IF ONLY car dealerships could talk. I suppose if they did, the one I popped into the other weekend would be able to regale you with some brilliant anecdotes.
I was there for a 90th birthday party – and while it’s entirely reasonable for any 90-year-old to be taking it easy over a glass of sherry this one was surrounded by nightclubs and scary three-wheeled sports cars with motorcycle engines (I should know, I’ve encountered both). Lifes Motors could’ve sloped off to a retirement home decades ago, yet it’s still very much alive and kicking.
All of which makes this showroom on one of Southport’s quieter streets the oldest Morgan dealership of the lot. Not just in the North West or even in Britain, but the whole world.
What’s more, the 90th anniversary is only of it selling a certain brand of ash-framed sports car from Worcestershire; if you count its history of selling motorcycles, it’s actually 93 years old.
It’s hard to believe that the same dealership was operating at a time when televisions hadn’t even been invented and most families’ idea of motoring was a motorcycle and sidecar combination, as the Austin Seven would’ve been too newfangled and expensive.
In the nine decades since car showrooms have sprung up all over the North West, switched franchises a few times and then slowly sloped off the mortal coil; only the other week I was sad to see Formby Ford closing its doors for the last time, after decades of selling cars with blue ovals on their snouts and Austin Rover and BL products in the years before that. Yet this one dealership just keeps going, powered by cars that to the untrained eye look exactly like the ones it was selling half a century ago.
That’s the thing with Morgans. Whether yours was made in 1926, 1966 or 2016, it’s a safe bet that it’s exciting and prompts conversations with bystanders at whichever pub car park you take it too. I know plenty of people – particularly ones who work in or around cars – who hate Morgans, but the ones who appreciate them really love them for what they are. I’m definitely one of the latter, and smile whenever I hear the bass-heavy thump of a Plus 8 babbling past or see the wind-battered smile of someone clearly enjoying the elements in a Threewheeler.
I’ve no doubt it’ll still be trading sports cars that look vaguely the same when the centenary comes around. In fact, it’ll probably still be doing it long after you and I are consigned to the scrapheap!