As one of the world’s oldest makers of sports cars, Morgan Motor Company has found unique ways to stay ahead
It’s easy to spot a Morgan car in a line-up. The iconic vintage silhouette has nostalgic appeal, even if you aren’t especially motor-mad.
In a booming, increasingly tech-driven industry, these cars still speak to their roots. Established in 1910, the Morgan Motor Company is the oldest family-owned sports car manufacturer in the world.
But this legacy comes with a massive sense of responsibility. “There’s a real sense of stewardship running Morgan,” says chief executive Steve Morris, who took the helm in 2013.
Keeping our iconic shape allows people to relate to our cars, and strengthen our wider brand
“Having more than 100 years of experience in the automotive industry is a very powerful thing. Because of our history and where we’ve come from, we have a real sense of authenticity – and we really feel a responsibility to do our best for our audience.”
Though classic in style and handmade in the original factory in Malvern, these cars are all underpinned by modern automotive technology. This blend of old and new offers drivers an experience unlike any other. “Keeping our iconic shape allows people to relate to our cars and strengthen our wider brand,” says Mr Morris. “That’s very important.”
Road to success
Mr Morris joined the company aged 16 as a sheet metal apprentice, working his way up from the shop floor through to management. “There are many different routes into management, but I think I was very fortunate,” he says. “Being able to grow with Morgan, and having that grounding in the business itself, has helped me understand how the business ticks.”
I think in the next five years we’re going to see more change in the automotive industry than we’ve had in the past 100
Throughout his 35 years at the company, one thing that’s really stood out for Mr Morris is the loyalty of the customer base. “We’ve seen a lot of change but one of the fantastic things about working for Morgan has always been the friendliness of our wider audience,” he says.
“When you have that connection with them, they become your evangelists and your brand ambassadors.”
The business has tapped into this growing fan base. It now runs regular tours of the factory, which have been hugely successful. “We have 35,000 people paying to visit the factory each year. That in itself demonstrates a high level of enthusiasm for the brand – and that doesn’t happen overnight. That is part of our heritage.”
Wheels of change
But despite the dedicated customer base, being a niche manufacturer comes with a few challenges. “We’re still playing in an incredibly aggressive marketplace, with ever-changing technology,” says Mr Morris.
“I think in the next five years, we’re going to see more change in the automotive industry than we’ve had in the past 100, what with the onslaught of electrification, hybridisation and the pace of technology in general.
“At Morgan, we’re constantly trying to create and reinvent; I think we achieve that too. It’s interesting to talk to people who visit the factory regularly – even after a year’s interval, they’ll tell us how surprised they are at how things have changed.”
The Morgan Motor Company has seen more than a century of relentless change, though – and perhaps remaining true to its roots will ensure its survival. “I feel in some cases, we could be an ‘antidote’ to some of the things that are forced on the industry,” Mr Morris says.
“I’d like to think we’ll go from strength to strength, and we’ll continue to make cars that delight our customers.”