How one couple went 3,500 miles in a Morgan 3 Wheeler coast to coast
(Britain's Morgan Motor Co. still builds cars much as it did a century ago -- by hand, with wood and metal frames. To promote the revived Morgan 3 Wheeler -- a open-air, $40,000 tricycle based on a 1911 design but powered by a modern 80-hp V-Twin engine -- company chief and grandson of the founder Charles Morgan, along with his wife Kiera drove a Morgan 3 Wheeler across America last month in the Gumball 3000 rally. This is their story of open roads, gawkers and Death Valley droptop driving. -- Ed.)
The experiment was to prove that a Morgan 3 Wheeler can cross the United States with ease, a journey of some 3,500 miles in all. To follow a process I take a Morgan 3 Wheeler after final inspection, just as it would leave the factory before being sent to a dealer or a customer. This is deliberate -- I do not want to drive a specially prepared car.
I run it in carefully like any customer would around the local area for 200 miles. I have a bolster made for extra support under my thighs in quilted leather for greater comfort on longer journeys. Perhaps this should be added to the extras list as the "Gumball" bolster. I test the intercom and helmet headphones with Kiera at the factory. Clothing firm SuperDry, who sponsored us for half of the entry fee, send us t-shirts and jumpers to wear. I talk to the boys in the 3 Wheeler production department about any nuts and bolts that could come undone and I psych myself up for rally. The route is Googled as I dream about driving the roads and what we might encounter.
We arrive in New York two days early to make sure the car has passed safely through customs and take a taxi to Roslyn where Morgan cars has a sales dealership, Manhattan Motor Sports owned by Brit Gideon Lang Laddie. They lend me a puncture repair kit with special sealant and we borrow an EZ Pass for Turnpike tolls and a battery operated radar warning device which we velcro to the back panel between the roll bars behind seats. I start the engine, which fires for the first time on U.S. soil to my immense relief! The 3 Wheeler zooms past La Guardia Airport and into New York and I very carefully drive into Manhattan across the Queensborough bridge following Gideon in his Shelby Mustang.
The cockpit of the 3 Wheeler gives a fabulous view of buildings above. The whole drama of American cities tends to be in the skyline so when you look up it's a fantastic feeling.