MAY 23rd 2014

On track today: Lotus and Morgan mark Bell & Colvill’s 44th year (23/05)

It’s not often you get the managing director of a car company at a track day. But Steve Morris, MD of Morgan Cars since last year’s upheaval, was at Goodwood today, driving some cars and chatting to customers. And also to us. Yes we did him ask him about Morgan’s state of health post Charles Morgan, and yes we did get some answers – that interview is coming soon.

ResizedSteveMorris

The fact that Steve dropped in at the circuit was down to the pull of one of the UK’s best known sports car garages, Bell & Colvill of West Horsley, Surrey. B&C  has been a Lotus dealership since 1970 (making it the world’s longest continually serving Lotus franchise) and represented Morgan in Sussex and Surrey since last summer. Bringing the two marques together for a Goodwood track day for customers and press was their way of marking 44 years in business. One of the founders, Martin Colvill, was there to chat and reminisce too (and talk about jazz, almost as much of a passion as sports cars).

The day turned out to be a bit special in other ways: Bell & Colvill launched their own take on the Exige V6 Cup, the Black Edition which with its matt black body certainly lives up to its name. It also resurrects B&C’s tradition of special edition models going back to the 1970s when they turbocharged the Esprit long before Lotus thought of doing so. The moody looking, 350bhp Black Edition gets other special bits and bobs too; there will be just 10 of them, at £67,995. If you are going to have an Exige V6 Cup this has to be the one we reckon.

New V6 Cup, S and Roadsters mingled on a dampish-to-wet circuit with assorted Morgans, including 3 Wheelers (the new 2014 model with Urban Cooling Pack, aka a fan) and the first paddle-shift Plus 8 that boss Steve drove down in. We had a quick blast in that car and found the steering wheel shifters entirely in keeping, and also a great way to access not only the brutal acceleration but also the engine noise, which you just want to bottle and take home.

Customer cars included a Morgan Aero Supersports, a Baby Doll Plus 4 and Bob Spackman’s Rover V8-engined Plus that he originally bought new from B&C 13 years ago. One car missing from the day was a Morgan V6 Roadster; B&C sold it a few days before to a Ford executive who will be taking this slice of British craftsmanship with him to his new posting – in Germany!

B&C Lotus customers took to the circuit in their own cars which as well as the expected V6 Exiges included a brace of 2-Elevens, one in Lotus 49 livery. Very smart too. Also putting in the laps was a 1985 S3 Esprit Turbo in beautiful nick and owned by B&C chairman Andy Elliman. It’s not the only Esprit he owns: he has snapped up five more and currently has them in restoration in Bristol. ‘They are brilliant British sports cars and undervalued at the moment.’ You heard it here first.

A managing director, a new car launch, insider buying tips and some brilliant track driving with only one black flag (for someone who should know better). That was what was on track today.

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