Speech at Basking Ridge New Jersey 14th June 2005





Our darling Morgan Wives…….yes, they come first now, because we’re going home soon!!...Morgan Drivers, Morgan Navigators, Ladies, Gentlemen and Girl friends,


Firstly, a BIG thank-you to Steve Roake, who organised all the itinerary for us………except for the last 2 days, which we all found VERY difficult to follow!! ..... and also special thanks to Elaine Fisher, for doing EVERYTHING else.


I just got the Europeans out here, looked after the 43 people in my Group and repaired 38 cars on the trip………so my job was far easier than theirs!!


I thought I’d highlight a few things which I found interesting on this MOA and which might bring back fond memories for you all too……


1: Enjoying the amazing vistas of Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, made even more impressive from the air.

2: Getting wet through and not even noticing, on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls and being taken aback by all the Hotel and other construction, they have now allowed, overlooking the Falls. There was simply nothing there when we first saw them on MOA 1 in 1990.

3: Bill Fink’s repair shop at Bodega, full to the brim with faulty cars so early on the trip. His open house, his amazing hospitality and finally his allowing me to drive that Corvette engined +8……very fast………and Tonto surviving!!

4: The Indian Chief sitting in my car at Charma.

5: The donkey eating my tonneau at Oatman.

6: Getting 5 texts from my 5 year old granddaughter, Phoebe, to make sure I took photos of the Tin Man at Dorothy’s House.

7: The Postmistress at Jerome, who was so proud of her Town and who took me through to the back of the building, so I could take photos and video of the wonderful view through the back window.

8: Shipping an exquisite hand sewn quilt to my first wife and it taking only 3 days to get home to Liverpool ……… she‘d always regretted not buying one when she went to Intercourse, PA, with Marj Scooros on MOA 11.

9: The incomparable Nethercut Collection and Museum in Los Angeles.

10: Ben and Judy Fryrear’s Reception at Santa Fe.

11: The Aircraft Museum at Sault St. Marie and the extraordinary lengths the “Days Inn” Manager went to, to try to make our stay as pleasant as possible when the air conditioning failed………then seeing him again later, playing the big bass drum, when the band appeared. You might be interested to hear that the Canadian National TV, Channel 6 reporter, Lori Anderson, who interviewed several of us, has sent a copy of the full programme to my wife and it includes interviews with Colin Cundy, Marj Scooros, Peter Jones, Elaine Fisher, Michael Myers and also me. She says the cars look superb and she could hear us all clearly. 

12: The nerve of being asked to pay $10 just to go into an Hotel on Mackinac Island…… especially when we have far better Hotels at home which would NEVER dream of charging an entry fee.!!

13: Buying amazing sticky cinnamon-pecan rolls at Baymouth and just relaxing there and watching the ferries coming and going while consuming them. Their cashew nut brittle was to die for too!!

14: Buying “T” shirts for my 8 grandchildren in Mackinaw City, which change colour in the sun.

15: Being shown how to switch on a washing machine by Tonto………then how to use a tumble dryer………and to cap it all, how to erect the ironing thingy and then being given a demonstration of how to press my clothes……for the first time ever in 60 years!! 

16: The wonderful and unexpected greeting at Tobermorey from the Canadians, who had driven several hundred miles to meet us.

17: And finally, getting all the cars fixed by Duluth!!


However, as you know, we DID have some car problems, which is only to be expected, when you consider we have, collectively, covered almost 300,000 miles in a little over 5 weeks.


The USA and Canadian Cars had problems with fuel, oil and water leaks and electrical failures of lights, switches, starters, alternators, voltage amplifiers and fuses. They had mechanical faults with clutches, transmission shafts, gearboxes, wheel alignment, blocked fuel filters and tyres. The Aero 8 of Michael Myers, had ALL of the above,……… PLUS electric windows which stayed open, interior lights that wouldn’t go off, a broken sat-nav system and no wiring or fuse diagram to give us a clue where to start to try to fix the faults. The trunk lid was ill fitting and, when opened, any water present was deposited into the luggage compartment. The soft top had 2 threaded holes, where the locating pins should have been fitted, but unfortunately, the factory quality controller, Albert, had forgotten to check they were fitted on this occasion………and all these faults on the FIRST Aero 8 to be sent to the USA!! (Yes it is the actual car tested by Road and Track). It DOES make you wonder!!


It’s good to see that the Morgan Motor Company has not lost its unique touch!! This ensures that the latest $140,000 Aeros, have been made to the accustomed, exacting standards, including authentic unreliability, with which the rest of us have been putting up with for years.


The UK and European cars, generally, had similar problems, but we DO have 2 “STARS” who deserve a special mention. Those who defied the SAGE advice of the MOA mechanics, who all bear the scars from bitter experience, gained over 3 previous MOAs……


For example………and in no particular order, Arthur Edge. I first encountered him in the Hotel car park at Prescott. He had a leaking off-side exhaust manifold gasket. I couldn’t get the correct stuff to fix it properly, they don’t sell it in the USA, but I got what I could and told him to re-apply it every few days, because it would gradually burn-off. He decided to ignore this advice and go to an exhaust “specialist”, to “have it done properly”. Ever since, it has leaked from BOTH manifolds!!


He then had a problem with a TINY water leak from the water pump. My advice was not to do anything, but to put Barrs Leaks into the radiator to solve the problem……However, later that day, an un-named poser, dressed in a white paper overall, was seen looking under the bonnet of the car. The next I knew, the car was at a local Land Rover garage, water pump off, awaiting a replacement!! I KNOW there are so many different water pumps fitted to +8s, that his chance of having the correct one shipped in from Virginia, was very remote………Several days later, having been left behind to await the arrival of the pump, and eventually and expensively trying unsuccessfully to have the incorrect water pump fitted, my original advice was accepted and now, 4,000 miles further on, it shows NO SIGN of leaking whatsoever, however, the same cannot be said of the manifolds!!  


Another Morganeer, DISTRACTED BY THE SIREN CALLS OF THE ILL-INFORMED, is our other STAR, Gerry Pell. I find it difficult to know where to start!!


At Fisherman’s Wharf, I found him in the parking area under the Hotel, messing about in the dark with the front, nearside turn light. It was in pieces on the floor. He’d managed to blow the fuse too, because he had loosened the wire, which had then shorted out. I knew the problem would just be the earth to that light, because it is a very common fault on many Morgans, indeed I’d had it myself. I found a torch, re-aligned the wire to stop the short-circuit, fitted the light unit back on the car, ensuring a good earth and then I set about finding the blown fuse. I eventually located it and, in true Morgan fashion, it was not in the position shown on the fuse diagram, it was the one for the heated rear window…..which this car does NOT have!!


Then, a few days later, I encountered him again, this time with the car boiling merrily. For some reason, his super dooper, very expensive, brand new, aluminium radiator and catch tank, were not working as well as he had hoped! The electric fan wasn’t working either. We found the rather nice catch-tank had been badly welded and it was leaking, causing a loss of pressure in the whole system. We put the pressure cap directly onto the radiator, so that now worked correctly and he could drive the car.


Then we turned to the fan. This had a piece missing from the outer ring, causing it to be out of balance. Off he went to Bill Fink to have a replacement fitted and that should have done the trick………but some fool had fitted an over-ride switch, which he thought should be switched on when the temperature reached 75*, so he burnt out the replacement fan in a couple of days. As no suitable fans were available anywhere in the USA, I removed the back fitted fan to allow better air flow and had a front fitting fan kit flown in from Melvyn Rutter, which was fitted in a trice, by the MOA mechanics. The over-ride switch was disabled by removing the in-line fuse, (he didn’t know that until now) and it has worked perfectly ever since. I have a present for him………it’s the 10 amp fuse from the over-ride switch!!


On only one occasion, did we encounter the use of the red, distress card. It was when we were on the way to catch the only ferry of the day to Tobermorey and we knew we must NOT be late. Tonto and I had been following Bob and Thorley for 2 days with their miss-firing +8, when we came suddenly saw a flash of red. It was Coiln and Calli Cundy holding-up the “USE ONLY IN EMERGENCY STOP SIGN”. Bob chugged on and we stopped to see what disaster had struck. Four people were at the rear of Richard and Sue Cressy’s car. There was obvious “consternation in the camp”. I leapt out of my rather lovely lilac car, followed closely by Tonto, now sporting some new moccasins, to see what all the commotion was about. I said, “Is it serious”?......Richard said,” I should say so, it’s terrible….I’ve lost a nut and bolt from my luggage rack and I’m worried that you’ll slaughter me about this at the final banquet”!!



On only one occasion were the MOA FENDER, BENDER, MENDERS, called into action. This was to repair the door of George Norwood’s car, which he bent a little when showing off his opposite lock technique to his charming wife, Moira. He apparently aquaplaned at 27 mph on a tiny puddle, while in a line of similarly slow driven cars, causing much laughter to the throng. He did a rather nice, slow, pirouette and ended up on the median, facing where he had come from!


That evening, at the marvellous Eagle Ridge Inn, on the golf course at Galena, the MOA bodywork repair crew swung into action using a chunk of tree bark, deftly positioned and applied, which soon enabled the door to close again and with no damage to the paintwork. We did notice that a little more damage had actually been done, but didn’t want to worry him about it, so we didn’t mention it at the time!!


On previous MOA trips, MOST of the UK/European adventurers were caught speeding at some time or other, but usually we were not fined, we were just cautioned, despite some of us being clocked at well over 100 mph. On this MOA, we have obviously all slowed down, because we had only 1 person caught speeding. This honour goes to Colin Trott, who must have been distracted by the whiles of Audrey Dockery, because he was clocked doing 34 mph is a 30 zone!! He made some feeble excuses the officious Highway Patrol Officer, but fortunately, was eventually let off with a caution and told to “Keep it down” from now on………and yes, he was one of that 27 mph group mentioned above!!


Now if you want to make a few $ on an MOA adventure, might I suggest you buy some FED-EX shares when you know we are coming next. While perusing the financial papers to see how his portfolio was doing, Tonto noticed that the Fed-Ex shares were rising steeply. He wondered if it had anything to do with Manu’s excessive use of that Company, to retrieve lost items of clothing and then having them shipped on to the next Hotel. He was seen on more than one occasion, wearing only the leg parts of his zip-off trousers, because he had left the other part behind at the last Hotel.


Anyway, I know you’ll all have your special memories of this adventure and life-long friendships will have been forged. I can guarantee that in a few years time you’ll smile to yourself one day, remembering something that you did on the trip. Maybe a photo will have jogged your memory, or a song……and then you’ll be taken back to this MOA IV, TRULY THE MORGAN ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME.









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