Midland motor company Morgan marked a massive milestone this week with the production of the 1,000th bodyshell for their relaunched 3 Wheeler model.
Coventry-based Premier Group manufacture the shells for Morgan using the latest cutting-edge computer-aided technology. The original 3 Wheeler was built at Morgan’s Malvern factory between 1910 and 1953. The decision to resume production using 21st century technology was taken in 2010. Morgan’s Technical director Graham Chapman said orders and sales have far exceeded expectations. ‘‘We expected to build two cars a week but once we’d developed the first prototypes we quickly gained 500 orders. To keep up with demand we have to make 10 or 12 a week.
‘‘It’s a very different vehicle, we often refer to it as the Marmite car – you love it or hate it. But it looks like many people love it. I think you can see why, because it is unique.’’
With production at full capacity at Morgan’s Malvern HQ and Premier Group already manufacturing bonnets and boots for their other iconic vehicles the Coventry company was the obvious choice to make the 3 Wheeler body shells.
‘‘Two years on they’ve built the thousandth body which I think is a success for us and for them,’’ said Graham. ‘‘It’s brought in close to £4 million to Premier in a very short period of time. For us, we’re working with the local supplier base around the Midlands to help us to sell cars. So it’s a win, win situation for both companies.’’
Wayne Woolford, MD at Premier Group, added: ‘‘The manufacture of the 1000th 3 Wheeler body at our Walsgrave facility marks the continuation of a significant automotive build process representing a major success story for British and Midlands manufacturing.’’
Graham predicts the Premier/ Morgan link will continue for some time. ‘‘We don’t really end car production, especially on the classic ranges, so as long as there’s a customer base we expect to build it. And we’ve no intention of moving away from Premier for the bodies. We see this as a relationship that’s going to last decades.’’
Premier Group also works with Bentley Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Alstom, GKN and Bombardier and manfactured the London 2012 Olympic Torch. Morgan has seen a period of growth over the past two years, increasing their workforce at Malvern by 25 per cent to 190 and producing 1,100 cars a year.
The price of a 3 Wheeler model starts at around £32,000, with high end four wheel classic designs like the Aero Coupe selling for £80,000 – £100,000. Graham said sales were global but particularly strong in Britain and Germany.
‘‘We don’t want to flood the market with the cars. We can’t go chasing the quantities – we’re niche vehicles and there are only so many cars that market will support. Otherwise you become the norm and you’re not special anymore. We want to stay special.’’