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John Merton

Australia is a country with a long Morgan tradition. Their Morgan club must one of oldest outside England. It has always been a country good for steady Morgan exports, even before World War II. John Merton has been involved in Morgans for a long time.
May 2011. John's Series I 4/4 at Central Tilba on New South Wales's south coast. Picture kindly supplied by Vern Dale Johnson
John's first Morgan was a 1949 Series 1 roadster which he bought in 1966 when he was 21.  It is a car he still owns and cherishes and it triggered a continuing study into the history and specifications of this model ("There is always more to learn and discover").  

At the time he owned a new sports car of another make which was chronically unreliable. Although the little Morgan was very shabby - it had been roughly brush-painted, the radiator had serious leaks despite the application of copious amounts of Plastibond, the seats were just loose pieces of foam with vynide material wrapped around them, peak oil pressure staggered to reach 15 psi, and so on - it was running and road registered. It provided his principal transport for about a year, though not devoid of "incidents". Of necessity, it was used as a "recovery" vehicle, and John wonders sometimes how the denizens of Canberra's outer suburbs in those days coped with the sight of a new sports car being towed home by an old and decrepit one.

The Series 1 was retired in 1967 for a rebuild when he managed to get his new sports car running reliably just long enough to be rid of.

The rebuild, using the original chassis and a new body frame (of Australian hardwoods with superior coach building properties to the original European ash), was interrupted by marriage, family and housing issues, but finally finished in 1989. 

Since then the car has covered around 60,000 miles on all sorts of roads in all sorts of weather.  It has given very little trouble and remains virtually in the condition as shown in the photographs. There has been no deterioration whatever in either the wooden body frame or the chassis.



The car has a special provenance because it is one of only three known surviving foundation cars from the formation of the Morgan Owners Club of Australia in 1958. It was also the featured car in an article on Series 1 Morgans in the May-June 1999 edition of "Restored Cars", an Australian enthusiast magazine.
October 2008.  John's Series I ready for the 200 miles run to Bathurst for the Australian Club's Golden Muster, the event to celebrate 50 years of the Morgan Owners Club Australia. Photo: John Merton
In 2000, it was joined in John's "stable" by a 1975 Plus 8 which had been the subject of a ground-up restoration. It is an ex-UK car from the north country (Yorkshire/Lancashire), purchased by an Australian exchange teacher who dismantled it and brought it back to Australia in bits, then restored it. In its UK guise it sported the registration "6  MOG". Its immediate past owner has retained one of these plates, while John has the other - the rights to the number were sold to a UK number plate dealer in the mid-1980's for almost one quarter of the full cost of the car!
John Merton posing next to his 1975 +8 at Tuross Head, New South Wales, Australia
More recently, John has taken on the task of rebuilding car #070, the first 4/4 exported to Australia in 1936, and only the Factory's second 4/4 export. The remains of this car surfaced a few years back in a Sydney backyard after a 60 year absence. It is an early example with the rear-hinged doors. John suspects his grandchildren may have to finish this one!

Over the years, John has worked on various other Morgans including a number of restorations. He has many firm friends in the Morgan fraternity ("often don't know how they put up with me") but has catholic car interests and mixes widely with car and bike enthusiasts representative of a wide range of marques. He has contributed a number of historical and technical articles to various car enthusiast fora, including, but not limited to, club magazines and the Australian club's website.

Of the various Morgan models John has driven - Series 1's, 4/4 1600's, Plus 4's and Plus 8's - John considers the Series 1 cars to be the best, because he believes they are more of an integrated and balanced design than the later cars. 

Perhaps needless to say his Series 1 gets much more use than his Plus 8!"