The purpose of this Blog

This blog is to detail my 43 years (1973 - 2016) with a 1928 Chevrolet tourer, affectionately called "The Red Chev".

The acquisition, restoration, improvements and my experiences over the years are covered in as much detail as I can remember.

Some of the later postings include car club outings and other vintage car items that I hope will be of interest to people.

If you have the time, scroll back to where it all began in 1973 and follow the journey so far.

Thanks for dropping by.

Regards Ray Dean

See my new section "The Red Chev - Repairs, Improvements, Maintenance and Technical Details" located on the left hand side of the screen.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

1953 Morgan Plus 4 out of hiding after 25 years

From a great site
This 1953 Morgan Plus 4 Flat Nose is one of only 200 or so made with the flat radiator. When the seller found it, it had been parked in an Arizonian garage for nearly 25 years. Like the seller, the previous owner had the goal of restoring it, but never got around to it. Now that the past two owners have not been able to finish the task, the current owner feels it would be better to see this rare roadster gets into the hands of someone with the time and means to finish it. Hopefully, the old adage of “Third Time’s a Charm” comes true.


The Plus 4 was introduced in 1950 as a sportier version of the 4/4. This one is obviously in need of a complete restoration, although the current look is rather interesting. It is going to be a costly and time consuming project, but the seller does have a long list of parts that are included.


There seems to be a lot of confusion about what engine was used to power the Plus 4. Morgan sourced the 2088cc inline-four from the Standard Motor Company, who also built the 2.0 liter used in the Triumph TR2. While these two engines were closely related, they were actually different blocks. This Vanguard four isn’t currently running, but it and the transmission are the original and should be salvageable.


Like the rest of the car, the interior will need a full makeover. Thankfully, there wasn’t much to these in the first place. The wood panel dash will need to be restored, along with the very rare Smith gauges. It’s surprising how intact the interior is considering it has not been cared for in the past 40 years.


Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the next owner will be able to get this rare Morgan back on the road. I would hate to see it deteriorate further, as there aren’t many of these left, especially low mileage examples with their original motors. It might not be for everyone, but in my opinion this Morgan is definitely worth saving.

This is the full Ebay article on the car:

I am a believer that once you realize you are not going to get to a project in a timely manner, it's time to fold and let the next guy get a crack at it. And in a case like this with less than 200 of these Flat Rad Morgan Plus Fours made, it is the right thing to do. This particular car is just too nice, too complete, too rust-free, too straight, too unplayed with, too good of wood to just let sit around until I get around to it. And we all know what happens what I will get around to it means. I probably won't.
This is a 1953 Morgan Plus 4 Flat Nose.

According to the license plate, the last time it was on the road was 1959. And it shows only 46,000 miles or so on the odometer. I dragged it out of a stand alone garage up in the mountains of Arizona. It had been sitting in a guys garage, more or less alone for two and a half decades. I am tempted to use that new buzzword 'barn find.' But it wasn't a barn; it was actually a pretty nice garage I wouldn't mind having myself. The guy I got it from had a flat nose Morgan back in high school and got this one 25 years ago with intentions of getting it back to its glory days so he could relive his. You know how the rest of the story goes..... he never got around to it, and like his youth, the restoration slipped away from him. He did spend some of that time collecting the few missing parts the car didn't have. He did his collecting long enough ago that he got the majority of the missing parts from the Morgan factory. Try doing that today.

I've had a number of Morgans over the years, including one of the factory propane power ones. When I saw this one, I had an moral responsibility to get it out of there. Now I am the one leaving it to just sit around collecting dust. And it looks like I won't be getting to it anytime in the near future. Which, experiences shows, will turn into the far future, until I just won't get to it at all.

This dual spare, 2 seater body is remarkably clean, straight, rust-free, and original. Especially for a car off the road for at least 40 years and part of that time was outside stored under a tarp. So it is not showroom looking, bright shiny paint, knockout interior and so on. But then again, you would be lucky to look half as good as this if you spent the last half century like the Tin Man.What this car lacks in looks now makes it up big time in the bones department.  I have found very little rust on it. Even more amazing is the wood, which is always either rotted or fried, is neither.

The wood is actually in incredible shape considering the circumstances. It is solid as can be with no obvious signs of rot anywhere. The doors do not sag a bit when opened.. The car  was repainted by the owner before the guy I got it from, who was the first owner. That's the roundabout way of saying I am owner number 3. Sadly only one of the owners ever got to drive it. It was originally Robin Egg Blue which the previous owner got confirmed by the Morgan factory with the Morgan Chassis Record I will include.. I can only imagine how gorgeous that color would look. I'm not saying the current paint scheme is ugly. But no show winner either.

The gauges are all there. Including the incredibly rare, incredibly neat, and totally irreplaceable speedometer/ clock gauge. I've been around British cars, and by default Smiths gauges, all my long life and have never come across another speedometer/clock gauge. It even has 'Morgan' inscribed on it. All the gauges will have to be cleaned up and probably rebuilt. But that's the easy part. Finding them is the hard part.

There is a new ignition assembly with key from the Morgan factory. I don't know how the previous owner pulled that off, but he did. More incredibly, he got two brand new (at the time) front fender lights, again, from the Morgan factory that will of course be included with the car. I do have a front bumper as well. It came from the previous-previous owner and I think it is NOS and has not been installed ever. 

The only thing I have found that is missing is one single front bumper bracket. Thank god it's just an easily fabricated bumper bracket.The first owner evidently did not like the fender lights so he removed them and was in the process of filling in the mounting areas.He welded metal and was smoothing it over with fiberglass. Why, I do not know but easily fixed.

The interior, well the important thing is it is all there. Arizona is great for keeping cars rust-free. Not so great for keeping interiors supple (which makes the condition of the wood all that more amazing to me by the way). If you're one of those survivor car guys who likes getting cars running, stopping, and that's it, I guess you could maybe bring back the seats.... sort of. But for the rest of us, they will need to be redone. The top frame is complete. The probably original top and tone are included but of course are not too hot of shape. The side curtains are there but the Plexiglas needs replacing.  I even have a pair of Brookland Windscreens that came with the car, are correct for the car, and will go with the car. Get this, it even has the original tool kit in its original dried up leather pouch, the original jack and hand crank.

The engine and transmission are original to the the car. It's all there. Not sure how far off it is from starting. But anyone familiar with these old tractor engines knows you're never all that far off from getting it going again. I don't want to give a history lesson here, but even my Morgan buddies are not entirely familiar with the particulars of these. The engine is a Standard Vanguard 2088cc. Engine Number V 571 ME.  I, along with an awful lot of my Morgan buddies, thought it was supposed to be a TR2 engine. It is not. On the rare occasions you see a flat nose +4 (in pictures most likely....) and you're told it's a TR2 engine, it is not original.

The TR2 used a 2088cc Vanguard engine as a base and tweaked it from there. My understanding is most owners swapped out to a TR2 engine. I am not knocking nor turning my nose up at the swap. Plenty of good reasons to do that. Personally I love those early Triumph engines. BUT it is not original and never will be. If for some reason you do not want to keep this Morgan original, I have a TR2 engine hanging around in my barn that we can make a separate, reasonable deal for. I won't fault or shame you either. I just ask you please keep the Vanguard engine around for history's sake.I have a redone vintage Lawrence aluminum valve cover that I am including with the car. I also have a new NOS set of early Weber 42 side draft carbs with horns and intake that will work with this car we can talk about. Also have a Jaguar XK150 tranny with overdrive and bell housing that also will work here.

I have a letter of authenticity from Morgan verifying everything. I even have the original 1953 Fergus Motors instruction manual for this car to get you started. And I mean it came with THIS car. Obviously someone is going to have to totally go through it.

But what a base to start with! Even my Japanese car loving son (where did I go wrong?) is bugging me to keep it and put it in the will for him. But like me, he says he won't be able to get to it any time soon either. So I guess as the saying goes, if you love something, set it free.


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