Friday 5 July 2013

Halton Hill Climb Recreation

Thursday, July 4th 2013

The Headwaters British Car Club had a notice on their web site about a
get together to drive up the old hill climb route used in competitions
in the 1950's and early 60's. Since my '59 Plus 4 is feeling much
better after some fettling by the Beer brothers in Bolton I decided to
crash the hill climb party. The weather looked iffy, but the radar map
showed just the minimum precipitation rate so I went for it. Half of my
trip was on the highway so with no traffic jam I managed to drive dry
through the last of the drizzle. By the time I got up to Hockley Vally
Road and 3rd Line the sun was out. I wasn't the only party crasher, a
group from Collingwood drove in after I did giving a total of 26 cars.

Three of the cars at the recreation were driven in races on the hill
back in its day, a MG racer and the Sands' Morgan and Allard.

You can see what the original event looked like in a video on this web
page of the 'In the Hills' magazine:

Now days the bridge is wider and the hedge rows have grown thicker.

Not only were there cars that had raced on the hill but also drivers who
had competed here. Some driving like Al Sands and some as spectators.
Bob Crossan approached me when I got back down the hill and kindly gave
me copies of two photographs of him competing in his '53 Plus 4.

The weather on the trip home started to look ominous as I passed through
Brampton on the 410 but a traffic jam provided enough of a delay that
the worst of it moved east of my route before I got to it. So I got
home with just some road spray all over the outside of the car.

Thursday 4 July 2013

I'm saying goodbye to an old friend: My Morgan

Still looking good after almost 45 years. (A tip of the hat to Steve and Martin Beer.)
I have owned two Morgans in my lifetime. One came from Malvern Link while the other came from Bolton, Ontario. And both were the same car!

My Malvern-Link-Morgan could not be driven from Windsor to Ann Arbour on a hot summer's day without overheating. I learned to carry gallon jugs of water any time I ventured outside the city. That car seemed to run on water along with gasoline.

Mississippi: a place to party in the late 60s. Ah, the memories.
On the highway my first Morgan would shake at certain speeds. I blamed the 60-spoke wheels. Pavement could be very bumpy back then and those wheels were not strong enough to last through a few back road trips to Mississippi and one long trek to the west coast and back.

More than once I was stopped for traveling over the speed limit. I would explain the little roadster shook at highway speed, some kind of resonance I would say. The police officer would invariably tell me that traveling a bit under the speed limit would also solve the problem. I never got a ticket, or I should say the Morgan never got a ticket. Everyone, even the traffic police, loved that car.

Starting was hit and miss with my first Morgan. I learned to read a parking lot. I always noted the placement of the storm drain and parked accordingly. I got quite adept at pushing my Morgan towards the drain, hopping in and popping the clutch. As the engine was already hot, this little trick always got the little car running. (Although Curly at Metro Motors in Windsor gets credit for curing my Mog of this problem. Thanks to the changes he had made to my car, it started one winter's morning in Kapuskasing, Ontario, despite the temp nearing 40 below.) The Beers have improved on Curly's work. I now park where I please and storm drains be damned.

My Bolton, Ontario, Morgan never overheats. O.K., I confess it overheated once in California on a very hot day after a long, fast run but the water was captured in an overflow bottle — also new with my Bolton redo.

If I let the temperature gauge control my speed, the car never overheats. Never. The water jugs are now just memories.

As for shake, the Bolton Morgan is rock solid. I credit the 72-spoke rims. I haven't had to talk my way out of a speeding ticket since the Beers redid my car. The little roadster is a joy at 50 mph, 60 mph and 70 mph, even if the rpm's are a little high at 70 mph. (Night is the best time for traveling fast. The air is cooler and it is more important in the dark to be keeping up with the flow of traffic. And, let's be honest, the glow of the dash lights is just so cool in the dark of night.)

Judy and I on our way back from the west coast in 2010.
Today, I am sad to announce, I am forced to sell my Morgan. A car that has evolved over the years into one fine automobile. My wife, Judy, and I had planned on taking it to the east coast and we never for a moment worried it was not up to the adventure.

In the end, the little car outlasted me. I am not up to the journey. In the past month, I have had a number of shocks from the ICD I carry in my chest. I have had at least two TIA incidents, minor strokes, I have stopped driving until I get the all-clear from my doctors.

Fiona: "A Morgan is NOT a Miata."
As my wife doesn't drive a stick and has no intentions of doing so in the future, the little roadster, bought new in December 1968, is for sale.

My three-year-old granddaughter, Fiona, is taking it hard. When a relative tried cheering her up by saying, "Maybe grandpa Ken will buy a Miata. They come with an automatic and grandma Judy can drive it." Fiona replied firmly: "A Miata is NOT a Morgan."