We loved the old original leather from the start. Old leather has so much character! Sadly it had badly frayed and deteriorated with 15 years of neglect. We decided to try to save it.
Firstly, the driver's quarter panel was more than damaged at the door area. It is not uncommon for the leather to be rubbed through here as the driver "grinds" away at it with his/her body each time they exit the car. In this case, the leather had completely disappeared in a guilty semi-circle and even the wood beneath had been holed right through! We matched the leather and Mike & Ben Duncan replaced the whole quarter panel.
Ben had then worked on the leather with a variety of emoluments, creams and conditioners and the skins plumped back up and shone. What often seems to be derelict leather can come back with a bit of patience and effort..
At Tudor, we confirmed the rocker panel leather had rotted through as well. This is common. Morgan pads the area and then leathers it. Inevitable water egress soaks the padding, keeps the leather damp and it rots. As well, the system makes access to the wiring (and possibly fuel lines) behind difficult. The solution is to fashion or purchase a curved fiber glass made for the area. This is water proof and provides an absolutely perfect curvature and finish while allowing easy access with the removal of a few little screws.
These panels can be had from Black Phey Ltd., a UK aftermarket
supplier. They are installed with holding tape first. Then they are
mildly adjusted to fit, removed, leather covered and screwed in. See below.
(Kevin was able to source a 1/4 hyde of match leather through his contacts).
As a precaution, I had Nuera of Leicestershire make up a touch up kit for me to refresh and match the color where needed. Nuera is the key supplier to the trade in the UK that makes most of the auto leather dyes in that country. If you contact them directly that will make up leather reconditioning and recoloring kits that amaze me. They can match anything from your original leather color codes or from a small sample. Speak with Ray or Diane Walker.
In keeping with the look we were searching for, we decided to have Matthias (aka MK-Holztechnik) make up 1990 style Plus 8 dash but with a darker stain to subdue the wood in keeping with the car color. We made one extra concession to good taste by removing the ugly plastic warning light cluster and replacing them with jewels instead.
We kept the original switch/instrument panel, but sandblasted off the black paint and had it finished in the same color as the car.
(Excuse the picture above..it is a very difficult task to take a picture of a MK dash. The finish is so perfect and reflective that it is hard to get the camera and lightening just right!
As indicated earlier, the original VDO instruments were showing their age. The insides were filthy and the bezels (the outer rings) corroded. My first reaction as to replace them..but that is VERY expensive and can be a hassle finding matches...especially since I wanted chrome bezels to bring out the dark dash. I decided to try and have them refurbished instead.
Prices for this process vary widely. You need a special machine to re-bezel the VDOs, (unlike the Smith's instruments which are considerably easier to do). There is a Morgan Agent that charges £350 for 6 instruments! I had 7 done for less than 100 Euros. The seventh was a VDO clock to match the others. I searched for weeks and finally found it new in the US from Jeg's for a very reasonable price.
The instruments came back looking simply splendid.
The carpets had seen better days. We replaced the lot with upgraded (Jaguar) quality using the services of Heart of England Morgans. They cut and trim and also make the seat section pieces separately which allows you to remove and clean them easily. The later cars have the seat piece in a single section which means it cannot be removed without removing the entire seat.
5. Seat Belts
I am not a fan of Morgan seat belts. Their retractable feature gobbles up precious space better used for other things and the latch is something you have to hunt and peck for when you need to get out of the car in an emergency. The belt routing used in the later cars is tortuous and it always get tangled in the tonneau. They are very ugly.
In both our Plus 8s, we opted for something simpler, safer and prettier. I use a classic chrome lap-latch system that can be found in and instant (even when panicked) and opened at a simple single movement. The belts are not retractable and take up far less space. (A retractable feature is only useful in a car with constantly changing riders.) To brace the top point on the wheel well, I run a cable from the holding bolt underneath to the frame. This prevents the rear wing from detaching with the severe pull at the bolt in an impact..it is easy, non-invasive and possibly life-saving.
6. Sound system
My lady and I like to roll down small country roads to old Bob Dylan and even older Vivaldi. To feed that habit, we have sound systems in our cars. We look for something (on both continents) that can properly service a Morgan. On both sides of the Atlantic we have settled on a Ford product indigenous to the area. In North America it is called a CD-6 and in Europe, it is a FORD 6006. These upper class, high quality affairs are slightly different but both have 4 channels @ 20 amps and contain an AM/FM cd player and a 6 CD deck in the space of a normal large been auto radio.
They are expensive from the dealers ($900 US or £600 in the UK) but you can get them new and inexpensive ($250 or £200) on eBay in either country. There is a generic plug made that makes installation easy. Make SURE you source the plug (also on eBay) before you buy the unit. In the UK, you can find the 6006 in a Morgan matching burl walnut finish if you are patient.
In both countries, we fashioned an easily removable console to fit the system on the gearbox tunnel. In the case of this car, Ben Duncan, the Morgan Agent and audio expert, fitted beautifully matched speakers in the quarter panels and another set in the side panels forward of the doors.