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The New York Times 26 October 2003

posted Nov 15, 2010, 3:52 PM by L.D. McLaughlin Jr.
Tony McLaughlin, November 4, 2003
Peter H. G. Morgan, 83, Auto Company Heir, Dies By RICHARD FEAST

LONDON, Oct. 25 ˜ Peter Henry Geoffrey Morgan, whose company makes the old-fashioned roadsters that bear his name, died on Oct. 20. He was 83 and lived in Malvern Link, England.

Mr. Morgan belonged to an exclusive club: someone whose name is still on products made by a family concern founded more than nine decades ago. Unlike the public companies that sell Fords, Peugeots and Porsches, though, the Morgan Motor Company of Malvern Link remains privately owned.

Mr. Morgan was only the second of three generations of Morgans to run the company, which was founded by his father, Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan, in 1910. Peter Morgan, who joined the company in 1947, took over as chairman when his father died in 1959. While day-to-day operations were passed to Charles, Peter's son, in 1999, Peter Morgan remained chairman, putting in daily appearances at the company until shortly before his death.

The big force in Mr. Morgan's life, according to Brian Laban, who wrote "Morgan: First and Last of the Real Sports Cars," was "this incredible affection for his father."

He wanted to continue what his father created, Mr. Laban recalled.

An owner of a succession of Morgans since the late 1960's, Don Booker of Barnsley, England, visited the factory often. On his last visit a few weeks ago, Mr. Booker noted that Mr. Morgan's office was exactly as it was on his first visit more than 35 years earlier. Other areas of the Morgan factory had been recently updated, but Mr. Morgan's tiny office still contained the same oak chair and oak desk, which was piled with papers, pots of pencils, car parts, magazines and Morgan memorabilia. Even his old drawing board was still in its place.

The sports cars made by Mr. Morgan's company are an acquired taste, and always were. The long, louvered hood, flared wheel arches, running boards and tail-mounted spare wheel are throwbacks to a bygone age. Creature comforts take second place to high performance.

The look produced imitators. But while Chrysler, Ford, Chevrolet and Volkswagen adopted retro styling for certain current models, the enduring Morgan look is the real thing.

The formula continues to appeal to Morgan enthusiasts, and has done so for several decades. The company produces 500 to 600 cars a year; each of its loyal customers has to wait more than a year for delivery.

Despite its tiny size, Mr. Morgan's company successfully achieved something that eludes many giant automakers ˜ economies of scale.

While Mr. Morgan enjoyed driving his own cars, what is not widely known is that for about two decades he owned a Ferrari 400.

Early Morgans were open-top three-wheelers (two at the front, one at the back) that were popular in Britain during the 1920's. Their appeal faded only with the introduction of competitively priced four-wheel sedans from Ford, Austin and Morris during the 1930's.

The arrival of those cars prompted Morgan to develop a four-wheeler. The resulting racy little sports cars ˜ the first of them appeared in 1937 ˜ proved to be pivotal in the company's history. Their design and engineering principles can still be found on most Morgans today, including a frame of ash wood that underpins the contours of the bodywork.

Only the Aero 8 model, introduced three years ago, displays any technical concessions to the 21st century, though the Morgan heritage is self-evident in its design. Morgan plans to introduce the Aero 8 in the United States next year.

Mr. Morgan was born on Nov. 3, 1919, next door to the Malvern factory established by his father a decade earlier. He was educated at Oundle School and at Chelsea College of Automobile and Aeronautical Engineering in London.

Unable to take up a career because of World War II, Mr. Morgan joined the Royal Army Signal Corps and saw service in Sierra Leone and Kenya. After demobilization, he joined the family company in 1947 as a draftsman.

The first model Mr. Morgan was responsible for was the Plus 4 fitted with a 2-liter engine. The model won its class at the 1962 Le Mans 24-hours race.

Mr. Morgan's company introduced the high-performance Plus 8 in 1968. The Plus 8, powered by a General Motors V-8, will remain in production until next year; it is the company's longest-running production car.

In addition to his son, Charles, Peter Morgan is survived by his second wife, Heather, and two daughters, Sonia and Jill.