BOB JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH
NCE you have five of something, then you are a collector — that’s the view of Bob Morgan.
He should know. He has at least five of a lot of things, including speed cars, motorcycles, saws, meat grinders, caps, teapots, American number plates, electric jugs.
You name it, he has it stored away in an old shop he owns in Brisbane.
In prime position in his jumbled collection is Australia’s oldest motorcycle, a 1897 De Dion three-wheeler in a glass case ‘‘to keep people’s fingermarks off it’’.
Morgan, 69, is a retired businessman, collector and former racer on two and four wheels.
His racing career started in 1959 as a speedcar driver, becoming the 1970 national champion and the 1972 Australasian champion.
Consequently his collection features several speed cars he is in the throes of restoring.
They include a 1947 Kurtis-Kraft speed car he raced in the ’60s.
It is powered by an Offenhauser two-litre fourcylinder DOHC fuel-injected engine.
‘‘It used to have 200hp (149kW) in its day which was good enough to win races, but you have to have at least 400hp to win these days,’’ he said.
He sold it in 1970 to a West Australian racer and bought it back in 1988 as a dismantled wreck.
Morgan also has a 1938 Model A Ford speed car with a three-litre, side-valve, four-cylinder engine which he ‘‘resurrected’’ out of a swap meet about 10 years ago for $1000; a 1940 Plymouth Special raced in Sydney by Ray Revell in 1941 that he traded on a
Obike; and a 1938 Midget speed car with an FJ Holden six-cylinder engine.
Unlike many racers who go from two wheels to four, Morgan did it the other way around, moving to enduro and trials motorcycle events in the 1970s.
‘‘People usually go from two to four wheels, but I went the other way because I was offered an opportunity to go racing enduros and I had to take it,’’ he said
‘‘I’m a dirt man myself. I’m more at ease in the dirt. It’s more fun when controlled sliding.’’
He continued his dirt infatuation when he competed in around Australia rallies in 1995 and 1998 in a 1965 Ford Compact Fairlane.
He can’t remember where they finished.
‘‘We finished and that is the main thing,’’ he said.
He also performed in the Holden Precision driving team mainly in Asia throughout the 1970s.
Now, in his retirement he has a formidable collection of vehicles, including a
it’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird with a 257kW, seven-litre V8 he bought for $15,000.
‘‘I haven’t had to do anything to it but polish it, drive it and have fun in it,’’ he said.
Bob said he had seen people spend $100,000 on a car when it was worth only $50,000.
‘‘I just do it as a hobby,’’ he said.
His bike collection is extensive but it is the perfectly restored polished brass and burnished leather De Dion which stands out.
It is powered by a 200cc single-cylinder engine which has the first massproduced engine with an enclosed flywheel. It was so successful Harley-Davidson used it in their first bikes.
The De Dion also features a one candlepower headlight.
Morgan doesn’t know what it is worth, but said other models of the French motorcycle had fetched several million dollars.
However, he said he had no interest in selling any of his collection or lending it to a museum.
‘‘If someone offered me to buy the lot that is fine, but people want to pick the eyes out of it and leave me with the rest and I’m not interested in that,’’ he said.
TREASURES: Bob Morgan, left, in his Thunderbird. He also has a big collection of motorcycles including an 1897 De Dion three-wheeler, above