You might be forgiven for not realising that London had a Morgan Dealer at all. There are no flashy showrooms on Park Lane or Regent Street. In fact you might just walk past their showroom and not realise it’s there at all. And that’s just how London Morgan like it!
Astwood Mews in Kensington, home of London Morgan, is just a short stroll from The Royal Albert Hall, the museums of South Kensington, the shopping Mecca that is the Kings Road and a quick taxi hop from Knightsbridge.
Astwood Mews is one of the last working ‘Mews’ in London. Long since, elsewhere across the city, these stable blocks been converted to expensive homes. Astwood remains and it is also the home to the UK’s first ever Volkswagen garage. Having established itself in this charming location in 1948 just after the Second World War.
It was a chance sighting of a Morgan a few years ago that lead to the creation of London Morgan. The directors were enjoying a coffee at one of the myriad coffee shops in the area when a rather splendid Morgan driven by a Lady who was equally easy on the eye drove past. The obvious question raised was “Who is the Morgan dealer in London as it would be nice to have customers like that?”. A phone call to Malvern HQ revealed that there wasn’t one and very soon afterwards the wheels were set in motion to create the dealership that now sells more new Aeros than any other dealer in the world, and probably more of any model than any other UK dealer.
A Few years ago Anthony Barrell, MD of the company, gave us a tour of the most amazing premises of any car dealership we’ve ever visited. “The Morgan showroom was originally a parts bin for the VW business. When we came to clear it out there were still parts being stored for vehicles that were long since out of production. It all had to go.” So the Mews garages on the right hand side of the street were all cleared to make way to house the best British Sports cars ever built.
“Most of our cars go for export,” Anthony adds “we get customers from all over the world coming to see us while they’re on holiday. Some even just come to see us being 20 minutes from Heathrow. Many have coveted a Morgan for long time but always been put off by the anecdotal tales of having to wait years for them to be built. Once we tell them that they could have their Morgan in under a year they often place the order right away.”
“We’ve shipped cars all over the world, to every continent. Aeros are our biggest seller but we sell decent numbers of every model. Three Wheelers are a must in the desert we understand although you need two apparently, one for a friend. We even have customers who buy a Morgan to use solely when they’re visiting the UK. The car is put into storage then fired up and brought out for them when they fly in. it is a dignified way to travel in London”
“A lot of our customers are first-time Morgan owners whose only desire is to own the last remaining, truly iconic, handmade British sportscar. Taking them to the factory is a wonderful experience (even for us) and seeing your own car being built and meeting the craftsmen making it is something that means that the taking delivery of your Morgan is not about buying a car its about having created something important. It changes the clients relationship to the car.
As well as selling Morgans from the Mews London Morgan offer full servicing and maintenance facilities. While we were there we saw a lovely red V8(6) Roadster on Netherlands plates that was in for a service. Combining a visit to London with a Service of their Mog was obviously an opportunity too good to miss for the Dutch owners.
Having such a fabulous cobbled Mews location, is a wonderful backdrop but can be a bit of a drawback. The company are often contacted by photographers and film crews wanting to use the location for filming of a traditional ‘London/English’ scene. When they see the Morgans, the cars are regularly called into shot as props. “But it is a working street” Anthony reminds us, “there are yellow lines like everywhere else in London and we are regularly visited by the Traffic Wardens. Just because it’s a no-through road with amazing photogenic appeal doesn’t mean we don’t have to obey the rules!”
While there we also spotted the most beautiful 1951 Jaguar XK120 in Silver in the showroom. It had been bought in the US, shipped back ‘home’ fully refurbished and converted back to right-hand-drive. This is one of the few cars that compete with a Morgan for its utterly ‘British’ appeal.
London Morgan 6 Astwood Mews, Kensington, London SW7 4DE