1954/61 Morgan Plus 4

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The Morgan that annihilates Mustangs


The Morgan that annihilates Mustangs

Article source Goodwood Road Racing by Ethan Jupp

Even in a grid of 1958-1962 closed-cockpit GT cars like that of the Moss Trophy at 78MM, you could be forgiven for dismissing the likes of this ‘Choc Ices’ 1961 Morgan Plus 4 Supersports, as on a good day quaint and on a bad day antiquated. But that’s a fool’s assumption according to owner Kevin Kivlochan, who, after buying it in May this year decided half-way through his first race in it, “this is a keeper”. For context, he’s been racing since 1992 and currently has a factory Cobra and a Scuderia Filipinetti GT40 joining the Avian Blue Mog in his historic racing arsenal.

“My first love was Shelbys really, but I bought a Morgan V8 ten years ago,” Kevin explains. 

“I was a bit ignorant to them but I bought it and honestly, it was just brilliant, a really underestimated car. I’d never sell it. Then this came up at Pendine Classics earlier in the year on a Thursday and I booked in the deal on the Sunday. I rang them and said ‘I’m coming to get it’. They just don’t come up – it’s one of three works cars – so it had to be done.”

Yes, this Plus 4 Supersports is a 1954/61, given that seven years on from its original manufacture, it was returned to the factory for an alloy-bodied fixed-roof race conversion. From its completion, this car’s career is a who’s who of racing in the 1960s, appearing in the legendary 1961 Goodwood TT alongside Stirling Moss in his Ferrari 250 GT SWB. Moss, Clark, Hill, Salvadori, Whitmore, Ireland and more all lined up alongside this Plus 4 with Peter Marten at the wheel.

That year it also took to the European Grand Prix at Spa and the Nürburgring 1,000 kilometres among – and we’re not joking – 22 other races during the 1961 season. What’s more, all of that history, all of it, is documented in extensive record files that a previous owner has compiled.

“This was a very busy car in 1961. It did Members’ Meetings back then as well as the new ones. Ever since it’s been heavily raced and done pretty much everything. I can’t think of a circuit it hasn’t done.

“The guy who had it before me kept absolutely everything on the car. Even down to a postcard that he sent to his friends from the Nürburgring in 1961, that he then recovered and put in the file. There are original race posters, entry lists, tickets, all of his race licences. There’s even the Morgan pit sign from the original 1961 Goodwood TT – absolutely stunning.”

Upon purchasing the car Kevin elected to match a new paint job with some original Avian Blue overspray that was still evident under the bonnet.

“This, Avian Blue, is the original colour. We sprayed it after I bought the car earlier this year. It had been painted British Racing Green for some reason but it was originally this blue. Many of my other race cars are blue and most of the Morgans are green, so painting this blue just felt like something we had to do.”

So what about that weird name? ‘Choc Ices’ is a strange one and according to Kevin, there are tall tails of its origin. He knows what the story really is, but there’s a catch…

“The story of the car’s name links to the colour. So when this raced originally, it was Avian Blue with white doors. The top was off a Triumph TR2, adapted for the Morgan with a fibreglass middle strip to widen it, unpainted in orange. The doors were white, the car was blue and the wheels were red and that’s the story most believe of why it was nicknamed Choc Ices.

“That story is completely wrong. The true story is entirely bizarre, passed down only from owner to owner and kept a secret. It’s harmless really but it’s not something you’d tell today. We just smile and nod when the Morgan people reel off the other story.”

It passed through a few owners’ hands between its contemporary racing career and now, with each holding on to the car and campaigning it in various formulas for a number of years. This near-on continuous racing career rightly earns Choc Ices the title of ‘most-raced Morgan’ and Kevin has no plans to stop now.

“What I like about it, is it’s a stunningly balanced car and a joy to race. It looks like it should be slow but it punches above its weight, especially in the rain. When it’s wet the E-Types are getting chased down.

“I don’t get the image. Why is Caterham cool but Morgan is an old man’s car? You need to drive it and then tell me what you think. It’s so underrated, you can annihilate Lotus Elans, Mustangs and Camaros and they come out going ‘how did you do that?’

“I bought it in May, raced it at Silverstone and this is only my second race in it. I was about halfway through that first race and I was hanging on thinking “this is a keeper”. This is only my second race with it and I just love driving it.”

A well-documented original from one of the most famous Goodwood races, consistently campaigned in competition throughout its near 70-year life: quaint it might be but Choc Ices is about as appropriate a car for a Goodwood grid as you can get. We look forward to seeing it again.