Back In the 1980s, my father was, among other things, a Jaguar dealer. One day I got a call from the dealership. A prospective customer was wanting to trade in a Morgan. Suffice it to say this was an unusual circumstance. Would we be interested in the car?
The British automobile industry is famous for spawning kit cars and unsuccessful renditions of the "Next Big Thing." Although a comparatively microscopic company, Morgan managed to rise above the background noise. An enigmatic icon - the silly wooden frame story refuses to die - and yet Morgans are recognizable to a surprising percentage of the population.
My knowledge of the cars was rudimentary at best. I knew the old three wheelers were cool, and I knew there were three basic models of post war Morgans - 4/4, +4 and +8. The +4 Super Sport is the bomb, tuned Triumph TR3/4 motor with twin Webers and an alloy body. Chris Lawrence, who prepared the engines, was as likely to have slapped the carbs and an alloy valve cover on a stock motor as actually build it properly, but if the car is legitimate you can always fix the engine.
With visions of blasting through town in an overpowered roller skate, I asked for a description of the car. Did it have Webers poking through the bonnet? Yes. No big deal really, any car could be so modified. What was the body made of? This was the payoff question. An alloy body, even if only a custom order on an otherwise standard car, was still highly desirable. They rapped on the fenders and reported it appeared to be aluminum. "Hold the car!"
What we had on the lot was a model which doesn't exist. At least not in any of the books of the time. Perhaps more recently someone has documented the type. I would call it a Lawrence Tune 4/4. Clearly built as a competition model, and probably to special order, this machine is much less common than the +4 SS. I remember from my years on the east coast a blue 4/4 with the same Lawrence Tune badges on the hood. However, I can't recall if it had twin side drafts or a single down draft as on the sport model referenced in some of the books.
At the time, the car was known to some members of the local Morgan community. It had dropped out of sight for several years and had clearly been in the hands of some unsympathetic owners. The car had been resprayed in the wrong color, and sadly, it was converted to left hand drive. The original dash and steering gear were long gone.
I was once told a story of the car's origins by members of the local Morgan club, but there are significant holes in the story. Supposedly, the car was built for a Frenchman who wanted to go racing. He abandoned the order and the completed car sat in the delivery bay at Morgan's for two years before an American enthusiast saw it and bought it. However, according to factory records, the car was built in 1967 and dispatched to Los Angeles. It also begs the question why a Frenchman would order a right hand drive specification?
Whatever its origins, the car is what it is. The body is very light soft aluminum. The intake and exhaust ports are polished to a mirror finish (thought to be the best method then). Idle is big cam lumpy and the motor doesn't make power below 4,000 rpm. Intake noise from the Webers is deafening, and it goes through fuel at a terrific pace. Throw in a fierce ride and you have the ultimate British sports car, able to beat into submission persons of the strongest constitution in only a short drive.