[Some older race footage. Good stuff!!! Enjoy, Mark]
[Some older race footage. Good stuff!!! Enjoy, Mark]
[Some older race footage. Good stuff!!! Enjoy, Mark]
We started out from Jacksonville, Fl. in our Morgan at 6:30 AM at 42 degrees with side curtains only for a one-and-a-half-hour drive to Jekyll Island to enter the show before the 9 AM cut off. The show was for all classes of car and motorcycles about 200 total. There were many custom cars present and many workshops about building cars. The workshops required additional prepaid passes to attend. Show attendance was very high from 9 to about 4 PM.
British cars shown at the show consisted of a Bug eye Sprite, Tr-6, Allard, and our Morgan. Apparently not too many people at this show had seen a Morgan so the interest was very high between young and old. The younger crowd like the traditional lines and older folks remembered what it was like driving in the older open cars.
Since I was trading car stories with the guys, Karen found a new friend wearing green as seen in the pictures.
There were old motorcycles and custom bikes with the large front wheel along with a group of new three wheelers. Is this what the Morgan three-wheeler may look like in the future?
Many of the custom cars were works of art and the paint jobs were outstanding. The variety of vehicles ranged from the “Thing” by VW. A model T Ford camper. Bronco beach buggy. A Sea Ray car drivable on the road.
My favorite car was a 1955 Cadillac 4 door customized and lowered which had two 3 inch by 8 inch wide tail pipes coming out from under the rear bumper with 2 spark plugs in each pipe. Inside the trunk were 2 propane cylinders. At the flip of a switch he could turn on the propane and ignite it producing a ball of flame which he said could burn the leaves of the palm trees. That is impressive! Would it be great to have that option to use on the guy who is riding on your bumper?
Weather was great all day and the evening drive back to Jacksonville was warm and fun.
Chuck & Karen Bernath
It’s snowing as I write this, and has been for several days. All of which makes thoughts of open-top sports cars seem a touch perverse, especially if they involve Morgans. But the venerable Malvern company has just unveiled a new Morgan Plus 8 at Geneva.
So Morgans are in my head. The last four-wheeled one I drove, in February 2013, was that rare thing, a Fiat-powered 4/4. It was a 1985 example and it demonstrated perfectly why Morgans and winter weather don’t fit in the same sentence. The hood and side screens were no more than a minor impediment to the rainwater’s mission to soak my knees and right arm, there was as much water on the inside of the windscreen as the outside, the minimal-travel suspension pounded my intervertebral discs and I was freezing.
My previous Morgan encounter to that one was also in winter (blame two different magazine editors), but this time it was snowing. This Morgan, though, was a new one at the time (2009), a later interpretation of the entry-level 4/4 powered by a 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine, and dynastic then-boss Charles Morgan was evangelising to me about the eco-credentials he’d suddenly realised his cheapest car had. The basic architecture might have been ancient, but the wooden body frame came from trendily renewable resources and at 795kg the 4/4 was even lighter than a Lotus Elise.
This 4/4 was a rather better drive than the earlier one, thanks to rack-and-pinion steering (more precise than the old steering box, itself improved from 1984) and dampers better matched to the stiff suspension’s characteristics. It was a car more comfortable both with itself and for its occupants, its dashboard furnished with dials and switchgear appropriate to the retro exterior style instead of, as used to be the Morgan way, just making do with whatever was current in Lucas’s or Smiths’ catalogues of generics. The ambience, and the ash-framed body on a separate chassis, all called to mind the 1930s Singer Le Mans I had owned (and now own again), which was quite surreal in a 2009 car.
I have driven various other Morgans over the years, too, and in case you have detected a touch of negativity I should point out that, in the right weather and with the roof stowed away, they are great fun. However, we opened this piece with a Plus 8. The new one is called the Plus 8 50th Anniversary Edition, and 50 of them will be made after which Morgan will build no more cars with a normally-aspirated V8.
Now, it’s possible you had forgotten that Morgan still makes a Plus 8. The model was launched, yes, 50 years ago with a Rover V8 engine mounted in a widened version of the body and chassis that had served Morgan since the mid-1950s (and, with a flat radiator grille rather than a rounded one, since the 1930s). At launch, the Plus 8 was Britain’s most accelerative production car.
It continued, getting ever more potent, until 2004 when the supply of Rover V8s dried up and Morgan concentrated on its new BMW-powered Aero 8, as hi in the tech with its bonded-aluminium chassis as the Plus 8 was not. I got to know a particular Plus 8, in bright red, very well during and after a mid-1990s Car magazine gathering of every open-top car available in Britain at the time. Part of the story involved cornering photographs taken at that staple location, the bend by the rough cobbles at the Longcross test track familiar from myriad magazine shoots.
A couple of years earlier I had much enjoyed a blast along the Gloucestershire backroads in a then-current 4/4, returning it from another test track to the factory in Pickersleigh Road, Malvern Link. The roads were a bit slippery but I had thoroughly bonded with this Morgan and its ultra-predictable if primitive, dynamics. There was a particular downhill, rightward flick with a bump in the dip before the road climbed again at the flick’s exit, and the tail snapped out as the suspension bottomed. I was pleased with how easily it was caught.
So, performing power slides for the camera in the Plus 8 should be a breeze, I thought. I revised that opinion as the Morgan got the better of me and pirouetted onto the savage cobbles. My embarrassment was worsened by the fact that the Plus 8 would no longer move forward afterwards, despite being in gear. I looked over my shoulder to discover that the right rear wheel was lying on its side under the end of the axle, although its now-jagged centre was still on the hub and rotating.
A contrite phone call to Charles Morgan was met not with annoyance that I had ruined the wheel but dismay that the wheel had broken. ‘That shouldn’t have happened,’ he said. The episode triggered a metallurgical analysis on the Plus 8’s return to Malvern, but the conclusion was that the aluminium was fine and the wheel had simply succumbed to forces more violent than it would ever normally experience. Having felt those forces, I could only agree.
I fitted the spare wheel and had a great time in the Plus 8 over the weekend that followed, no ill-effects of the mechanical trauma evident on the car’s part and a heightened sensitivity deployed on my right foot’s part. There has never been anything else quite like this post-vintage hot rod.
And that includes the new Plus 8 that arrived in 2012, using the Aero 8’s modern underpinnings clothed with an ultimate-width, slightly less un-aerodynamic incarnation of the trad-look Plus 8 body and linking the new rather neatly with the old. It is on this car that the new Anniversary Edition, in metallic blue with yellow highlights, is based, with 367bhp from its 4799cc BMW motor and a 4.5-second 0-62mph time. In its quality and finish today’s Plus 8 is a world away from the original, but the look is anything but.
It will take a while to build those 50 final normally-aspirated Plus 8s, and then what? A Plus 8 with twin turbochargers, perhaps, although nothing has been revealed.
After getting lots of requests for club regalia, we have finally listened and engaged ‘Fourth Gear LTD’ to provide the MOGSouth / GatorMOG Morgan community with regalia services.
Here is a link to their web site. Fourth Gear LTD
You can see that they provide this regalia service for lots of other British Car Clubs.
MOGSouth has paid to have our club logos digitized and placed into their ‘Car Club Logo’ library. They also have a library of ‘British Marques’ which includes Morgan wings and Morgan Script, and a library of ‘British Cars’ include the cowled grill Plus 4 (in either a top up or top down configuration) as well as a Three Wheeler.
If there is an image or logo you want and don’t see let us at MOGSouth know. If there is sufficient interest, we may be willing to have the image digitized and made available to the membership in the future.
The process is simple. Go to their web site. Pick a logo or other image from the libraries and place it in your shopping cart. Then select a regalia item, e.g. shirt or wine tote or whatever and place that item in your shopping cart. The regalia item price includes the embroidery unless something special is being requested.
As I understand it, simple things like colors can be changed, etc. If you have relatively simple requests or ‘special instructions’ to add to your order, there is a ‘Notes’ field you can use to specify your desires.
If there is something complicated that you want like logo size changes or location of the embroidery (e.g. big logos on the back), use their ‘Request Information’ button to ask questions about your specific needs. Some things may not be doable with their current equipment. (FYI, the standard embroidery location is on the left chest of the shirt.)
Also, I believe they have, or will source different regalia items for you, e.g. denim shirts and sweatshirts. If you don’t see what you want, just ask.
Note – due to the complexity of the GatorMOG logo there is an additional charge when it is selected. It also is a bit too big to fit nicely on a cap. It is also recommended that it go onto a sturdy material to reduce the risk of puckering.
Let me know if you have issues or problems (or just have comments.)
The Friday (9 March) MOGSouth Noggin at Sliders Seaside Grill in Fernandina Beach, FL was great fun. The restaurant again gave us the first floor area right inside the entrance.
This was perfect for us and we pretty much filled the space. A great crowd of MOGSouth members (and Morgan friends) came to the Noggin and joined us.
Unfortunately we missed a few of our normal stalwarts (David C., Norris H., Ellis K., Rick F., John S., Ray M., Jim B., etc.) Family conflicts, the ongoing Porsche events or other things just got in the way. It happens. They were with us in spirit so we raised a glass for them.
While we missed some, we welcomed others. Lots of new faces. And we had folks coming from far a field. Folks from Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, Georgia, North & South Carolina and of course, a good number from Florida.
We ate and drank and ate some more. This year, something new, the dessert menu was in an old slide disc viewer (View Master?) Push the lever down to get the next image (next menu item.) We all got a big kick out of that but few actually still had room for dessert.
Once again, in their wisdom, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance organizers compressed the weekend, and moved the Concours to Saturday. The feared Sunday rain. (They should have known better than to listen to the local TV broadcasters. There was no rain until Sunday night, nor was there any last year, when they did the same thing.)
This meant the Cars and Coffee, as well as the Concours would be held on the same day. Makes things a bit crowded and congested and I have to believe screws up a lot of folks logistics. Hotel reservations, airline flights, show car arrival times, etc.
Regardless, our plans came off with minimal trauma (although Saturday morning came a bit too early!!)
The Morgans all met at the Surf Restaurant along A1A, at 07:30am Saturday morning. The restaurant was being renovated so the parking lot was mostly empty. Then we traveled in convoy to the Cars and Coffee site. Going into the Cars and Coffee site as a group ensures we are parked together. If we went in independently we would be parked all over the place.
This year, the organizers wanted us to leave prior to 1:30pm (or to stay to the end of the Concours.) It would appear they were a bit afraid of the masses leaving the Cars and Coffee, in vehicles, would prove a bit dangerous for the masses leaving the Concours, as pedestrians.
This didn’t really materialize so folks left the Cars and Coffee as they wanted. We all left around 3:00. We had a great turnout of Morgans on the field with Roadsters, Plus 8s, 4/4, Aero 8s and even a new, 2017, M3W. Our display, as always, attracted a big crowd and we spent much of the time answering questions from the attendees.
There were also quite a few Morgan owners and MOGSouth members, unfortunately sans Morgans, that came by to say hello. Tony Mclaughlin, Bob Wilson, Stu Mosbey, Gordon King, Ian Levitt and many more whose names I cannot remember (sorry!)
All in all, another tremendous MOGSouth weekend. The weather was superb, the cars were all expertly displayed and everyone was quite happy with the weekend. Lots of discussions about the new Morgans announced at Geneva and lots of discussions about road trips and other MOGSouth planned events. It looks like the MOGSouth year is off to a great start!!!
See you down the road . . . Mark.
The world of Ye Olde Worlde Cars has been quietly carrying on thanks to Morgan, a company that like to keep things pleasantly old school. Big motors, wood frames, looks from 1950s England, and a healthy dose of good ‘ol Blighty are Morgan’s jam—but taxes and regulations mean it has to change. And without many people noticing, it has.
The huge V-twin engine up front. The two skinny tires sticking out from the sides. The open top. A chat with Jon Wells, Morgan’s Head of Design, shows a company that is actually less 1953 and more 2053, albeit with a twist.
This year sees the 50th anniversary of the Morgan Plus 8, and maybe the end of the Morgan V8 itself. Both the Plus 8 and the Aero 8 are on the way out. Part of this is the BMW-sourced naturally aspirated V8 engine, something BMW doesn’t even use anymore.
Wells has mixed feelings about it: “It sounds brilliant, drives fantastically, but we have to look forward. Cars like this are challenged with homologation, taxation, and emissions issues. Also, BMW makes the V8 engine purely on its prototype line just for Morgan and that’s not sustainable. That journey has to come to an end.”
It’s a shame to see the V8 going away, but this may not be the end for the V8 Morgan in its entirety. Wells threw in this little gem: “This is the end of the naturally aspirated V8 for Morgan.”
Does that mean no more V8 at all? He, irritatingly, wouldn’t say. Even with batted eyelids and the sweetest smile thrown his way.
[Now this is an interesting tid bit. Perhaps a turbo or supercharged V8? That should be quite potent. But, as usual, we won’t see it here for a good while. Mark]
Morgan needs to modernize, and its needs to do so quickly, but that may not be the issue you imagine it to be because while no one was looking the company has started doing really well. Last year was Morgan’s best year to date, it did so well that it bought back its previously leased factory and lobbed cash at engineering, R&D, and training. “When I started at Morgan there were eight engineers and two designers, now there are more than 20 engineers and six designers,” Wells said.
Everyone in the factory is now being given personalised training to get the best out of them, and the firm’s even using modern tech to help production: “We have a 3D printer, but no car parts are 3D printed. Tooling, things to make construction easier are made in house with it rather than outsourcing.”
We’ve known about the EV3 electric Three Wheeler for years. It’s an exciting idea, combining the car that got Morgan going as a company in the first place with modern tech, but it’s more than that. “Morgan isn’t trying to pay the mortgage with EV3,” Wells said. “What it does is softly take us in to the world of electrification. It means we do things properly and it’ll teach us how to build EVs safely and quickly.”
What it won’t be is a quiet cruiser: “It’s really bloody loud. It sounds like a pod racer out of Star Wars… It whirs, pummels you in the face with wind and stones. It’s not like a commute in a Renault Zoe, it’s still man and machine interaction but in a completely different way to a combustion engine.”
Electrification is coming, we know that, but it doesn’t mean the old school way of doing things are on the way out. It means that there will still be some quirks in the mix, but only the ones that enrich an experience rather than the ones that blight a journey, like having your V8’s motor refuse to start for no reason.
“It’s about walking a line and keeping it a Morgan,” Wells said, “keeping the impracticalities that make it fun, and get rid of the [irritations]… Still keeping the coach building alive, while bringing Morgan in to the age of electrification. Like a tailored suit, its imperfections make it perfect.”
For now Morgan is keeping a lid on what’s coming next. To see out the V8 era there’s a new take on the Plus 8 and Aero 8 GT, a harder edged modern take on the Morgans of old. At least the last cars will be special… Wells put it thus: “You can’t be naïve enough to think you can stay the same in a changing world.”
And you know what? Quietly, subtly, Morgan seems to be changing while keeping things as familiar as possible. Imperfections and all.
The Plus 8 50th Anniversary Edition is available in two striking colour schemes and two specifications – blue ‘speedster style’ with an open cockpit, or green ‘traditional convertible’ with a soft-top.
Throughout Morgan history, significant prototypes and some of the most successful V8 race cars have all been painted blue. The most famous racing version, MMC11, was known for its distinctive blue paint, and this is reflected in the ‘speedster-style’ open cockpit version. The Plus 8’s colours were selected in celebration of this tradition.
A true British sports car, the Plus 8 50th Anniversary Edition will also be produced in British Racing Green – the most popular colour associated with over 109 years of the Morgan Motor Company. The green models will be specified with a soft-top.
Morgan’s in-house design team specially commissioned new five-stud wheels for the Plus 8 50th Anniversary Edition. These were design to reflect the forms of the original cast wheel commonly equipped to Plus 8’s throughout the years. The 50th Anniversary edition wheels are refined to handle the increased power of the BMW V8 engine beneath the hand-crafted body.
The surface of the wheels has evolved to maintain strength and allow room for the large brake calipers whilst not only maintaining strength, but also the ‘deep dish’ so rarely seen in modern vehicle design. The wheels are finished in a specially created soft celebratory champagne colour.
Each car will be individually liveried by Morgan’s craftspeople with graphic work applied beneath the lacquer for durability, and as a clear signifier of the special nature of the vehicle. Each Plus 8 50th Anniversary Edition is also finished with a unique number on the exterior back panel of the car.
Drawing inspiration from the first production Plus 8, MMC 11, a spun aluminium domed panel adorns the rear of the Plus 8 50th Anniversary edition. A plaque inside each car denotes its unique number of production, from a limited production run of 50 examples.
Authenticity is maintained to the finest detail, with light leather wrapping used to seal the external wing panels, carrying the same colouring as used on the original prototype MMC 11. It also plays a role in accentuating the iconic wing profile of the classic Morgan.
From the front, modern LED lighting adopts a simplistic graphic blending modern and traditional. Spot lamps, painted in body colour, add to the purposeful look of the model and give it an instantly recognisable presence on the road. The addition of extra bonnet louvres and a leather bonnet belt hint at the aggressive nature of the V8 engine, whilst the number ‘8’ painted onto the front grille is a direct inspiration of the racing days of the original Plus 8.
For the interior, a naturally waterproof black leather has been chosen to provide durability essential for vehicles without a roof. A highly detailed, twin-pleated stitch has been adopted for the seat centres, in accordance to the motorsport theme that carries throughout the interior and exterior. Specially designed dial faces complete the heritage feel of the matte-finished walnut dashboard.
“Each design detail of the Plus 8 50th has been considered to celebrate the Plus 8’s significance to the Morgan company and its customers over the last 50 years. This famous V8 was a renowned model throughout the automotive industry in the Sixties, and has today evolved into an unrivaled machine, offering raw exhilaration and effortless power delivery. Overlooking the long wide bonnet, sat directly on the rear axle, when driving a Plus 8 you are very aware of, not just its soundtrack, but its significance and its capability. The design of this special final edition hopes to do both justice.” Jon Wells, Head of Design, Morgan Motor Company
In addition to the two new models unveiled, the company will also be exhibiting a full range of the latest Morgan models on their stand, including the 4/4, Plus 4 and Roadster from the Classic Range, the all-electric EV3 and the Morgan 3 Wheeler.
The family owned, British sports car manufacturer are present at the show following the most successful year in the company’s history. The show will run for the next two weeks, with public days beginning on Thursday (8/3/18).
Dramatic panel impressions and wing top louvres firmly establish the Aero GT as the most extreme road-going Morgan to date. Just 8 limited-edition examples will be built.
… 8 limited edition ‘gloves off’ variants of the Morgan Aero 8. Morgan’s most extreme road-going model to date, the Aero GT celebrates the end of Aero 8 production.
The Aero GT will be built by the Morgan Special Projects department, which has an established history of producing models with even greater levels of bespoke specification along with one off, individually commissioned vehicles. Morgan’s approach will see each Aero GT built as an individual special edition, rather than eight identical examples.
The dramatic evolution of the Aero GT is most striking in its restyled wing impressions and louvres. Their addition is one that serves both functional and aesthetic advantages, and were developed alongside the design of the latest Aero 8 in 2015.
Development of the latest Aero 8 focused on redeveloping the aluminium chassis to make it stiffer and introduce all-new front and rear suspension to improve driving dynamics. The introduction of a newly developed soft-top and the redesign of the rear of the car lead to further research by Morgan Special Projects into the effects that body form features have on aerodynamic performance.
Link to Press Release – Aero-GT-Press-Kit-GNV18
[This is a good video and may be appropriate for some of you that have stored your car during the winter months or are soon to resurrect that project car. Enjoy. Mark]
[You will remember that Bill Fink was the Honored Guest at the MOGSouth 40th Anniversary Meet. I have to admit I am a big fan with two ISIS cars, my 4/4 and my Plus 8. Mark]
THE ISIS, a river renowned for its rowing and punting, flows through the English town of Oxford. When American Bill Fink was a student at Keble College, University of Oxford, he took part in rowing competitions. Indeed, today at the age of 75, he is still active with Oxford Old Boy crewing.
Rowing on the Isis at Oxford, England
Reflected his rowing enthusiasm, when Bill established a U.S. agency for Morgan sports cars in 1968, he named it Isis Imports Ltd. Originally on Eddy Street in San Francisco, the company outgrew this location and resettled at the end of San Francisco’s Pier 33, not far from Fisherman’s Wharf. These days, Isis Imports also has a second location in Bodega, California (yes, of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birdsfame!).
The original home of Isis Imports, Eddy Street, San Francisco, 1968.
The 1960s were great times for Morgan, with the U.S. its largest export market. Then came the 1969 advent of clean air and automotive emissions controls. Buying its engines from larger automakers, Morgan was hard-pressed to keep up with enhanced stringency of regulations. Its U.S. market all but died.
However, Bill was more than just an astute businessman (I suspect he’s snickering at this moniker as he reads it). He was, and remains, a Morgan enthusiast. After extensive discussions with federal authorities and scads of paperwork, beginning in 1974 Bill was able to convert new Morgan Plus 8s to propane power and renew their legal importation.
In addition to Bill’s propane expertise, the U.S. Plus 8 Morgan required other modifications to meet evolving federal standards: different bumpers, reinforced doors, padded sun visors, standard inertia seatbelts, and fitting of the Morgan four-passenger model’s higher windshield with added reinforcement. Eventually, Morgans got airbags, another feature Bill helped develop.
Maurice Owen, rest his soul, was the Morgan director of development and engineering. We joked at the time about his use of a state-of-the-art phone.
Maurice Owen was responsible for developing the Morgan Plus 8, whose Rover engine began life as the U.S. Buick V-8. Brit Eoin Young drove an early Plus 8 for R&T in December 1968. As R&T engineering editor, I tested other Plus 8s in August 1980 and June 1999.
Bill and his wife Judy became friends. Drives up and down the coast between Newport Beach and San Francisco’s Pier 33 were more than just pleasurable work. In fact, on a trip to Malvern Links, Worcs., the home of Morgan, Wife Dottie and I enjoyed the hospitality of Maurice and his wife.
As shown in this 1999 photo, Bill really gets into his work.
I experienced another bit of Bill’s engineering of Morgans in my drive of Isis Imports’ Chevrolet-engine Plus 8. And not just any Chevrolet engine, but a 6.0-liter LS2 Corvette V-8 producing 400 hp (versus the Rover V-8’s nominal 190) and 400 lb.-ft. of tyre-churning torque.
Dave Hill, Corvette chief engineer from 1992 to 2006, examines one of his company’s LS2s in an unfamiliar home.
R&T reported on the LS2-powered cars in April 2006. This Plus 8 Plus did the quarter mile in 12.6 seconds at 112.1 mph. Its 0-60 time was a quick 4.2 seconds; the Brit magazine Autocar shaved this to 3.8.
Morgan Cars USA (Isis Imports Ltd.) is at Pier 33 on The Embarcadero, San Francisco; 415 433-1334
The year 2018 is especially significant for Bill Fink and for Morgan. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Morgan Plus 8 and also the 50th anniversary of Isis Imports.
Double cheers, Bill!
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2018