A few months ago, Mazda offered to refurbish “Bentley,” Redskins running back Alfred Morris’s beloved 1991 Mazda 626, in an effort to keep it running and reliable. Morris said goodbye temporarily and took a 2013 model loaner in the meantime.
Mazda sent Morris updates during the process, and they were pretty shocking.
Seeing his car stripped down was a lot for Morris to handle.
“I was like, ‘Oh, wow.’ I didn’t know they were gonna go that deep,” Morris said. “It was weird seeing her like that. I was like, ‘No! They took her apart!’ It hurt, just a little bit.”
Morris was reunited with Bentley on Tuesday at an event set up by Mazda. When he pulled up to the dealership in his loaner, Morris found a horde of media set up in front of his beloved car, which was covered with a drape for dramatic effect. When Bentley was unveiled, she looked exactly the same from the outside. But on the inside, she was new and improved.
A total of 275 man hours of labor and more than 450 new parts were involved in the refurbishment. In addition to the basics — an overhauled engine, new brakes, exhaust system — the car had some added features not typical of a 1991 Mazda 626. Leather interior, new sound system, and back-up camera were among the options Morris now has at his disposal.
Despite the overhaul, Morris insists his car is still the same Bentley.
“She hasn’t changed,” he insisted. “I mean, she looks different, but it’s still the same car. It a feel thing. Sometimes when something changes, you’re like, ‘Oh man, I want it the old way.’ But when I sat in her, I still got that feeling. She’s still The Bentley.”
Not everything new is better, and there’s one flaw from the older version that Morris initially intended to keep.
“The character, the dent that was in the back right side,” he said, with nostalgia in his voice. “I had the option to keep it, but then I called them and was like, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ All the hard work that they put into it, I think it would have took away from it if it still had the dent in the side. So I was like, I won’t be selfish. I’ll just keep the memory in my mind and said they could take it out.”
Morris had a line of media members, both mainstream and car specific, waiting to ask him about his reunion. As always, he obliged, but he was getting antsy, anxious to be alone with his new ride.
“I just want to ride around and go nowhere in her,” he said. “I’ll bet she’s been missing it.”