Morgan will send
off the current Plus 4, a heritage-drenched two-seater roadster introduced in
1950, by building a batch of commemorative models designed to celebrate. The
70th Anniversary Edition gains a more powerful engine in addition to a long
list of specific visual tweaks inside and out.
The Plus 4 hasn’t been continuously produced for 70 years. It went on hiatus between 1969 and 1985, but it remains one of the oldest designs on the market. Its demise also signals the end of an era for the small British manufacturer, because the steel chassis it’s built on will follow the Plus 4 into the pantheon of automotive history. To send it off, designers chose to coat the body in Platinum Metallic paint, install dark grey wire wheels, add black trim, and fit what Morgan calls a motorsport-inspired front panel. Sketches hint at what the droptop will look like.
The cabin receives
Ravenwood veneer on the dashboard, dark grey carpet, and a black steering
wheel, among other upgrades. Don’t let the retro design fool you, though; it’s
more comfortable to drive than it appears. The two passengers travel on heated,
leather-upholstered seats, and the 70th Anniversary model offers footwell
lighting. Morgan will add a numbered plaque on the dashboard to highlight each
commemorative model’s exclusivity, and buyers will receive a neat photo book
packed with images taken during the production process.
Over the years, Morgan has sourced engines from Triumph, Fiat, and Rover before settling on Ford. The last batch of Plus 4s will continue to receive a Blue Oval-built, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that shifts through a Mazda-provided five-speed manual transmission, but Aero Racing, the company’s in-house competition department, bumped horsepower from 154 to 180 by remapping the engine. It also exhales through a sports exhaust with black tips. The extra horses allow the Plus 4 to reach 60 mph from a stop in under 7 seconds.
Morgan will make 20
examples of the Plus 4 70th Anniversary Edition, and it priced each one at
£60,995, or nearly $80,000. Don’t start looking for loose change under your
couch cushions, because every build slot was spoken for well before Morgan made
the project public. Deliveries will begin in the spring.
Once Plus 4 production ends, motorists seeking an anachronism on wheels will need to locate the nearest Lada dealer and place an order for a Niva, a rugged off-roader in continuous production since 1977. There’s no telling how long it will stick around for, but the Russian firm recently updated it with an improved interior.
announced plans to phase out the steel chassis that underpins most of its
range, including the Plus 4. Its future models will ride on a new platform
named CX made with bonded aluminum and already found under the
335-horsepower, BMW-powered Plus Six introduced in 2019. Expect additional
models (and more engine options) to join the range during the 2020s as the
independently-owned firm recoups its sizable investment.
Morgan hasn’t revealed if it will resurrect the Plus 4 again, and what form it will take if it returns. In the meantime, the 70th Anniversary Edition is expected to make its public debut at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show in March.
The MCCDC’s 50th MOG (Morgan Owners Gathering) Anniversary is the headquartered at the Mimslyn Inn (401 W Main Str., Luray, VA 22835) over the 4th of July, 2020. The Morgan events will span Friday 3 July to Sunday 5 July.
The Mimslyn Inn is supposedly full and now working on a waiting list. Judy Heck got this list of other hotels in the Luray, VA area and suggested I pass it on to those of you also be looking for accommodations in Luray.
The Inn of the Shenandoah, (540) 300-9777, 4.79 stars
Peabody’s ‘Hip Little Stay,’ (540) 742-0696, 4.9 stars
Hawksbill House, (540) 742-1553, 4.1 stars
Days Inn, (540) 742-4521, 3.2 stars
Budget Inn, (540) 742-5176, 3.1 stars
Luray B&B, (540) 743-4947, 4.0 stars
Woodruff House B&B, (540) 244-7588, 4.9 stars
South Court Inn B&B, (540) 843-0980, 4.7 stars
Ruffner House B&B, (540) 743-7855, 5.0 stars
Hillside B&B, (540) 743- 6322, 4.4 stars
Some of these might already be full, I don’t know and I have no specific knowledge of any of these other hotels, so I cannot make any suggestions. None of these is endorsed in anyway by MCCDC or MOGSouth so use you best judgement and check on line reviews best you can. Cheers, Mark
I visited the Morgan factory in Malvern the other day – me and 30,000 other people. Thankfully not everyone came at the same time, but that, believe it or not, is the number of people who visit Morgan’s red brick sheds every year. This is automotive industry turned into tourism. Welcome to the future.
Not that Morgan isn’t worth a visit. It’s so quaint, it’s like it was invented by a Disney executive. The traditional production line is aided by gravity: cars are born at the top of the hill and they slowly descend the natural slope down a series of gangways that link the succession of workshops.
From the moment you step into the topmost shed – the original, built by Henry Fredrick Stanley Morgan in 1914 – the atmosphere is pungent with history. Framed by bare brick walls, wooden floorboards and exposed steel roof trusses, the top shed acts a museum, but step down a couple of stairs to enter the chassis shop and you find yourself in a messy world of hand tools, power drills, criss-crossing cables, shelves lined with box files and plastic trays full of components, bottles of glue, cans of oil, photos and memos and calendars stuck to the walls. It feels authentic – Disney would never accept this kind of health and safety.
Classic Plus 4s are still made side-by-side with the new alloy-chassis Plus Six. The new model has been a leap for a small manufacturer like Morgan – just the wiring loom of the new BMW engine and gearbox looks daunting, its multi-coloured strands sprawling out like there’s a clown’s plastic wig hanging under the dashboard.
Everyone’s favourite bit of the tour is, of course, the wood shed, where a team of master craftsmen hand-form English ash while getting high on glue fumes all day. Even the new Plus Six has an ash frame, acting as an intermediary between the boxy alloy chassis and those classically curvaceous panels. The ash ‘former’ for the rear wing – a gigantic block of wood with a curved channel cut through it – looks like it was found on the Mary Rose and dredged out of the English Channel. It’s survived so many generations of employee, no one is sure how long it’s been there.
But the thing that surprised me most about my day at Morgan was how busy it was. Instead of exiting through the gift shop, the £24 tour starts here – in the gift shop and the cafe, where I sampled the carrot cake, a perfect Morgan-esque slice, beautifully handmade by skilled artisans.
Visitors gather here, buying their Morgan caps and their Morgan branded fudge, before starting the tour, and it was packed all day. Packed with enthusiasts from around the world, a chattering congregation of English, American, Dutch and German accents. As well as the Tour, visitors can also sign up for Morgan ‘experiences’ – £25 gets you a passenger ride in a three-wheeler. Everyone I saw climbing out looked like they’d spent half an hour on a roller coaster. Or in a giant tumble dryer.
It would be unjust to call this a Morgan theme park, because it’s a working factory, steeped in history. There’s no artifice here, nothing’s contrived, and if the visitors stopped coming the cars would still be made the same way. But Morgan is also a vision of the future, specifically our passion for cars and how that will be expressed in years to come.
If Ford and Mercedes-Benz do survive the revolution (and nothing is certain these days) they’ll end up like Samsung smartphone manufacturers – mass producing plastic cases on wheels with lithium-ion batteries. But a few master craftsmen will continue, like the katana-kaji, the ancient samurai sword makers in Japan, still polishing their blades even though a samurai warrior could be felled by a traffic warden with a taser these days.
Ferrari, McLaren, Bentley, Morgan, Ariel – these will be the places we’ll visit, to tour the factory, to see how the old petrol-driven cars are still lovingly made the old-fashioned way, with carbon and English ash, and maybe we’ll also splash out on a thrilling £25 passenger ride. These factories won’t be museums – they’ll be boutique experiences for people who don’t want to let go. Yes, the automotive industry will turn into tourism, selling Bentley-branded scarves, Ferrari flat caps and McLaren fudge.
Lodging – The Meet Hotel is the Little Switzerland Inn. 86 High Ridge Rd, Little Switzerland, NC 28749. FYI, Exit 334 off Blue Ridge Parkway
Our hosts (Jim and Colette Clark) have negotiated an amazing discount for each room ($20 per night off their normal starting prices of $169 per night), so be sure to make your reservations online at switzerlandinn.com using the group number 998642439836795 for the discount. If you don’t use the group number, you won’t get the discount.
It’s easy to book your room. Simply go to the Inn’s web site and click Book Now (yellow button in the upper right of the screen)
Input 8 May as check in and 10 May as check out (unless you are arriving early or staying later!)
Select Advanced Search, select I have a Group Number, enter the Group Number. Then hit GO.
You’ll then be shown available room types and prices. Select more info and you’ll be given the opportunity to select that room type that you want.
Note: There is a ‘bug’ in the Switzerland Inn’s web site. The room choices, after acceptance of the group number, all show an occupant limit of 1; this is a program glitch – ignore it.
Hospitality Room – The Hospitality Room will be in Balsam Cottage. (Map of the grounds on the Inn’s website, if needed.) The hospitality room will be open:
Friday: 4 – 6 and 7 – 10 PM
Saturday: 4 – 6 and 7 – 10 PM
Sunday: 8 – 9 AM
Activities – Friday Night Dinner is on your own. FYI, If you choose to eat at the Switzerland Inn’s restaurant anytime during your stay (other than Saturday Night) you must make your reservations at the Main Desk in the Lobby.
9 AM drive south on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) 25 miles to the summit of Mt. Mitchell,
12 PM lunch at the Little Switzerland Inn
1:30 PM drive north on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) 20 miles to Linville Gorge
6 PM dinner at the Inn in the”Chalet Restaurant” (FYI, Reservations for the entire MOGSouth Group have already been made. We’ll order off the menu and pay individually/charge to room.)
After dinner gathering either on the “Terrace” or alternately in the “Lobby”, depending on the weather.
9 AM drive of the infamous DIAMONDBACK,
which starts and ends at the Inn. This drive takes 30 minutes.