Rosie falls in love, with a car, on Valentine's weekend..
The cobbled mews streets of South Kensington are hardly synonymous with the sports car industry but then Morgan Motor Company is about nothing if not tradition. In 2013, London Morgan (020-7244 7323)–the antithesis of glass-fronted, tourist trap garages–opened to much fanfare and specialises in: pre-owned and new models (for sale and hire), race preparations, bodywork and factory tours.
Sticking to what they know has undoubtedly served Britain’s oldest car manufacturer well; under the watchful eye of one family it has been churning out made-to-order cars since the Edwardian era. Around 8,000 will leave the factory in Malvern this year alone, destined to decorate the garages of buyers across the globe.
Back in present day, in west London I was coming to terms with my ride for the weekend: a Morgan Roadster. Stylistically, at least, the Roadster looks much like its Plus-8 predecessor and Morgan aficionados will instantly recognise the long, tapered bonnet and sweeping wings.
However, if you manage to unbuckle the leather luggage-style strap sitting resplendent across the bonnet, which I quietly hoped was for decoration and nothing more, you’ll find that the Plus-8 engine, a Rover V8 used since its 1968 launch, has been replaced by a 3-litre Ford Duratec V6 engine. Noticeably lighter than the V8, the car is capable of 0-62 in 5.5 seconds. Compared to my usual run about, the brand of which shall remain nameless, it was like putting my foot down in a rocket ship.
Motorways were a dream as was, somewhat surprisingly, London. Prior to jumping in the driving seat, I had entertained visions of myself racing down winding country lanes but stiff suspension meant that even the odd suburban pothole made itself known.
The Roadster, as it turned out, favoured the relative safety of the M3 and the wide streets of Notting Hill. With a top speed of 140mph it’s an exhilarating drive helped, no doubt, by an ash frame and aluminium body weighing just 950kg.
We hit the city at a more reasonable speed and allowed the car to do what it surely does best: show off. Top down-mandatory in a Morgan and bearable even on a blustery Valentine’s Day thanks to an aggressive heating system-it demanded attention from even the most engrossed couples at every junction, traffic light and jam.
Admittedly you are not paying for refined, interior detail. The radio is completely inaccessible, hidden somewhere behind the gearbox, and the speedometer is over on the passenger side. Frankly, all this couldn’t matter less. The Morgan Roadster made me fall in love with driving all over again (the only thing I did fall in love with this Valentine’s Day) and I’d happily pay double for my own little slice of British motoring heritage and some quirky character.
Prices from £48,000. There is a six-month wait as each car is made. Contact London Morgan 020 7244 7323.