Restoring a Morgan

At Allon White Sports Cars we enjoy a great relationship with our customers and try hard to go the extra mile to look after them.  Often there’s a story attached to our customers and the cars they own and we thought it might be interesting to share some of these stories. This then, is the second of an occasional series that we are running on our website.

It all started when we were contacted by Chris Dunn about restoring his Morgan.

And here is Chris' story...

Chris Dunn: 'I had an MG Midget before I bought the Morgan, although I started off in the beginning with a 25-quid 1925 Austin 7 Chummy - I wish I had kept that! I had a Mini, an Austin Healey Sprite, an MGB GT, and an Alfa Romeo Giulia.  Then, after the Midget, I decided to get a Morgan; the waiting time then (in the 1980s) was at least three years for a new one, so I went looking for a pre-owned one.

I bought my AC Guardsman Blue Morgan 4/4 in 1982 from John Britten Garages in North London.  It had first been registered in 1980.  I drove it as my daily car for almost eight years for both personal and business purposes.  When I bought it there was about 22,000 miles on the clock and by the time it was rested up in 1988 it had accumulated around 86,000 miles!

A change of job meant a company car and a lot of work away from home.  I didn't want to sell the Morgan, because like many Morgan owners I had become quite attached to it, so I put it into storage, so to speak, in my mother-in-law's garage, a solid, brick-built building that was dry and a good place to keep a car.  Then in 1991 my son wanted a job over the summer to get some practical experience and he offered to overhaul the engine.  I had already done the kingpins and other things in 1984, but the engine really needed some TLC.  He stripped the engine down and reassembled it, but then started a new job so he hadn’t time to get it operational.  The car was therefore left  in the garage again, where it stayed until October 2014.

Over the 23 years, either I or my son occasionally checked it out, pushed it backwards and forwards, kept the tyres inflated and the wheel bearings moving, and turned the engine over regularly so it didn't seize.

Having retired and wanting something to do, I decided to get the car operational again for me and my son and of course my wife Elizabeth to enjoy once more; after all, it was part of the family!  I had kept it so long and all the family wanted to see it running again.  I had heard good reports about Allon White Sports Cars, so I contacted them.  Phil Benfield came out and provided me with an estimate, which I accepted, and it was then that Julie Wallinger took over as project manager to see the job through all its stages - it was her third such project, so I felt it was in good hands.

When the car arrived at Allon Whites they found, amongst the many small and obvious items, that the bulkhead and chassis in the footwell were badly corroded, the offside door woodwork was rotten, and the wings needed repairing/replacing with new.  Then we found Morgan didn't make the wings anymore for this model, so it was decided that we would weld-repair them and a specialist welder, recommended by Phil, did a fantastic job.  All the beading round the wheel arches and bottom had “gone” on the inside; the wing itself was OK  so they ground back to solid metal and welded on new beading - a great job!.

They had to replace the fuel tank which I'd changed once before myself.  A new bulkhead was now fitted and the chassis weld repaired.  The engine was stripped again and rebuilt.  What is interesting is that the 1600cc Ford Escort Sport (1599cc) engine did not need any work on the cylinder bores just new piston rings.  They did replace the twin choke-Weber carb, as it was too worn to be effective on the rebuilt unit.  As it happened, my son had fitted a new clutch when the 1991 rebuild was started, but it was never used.  Just as well, because I was told that type was very difficult to find now.

What is impressive is that Allon Whites’ people can do almost everything on site – welding the chassis, fitting the replacement wood sections, overhauling the engine/gearbox, and replacing the interior trim.  In fact the only things that had to be done outside were the wing repairs and the painting; Julie was over to the specialist painter many times to be sure we got what was required.  And what a finish! - I think you'll agree it looks superb.  I am very impressed.

Rob is the mechanic who did most of the work - a great mechanic who knows his Morgans.  Julie took lots of photos and kept me informed at every stage.  Every two or three weeks I went up from Gloucestershire to see how things were going and to ask questions.  It's important not to rush a job like this and some parts always take a while to obtain.  But here we are now with the finished article - it was completed in April 2015 and took around 6 months in total.

I have the full history file for the car.  It's great to get it back in its original condition and driving it today I fondly remember my first drive taking it back from the garage to home.  I definitely noticed the difference of not having power-assisted steering and brakes, but I soon got used to it.  I haven't taken it overseas.  I’ve driven mainly around Gloucestershire, down to Cornwall and up to the Home Counties.

I am so glad I decided to get it restored, as is my wife for she has had a lot of input, with regular discussions with Julie over the last year.  Elizabeth knew as much about what was going on as I did because of the excellent contact provided.  Julie, Phil, and mechanic Rob have been terrific, as have Shaun and Rocco in the trim shop who did a superb job replacing the trim where necessary and fitting a new hood and tonneau so it is now just as it was all those years ago.

For sure I will always come back for servicing and stay in touch.  We have all become good friends.  You are not treated as a customer at arm's length like many other places - here they really care.  Thank you for a great job and "Bravo!", I say.” 


Posted: Tuesday, 29th September 2015

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