Back in 1911, when motoring was a pastime for the rich and adventurous, the Morgan Motor Company introduced a new vehicle. It was a creative design, aimed at gentleman motorists who were out to drive for the sheer joy of driving. It was a vehicle contrived to straighten the twisted country roads and to evoke the thrill of driving fast. It was a coarse beast of a car, contrived to get the adrenaline pumping.
The vehicle that they introduced evolved into the Morgan 3. It was powered by a narrow angle, long stroke V-twin motorcycle engine mounted in the very front of the vehicle, before what would have been the radiator in a traditional sports car. Tiny windscreens added to its rakish look. The unique aspect of the 3 was the fact that it was a tricycle. It had two fendered wheels in the fore, and a single center-mounted wheel in the rear. Fishtailed tailpipes, bug-eyed headlamps and an over-all look of raw machination make the Morgan 3 a timeless example of classic sports-car design.
And then there was the driving experience. It has been compared to flying an open-cockpit fighter plane or driving a speedboat. The staccato report of the two-cylinder engine punctuating the fast driving experience, as the driver is seated mere inches from the ground beneath.
Though Morgan made the 3s from 1911 to 1952, there are relatively few of them still around, and, when they do turn up, they need work and specially manufactured parts. And they are not daily drivers, by any means.
Here is where our story turns to the ACE Cycle-Car. Pete Larson of Seattle’s Liberty Motors was one of us who did covet the Morgan. Being a long-time motorcycle guy, and maker of the classic Liberty Sidecar, he opted to build his own. The Ace is a beautiful three-wheeler, very much in the spirit of the old Morgans, but it is built with modern technology. Powered by 100 horsepower Harley V-twins, these truly are drivers’ cars. The handling is quick, but a bit raw – perhaps uncouth. You feel the road. The fit and finish is impeccable, aimed, once again, at the gentleman sportsman who wants the full driving experience. “Driving it, I feel like I am 18 again,” says the 62 year old Larson.
The big secret at ACE is that it is now licensed by Morgan 3-wheeler, Ltd. UK – the ACE is a genuine Morgan product, built in the USA. The time has come again! For those of us who want a Morgan trike, we can now own brand new ones.
In this era of Smart Cars when gasoline prices are at their worst, we are constantly seeking ways to bring the joy back into driving. The Ace is a car that appeals to serious sports-car drivers – drivers who want the unfettered interaction with the road. Registered as a motorcycle, the restrictions on emissions are not as strict as on automobiles, but with a spritely two-cylinder engine, the impact is far lower than a normally restricted V-8. The electric start and reverse gear are niceties that the originals did not always employ.
Our era is one where the rank and file seeks out rounded edges and safety buffers. The era of the sports car, with all its coarseness and discomfort, may not be dead, but it is certainly on intensive life-support. Miatas are called sports cars, but do sports cars have automatic transmissions and air-bags? Back when men were men, they did not. The ACE Cycle-Car is a throwback to the era when bugs-in-the-teeth motoring was the likely pursuit of the gentleman motorist. They sought vehicles that, like them, were creative, unexpected and, yet, a bit civilized. And like all true gentlemen, the ACE Cycle-Car is civilized, certainly, but it is not tame.