Wrap Up: Dragging home an old Morgan | Cross-Country Morgan Retrieval

Part 10 of Cross-Country Morgan Retrieval.

Sight unseen, we bought a 1952 Morgan on the other side of the country. Now the fun part: Tim and Margie Suddard get to retrieve it.

What a trip.

In nine days, we had flown from Florida to Las Vegas, borrowed a 20-year-old Chevy Suburban, hooked up a borrowed trailer, and set out to the hottest place in North America: Death Valley.

From there, we traveled through mountain passes to pick up a 70-year-old Morgan that had been sitting for decades. We'd bought the car without ever seeing it.

We then hauled this whole mess across this great big country of ours, staying on back roads the whole way.

[34-Point Road Trip Checklist]

A lot could have gone wrong, but nothing did.

The old Suburban, while perhaps a bit underpowered with its 5.3-liter engine, towed surprisingly well. We saw about 11-12 mpg throughout the trip. Our best tank was about 14 mpg and our worst, heading up the mountains, was about 9 mpg.

The truck was comfortable, and the temp gauge was rock solid—except in one traffic jam near Durango, Colorado, where it began to creep up.

We cannot heap enough praise on the Aerovault trailer. It's is light and aerodynamic beyond all reasonable possibilities. Passing trucks didn’t move it around. Near-hurricane winds and rain didn’t budge it, either. Peter and Gayle Brock set out to build a better trailer, and they did it. We’ll be talking more about the Aerovault. 

[How BRE Got Its Stripes]

Just one postscript to this story: On our last day, we noticed a bit of noise coming from the back of the Suburban.

When we got home, we took it to Auto Clinic of Ormond. The folks there perform any automotive work we don’t do ourselves, and this fell onto that list.

A new wheel bearing did not solve the problem. Further investigation found the differential dry.

We were told that the vehicle had been serviced before the trip, and while we checked all of the fluids under the hood, we just didn’t see the need to crawl underneath. Either the diff wasn’t filled or it just leaked. Either way, the truck was now going to need the rear end rebuilt.

We came pretty close to a total, potentially dangerous failure out in the middle of nowhere. While road trips can be fun and games, this reminded us that they can turn serious and hazardous quickly.

The Morgan has been all good news. It’s in even better condition than we anticipated and is missing few, if any, of its original parts.

Bonus: We found box after box of new or already professionally refurbished parts. This will save us thousands when we begin to restore this rare car—turns out that only 345 were built between 1950 and 1953.

In addition to a rare car, we now have some priceless memories. More on this project soon.

Read the whole story:

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frenchyd UltimaDork
7/15/21 12:35 p.m.

In reply to Tim Suddard :

I love cross country trips to get cars. First there is the pleasure of the trip. I can honestly put in 20+ hours driving and listening to stories on tape before I need a brief nap at a road side rest. 
     I usually take a different route or different timing every place I go to.  The view changes depending on when you see it. With great night vision things are as interesting at night as during the day. Often more so. 
Then there is the anticipation of the new( to me) car. I don't grill the seller on every detail, I get a sense for who they are and what degree of credibility I can place on them.  Plus I buy cheap enough that if I made a complete mistake I'm not out much.  ( So far I feel I've won every deal) 

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/15/21 12:38 p.m.

Oh my gosh I am excited about this. I've been lusting after morgans for many years and I loved the morgan articles in the recent CM issue. 

I do have a question though - what in the world is the difference bewteen the 'wide rear fender' morgans and the skinny rear fender? is it the true 4/4 vs plus4 difference? (You've got 2 wides and a skinny in your photos with 3). 

It seems when I search I can only seem to find the skinny rear fender versions which I think look a bit frumpy. But then I see the car you bought, and the famed lemans version and they both seem to have wide rear fenders (so do all current morgans). The wide rear fender cars are so good looking - yet I can't find them. 

Mr_Asa UberDork
7/15/21 1:10 p.m.

Your bad marg in Texas reminded me that every time I've been in the state I've had a bad experience with something.  Basic training was my first.  When I drove out to Cali along I-40 I drove through/got gas and food in some wasteland town that was so bad that I thought I was going to get Hills-Have-Eyes style dead (seriously, how do you get a pepsi to go bad?)  Finally the last time I went through there I had to visit my aunt and uncle

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