True vintage open air style
IT IS hard for Thierry Clerc to choose a favourite from his impressive classic car collection, but the owner of Flaxton's French restaurant, Le Relais Bressan, has a particular soft spot for his British 1974 Morgan 4/4 1600.
To those who have visited Thierry and wife Cindy's beautiful Hinterland eatery, his attached museum of classic vehicles that diners can amble through has a particularly French bias. Seven important and rare Citroens and Renaults sit alongside a 1976 Ferrari 308 GT4, but it is his little English sports-car that he says would probably prove the hardest of all to sell.
“I love the Morgan; it is perfect for relieving stress when I'm driving on the Hinterland hills roads with the air in my face,” the car enthusiast chef said.
Thierry bought his 1974 example over three years ago, and it is a treasured part of his collection.
“I like the way the Moran 4/4 shape has hardly changed since the model was introduced in the 1930s. It is a wonderful classic.”
Having so many important cars at his restaurant has ensured Le Relais Bressan is a popular meeting place or stopping point for car clubs from Queensland and around Australia. “The Morgan Owners' Club turned up a few years ago to eat here, and that's when I fell in love with Morgan cars,” Thierry said.
He managed to source this 1974 example featuring the 1.6-litre Ford Kent Crossflow engine preferred by the English factory at that time, with the four-cylinder using dual Weber carburettors to offer excellent performance in a car weighing just over 700kg.
The Morgan's colour of burgundy and brie does have a nice French gastronomic connection for Thierry: the French cheese's hue lends itself to the multi-spoke wheels and rear luggage rack, while the sweeping 1930s-designed body is the colour of the Burgundy region's pinot noir grapes.
Thierry enjoys regular blasts along his local hilly roads in the Morgan's simple but beautiful black leather interior, but he's all too aware of the little troubles inherent in classic car ownership.
“These old cars are very nice to drive, but it helps if you can have a tow truck following you all the time,” he said.
Model: 1974 Morgan 4/4 1600
Details: Two-door roadster with front mid-engine and rear-wheel-drive produced between 1968 and 1993
Engine: 1.6-litre Ford Kent Crossflow with dual Weber carburettors
Transmission: Ford four-speed manual
Performance: 64kW @ 5500rpm and 125Nm @ 4000rpm. 0-100kmh in 9.8 seconds and 171kmh top speed
Number produced: 5448 (Morgan 4/4 1600)
Drive how often? Whenever de-stressing is needed
Model value today: $25,000-$50,000 approx.
Did you know? The 4/4 part of the Morgan model name simply stands for four wheels and four cylinders. The car was introduced in 1936, and apart from a break during the Second World War and between 1951 and 1955, has been in continuous production in similar guises right up to present day.
Thierry's Morgan 4/4 and his other classics are on display at Le Relais Bressan, 344 Flaxton Drive, Flaxton