The C.M. Booth Collection of Historic Vehicles
For the uninitiated, the name of this collection could stand for a collection of any type/make of transport. Also, its location is not exactly central in England.Yet, how wrong can one be! Any Morgan-enthusiast should have seen at least two things when paying England a visit: the Morgan Factory in Malvern and... Chris Booth's unique collection of motoring memorabilia, largely devoted to Morgan three-wheelers.
Passers by won't even notice it, as they just see an antiques shop in the Rolvenden High Street.Chris' collection is figuratively speaking at a stone's throw from a famous collection of general motoring interest, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.
Chris has been a motoring enthusiast for as long as he cares to remember. For his 4th anniversary -quite a while ago now- he received a Morgan three-wheeler toy of the Castle Art series, which he still has. Even these Castle Art three-wheeler Morgans are highly collectable now and very sought after.
When Chris had turned 16 he discovered that he was able to run a Morgan three-wheeler on a motor-cycle driver's licence. He then purchased the 1934 barrel-back Super Sports with water-cooled Matchless MX4 engine, registered BNC 84. This red car remained an important feature of his collection ever since.
The collection opened back in 1972 and has continued to grow ever since. Apart from -many- Morgans, there are some other cars in the collection, such as a 1904 Humber tri-car and a Morris Van, several other motor cars and motor cycles, as well as a host of motoring memorabilia.
Yet, what readers of these pages care most for are the different Morgans Chris owns. There are well over 20 in the collection, though not all on display in the museum. They vary in condition from beautifully restored examples, to "boxes of bits" that still need a full restoration.
Chris does all the work on his cars himself and there can be no doubt that he has a high standard of craftsmanship. His Morgans are simply a feast for the eye.
The collection gives a nice view of the various Morgan three-wheelers up to World War II. The only post war Morgan he owns is a 1976 4/4 4-seater, which he has owned from new. This is the family car and is not on display in the museum.
Famous cars from Chris' collection are, amongst others:
the replica 1909 three-wheeler prototype with tiller-steering and Peugeot engine. This car was one of the star attractions during Morgan's Centenary celebration at Cheltenham;
the 1913 Standard Runabout, registered KT 2395, which still is one of the oldest Morgans in existence;
the 1922 Grand Prix, registered XL 7708, equipped with Swiss M.A.G.-engine. Like the 1913 car, this has been in Chris' collection for a long time;
a 1924 Aero, fitted with Blackburne engine.A Blackburne engine itself is a comparative rarity on Morgans, but this one is extra special, as it comes from the former racing car owned by C.J. Turner. That car became known by a cartoon, showing the little Morgan overtaking a huge Hispano-Suiza at Brooklands. This cartoon appeared, amongst others in the book "More Morgan". This Aero in absolutely fabulous condition and is now fitted with the once fashionable wheel discs;
the 1925 ex-Harold Beart record car, with J.A.P. engine, still undergoing a ground up restoration;
several Family three-wheelers;
several Super Sports (Aero) three-wheelers;
- and so on.
If you visit Chris' antiques shop and his museum it is as if you do a huge step back in time, but it is more than worth doing so.Highly recommended!
Knowing Chris, with the projects he still has going on, some very interesting and spectacular Morgans will be shown to the public in the future.