"a really rotten '59 Morgan +4 two-seater and a pristine NASCAR aluminum V-6. Add a dash of Fred Sissonesque seasoning and the result is an extraordinary Morgan "+6", so well-crafted and engineered that it looks like it came out of Malvern."
Website created by: İHoward Clark, 100 East Third
Street, Brookston, IN 47923 (765) 563-3210
See also: British Car magazine, February-March 2000 issue, pages 42-45
Used with permission - webmaster: Bob Dunsire
MALCOLM'S MORGAN was purchased by Ken
Dunsire in 2000.
(Who wanted to keep this excellent web account of the car's creation available)
Malcolm Terry is a well known "Big" Healey owner/restorer, he and his wife Lottie have long been active in clubs and events to the extent that Donald, Geoff and the Healey family became friends. Until recently there were two prize-winning Healey 3000s in the Terry garage, now there is only one (Lottie's). When the Terrys visited the Healey family in England two years ago, they were actually on their way to visit the Morgan Mecca in Malvern.
After retiring from his job as an engineer at RCA, Malcolm got even more involved with LBCs and eventually decided to build a Morgan. The beautiful Phillips +4 four-seater, recently discussed on the news group, went into Malcolm's garage as a pile of junk on a trailer and came out a prize-winner.
Malcolm's unpretentious garage is a marvelous place. In 1994, a couple of interesting items wound up fermenting in there; a really rotten '59 Morgan +4 two-seater and a pristine NASCAR aluminum V-6. Add a dash of Fred Sissonesque seasoning and the result is an extraordinary Morgan "+6", so well-crafted and engineered that it looks like it came out of Malvern. The task was neither simple nor straightforward, and it was so involving that Malcolm even sold his Healey, but it is illuminating as to the problem solving process of a first class restorer/builder.
(Left) The +4 arrives at Malcolm's garage,
(Center) Left Side of frame repaired with channnel, right side of frame broken,
(Right) Brazed crosshead
The first photo shows the partially disassembled +4 as it arrived at Malcolm garage on July 12th, 1994 . It is easy to see why the former owner gave up on it. At first glance it looks like a typical old Morgan frame coated in Self-Destructive Orange, but closer inspection reveals the bolted in 3" channel on the driver's side and the completely broken passenger's side frame rail. Even worse, the front end was welded and brazed together by someone from the "More is Better" school of auto repair. Malcolm ordered a new frame from Don Simpkins and went to work on the other parts.
(Left) The NASCAR aluminum V-6,
(Center) The cylinder block,
(Right) Pistons and rods
The engine belongs to Malcolm's son David, and was originally built for NASCAR's Busch Grand National series in the mid-1980s (they are still used in the ASA). David intended it for a race car built for a drag racing class where the horsepower to weight ratio may have proved advantageous, but the project was side-tracked and the engine wound up under a bench in Malcolm's garage. It is the '85 / '86 version of the 262 cubic inch Chevy V-6 with an aluminum block with steel liners and aluminum heads. The block was decked and the aluminum heads were surfaced and cc'd. A Calles crank with 3-5/8" stroke increases the displacement to 274 c.i. The pistons are Wiseco products and the rods are from Summit. The whole assembly was balanced. The camshaft is a Lunatti with roller lifters, Lunatti valve springs, and Jessell rockers and valve train. In addition, the ports were matched to both the intake and exhaust manifolds.
Malcolm built this testing device to make sure the distributor was firing correctly
The ignition system is by MSD, and thereby hangs a typical tale in the development of this car. The first time Malcolm fired up the engine it ran poorly, a problem eventually traced to the distributor which was firing the left bank of cylinders 4 degrees off from the right bank. When the problem was discovered, MSD immediately replaced the unit, but you can imagine the problems Malcolm and David had in diagnosing it. When the new unit arrived, Malcolm took no chances and built a testing device to ensure the timing accuracy.
The Terry V-6 on the dynomometer
Malcolm intended to use a Holley Throttle Body Injector, but couldn't get the V-6 to run consistently, despite Holley's repeated efforts to rectify the situation. Malcolm finally gave up and installed a 600 cfm Holley four barrel carburetor. The engine was placed on a dynamometer where it put out 327 horsepower (310.9 corrected).
Both of these problems can be traced to the Chevy's "odd-fire" design. David Terry explained it as follows, "Most V-6 engines are even-fire which means they fire every 120 degrees of crankshaft rotation, the odd-fire engine fires at 90 degrees, then 150 degrees. The sequence becomes 90-150-90-150 etc. This was the biggest problem we encountered with the Holley fuel injection system, as it is designed for an even-fire application". The first MSD ignition system was for an even-fire V-6 as well.
(Left) The original NASCAR aluminum manifold,
(Center) Manifold with the top plate removed,
(Right) New top plate installed
The NASCAR aluminum intake manifold is an interesting two-part piece with a bolt-on top plate. The stock top plate is a crowned piece of cast aluminum that was much too tall for the Morgan hood. Malcolm solved the problem by milling down the lower part of the manifold by one inch and then fabricating a new top plate out of ½" aluminum.
(Left) David Terry welding exhaust headers,
(Right) Completed headers
No existing exhaust manifolds / tubular headers would fit the Morgan, of course. David Terry, a superb welder, pieced together a beautiful set of tubular headers.
(Left) Notch cut out of the bellhousing for frame clearance,
(Center) Angle plate welded to the bellhousing,
(Right) Bellhousing in position in frame
The bellhousing interfered with the crossmember, so Malcolm cut a notch out of it and fabricated an aluminum angle plate to fit. David welded the aluminum plate to the cast aluminum bellhousing. Until I saw this piece, if anyone had asked me I'd have said that it couldn't be done. Inside the bellhousing is a 50 pound Lakewood flywheel with a Schaefer High Performance clutch disc operating on a stock GM pressure plate.
(Left) Malcolm fabricated a new jackshaft to connect the clutch to the transmission,
(Right) He also fabricated the jackshaft housing
The transmission is a Borg-Warner T-5 with five speeds (used in Camaros and Mustangs) mounted, as in all +4s, about 18 inches behind the bellhousing. Malcolm made the jack shaft that connects the clutch to the transmission, which he sent out for splining, and then fabricated a housing. In the photo it is actually upside down and you can see the notch in the bellhousing.
(Left) The driveshaft is a shortened Pontiac unit,
(Right) A new tunnel houses the T-5 transmission and the drive shaft
The driveshaft came from a Pontiac, greatly shortened. All of this had to fit under a new transmission / driveshaft tunnel that Malcolm fabricated.
(Left) The original front end fittings,
(Center) Crosshead laid out and partially fabricated,
(Right) Crosshead after drilling and bandsawing
(Left) Completed front end, note the "Sisson Brace" from the top tube to the frame,
(Center) Note the vertical brace, drilled discs and fabricated hub,
(Right) Painted and powder coated
The front suspension is stock Morgan, but the cross-head had been ruined by the ham-fisted welding and brazing, so Malcolm sweated the ends off and fabricated a new cross-head. Malcolm fabricated the front hubs(!), installed drilled Morgan rotors with Healy calipers and Koni shocks. A "Fred Sisson Brace" was added from the top tube back to the frame just behind the damper blades to absorb braking forces. A vertical brace was added between the top and bottom tubes just inside the springs to maintain the vertical alignment of the tubes when the spring is released.
(Left) U-joints connect the steering wheel to the offset steering column,
(Center) New upper column and mounting brackets,
(Right) Note longer notch in valence for angled steering column
The steering is stock Morgan but modified to clear the cylinder head. The steering wheel is in the stock position, but the column is offset to the left with u-joints passing through the firewall to the left of the original hole. The slot in the fender valence was lengthened so the steering box and the lower part of the column could be pivoted slightly to the left.
(Left) Don Simpkins frame with modified crossmember under trans and new exhaust holes,
(Center) Pedals adapted to a new mounting bar,
(Right) Rear suspension showing Koni shock and mount, traction bars, shortened Pontiac axle with disc brakes
The only change to the Simpkins frame was a new forward crossmember under the rear of the V-6. The original brake and clutch pedals were used on a newly fabricated pivot bar to accommodate the changes to the firewall. Malcolm fabricated a mount for the rear Koni shocks and built traction bars and a Panhard bar to locate the rear axle, as well as the emergency brake linkage. The rear brakes are stock GM discs (note that the gas can in the picture was there so the engine could be fired up to check wiring, gages, etc.). The 1985 Trans Am positraction rear axle was narrowed and the axles were shortened.
(Left) 1/8" aluminum gas tank,
(Right) Aluminum baffles inside the gas tank as in the original Morgan tank
The gas tank was made from 1/8 inch aluminum to match the stock Morgan unit including internal baffles, pickup, drain, etc.
(Left) Steve Long made the brass radiator,
(Right) Rear view shows angle mounting
Malcolm farmed out the design and fabrication of the brass radiator to Steve Long of Indianapolis who builds radiators for circle track racers, street rods, etc. Malcolm slanted the radiator back to gain capacity and used a thermostatically controlled electric pusher fan. He didn't bother with the stock engine-driven fan as it would have been too far away for efficiency.
(Left) Malcolm used the original rotted wood as patterns,
(Center) Assembled wooden body framework,
(Right) Wooden body frame mounted on car ready for the sheet metal
Malcolm ordered the rear wheel arches from Morgan but made all the other wooden pieces himself. The center photo shows the body frame nearly finished, and the last photo shows it mounted on the car.
(Left) Mark Kennison with Morgan hood,
(Right) Antique race car body being recreated
Malcolm got some help with the sheet metal, Mark Kennison owns Phoenix Enterprises in Peru, Indiana and does outstanding sheet metal work including whole bodies for some very famous full classics. He is shown here with Malcolm's hood (that's a '36 Cord 810 fender in the background) and an early race car body that he is recreating.
(Left) Malcolm made new seats,
(Right) Upholstered seats in car
The sheet metal was attached to the wooden frame but stainless steel screws were used rather than tacks and brass screws. Malcolm fabricated and upholstered the seats.
(Left) Aluminum dash is pattern,
(Center) Completed wooden dash (note changes),
(Right) Wiring up the instruments and controls
The final step was to make the dashboard by first making an aluminum pattern (!) to guide in the construction of the wooden one. The VDO gages were installed and the wiring checked.
(Left) The old frame on left, new on right,
(Right) Engine on blocks, firewall, inner fender valences and radiator cowl clamped on frame
(Left) Note that carb won't clear hood, short steering column notch in valence,
(Right) Same mock up but much later, fan wasn't used
Finally, here are some pictures of some of the mock-ups. The next one shows the old frame side-by-side with the new one with new the engine sitting on stands. Malcolm placed the sheet metal around the mocked up engine and chassis, note the pieces of wood, levels and tapes in, note also the short slot for the steering column in this photo. This was a continual process because every little problem along the way would result in a change that required another check to see if anything else was effected. The next picture is much later in the process, the chassis is pretty much together, the fender valences are restored but sticks and bungee cords are holding things together to check for fit. Note that at this stage Malcolm was still intending to use an engine-driven fan with a special mounting shaft. Malcolm made many such parts that were not finally used. Incidently, Malcolm said that the repair of the fender valences turned out to be so much work that it would have been easier to make them new.
There aren't many Morgan owners in Indiana, I'm the closest to Malcolm and I live 80 two-lane miles away. There are a lot of Healeys, by comparison, and Malcolm's good friends in the Healey club pitched in to help just as if the car was a Donald Healey design rather than one from Peter Morgan. David Terry grew up with a fastidious car nut for a father and couldn't help but become a drag racer and welder, David did all the heliarc welding on this car.
(Left) The +6 is nearly complete!
(Center) Note that carburettor and air cleaner clear the hood,
(Right) Classic lines of a Morgan +4, but there's something funny about that air cleaner
(Left) The V-6 fits perfectly,
(Center) The offset of the steering column is not noticable,
(Right) Rear three quarter view
It comes as no surprise that straight line performance is outstanding, but the car is so well engineered that everything else is even better than a +4. The overall weight and it's distribution is identical to stock. The traction bars keep the tires on the pavement during acceleration, the rear Panhard bar and the competition-type bracing on front end compensate for the additional power in the turns, while the modified front brakes and the disc rear brakes meet the challenge of all that horsepower.
It makes one think that had Rover purchased the rights to an aluminum V-6 rather than a V-8, Morgan could have installed it in a +4 with far fewer modifications than the +8 required. The car would probably be nearly identical to Malcolm's lovely +6.
A final quote from David, "When you ask Dad what his intentions are for this car, his normal response is to go out "Vette and Viper hunting". Not too bad for a guy who is past 70 years of age!"