BOB JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By MARK HINCH­LIFFE

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

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