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Taking the Morgan for a spin

PUBLISHED: 16:05 16 June 2009 | UPDATED: 15:31 20 February 2013

Morgan Roadster

Morgan Roadster

What better way to see the beautiful Worcestershire countryside than in the quintessential Worcestershire car - the Morgan Roadster. Words by Jane Sullivan. Photography by Stuart Purfield

My usual vehicle is a pretty standard, mass-produced family wagon. A workhorse Peugeot estate, it has to ferry around children, dogs, a boat on the roof, luggage and shopping in the boot. Like most modern cars it has all the technological niceties that are pretty standard nowadays - air con, CD player, power steering, air bags. In fact it's hard to imagine cars without all that.

Stepping into the Morgan Roadster is like going back 40 years. I didn't drive in the 60s, or the 70s for that matter, but I reckon that driving the Roadster is pretty much like driving a car from the 'olden days' as one of my children put it. We loved it. As our guide Dixon XXX gave us a briefing on how to drive a Morgan and the technical wizardry involved in putting the roof down - unclipping a few knobs and a bit of brute force - a small crowd of children had gathered to watch. We were at the Morgan factory in Malvern Link and the children had just arrived for a tour of the factory. Oh how they hooted with laughter as we stalled the car in the car park! A few bunny hops later and we were soon cruising along Pickersleigh Road heading for the open countryside.

We decided that the best way to enjoy the drive was to leave behind any notion that the Roadster was going to be like driving a modern car. It isn't. The clutch feels heavy, you can feel every bump in the road and turning the steering wheel demands the strength of a Japanese sumo wrestler (ooh I feel a touch of the Jeremy Clarkson's coming on there - I'll stop now!). I found the best way to drive this great little car was with bare feet. In fact if I owned a pair of 1950s driving shoes (you remember those flat slip-ons with a little bit of grip on the back of the heel?) they'd have been ideal. I could do with a pair of those leather and mesh driving gloves too now I come to think of it.

Once we were out on the open road we really started to enjoy ourselves. Dixon had warned us to check the speedo - "you'll be doing 60 when you think you're only doing 40" - and we had to rein in a bit a few times but it was such a fun car to drive, just how a car should be. We didn't quite manage the brochure promise of '0 to 60 mph in a blistering 4.9 seconds' - well would you on the Upton to Pershore road? But it did inspire me to use the words 'enjoy' and 'drive' in the same sentence - and they're not two words I use lightly together. Verdict: highly recommended and well worth the circa £30,000 + extras to have one.

Castle Morton Common

There aren't many places in the country where cattle are free to graze common land. The Commons around Castle Morton are one of them. Farmers have grazed their animals here for many centuries helping to shape the shape the landscape and allowing wildlife to flourish. The commons are overlooked by the Herefordshire Beacon and Midsummer Hill. Both were the sites of Iron Age camps built by the ancient British tribe, the Dobunni, which lived here from about 400 B.C

A convenient stop for petrol at a garage that still has a petrol pump attendant. Upton-upon-Severn is famous for its role in the Civil War where Royalist troops under the command of Prince Rupert: 'Partook in drinking strong waters at the Inn known as The Lion whereupon heavy sleep came upon them and at day dawn a forlorn hope of Ironsides crossed the plank which connected the broken bridge with the town and took possession of the church (the only remains of which are the Pepperpot Tower) and held out until reinforced whereupon the Royalists retreated to Worcester.'

The stiff climb up Fish Hill is worth the view at the top. Broadway Tower is one of Worcestershire's most iconic buildings. From here, on a clear day, it's possible to see across the Vale of Evesham and the Severn Valley to Bredon Hill, the Malverns, and beyond to the Welsh mountains. The tower was built in 1799 by the 6th Earl of Coventry, whose family seat was at Croome near Upton. The Earl was the first Master of the North Cotswold Hunt (the kennels are just off Broadway High Street). It's said that after a day's hunting a beacon was lit at the top of the tower which would alert the servants back at Croome to their master's imminent arrival giving them time to prepare his lordship's evening meal.

Willersey is well worth a visit - it is one of the most picturesque villages in this part of the Worcestershire-Gloucestershire borders. In 2005 it was Cotswold Life Village of the Year and it still has that lovely village community feel about it - and two great pubs The New Inn (which has a skittle alley) and The Bell.

My usual vehicle is a pretty standard, mass-produced family wagon. A workhorse Peugeot estate, it has to ferry around children, dogs, a boat on the roof, luggage and shopping in the boot. Like most modern cars it has all the technological niceties that are pretty standard nowadays - air con, CD player, power steering, air bags. In fact it's hard to imagine cars without all that.

Stepping into the Morgan Roadster is like going back 40 years. I didn't drive in the 60s, or the 70s for that matter, but I reckon that driving the Roadster is pretty much like driving a car from the 'olden days' as one of my children put it. We loved it. As our guide Dixon XXX gave us a briefing on how to drive a Morgan and the technical wizardry involved in putting the roof down - unclipping a few knobs and a bit of brute force - a small crowd of children had gathered to watch. We were at the Morgan factory in Malvern Link and the children had just arrived for a tour of the factory. Oh how they hooted with laughter as we stalled the car in the car park! A few bunny hops later and we were soon cruising along Pickersleigh Road heading for the open countryside.

We decided that the best way to enjoy the drive was to leave behind any notion that the Roadster was going to be like driving a modern car. It isn't. The clutch feels heavy, you can feel every bump in the road and turning the steering wheel demands the strength of a Japanese sumo wrestler (ooh I feel a touch of the Jeremy Clarkson's coming on there - I'll stop now!). I found the best way to drive this great little car was with bare feet. In fact if I owned a pair of 1950s driving shoes (you remember those flat slip-ons with a little bit of grip on the back of the heel?) they'd have been ideal. I could do with a pair of those leather and mesh driving gloves too now I come to think of it.

Once we were out on the open road we really started to enjoy ourselves. Dixon had warned us to check the speedo - "you'll be doing 60 when you think you're only doing 40" - and we had to rein in a bit a few times but it was such a fun car to drive, just how a car should be. We didn't quite manage the brochure promise of '0 to 60 mph in a blistering 4.9 seconds' - well would you on the Upton to Pershore road? But it did inspire me to use the words 'enjoy' and 'drive' in the same sentence - and they're not two words I use lightly together. Verdict: highly recommended and well worth the circa 30,000 + extras to have one.

Castle Morton Common

There aren't many places in the country where cattle are free to graze common land. The Commons around Castle Morton are one of them. Farmers have grazed their animals here for many centuries helping to shape the shape the landscape and allowing wildlife to flourish. The commons are overlooked by the Herefordshire Beacon and Midsummer Hill. Both were the sites of Iron Age camps built by the ancient British tribe, the Dobunni, which lived here from about 400 B.C

A convenient stop for petrol at a garage that still has a petrol pump attendant. Upton-upon-Severn is famous for its role in the Civil War where Royalist troops under the command of Prince Rupert: 'Partook in drinking strong waters at the Inn known as The Lion whereupon heavy sleep came upon them and at day dawn a forlorn hope of Ironsides crossed the plank which connected the broken bridge with the town and took possession of the church (the only remains of which are the Pepperpot Tower) and held out until reinforced whereupon the Royalists retreated to Worcester.'

The stiff climb up Fish Hill is worth the view at the top. Broadway Tower is one of Worcestershire's most iconic buildings. From here, on a clear day, it's possible to see across the Vale of Evesham and the Severn Valley to Bredon Hill, the Malverns, and beyond to the Welsh mountains. The tower was built in 1799 by the 6th Earl of Coventry, whose family seat was at Croome near Upton. The Earl was the first Master of the North Cotswold Hunt (the kennels are just off Broadway High Street). It's said that after a day's hunting a beacon was lit at the top of the tower which would alert the servants back at Croome to their master's imminent arrival giving them time to prepare his lordship's evening meal.

Willersey is well worth a visit - it is one of the most picturesque villages in this part of the Worcestershire-Gloucestershire borders. In 2005 it was Cotswold Life Village of the Year and it still has that lovely village community feel about it - and two great pubs The New Inn (which has a skittle alley) and The Bell.

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