By Rod Ward
Over the years that we have been producing the Auto Review series, the subject of Morgan has often been requested by readers. We briefly covered Morgan three-wheelers in AR35 On Three Wheels, but fans of the four-wheelers wanted us to tell a fuller story. In the usual style of Auto Review, we therefore decided to combine with Morgan the stories of other manufacturers of sports cars not already described in earlier titles. Among the many other British sports car makers we have covered are MG (Auto Review 40), Jaguar, (39), Triumph (41), Wolseley (51a), Aston Martin (57), AC and Turner (64), Lotus (65), Healey (72), Bentley (83), Allard, Atalanta, Batten, Brough-Superior, Gordon-Keeble, Jensen, Lammas-Graham, Leidart, Railton, TVR and Trident (all in 62), and a multitude of GRP-bodied sports cars in Auto Review 66. Our criteria for selecting the marques to be covered in this publication included ‘traditional’ construction (not necessarily just ash frames, but hand-crafted structures), and that the maker should have produced some road-legal cars, not just racing cars, as full competition histories are beyond our scope here. This meant that, though some makers are best known for racing cars, they are included if they built at least one road car for sale. In the process we see the evolution of the ‘sporting’ car, which was one of the first purposes for which the early automobile was used. The wealthy buyers of early cars did not see them as ‘transport’, but as exciting machines in which to experience high speeds, in the same way as they regarded early aircraft and speedboats.
Once the motor car evolved into mass-produced personal transport, the sports car became a specialist variant. The long list of marques noted above supplied the market with sports cars in different eras, but Morgan is unique in building sports cars for the constantly-changing requirements of the market for over a century. In this volume we add the stories of a handful of prewar sports car makers; HE, British Salmson, Squire and Vale, as well as a clutch of postwar firms. Cooper, Connaught, HWM, Kieft, Lister and Lester are now better-known as makers of competition cars (as are the trials car makers Dellow and Cannon), but if they also made a car which could be driven on the road as a ‘sports car’ they are included here. They may not all be framed in Ash, but they all have plenty of Dash.