Morgan Cars

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It may be seen as era specific, but back in the 1940’s, as any Hollywood movie will attest the “half timbered” car was not at all unusual. The huge eight seater Chrysler Town and Country dating from 1941 is perhaps, in many ways, the most iconic example of the Woodie, partly as it became the surfer’s station-wagon of choice. Wood was used as opposed to metal both for budget as well as design reasons. Others had equally evocative names the Pontiac Torpedo, the Nash Suburban and the Buick Roadmaster.

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In 1950’s railway carriages – particularly in France – were made of wood. Solid wood furniture was made up to the 1960’s ahead of “advancements” such as Formica. The surrounds of a Butler’s Sinks in any self respecting 1940’s scullery were always wood.

I recently saw publicity shot for a country house hotel that had a bright green Morris 1000 Traveller in the front drive. Denoting no doubt, that in addition to highly anticipated, hot and cold running water, the hotel would spare no expense to transport its guests back to a drafty era that creaked on the bends. The Traveller – for which I have great affection – was launched in October 1953 and was based on the Sir Alec Issigonis’ – the designer of the Mini – see our earlier piece here – Mini – the best selling car in Britain Morris Minor that debuted in September 1948.

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So let’s be clear that the use of wood in car manufacturer – quite literally – “Went Out With The Ark”. Or did it?

I am fascinated by Morgan Cars, above all, for their quintessential Englishness. They have character and cannot be ignored when assessing iconic sports cars. They also continue to have a waiting list that at times has exceeded ten years but is said to currently be around six months.

Founded in 1910 by Henry FS Morgan in Malvern (Worcestershire, England) who ran the business until his death in 1959 at the age of 77. In 1911, Morgan started building affordable – they attracted a lower road tax as they were treated as motorcycles  – and stable three wheelers. An early version of the three wheeler was shown at the 1911 Motor Cycle Show and Harrod’s took an agency to sell them in London priced at £65.

My family legend has my late father (a Brooklands Circuit Trustee until his death in 1991) being nearly totalled in a three wheeler driven by his school pal and the UK’s first Formula One World Championship (1958), Mike Hawthorn.

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By 1935, in response to more realistically priced four wheeled cars, including Ford’s Popular, the more familiar Morgan “4-4” – four cylinders and four wheels – and Morgan’s first four-wheeled car, was launched at a price of £194. A four seater model was released in 1937 and in 1938 a four seater drop-head version was launched. In 1938 a 4-4 was entered for Le Mans. World War II intervened and production stopped until 1950 when an in-line four cylinder Standard Vanguard engine was used.

The company continues to be 100% family owned and produces more than 1300 cars annually that are all assembled by hand. Unusually, Morgan – despite some run-ins with the Health and Safety guys – particularly in the USA – continue to build their cars with an Ash wooden frame and body shell – the chassis being, of course, metal.

The Plus4 Morgan models launched in 1953, 1956 and 1968 used the Triumph TR2, TR3 and TR4A engines. See our previous post here – Triumph TR2, TR3 and TR4

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In 1955 production of the 4-4 was revived with the Plus8 chassis and a Ford engine.

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In 1968, Morgan used the Rover V8 (later the Land Rover version) Engine – delivering much better acceleration – to launch the Morgan Plus8 – our featured image – and my favourite Morgan. This model was fazed out in 2004.

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The Morgan Aero 8 was first introduced in 2002 and went through a series of incarnations with the most recent iteration being launched in 2015.

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The Aero 8 was followed in 2008 by the Aeromax that was limited to 100 units. A targa-roofed version, the Aero SuperSports, was launched in 2009 but production ceased in 2015. An Aero Coupe, hard topped version of the SuperSports, was launched in 2011 and withdrawn in 2015.

Whilst a great condition Morgan Plus8 can now fetch a King’s Ransom why not place this scale model die-cast on your shelf. Please click the link below the image

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MORGAN PLUS EIGHT MODEL CAR 1:43 SCALE GREEN CARARAMA SPORTS OPEN TOP K8

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Photo credits – with grateful thanks – Charles Ware’s http://www.morrisminor.org.uk/40-traveller-wood, Hemmings and Richard Thorpe Classic Cars.

 

Triumph TR2, TR3 and TR4

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The response to our recent post featuring the Triumph Stag – see our previous post here – Triumph Stag was phenomenal. Whilst watching a film set in the 1950’s that featured a dashing young chap arriving to pick up his lady love in an early Triumph sports model, I decided to dig deeper into the Triumph Stags’ ancestry. I discovered that the star of the TV show was a Triumph TR2 – quite a stunner.

I have never suited the image of cordouroys, a flat cap and a pipe-smoker but these seem almost compulsory for the devotees of the sprightly, iconic and classic English sports cars.

A model described as the 20TS (unofficially the TR1) was shown at the London Motor Show in October 1952 – see below a rare photo of this prototype – to a mixed reception. The then Chairman of Standard-Triumph, Sir John Black, requested the assessment of the 20TS from BRM’s development engineer and test driver, Ken Richardson. It was so damning – a slow, poor handling death-trap – that Sir John sought Black’s help to redesign the car.

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Black’s efforts resulted in substantial improvements and in March 1953, at the Geneva Motor Show, the TR2 debuted. It benefitted from a parts pool culled from the Standard Motors range that gave the TR2 excellent reliability, albeit with rather basic handling and an uncomfortable ride. It sold between 1953 and 1955.

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In 1955, the TR2, as a result of minor styling changes and an upgraded engine became the TR3 – “Small Mouth”.

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In 1956 Girling Disc brakes on the front were added exponentially improving the braking. Styling changes alone to the TR3 in 1957 resulted in the TR3A – as it is often described – was, for me, the nadir of good design for this series. Although far from “modern”, the TR3As were appreciated in both Europe and the US with annual production exceeding 10,000 vehicles.

In 1962 TR3B entered production and look virtually identical to the TR3A but with engine and carburetor upgrade. It was offered concurrently with the new TR4 in response to dealers concerns about the TR4 being regarded by the core audience as being too modern.

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Realizing that the TR3 needed a significant facelift in 1961 Triumph engaged Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti – already well known for his work with Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and BMW – to design the TR4. His boxier body looked much more modern with a larger cabin, although under the skin it was largely a TR3 with upgraded steering. Michelotti designed extensively for Triumph, his work included the Triumph Stag.

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In 1965, the TR4 became TR4A with a much improved ride, a more tuned engine and quieter exhaust.

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For me the TR4 with its wire wheels and elegant lines is the definitive small English sports car.

The TR3 and TR4 saw production runs in the region of 70,000 cars each so there’s lots of potential examples out there both those that are Concours ready and those that could benefit from a significant re-build. Checking sites like http://www.hemmings.com or http://www.erclassics.com will demonstrate that a price range – depending on condition between £5,000 and £30,000.

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You’ve been promising yourself that you’ll find a classic sports car to rebuild – perhaps now’s the right time.

Would a Buyer’s Guide to the TR2 and TR3’s assistant you in your quest? If so, published in July 2018 is an Essential Buyers Guide –  click the AMAZON link below the image to order your copy

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Triumph TR2, & TR3 – All models (including 3A & 3B) 1953 to 1962: Essential Buyer’s Guide

If a TR4 is more your thing then there is also and Essential Buyer’s Guide for this model – click the AMAZON link below the image to get your copy

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Triumph TR4/4A & TR5/250 – All models 1961 to 1968 (Essential Buyer’s Guide)

You’ll, of course need a trusty Haynes Owner’s Worshop Manual – get a copy here that covers the TR2 to TR4A – please click on the AMAZON link below the image

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Haynes 0028 Car Maintenance Service Repair Manual

I do appreciate that your enthusiasm may only stretch to wearing the T shirt – in this case a personalised vehicle registration plate – if so, please click on the AMAZON link below the image

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Triumph TR2, TR3, TR4, TR5, TR6, TR7 Chassis Plate T-Shirt *PERSONALISED* Model & Reg Plate (M, Charcoal)

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Photo Credits – with grateful thnaks – Hemings.com, Standard-Triumph

Holiday Breakfast

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Late last week we escaped to the City for a few days in London. Extraordinarily beautiful at most times of the year but at Christmastime London is awash with street lights – Regent Street’s were particularly stunning – the slight hint of wine flavoured with cinnamon and a warm uplifting spirit.

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Whilst family time was precious and the opportunity for a little lazing about minimal, as major retail therapy was required, the best start to any day – a good breakfast – was essential. The kitchen was particularly well stocked but a visit to the wonderful Paul’s bakery in South Kensington for fresh croissants was vital.

A brief dip into Aestheticons and we will guide you in the ways of carefully combining and judiciously using a number of  iconic items to make the perfect Holiday Breakfast.

Pretty much any bread, however “day-old”, can be improved by toasting. A Dualit toaster – please see our earlier posts here Dualit Toaster is brilliantly controllable, sturdy and iconic design. Mine over twenty years old but is still fully functioning.

Why not get your own Dualit by clicking this AMAZON link for a 2 plus Combi toaster Dualit Combi 2+2 Toaster 42174 – Polished

A Four Slice Toaster DUALIT 4 Slice Vario AWS Toaster Polished Stainless Steel 40378

Or a Six slice toaster Dualit 6 Slice Toaster 60144 – Polished

Of course you can boil water in all manner of ways but none is more stylish than an Alessi kettle – Please see our earlier post here Alessi Bollitore kettle An Alessi Bollitore Kettle is an icon of design and practicality as vibrant today as when first designed in 1983 Officina Alessi Hob Kettle with Steel Bottom, Silver

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Mornings are for Coffee and Afternoon’s are for tea….

One of the very best quick coffees comes courtesy of Nescafe Original Decaffeinated – Nescafe Decaffeinated Instant Coffee 100g If time is not pressing, then freshly brewed coffee cannot be beaten. If coffee is not your thing then I cannot more highly recommend an amazing tea Fortnum & Mason’s Assam Superb – please see our earlier post here Fortnum & Mason’s Assam Superb

Using a Bialetti Moka coffee pot – please see our post here Bialetti Moka Coffee Pot make perfect coffee when combining with Lavazza’s Decaffeinato Coffee – please see our post here Lavazza Caffè Decaffeinato By clicking here you could add a Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 6 Cup to your kitchen. Please try this beautiful coffee – Isn’t “Lavazza” Italian for coffee? Lavazza Caffe Decaffeinato Ground Coffee 250g

Serving coffee or tea in a perfect cup is very important. A Falcon enamel mug is both beautiful and practical – please see our earlier post here Falcon Enamelware  Get your own Falcon enamel mug – or two – by clicking this link 1 x Falcon Enamelware Mug, Heavy Gauge (White with blue rim). 9cm

Aside from salt free butter, the perfect spread for your toast has to be Bonne Maman Blackcurrent preserve – please see our earlier post here Bonne Maman Jam Bonne Maman Blackcurrant Conserve Jam, 370g

For those of you who prefer salty to sweet then on top of cool butter Marmite is simply perfect – please see our earlier post here Marmite A big jar of Marmite should always be in your kitchen cupboard – get one here Marmite Yeast Extract Paste in a Glass Jar , 500g

Do you know what, if its a weekend and you are feeling a little indulgent why not order and make a perfect Bloody Mary –  please see our post  Lea & Perrins – the vital ingredient in a Bloody Mary which contains both the recipe for the best Bloody Mary ever it also gives you all the links to enable you to gift a Bloody Mary pack to a deserving friend, colleague or other half!

Go on, enjoy …. and make the most of those chilly holiday mornings….

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Images courtesy of Dualit, Alessi, Fortnum & Masons, Bialetti, Lavazza, Falcon Enamelwear, Bonne Maman and Marmite.

Lea & Perrins – the vital ingredient in a Bloody Mary

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It’s getting to that time of year when only a Bloody Mary becomes the perfect  accompaniment to a festive brunch. There are several vital ingredients to a Bloody Mary (and equally essential in the vodka-less Virgin Mary) – with my definitive recipe below – but one of the must haves is Lea & Perrin’s classically flavoured “Worcestershire Sauce”.

Lea & Perrins’ “Worcestershire Sauce” was first sold in 1837 by Messrs. John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, who were chemists with a shop in 68, Broad Street Worcester. Other chemists in the immediate vicinity also sold similar products which have suggested some confusion of its precise provenance. Naturally the precise recipe is a secret but it is known that the ingredients comprise in part vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions and garlic.

Lea & Perrins is a subsidiary of the mighty Kraft Heinz but unlike others who have been assumed into mega-food groups, Lea and Perrins continues to operate from its Midland Road, Worcester head quarters from where it produces the version sold in Europe – which differs slightly from the US version as the UK version contains malt vinegar whereas the US version uses distilled white vinegar.

The UK version of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce is instantly recognisable by its bottle and its orange and black label.

Ok so here goes, Mark’s definitive recipe for a Bloody Mary:

Into a large jug mix Vodka – the best you have – a few decent glugs! I am a big fan of Stolichnaya Vodka and my Russian friends tell me it is one of Russia’s favourite too.

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Add a small handful of ice, V8 Juice (see our previous post here – V8 Vegetable Juice ), if available, or Tomato Juice about eight to ten times the volume of vodka used, the juice of one lemon – no pips, two tea spoons of Lea & Perrins (see our previous post here Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, one tea spoon of Tabasco Chipotle sauce (see our previous post here Tabasco Chipotle Sauce), one tea spoon of horse radish sauce, two table spoons of Spanish fino sherry, celery salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir together well and garnish with sticks of very crisp celery. Serve in a tall Duralex Picardie glass (see here Duralex Glass – Picardie).

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Equally delicious for the designated driver is a Virgin Mary – a separate jug with all the above ingredients except the Vodka and Fino.

Get your ingredients for the perfect Bloody Mary by clicking the following AMAZON shopping links. …..And why not ask for your purchases to be gift wrapped to make the perfect gift?

Stolichnaya Vodka Stolichnaya Russian Premium Vodka 1 Litre

Lea & Perrins Lea And Perrins Worcestershire Sauce 150Ml

Tabasco Chipotle Tabasco – Chipotle smoky BBQ pepper sauce 60ML

V8 Juice V8 Original Vegetable Juice, 1l

Coleman’s Horse radish sauce Colman’s Horseradish Sauce ( 250ml x 6 x 1 )

Schwartz Celery Salt Schwartz Celery Salt, 72g

Gonzalez Byass’ Tio Pepe Fino Sherry GONZALEZ BYASS Tio Pepe Fino Sherry 75cl Bottle

Duralex Picardie glasses Duralex Picardie 1029AC04 Box of 4 High Ball Glass Tumblers Transparent 36 cl

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Images Lea & Perrins, Stolichnaya, Tabasco and V8

Fortnum & Mason’s Assam Superb

Even though this risks a criticism of http://www.aestheticons.com straying into a lifestyle genre – never the intention – but I am keen to evangelise about the most amazing tea known to man!

For me coffee is drunk in the morning or after dinner but tea is an excellent way to refresh the weary soul after 4.00 pm.

Fortnum & Mason’s Assam Superb is simply the best cup of tea you will ever possibly enjoy but there are a couple of caveats:

1. You must enjoy your tea strong – delete as appropriate – described as “builders”/”miners”/”plumbers” etc.

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2. Although I understand that adding sugar is ok you do need to add a splash of milk, for my taste, to enjoy this tea at its best.

Here’s the science….Assam Tea – a very old variety of tea – is indigenous to India’s Brahmaputra Valley. Assam Superb has the rich, smooth and malty flavour; its ideal at any time of the day.

Available as a leaf tea – in a loose sleeve or caddy – or in tea bags – packed in 25s. So you can have one cup or many.

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Whichever method you use I suggest that you allow the tea to brew in boiling water (in a warmed pot) for three to four minutes before drinking or if a bag in a single cup is preferred – again over boiling water – brewing for a couple of minutes is fine. The secret – I am told by the very helpful staff at Fortnum & Mason – is that the water needs to be freshly brewed. In hard water areas, I always think adding the milk after the tea has been steeped is the best idea.

Photos by Fortnum & Mason