Big show, small cars

By on August 27, 2014

Taste of Britain fills Forney Field

Don Newell points out dashboard details on his British-made 1959 Morgan +4. The car's steering wheel is on the left, made especially for use in the U.S. (photos by Lynn Rebuck)

Don Newell points out dashboard details on his British-made 1959 Morgan +4. The car’s steering wheel is on the left, made especially for use in the U.S. (photos by Lynn Rebuck)

Don and Ruthmary Newell turned in to the LANCO MG Club “A Taste of Britain” car show Sunday at Forney Field in their bright red 1959 Morgan Plus 4 convertible after what was a bumpy ride.

“It’s like riding in a roller coaster,” Ruthmary told one of the hundreds of visitors to the annual show who came to admire their car, which, typical of the roughly 200 British vehicles on display, sits very low to the ground. Her husband had a different view.

“You’re close to the road, the wind is in your face, and you are driving it, rather than it driving you,” Don said, while admitting that it provides a bit of a rough ride. “If you drive over a dime, you can tell whether it’s heads or tails.”

The Newells had driven to Forney Field from Manheim, and organizers of the large show of small cars were collecting more than dimes for a local food bank. A polo match followed the car event on the adjacent field, but the early afternoon was primarily about early-model cars.

The Plus 4 is built by Morgan Motor Car, the oldest privately owned car manufacturer in the world. Featuring a frame of ash wood, which Newell claims absorbs impact better than a steel frame, it is still manufactured today in Malvern, England, but is currently not available for sale in the U.S. American collectors need to rely on the supply of used vehicles circulating the country.

“It’s kind of a cult car,” Don said. Though they are aware of about a half dozen other Plus 4s in the area, they believe theirs to be the only red one in Lancaster County. They have owned the vehicle for over 20 years, the result of a promise Ruthmary made to her husband early in their marriage.

“Don had a Morgan when we got married,” she explained, but the vehicle, which was a two-seater, wasn’t practical for their family. “I told him that someday he could get another one.”

“And that someday came along,” Don added, telling the story of how they found the Plus 4 at a used car lot in Wilkes Barre, where it was owned by a bank. Unlike their previous Morgan, this one sports four seats, rare for this brand. In addition, his car features a seldom-seen strap to hold the spare in place and convertible tops that were custom made by the company in England to replace ones that were missing at purchase.

“It’s the most fun car I’ve ever had,” said Don, who pulled out a photo of a beloved Model A that he built by hand, but had to leave behind when the couple moved into their residence at Pleasant View Retirement Community.

Despite the rough ride, the couple still takes the Morgan out for a spin about once a month. The odometer mounted in the wooden dashboard reads only 46,000 original miles. The couple currently has no plans of selling their low rider.

“As long as we can get in and out, we’ll keep it,” said Ruthmary.

Lynn Rebuck is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express who enjoys photographing antique vehicles and their owners. She welcomes your questions or comments at

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