As an ambitious teenager in 1970s England, Terry Leary purchased and sold the car of his dreams – a 1936 Morgan Super Sport. A few decades, careers, and countries later, Terry has reunited with his dream car and painstakingly restored it with the help of friends, neighbors, and a new stainless steel flywheel from Rapid Axis.
About The Car
The 1936 Morgan 3 Wheeler was in production up until WWII. This particular three-speed model was popular due to its performance and tax advantages – Britain allowed the three-wheeled car to be registered as a motorcycle and not a car. Equipped with a water-cooled “Matchless” motor, the drive shaft transmits power to a gearbox behind the seat. The body is primarily made of wood, covered in sheet steel, and rests on a steel tube chassis. The weight comes in just under 900 pounds and can easily reach speeds up to 80 mph. Now valued at roughly $50,000, there are about 3,000 Morgans on the road today and only 300 in the United States. Check out comedian and host Jay Leno with his 3-wheel Morgan.
Terry’s 3-Wheeler Journey
Terry grew up in the Liverpool, England area and bought his ‘36 Morgan for today’s equivalent of about $400. Considered to be more than a motorcycle, but not quite a car, he loved the feel of the wheel, the thrill of the drive, and cruising around town with friends.
One random day, Terry saw an ad published in a local newspaper. An American in California was hoping to find someone in Britain who could help him obtain a 1936 Morgan. Terry contacted the American and ended up selling his Morgan and shipping it overseas. Years passed, and as he moved to and from Hong Kong, California, Singapore, and back to California, Terry stayed in contact with his Morgan friend and never forgot about his old car.
During a friendly phone call last year, the now 95-year-old Morgan friend told Terry, “I suppose you’re calling to check on your car? You better come pick it up.” Only expecting a quick check-in and chat, Terry was ecstatic and beside himself. His friend, through his will, had gifted the car back to Terry and decided it would be better if he just had it now. After a short trip to Southern California, Terry reunited with his beloved ‘36 Morgan.
Throughout the last year, Terry has restored various parts of the vehicle and makes improvements as he sees fit.
Rapid Axis Restores the Flywheel
We had the fortunate opportunity to help restore the original flywheel.
The original flywheel, pictured in the image, was fabricated from cast iron then post machined manually in the 1930s. Amazingly, you can see the manual cutting marks from where a machinist turned down the iron casting. Anyone who has machined iron before will know that it can be challenging work. The fact that a machinist used a water-powered turning center in the ’30s to achieve the bowl cut feature is nothing short of amazing.
Our team worked with Terry to determine the best material for the rebuild. We discussed iron but ultimately determined stainless steel would be the best option. We set up and machined the part in our Conquest turning center with the secondary operation to turn an ID angle inside the component. The stainless steel version is almost geometrically identical to the original cast iron version of the part. The component was inspected post-op and perfectly fit when installed on the Matchless motor.
It was an absolute joy and experience to work with Terry and help restore a historic car. There’s nothing quite like keeping a piece of history on the road.