The Australian Morgan 4-4

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John Clarke
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The Australian Morgan 4-4

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This Mog is now in the UK and owned by a mog racer. I came across this history on a website for an Oz vintage tyre company. Photos are here: ... 2304149561

1936 MORGAN 4-4

CHASSIS #079 / ENGINE #M97 / GEARBOX #10186

Dispatched by the Morgan works on 21/9/36 as only the second 4-4 Series I Morgan to reach Australia, Chassis #079 was consigned to Bry-Law Motors, 330 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne as a rolling chassis. (This is confirmed in hand-written notes supplied some years ago by Peter Morgan, Managing Director of the Morgan Motor Company) The chassis was then bodied by Cheetham & Borthwick and is listed as being the first 4-4 body with front hinged doors.

The first 4-4 sent to Australia was dispatched just three days earlier, on 18/9/36. Chassis #070, engine #085, gearbox #10174 was shipped as a complete car to be used by Bry-Law Motors as the “demonstrator”. This particular car survives and is under restoration in Canberra. No further cars were dispatched until February 1937 (Chassis #169 shipped on 3/2/37).


Twenty-seven-year-old Jim Boughton acquired the car from Bry-Laws where he worked in management during 1938-39. His relationship with Bry-Laws, the motor company set up by Jack Bryson and Wally Lawson, was no doubt influenced by his mother’s investment in the firm. During 1937, to help promote the marque, Bry-Law Motors supported the preparation of Morgan cars for competition to help promote the marque. In November 1937 the Victorian Sporting Car Club held its Cup Day races on the shortened Phillip Island circuit. Two Morgans took part, both stripped 4-4s, driven by Jim Boughton (#31) and A. (‘Gus’) Collins (#32) who was Bry-Law’s main salesman. All the races were handicap events, Boughton managing fourth place in the third race over five laps at 56mph with 3:31 his fastest lap time. In the 15-lap (50 miles) final race, despite breaking a cam follower, Boughton, off an 8-minute handicap, put in a best lap of 3:22 to claim 6th place at a speed of 57.6 mph. On his racing exploits, Bry-law mechanics and his younger brother, Russell, accompanied Boughton.


At the close of 1937 the Boughton team, including Bry-Law head mechanic, Emrhys Jones, set off on the 500-mile journey to Lobethal, a German settlement in the Adelaide Hills, where the Morgan was entered in the second South Australian Grand Prix on 3 January, 1938. Accompanied by two Bry-Law mechanics, the Morgan was transported on the back of a somewhat used Morris Commercial truck, and the journey took at least two days, including a hundred miles over dirt desert dirt tracks. Russell Boughton led the convoy in a Morris 8/40. In the South Australian Grand Prix, a handicap over 100 miles around the 8.65-mile Lobethal road circuit, Jim Boughton finished fifth, the winner being a Singer Bantam of Noel Campbell. Boughton’s fastest lap was 7:37 compared to the MGK3 of Colin Dunne which set fastest time at 6:17.

In the second event, a 50-mile handicap, excellent handicapping saw Jim Boughton in the lead with two laps to go. However, he was passed at the approach to Mill Corner by the supercharged MGK3 of Colin Dunne and finished a fine second. On 19th March, the town of Albury on the Victoria-New South Wales border hosted what was grandly titled the Interstate Grand Prix as a finale to its Centenary celebrations. On the 4.25 mile Wirlinga circuit, Jack Phillips of Wangaratta won the 148.5-mile race in his famous Phillips-Ford V8 Special. Boughton failed to feature in the results in the Morgan, which carried number 16 for the event. To ensure recognition, the Boughton Morgan now sported the Morgan name in bold letters along its bonnet and a steel tonneau cover was fitted for the March 28th (Labor Day) meeting on the triangular Phillip Island circuit. Wearing number 14, the Morgan placed second in the five-lap Cowes Handicap. A blown head gasket put paid to its chances in the 116-mile Phillip Island, a race won by co-marker Arthur Beasley (Singer). Les Murphy and Jack O’Dea also competed in the famed P-type MG, Murphy driving the five-lapper, O’Dea the longer race.

On Easter Monday, April 18th, Jim Boughton entered the Morgan in the 1938 Australian Grand Prix at the new 3.84-mile Bathurst circuit in country New South Wales. Jim’s mother accompanied Russell in the trusty Morris 8/40 whilst the Morgan rode in the Morris truck yet again. On the graded gravel track, before 30,000 spectators, Jim’s Morgan (#30) was given a 24 minute start over scratch man, and easy winner, Peter Whitehead’s ERA. The Morgan, again carrying its identity along its bonnet flanks, is believed to have retired.

After Bathurst, Jim Boughton wanted to go faster and decided to convert the Morgan to a single-seater. As the racing Morgan was no longer his everyday car (he now used another Morgan for work), he approached Riley legend, ‘Barney’ Dentry, who had a workshop in St Kilda, about building an ultra-lightweight body for the Morgan. To convert the car to a single-seater required relocating the steering column to a central position. The seating position required the driver’s seat to be set up over the propeller shaft with the gearbox now between the driver’s legs. A long streamlined tail contained the fuel tank. In front of the driver, the speedometer was retained with a tachometer fitted to the left of the revised dashboard. A single auxiliaries gauge completed the layout. It is thought the single-seater was completed in time for the Rob Roy hillclimb on November 1st 1938 on what was now a sealed bitumen surface. Jim achieved runs of 46.30 and 45.30 seconds. A Morgan had been entered in Russell Boughton’s name but he later reported that this entry was in case his brother’s car was not ready.


The single-seater was entered for the Australian Grand Prix to be held on January 2nd at Lobethal. Russell took Mrs Boughton in his road going Morgan. Three full days of practice preceded the huge event, which attracted some 60,000 spectators. In the first event, the 75-mile South Australian Junior Grand Prix, Jim began with an eleven-minute credit over scratch, the Jack Saywell Alfa Romeo P3. The Morgan did not feature in the results. In the main event, the 150-mile Australian Grand Prix, Boughton, given a 21-minute start, again over the Alfa P3, lapped steadily in 7 min. 30 sec to 7 min 40 sec, running as high as fifth before engine troubles intervened. After two hour’s hard racing, the Morgan was retired on the 10th lap and accredited with 13th place behind outright winner, Allan Tomlinson’s MG TA.

MG Magnette leads then MG NA then Morgan

Back in Melbourne, Jim’s fortunes changed at Aspendale Speedway where, on January 21st, he collected four third places from three five-lap handicaps and a sports car scratch race. In a team’s Relay Race event, involving teams of three cars, each completing two laps before passing the baton, Jim ran the Morgan in “A” Team with Oliver’s Lagonda and Bry-Law mechanic, ‘Teddy’ Ralph’s Morgan. They won.

A return to Bathurst on April 10th saw a 150-mile road race over the newly bitumen-sealed Mount Panorama circuit. Now painted white, and off a 30-minute handicap to scratch man, John Saywell’s Alfa Romeo P3, the single-seater special Morgan managed only five laps at times between 4:09 and 3:59 before engine troubles again set in. Saywell’s fastest lap had been 3:07 and the best of winner, John Sherwood (TT MG), was 3:41. On June 12th, the King’s Birthday weekend, Boughton returned to the Wirlinga circuit at Albury for the Interstate Gold Cup Motor Race Meeting. In the 76.5 mile Albury and Interstate Gold Cup, the Morgan began with a nine-minute handicap. Closely matched with ‘Teddy’ Ralph, on a conventional 4-4 Morgan, Boughton finished sixth with a best lap of 3:50 after Ralph, who finished 7th was forced to stop on lap ten letting Jim through. The winner, once again, was Wangaratta’s Jack Phillips. Ted Gray in a third Morgan had lead early but retired on lap nine. In the final six-lap Open Handicap, Jim retired after two laps. However, Ralph’s Morgan survived to finish eighth behind winner, Les Burrows (Hudson). On October 28th, Boughton’s odd-shaped Morgan recorded 44.79 at Rob Roy giving him second in class behind Skeene’s MG TA.


New Year’s Day 1940 saw Boughton enter two races at Lobethal, the South Australian Hundred and the Lobethal Fifty. The Morgan was allotted #14 for the event and the programme entry described J.S. Boughton as a “well-known driver in the Eastern States who has been here before and should do well”. This time the car was shipped over by coastal freighter. Russell drove over with a friend in his Morgan, Jim took his everyday Morgan and Mrs Boughton, accompanied by a girl friend of Jim’s, made the journey in her BSA coupe. The racing Morgan’s engine blew in practice forcing the installation of the motor from Jim’s road car. Russell drove it round the course to put some miles on it after it seemed ‘tight’. In the 100, Jim experienced further engine trouble and was limping home when hit from behind by Allan Tomlinson’s flying MG TA. This resulted in a serious accident from which Tomlinson took months to recover. Tomlinson never raced again and Jim did not contest the latter 50-mile event.

Told of the Morgan’s existence at the 2009 anniversary of his famous 1939 AGP win, Allan Tomlinson was asked if he would like to “kick the Morgan”. After a pause, he replied, “It is not the Morgan I would like to kick!” During the 1940 Lobethal event, one of the team’s mechanics had borrowed Russell’s Morgan to drive down to Adelaide. On the return trip, he had run off the road and damaged the left front axle. Once the racing was over, the racer’s axle was transferred to Russell’s car for the journey back to Melbourne, but troubles continued with the nearside front wheel coming off near Murray Bridge, the result of loose wheel nuts. Apart from keeping lap charts, Russell was to give ‘general support and help with the drinking’. This event must have been a king-sized adventure for the entire Boughton party.

After the War, in which Jim Boughton served as an RAF pilot in England and India, he returned to work for Bry-Law Motors before establishing his own service stations and specializing in Citroen cars. It is believed he operated a motor business called “Red Triangle Garage” in Malvern Road in Melbourne. He did not return to racing and the monoposto-style Morgan was dismantled in the 1960s. Later owners included Mike Devine and Phil McWhirter before Craig Schubert of Lobethal gathered together the key components of the car during the 1980s. These include the engine, gearbox and a number of original ancillary parts including the radiator. Assisted by Adelaide Morgan enthusiast, John Harrigan, the racing Morgan has seen a full restoration by master re-builder, Tony Heard for owner Tony Parkinson of McLaren Vale in South Australia. After almost three years of painstaking restoration, the car was officially completed on May 1st, 2010 and shown to enthusiasts at a lunch at Goolwa. It was then driven by Australian racing champion, John Bowe, at the Lobethal circuit for a feature in “Unique Cars”. This summary of this very important early racing Morgan has been greatly assisted greatly by Craig Atkins whose recent publication, “Morgans in Oz : a history of Morgan sports cars in competition in Australia from 1928-1974” covers in great detail the exploits of Chassis #079. And most especially, acknowledgement must be made for the wonderful generosity of Terry Wright who provided a great many original photographs of the car and of the Boughton family, which had been carefully amassed over many decades. Additional photos were supplied by John Hurst and the Eric Rainsford Library at the Sporting Car Club of South Australia.

The car is mentioned in "Morgan Sports Cars - The Early Years" (Jake Alderson & Chris Chapman) and "Morgans in Oz - A history of Morgan Sports Cars in Competition in Australia from 1928 to 1974" (Craig Atkins)

Great car - looking forward to seeing it out on the UK tracks.
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