Morgan ending 70-year Plus 4 era with limited-edition roadster (autoblog.com)
The roadster was revived in 1985
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.
Morgan previously 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.
What a cool car, but I am so sorry to see the Plus 4 go the way of the flip-phone. It really has been the core of the Morgan experience. Despite the fact that I own a Plus 8, the Plus 4 is the “real deal”. Now we see production lines forming, no more family ownership and drivetrains oriented to a different demographic than the “dirty finger nails” and “down-to-earth” owners. Progress I guess, but I lament the passing of a true British icon
Great article Mark. I don’t think these cars will be available in the US. I am glad I got my Roadster 3.7. I think the six speed manual fits the traditional Morgan better. The BMW automatic in the new plus six is a bit of an anachronism.