I have added another vintage car to our collection, and this one is older by far. It is a study in “few”, having just 2 cylinders, 3 speeds, 2 pedals, 2 seats, and… 3 wheels!
Welcome to my 1933 Morgan Three Wheeler, “Sport Two Seater” model.
Picture purely for dramatic effect! It is not current reality.
But that was the reality in the spring of 1988 when Jake Jacobson and his team won the main event at the VSCCA Spring Sprints that year, the Handicapped Relay Race! What is a Handicapped Relay Race you ask?
Handicapped Relay Racing
Put together a team of 4 cars and their 4 respective drivers. Send the first car out on track at the appointed time, as determined by the person doing the handicapping calculations (guesstimates). At the end of the 4th lap pull into the pits. Stop your car at the top of the pit lane and abandon it. Now, RUN! Run down the (hot) pit lane and tag the helmet of the driver of the next car in your team. He goes out, does his 4 laps, and the process repeats until the entire team has done their stint.
It is fantastic fun, entertaining, and in this case a nail biting race. Jake’s team was by far the most pokey pack of performers on the track that day. The team included Jake in his Trike as the anchor, Alec Knight in his Morgan Trike, and the other two (names escape me at the moment but I recall one as Andy?) in MG TD’s. Their team was the first one sent out on track, and I remember that car was into Big Bend for the second time before the next team’s first car left the pits. So their handicap was handsome indeed.
It all proceeded to plan and Jake was about 1 lap into his 4 lap final stint when it became apparent that the team on a charge was being anchored by that Aston Martin you see in the background. Uh oh.
That meant trouble. Jake’s Morgan can do maybe 70 mph at full chat. The Aston… About DOUBLE that! All weekend that DB4GT had been one of the fastest cars there, and at the end of its 4th lap, which was also the end of Jake’s 4th lap, the DB4GT was going gangbusters into the downhill as Jake was already well onto the finish straight. Jake was pedaling for all the little Three-Wheeler was worth and the finish line was creeping ever closer…
As indicated by the smiles and the checkered flag, they won it! The Aston was roughly that same distance behind as you see in the photo when Jake crossed the line, and the closing rate was such that it was impossible for the throngs of onlookers standing on the pit wall to tell who was going to take it.
And yes, they actually did a victory lap like that. The rear tire starting smoking before they even got into Left-Hander. It remains to this day the only victory lap I’ve ever seen at a VSCCA race.
I was 13 years old that day. It was my very first vintage racing event and my introduction the VSCCA. As you can tell, the memory remains vivid these 33 years later. I suppose it should be no surprise that this is the car I enter into the world of Pre-War vintage racing with.
As is my habit, I’ve obtained the car disassembled and in dire need of repair. I never make it easy on myself, do I? Jake didn’t race it much, if at all, after 1989. My friend Sam Lee dug it out of mothballs and gave it it’s last run at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix in 1998. Unfortunately, it ran out of brakes and hit the wall in the Serpentine. Sam was fine, but the Morgan was unfortunately damaged.
A little repair work has been started, but it hasn’t run since. I think it is all there, or as much of it as there ever was. I doubt it had a top in its time with Jake. I certainly never saw one. The restoration will take quite a while, and I can’t start on it for at least a year.
The goal isn’t to build a screamer that lays “onesies” (single wheel burnouts) at the flick of a thumb, but rather to have a nice driving old Trike. I look forward to taking The Lovely Annalisa out for a picnic. We should use it to run a tour or a rally. Finally, I want to enjoy it while turning “respectable” laps around Lime Rock.
Let us use this picture, borrowed from the Morgan Three Wheeler Club’s website, as reference and inspiration.