Interview with Matt Humphries : Morgan Motor Company chief designer

Sense of humor. Something you don’t associate with a car company that’s existed since around 1900. Mercedes, Ford, etc. are all corporate companies with no funny bone.

Morgan Motor Company has been around since 1910 and they pride themselves on just that, their sense of humor. It’s clear after talking to Matt Humphries, the chief designer and relatively new face at the company, that jokes are still to be had.

Before Matt graduated from Coventry University in 2005 he started at the boutique car company on student placement. As part of his placement he had to present a design idea to the owner. The student project would later make it to production with Matt in charge.

“There was no official design department when I showed up.” Matt explained. Before he was employed the engineers and workshop teams just tried ideas out and saw what worked. Matt and his team of 3 stylists that are employed now try “to make the wooden frame a feature of the cars interior” Matt claims.

Using an ash wooden frame might seem idiotic to base a modern days car frame off of but not entirely. Matt defends “Compare wood to modern materials such as carbon fiber or aluminum. They’re all lightweight, strong and flexible.” He continues “now think of all the items in your house and think of which are wood…there is a reason we have been using it for centuries”. Sensibility and sense of humor can go hand in hand. “ Think of the wooden frame as a coat hanger for the aluminum chassis”.

Old-fashioned construction and 1920s styling are major parts in the character of Morgan. This is why it’s one of the few companies that can get away with bringing back the 3-wheeler. Essentially a tub with a Harley-Davidson engine in front flanked by 2 wheels and a third belt driven wheel in the back. With a design inspired by a B-52 bomber and a separate younger generation excited about it the 3-wheeler is the epitome of Morgan.

Three new models are in the pipeline at Morgan. All planned with wooden chassis. But as far as the styling they are extremely forward thinking. “As long as you have some of the Morgan elements you don’t need them all for it to be a Morgan.” Humphries explained. The designs more or less capture elements of the past with out being completely old fashioned. Matt uses the term “Story telling through design”.

A twenty-something as the chief designer at a car company from the early 20th century… a perfect fit at this plucky British Motor Company.

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