The annual pilgrimage to the Geneva Motor Show is one that, for those of us travelling from the UK, usually involves a plane journey of some description. Not so for Ian Cook (aka PopbangColour) who decided he would do the 1,800 mile round journey in the appropriately named Morgan #3WheelArt, a specially wrapped Morgan 3 Wheeler displaying the unique PopbangColour artwork. Setting off on Saturday 28th of March from the Morgan factory in Malvern, heading for the 85th International Geneva Motor Show, this is the story of the #3WheelerToGeneva Morgan adventure, as told by Ian himself.
“For about a year I had the idea of Popbang-ing a Morgan 3 Wheeler, having experienced one around the hills of Malvern near the factory, I wanted the opportunity of personalizing one, using the artwork produced at the factory to make a unique car into an even more one-off three wheeled Popbangcolour artwork.
Having created the #3WheelArt, and revealing it at the Autosport show in January, there was a possibility that it could be displayed on the Morgan Motor Company stand at the Geneva show. After a bit of thought the opportunity and idea to drive it there was discussed. The whole idea of creating the #3WheelArt is that it would be used, be seen and be experienced by people. It would attend events, be shared on social media and used throughout 2015. For me the car is an artwork that evolves, rather than being on display as a static vehicle somewhere. The nature of this distinctive car lends itself perfectly to a roadtrip and that’s when the #3WheelerToGeneva adventure comes in.
For the journey, a team was needed, so that driving could be split and the journey could be documented across different mediums. So, GF Williams, who photographed the original image that was created as an artwork for the #3WheelArt and Phill Tromans, a journalist who is originally from Malvern were also part of the Morgan Adventure. As there was three of us, we also had a support car, which meant one of us drove the Morgan, whilst another member of the team was able to photograph and document the process as the journey progressed.
The journey started from the factory on Saturday afternoon, heading first to the PopbangColour studio at the Heritage Motor Centre, a 45 minute journey via back roads and on motorways. Following this, the road trip continued down the A34 towards Newbury, I wanted to familiarize myself with the Morgan in a range of conditions, and driving it at night and in heavy rain was certainly one way of learning quickly! In the week running up to the trip I’d purchased suitable clothing for a car without a roof, including an all-weather 3 wheeler jacket from the Morgan shop, full face helmet (recommended when at speed!), various gloves, a neck scarf and waterproof over trousers.
Stopping overnight in Aldershot, it was a quick and sunny drive to Reigate to meet at GF’s house where Phill also joined to start the journey to the Channel Tunnel, which was a quick journey on the M25 & M20, getting onto a boarding prior to 11am. The S&S engine sounded great whilst driving down the carriage, with the noise bouncing throughout the enclosed space. I eventually came to a halt behind a slightly bemused traveler who was not quite sure exactly what had just pulled up. On arrival in France, the three of us were all set to head for the first planned stop of the 1,800 mile round trip, Reims. More specifically, the Circuit de Reims-Gueux, a 5 hour journey from Calais.
For timing we chose to use the French toll roads, ensuring that we could arrive at the circuit before sunset. The benefit of the toll roads is that they are relatively quiet – compared to the M25 (what isn’t?) – and smooth, plus when sunny you can cruise at 81mph / 120kph, which again helped with timings. The support car stayed out in front, as it had cruise control, and also it meant that GF could get the required tracking shots. When fuel was required, the driver of the Morgan pulled alongside the support car and did a gesture to the fuel filler cap. The weather through France was very temperamental, but generally you could see when the weather was on the turn, and when it was about to empty itself on you. Having kitted up for the worst wet conditions, it was more the force of the wind that was the surprise, particularly when passing trucks on the toll roads.
The great thing about the car is whenever you stopped for fuel or a break, the car was swarmed with people asking questions about the car, it attracted so much positive attention. When driving, people would drive past taking photos with passengers putting their thumbs up with approval. Having got to Reims in good time and on schedule, we went to Circuit de Reims-Gueux as it’s steeped in motorsport heritage. Formula 1 raced there in 1966, and the grandstand buildings have been kept on the start finish straight, it’s a really impressive sight. From the photos you’re able to get an impression of what remains of the circuit. There is a map at the circuit showing which roads featured as part of the original layout, so the following morning each of us took it in turns to drive the circuit. I imagine a Morgan 3 Wheeler is the closest you can get to recreating a raw, open-top race car of that era. If you’re ever passing through that region of France, and you’re a motorsport fan, it’s well worth a visit.
A seven hour journey through France and into Switzerland awaited us on the Monday morning as we left Reims. Again, we were on the toll roads with similar conditions of sunny but very windy weather, the 3 Wheeler ate up the miles with ease. As we climbed into the more mountainous regions, the views were incredible, and considering that the 3 Wheeler is a car more associated with summer, it was such a fun car to drive and experience. As we dropped into Switzerland, and into the center of Geneva, our final stop was the Autobritt Morgan Dealership where we met with John McNally. The following day the Geneva Motor Show began, where Phill, GF and I were able to be present – as guests of Morgan – to see the covers come off the new Aero 8.
The road trip was a truly memorable #MorganAdventure, with the 3 Wheeler doing the return leg in 9 hours on the Wednesday back to the UK. Big thanks to James at Morgan for allowing an idea to become reality. The next adventure is already being planned…”
All images courtesy of GF Williams.