An aged, rusty iron gate is what first admits you; it’s propped open on the ground by a couple of fist-sized stones resting in an old biscuit tin. Inside, several large brick sheds with big, sun-faded sliding doors stand on your left. Head for the first access door in the nearest building, and get ready for a collision of noises, sights and smells like nothing else in car industry. You are entering the factory at the Morgan Motor Company.
Now you’re inside the first workshop: this is where piles of primary components become running chassis. In front of you are several aluminium underbodies for Aero 8s and Aeromaxes; some are up on jacks, others have wishbones, hubs, wheels and tyres attached. These aluminium ‘tubs’ are glued together, not welded: “two fingernails-worth of glue is enough to pull nine tonnes,” says your guide.
Engines are stockpiled in sets of eight and ten in odd corners; some are the Ford four-pots used in Morgan’s smaller models, others the imposing 4.8-litre V8s for the bigger ones. Elsewhere, other mechanical bits and bobs wait to be bolted on – antiquated-looking live axles and cart springs in some cases, much more modern springs, dampers and steering systems in others. The rolling chassis come together as they move down the hall, and then the production line winds around to the right, and into the next workshop.
Walk in here and the smell of wood chippings, glue and varnish is almost worth paying for: this is where the cars’ bodies get cut out, shaped, treated, glued and screwed together. Racks of English ash line the walls at one end of the room. Further down there are bansaws, and elaborate-looking vices for shaping and sticking ash panels.