PHOTOGRAPHY & WORDS: Tom Horna
A weekend full of quintessentially British experiences and locations in a gorgeous Morgan Plus 4. Day 1 – Saturday – we’re exploring London’s Mayfair, enjoying afternoon tea at The Dukes Hotel and wine shopping at London’s oldest wine and spirit merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd.
If there is any other British car still manufactured in line with its original (in this case 1950’s) engineering then I want to know about it. Morgan Plus 4… Beautiful! Traditional sports car silhouette reflecting 50s design trends, low-slung with a long louvered hood buckled down by a leather strap, sexy swooping front wings stretching all the way to the rear arches which cleverly mirror the lines of the front.
The entire bodywork is hand-made of steel and aluminium, whilst its frame is made from wood and the interior is perfectly finished by some of the country’s best craftsmen. Despite the 1950s engineering, the car feels solid and doesn’t lack the important modern gadgets like the heated seats and stereo.
Getting into the car requires a certain level of yoga knowledge but after all, it is a sports roadster and one would expect that. The Morgan Plus 4 is best enjoyed with the roof down and on a gloriously sunny day in London, I did just that.
The real fun begins once you’re in the car. The 2-litre 154 BHP engine turns at the press of a button beautifully placed on the dashboard. You’d think that the engine isn’t powerful enough but in a rear wheel drive car weighing under 1 tone, it is certainly more than enough.
It’s a real head turner. A rare, gorgeously crafted roadster making all the right noises, roaring, popping and banging at every downshift you make. It draws more attention than any super or hypercar, but it’s the right kind of attention, the one that makes people admire the beauty of this car rather than being judgmental. Wherever you stop, be prepared for some pleasant comments from random admirers and when your roof is down, don’t be surprised if someone curious pokes their head into your cabin whilst waiting at the traffic lights.
Back in the driver’s seat – low to the ground seating position and no power steering gives a true 50s sports car driving experience. It’s just a dream weekend car. Yes, I know it’s not for everyone but for me… Morgan is everything I’d want from a classic roadster. British classic motoring at its best!
My first stop was Dukes Hotel in Mayfair. The courtyard and buildings of the hotel have been traced back to King Henry the VIII’s times circa 1532. The hotel however, was established in 1908 whilst the Morgan Motor Company was founded not long before in 1905 hence my decision to have the afternoon tea at the Dukes Hotel. I indulged into the most delightful cup of Earl Grey and cake whilst looking at the handsome lines of the Plus 4.
Moving on, I jumped into the car and started the engine with a satisfying ‘pop’ only to drive across the road and park just outside of the No.3 St. James’s Street, a shop which was first established in 1698. As it stands today this very shop is Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant with two Royal Warrants, six Masters of Wine and over 300 years of history – Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd are Britain’s original wine and spirit merchant. The Berry and Rudd families have been supplying the British Royal Family since the reign of King George III. As you’d imagine, buying wine from No.3 St James’s is quite an experience which I couldn’t resist and so I have left the No.3 with a lovely case of Chateau Climens 2012.
Right next door to Berry Bros you’ll find another interesting shop front… The largest menswear e-tailer MrPorter.com has opened a proper shop just so you can buy the entire Kingsman (the movie) sartorial collection. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to get into the shop, it only opens on Sundays. This isn’t really a problem because the entire Kingsman line is available online as well as in their one-off pop-up store.
Being passionate about photography, classic cars and London’s magnificent architecture, I set off to find what I think are the best locations for car photography in London, especially Mayfair. Starting with the beautiful cladding of the Gagosian gallery at Grosvenor Hilland moving onto Mount Row’s of orangy-red buildings which contrast beautifully with the gorgeous pearl silver paintwork of the Morgan.
Next location was the fantastic Mayfair Hotel – which my wife and I got married in. Whilst driving through Pall Mall I had to make time for the compulsory snap at the Royal Automobile Club.
Next was a quick stop outside of Claridges from where I set off to Putney bridge and the waterfront.
What a great day this was… I went home happy knowing that the next day I will be at the wheel of the Morgan once again but this time driving it in the countryside.