Last month I was looking into bikes but clearly not keen on using them on the public road. I might have found a solution. Morgan’s 3 Wheeler!
I popped in to visit my friends at Allon White Sports Cars to buy a new pair of ‘throttle-blippers’ (some Piloti Campione driving boots). After a bit of trialling between a couple of sizes, and confirming I wanted polished leather instead of suede, I had made up my mind. But I needed to ‘road-test’ them. A couple of minutes later and I had the keys to their 3 Wheeler demonstrator. I had been out in this car quite a bit during an event a few weeks previously, but always in the wrong seat. This time I was in the right one! With the sun working its magic, luckily I had my 3 wheeler cap with me.
The 3 Wheeler doesn’t have adjustable seats. Instead, the pedal box can be unbolted and moved to suit the driver. This all takes a little too much time for a short drive, so I gratefully accepted the offer of their new packer cushion. Trimmed in beautiful black Napa leather by Allon White’s in-house trim shop, it looked great. But it didn’t match the brown interior! Ah, but there is a plan. The car is about to undergo a full interior re-trim in the black leather.
Climbing aboard, I draw on my old gymnastics skills to avoid kicking or scuffing the interior (or my new footwear!) and strapping-in I find the seatbelt over the wrong shoulder. With one click of the key and a sustained press on the starter button, the 2.0 litre S&S V-twin motorcycle engine grumbles into life.
A quick check on the floor-mounted pedals confirms the car has a race-car-style pedal-box and the new ‘blippers’ do exactly that with a nice heel & toe action. The very reclined driving position with this pedal-and-cushion setup means I have to sit bolt upright in my ‘meerkat’ pose for manoeuvring the car out of the car park. The pedals are all very direct and need smooth, delicate driver inputs for a nice clean pull away. I release the quirky fly-off handbrake and off we go!
With only two cylinders, the 3 Wheeler’s engine isn’t the smoothest at low speeds and needs to be driven differently to most cars. Through the villages, it’s chomping at the bit when the engine is in the right speed range to be smooth. Shifting up to drop the revs makes the car want to bog down and shake the chassis, so the lower gear seemed to work better. Another chance to test the new throttle-blippers! The engine makes a fabulous growl during the rhythmic pedal-dance of a double declutch downshift. Back to chomping at the bit. Nearly reached the open road…
The combination of driving position, wheel layout, body shape and teeny-tiny mirrors makes judging the distance to the kerb a little bit of an ongoing game during passing oncoming traffic and parked cars. Up to meerkat position, back to reclined position. Up to meerkat, back down again. In the reclined position there is a sight line between the top of the steering wheel and the top of the bodywork. Conveniently fully behind the aeroscreen to keep the flies out of my teeth! In hindsight, moving the pedalbox would have been worthwhile, but the spanners are back in the workshop. Plus I’m already having too much fun!
On first impression, the indicators seem to have a mind of their own but actually flicking them a second time in the same direction cancels the previous flashes. The lights and horn have nice weighty aluminium switches. The speedo is easy to see but would be completely hidden by a half-tonneau during rainy motoring. The tacho is half hidden behind the steering wheel rim but this engine needs to be driven on sound, not vision! The narrow chassis won’t suit everyone but is great to brace against during spirited driving. The left knee rests nicely against a padded leather gearbox tunnel.
Oh, here come the national speed limit signs. And… off we go! The engine is torquey and wants to pull. From 3000rpm it becomes smoother and really starts to go. Blimey, 60 already! The first bend is coming up. On the brakes early, two throttle-blipping-double-declutching growls, in we go. Hmm, the steering feels interesting. Not exactly vague, but not really weighting up either. We’ll come back to that. Up through the gears. Rolling on the throttle, up a gear. Rolling on again, up again. It drives just like my uncle’s Harley felt from the back seat. But then the S&S engine is essentially a Harley-Davidson unit!
The steering is chattering away, but not actually pulling side to side with appreciable bump-steer. Elbow in the chassis or outside? Yes, outside feels better. This must be how Fangio and the boys felt back in the day – simple chassis, exposed to the elements, no major crash protection. But brilliant fun!
Down to the T-junction, back on the brakes. A little later this time, let’s see what they’ve got. Hmm, pretty good actually. There’s more than I’d ever want to rely on for road driving. Yep, clear both ways let’s go. A little chirp from the rear tyre as we pull out. I suppose it is very light, with only one rear wheel, and even that isn’t very wide. Remember that! Rolling on the throttle and up a gear again. Does this little 3 Wheeler need more power? No. Should it have less power? Probably not – it’s just too much fun! Oh, 60 again! This is the most engaging car I’ve driven in some time. Perhaps ever. It’s keeping me on my toes, and even when not actually going fast, it feels a hell of a lot faster. Woooooah, big bump, the chassis didn’t like that one, a shaky wobble, the big 3-spoke steering wheel gives a little jiggle but we’re composed again. Fangio and the boys really did have a different era!
Okay, next turn on the left. Back on those confidence-inspiring brakes, new blippers back in action. (Pleased with those!) Pushing the chassis a little harder now, a hint of understeer and that funny front end feeling. Back on the power early sorts it out. The tail wakes up, that single rear tyre easily overpowered just enough to get the car turning-in but without becoming a real handful. Up a gear. This is a cracking little car – what a hoot! It feels like I’ve gone back in time and should be wearing a flying jacket and goggles. Come on Mr. Toad, poop poop!
Nearly back to the dealership. Oh just one more loop of the wiggly bit before we go back. Why not? A little quicker this time. Blimey, it really is quick actually. Properly quick in fact. It’s meant to do 0-60 in about 6 seconds, but most of that seems to be the pull in 2nd gear. It certainly doesn’t need any more power. Into the village, here come the speed bumps. And I’m not even annoyed – they’re another blipping opportunity. Double-declutch-pedal-dance into 1st. Back up to 2nd. Brakes and pedal dancing again for the next one. My new friend is turning a few heads. I’m grinning like an idiot! In fact, I think I’ve looked like this since I pulled off. This car is infectious!
I thought the shoes were expensive, but they might be the cheapest purchase today!
Special thanks to Morgan & Lotus specialists Allon White Sports Cars for this 3-wheeled-grin-fest. At the time of writing, this car is currently undergoing a retrim but there are two very special models currently for sale. These can be found by clicking the button below…