1934 Morgan Super Sports Drives “Like Nothing Else”

WATERFORD, CT – Marc Wunderman of Redding says his black, three-wheeled, right-hand drive model is “like nothing else you’ve ever driven,” and it’s easy to believe him by just looking at it. It displays two wheels in front and one in the rear. “They’re nose heavy. It’s a lot of torque like an old motorcycle, like an old Harley or an Indian.”

Wunderman’s sports car is a 1934 Morgan Super Sports. He brought the 90-year-old Morgan to the British by the Sea car show at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford in early June. The event drew hundreds of old and new British-made models, and his Morgan got more than its fair share of attention.

 “I’m pretty cautious with it. I don’t go sliding around corners. I take it pretty easy,” Wunderman said of the low-slung, “beetleback” Morgan. 

Marc Wunderman and his 1934 Morgan Super Sports

“I used to drive it quite a lot. I didn’t think anything of getting in it on a Saturday morning and going, 50, 75 miles. I’m not doing that much lately. I’m just older. More cautious.”

Wunderman’s comparison of the Morgan to a motorcycle is apt because it’s powered by a front-mounted V-twin engine that bears the initials J.A.P., which stand for J. A. Prestwich. “It’s literally ear-splitting. We had people in our club who would not drive behind me on a road run cause they say it’s just too noisy,” he said.

Watch RIDE-CT’s YouTube video of the 1934 Morgan Super Sports…

Founded in 1909, the still active Morgan Motor Company is based in Malvern in Worcestershire, England. It sells sports cars that are hand-crafted rather than mass-produced. Its current three-wheeled Super 3 has a base price of just under $54,000.

Wunderman’s affection for the brand is long-term. “In 1999, my 50th birthday present from my wonderful wife was a 1965 Morgan Plus Four,” he recalled, referring to a four-wheeled model. He then became involved in a Morgan club and soon learned about the company’s three-wheeler at a club event.

The 1934 Morgan Super Sports at a J.A.P. V-twin engine

“I heard a V-twin engine running and I’ve played around with V-twins most of my life; old Indians and what have you,” Wunderman continued. “I saw this one and without a thought in my head, I walked up to the owner and I offered up my hand and I said, ‘Hi. My name’s Marc and I’d love to be the next owner of that car.’

“He paused a minute and he said, ‘You know what? I’m thinking about selling it.” One thing lead to another. I got to know the owner and came to understand that for him it was not about wanting or needing the money, he just wasn’t driving it. He wanted to make sure it would go to a good home.”

But consummation of a deal required a ritual. “We visited the owners at their home. Had tea with them. He took me for a ride, took my wife for a ride. And as we were driving away, I expected her to say, ‘OK, now let’s get real. You know we can’t spend that money right now.’ And, instead, she turned to me and said, ‘Figure out how to buy it that does the least harm to our savings.’”

The Morgan has been slightly altered under Wunderman’s stewardship. 

“I did a few cosmetic things but mainly the car looks the way I bought it. I painted the wheels. I polished out the paint. I replaced the dashboard, the wood dashboard, the metal center of the dashboard, the speedometer. I re-wired the whole car. It’s running at 12 volts with a six volt starter, which is why it’s able to flip the engine over,” he said.

In addition, the he has rebuilt “the rear suspension, the gearbox, the front suspension, the generator drive, just kinda everything you don’t see but makes it drivable.”

Wunderman suggested that changes on such older models are common. “I defy you to find one that’s 100 percent as original. They just never are,” he said.

Morgan built Super Sports models like Wundermans’s between 1927 and 1939. Production ended because of the changing automotive landscape. 

“The demand for three wheelers was tapering down, in part because some very inexpensive four-wheel English cars came along like the Austin Seven which had the advantage of being enclosed. You could seat four people and so on,” he said.

The Morgan does have major shortcomings. “The brakes are absolutely horrible, which means you’re always conscious of ‘Is that person in front of me going to stop?” or ‘Is somebody going to pull out from the side?’ You have to hyper vigilant like you would be on a motorcycle.”

The passenger compartment of the two-seater is also cramped. “What I tell people because the cockpit is so narrow, the front brakes operate on a big hand lever next to the gear shift, which basically means you’re putting your hand on your passenger’s leg. I warn people ahead of time, ‘I’m not grabbing your legs but I may need the brakes.’”

Wunderman prefers his vintage Morgan to the new Super 3 edition. “If I could afford a new one, which I guess I could, I would buy another old one,” he said.

(Photos by Bud Wilkinson)

About Bud Wilkinson

Bud Wilkinson writes the "RIDE-CT" motorcycle column and the "My Ride" classic car feature in the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. A graduate of Vermont Academy prep school, he holds a B.A. degree journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University. He is the recipient of a Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award in 1992 and a 1991-92 regional Emmy Award for commentary. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville and drives a 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Leave a Reply