A special friend of mine has a birthday coming up. He will be 80 next week. To mark this important event, his family decided to take him on a series of outings and treats throughout his 80th year. Although I am not a member of his family, I am lucky enough to often be treated as such, so I decided to get in on the act. A few weeks ago we went on an outing. We went to a car factory. But this was not just any car factory, we went to see how Morgans are built …
For anyone unfamiliar with these unique cars: the Morgan Motor Company has been building cars in Malvern, England for about a century. They produce hand-built sports cars, which are made in traditional ways and built to last. There is a long waiting list. Each car is constructed to order and takes about 16 days to make. The factory turns out about 16 cars per week.
They essentially have two models. One is very traditional in design, with a steel chassis and wooden structural components with aluminum body parts shaped to fit. The newer model uses much more high technology to improve performance and ride, but still employs timber parts. They were unable to find any other material that would perform so well. The wooden components are made using computer controlled machinery and the aluminum body parts are preformed for a precision fit.
We were shown all the stages of construction of both lines of cars. I was very impressed by the use of modern techniques and equipment, where it made sense, alongside a traditional approach and philosophy of building a hand-made product of the highest quality. Before the visit, I was not sure that I would really want a car like this – I am too pragmatic and they are out of my budget. Now I am not so sure. Maybe I will rent one for a weekend.
Our guide told us a story that I enjoyed. A while ago, an American customer was told that the production of his car was about to commence. So, he flew to England and checked in to a B&B in Malvern. Every day he showed up at the factory with his folding chair and camera and monitored the whole process. He photographed every nut and bolt of his car. When it was finished, he drove it out of the factory himself. When I heard the story, my first thought was that he was rather crazy. But then I realized that, if I were spending well over $100K on a car, I might get just as much involved.
Happy Birthday for next week Alec.