; at one of their recovery centers he got involved 
with activities he never thought he could do. "They had me

"You hear people say 'I 
wouldn't be here if it wasn't for 
Help for Heroes' and it true"

horse riding, skiing, they really encourage you to be 
active. I have also been given a hand bike, on which I rode the
Hero Ride last June - I cycled 50 miles from Whitehall to
Windsor Castle! Going through Windsor we got so much 
praise and attention, it was great >

 Inside the Great Court before the other Morgans arrived.

Our Hero

"Graham has been at the helm of an aircraft carrier in his time in the Navy,
but this nimble Mog still put a smile on his face"

"You hear people say 'I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for 
Help for Heroes' and it true". When you've been at the 
lowest point, to have Help for Heroes come to your aid and
help your whole family, it's brilliant, The All Morgans' Day 
has been raising money to help people like Graham, and 
this year it was another resounding success.
       We handed Graham the keys to see what he thought 
of the Roadster. Driving away we cruise around the 
grounds and local area as he gives us his feedback. "It's 
much more comfortable than I was expecting. It's 
fantastic to be part of the environment, you really feel as
though you are right there in the countryside. It feels very
direct and firm, smoother than I expected though. I've 
got a bad back and it didn't rattle me around as much as
I thought it would!" Graham laughs.
      "The way it clunks into gear is very satisfying. It's such
an honour to be able to drive such a classic car and the 
attention it gets is fantastic; it's just like when I was riding
the hand bike on the Hero Ride. I want to keep it! Can you
my Ford home, and I'll have this?"
     Graham has been at the helm of an aircraft carrier in his
time in the Navy, but this nimble Mog still put a smile on
his face. "It's just so much fun". Not intimidated in the
slightest, Graham got to grips with the car quickly, which
goes to show that with a gentle approach the Roadster is a
very acceptable car, and can behave itself nicely >

In amongst the multitude of Morgans, as they began to 
arrive at the Palace, the Roadster was truly at home. The
Churchill family still owns Blenheim, and we're sure they
would be proud of the All Morgans' Day raising money for
soldiers in need. Very rarely do you see this many Mogs in 
one place, and it was a joy to witness. The Roadster sat 
amongst its brethren proudley.
If we had to boil down the Roadster experience into one 
word, it would be "reactive". Drive it hard and it will scare 
the living daylights out of you. Be calm and soft and it 
behaves very well indeed - as our friend Graham can testify. 
"It wasn't too difficult to drive, it was quite easy going. With
the fresh air you don't really want to go fast; it might be able 
to do 140mph, but it's great for driving slowly and taking 
the world in"
Frantic and fast, or smooth and slow, the Roadster can 
do it all. It is, if you like, both beauty and the beast. If 
you want the flagship traditional Morgan, and a car 
that truly feels fast, this is the one to get - but watch that 
right foot!  MOG

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