Refining a British design classic

The Morgan Motor Company's factory floor in Malvern , Worcestershire, where it has produced cards since 1910.

James Pozzi tours the Malvern home of Morgan Motors to witness how the quintessentially British car maker is adding a modern twist to its classic designs with software giant Autodesk.

Morgan Motors is unique in a multitude of ways. Aside from its inimitable vehicle design, long established as a cult favourite of motor enthusiasts, it is one of the few remaining British-owned automotive manufacturers operating today.

Smaller in scale than the factories of the foreign-owned carmakers grabbing the headlines in the market’s resurgence, Malvern’s Worcestershire headquarters of 104 years is as far removed as can be from the automation heavy factories of mass producing OEMs. Assembling vehicles including the re-launched three-wheeler, its approach is altogether more hands-on.

The majority of design and production, from the prototyping to the wood work, is developed on site through the use of Autodesk products. With a highly customised vehicle line where all products are sold by pre-order, the factory produces around 1300 cars annually, compared to a figure nearer 800 just five years ago.

Morgan’s relationship with the American software company has stretched back over a decade. Using its CAM/CAD and PLM products has allowed the company to cut lead times while bringing vehicles from the design stage to production in just over five months.

German Vieira Morgan
Image Courtesy of: Germano Vieira, PICSIMstudio (picsimstudio@gmail.com); Paper texture by nevermoregraphix

Another interesting quirk of the collaboration was Autodesk’s recent competition to find a magazine advertisement design for the relaunch of Morgan’s 3-wheeler vehicle. The victorious entrant was Portuguese architect Germano Vieira, who saw his work adorn a poster at a automotive trade show.

Present on the day of my factory visit, Mr Vieira unveiled the design which would also be used on a Morgan marketing campaign. The global interest in such a competition provided an illustration of the reach of this most British of automotive vehicle makers.

As demonstrated by the success of over British icons such as Triumph, the clamour for automotive vintage is also helping Morgan expand domestically while looking at new markets such as the Middle East.

With over 160 employees working in` the Malvern facility, Morgan’s role in the local economy is a crucial one. In its supply chain, chassis assembly takes place in Ross-on-Wye, while the front wings complimenting the cars’ aircraft cockpit style interior are made by a supplier in Worcester.

But while some of the methods remain the same, head designer Jon Wells says the company has benefited greatly from utilising new software products. “It is extremely exciting to integrate modern design consideration into the traditional manufacturing environment Morgan nurtures,” he said. “We are able to ensure exciting design ideas make it to production accurately whilst maintaining the inherent charms of hands- on craftsmanship.”