Morgan Plus 4: Review (Goodwood Road and Racing – 29 Aug 2020)
[Just released! A bit outside of the usually market? Cheers, Mark]
[Just released! A bit outside of the usually market? Cheers, Mark]
MOGSouth is basically a NOT FOR PROFIT organization. Actually, it is a very loose organization without any sort of legality, charter or rules. For some 45 years this has been good for the Club. I am sure at times there would have been some advantages to a more formal existence but then we would have had to live with other constraints we just didn’t like, so . . .
Anyway, even with no mandates and pressures we have taken our duties seriously and we have managed to minimize costs over the last few years. Given this, we now have a small surplus of funds in our banking account. We are not in the business of accruing money, so we thought it best to return it to the membership. We have decided to do this by NOT CHARGING any dues to our membership or advertising fees to our normal supporters for the 2021 Calendar Year.
Just let us know you are still a member. Send an email to email@example.com.
We know this isn’t much, but . . . (Note: In addition, we are looking at some charitable contributions so please no emails or messages!)
Basically, 2020 was anything but a MOGSouth year and now we want to make 2021 a ‘free’ year.
Go ahead, now’s the time!! Buy something shiny for the car!!
Mark and Stacey
Certainly we have Car Badges (about out 4.5″ across) of the MOGSouth Logo. They were thought to be made by Jim Baker in the UK (but others think not, so . . .) regardless they are lovely and look fabulous on the Morgan! If you don’t already have one, you need one! The car badges have a mounting tab on the bottom with two holes. The car badges are 50$ each, plus 15$ S&H. And, you will need the badge clips to mount them to a badge bar. The clips are sized to match whatever badge bar you have! Make sure you get the right size!
We also have the MOGSouth Logo on a small lapel pin for 5$ each, a small bronze plaque (about 2″ across) at 8$ each or on a cloth patch for 3$ each. The lapel pin is roughly an 1.25″ across and the patch is about the same size as the car badge, i.e. 4.5″ across. S&H is minimal for the small items.
I don’t have the car badge clips (you can get them just about anywhere, e.g. Moss Motors, Morgan Spares, Triple-C, etc.) but if you want any of the other items send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MOGSouth has also engaged Fourth Gear Limited to provide a wide selection of clothing and other items emblazoned with the MOGSouth and GatorMOG Logo embroideries. In addition to the MOGSouth and GatorMOG logos, they have both vintage three and four wheeled Morgan cars (top up or down) embroideries, Morgan Motor Company scrips and wings. They will also put more than one embroidery on just about anything. And, they will change colors if you ask nicely! I’ve had them alter the color of the embroidery to match my three wheeler’s colors!! Just let them know what you want!!
So let you imagination wander!! Go to their website and take a look!
First unwrapped in 2000, the Aero 8 was a modern(ish) take on Morgan’s tried-and-tested olde-worlde formula, and, despite its age, good examples can still be found
For all that the new Plus Six does to take Morgan belatedly into the 21st century, with its all-independent suspension, lightweight aluminium chassis and punchy turbocharged straight six, it doesn’t exactly advance the Malvern brand’s design language beyond, say, 1964.
That’s part of Morgan’s charm, of course, and its steadfast commitment to traditionalism is an integral component in its quiet but sustained success. So when the cross-eyed Aero 8 was unwrapped at the 2000 Geneva motor show, all bets were off.
Here was a genuine, up-to-date sports car, with a BMW V8 giving it a competitive 4.8sec 0-62mph time and promises of engaging dynamics, courtesy of new inboard shock absorbers, double-wishbone suspension and AP Racing performance brakes.
The modernisation didn’t stop there, either: niceties including air conditioning, cruise control and a heated windscreen placed the Aero 8 in another realm entirely to the brand’s existing models. Morgan being Morgan, of course, it was all still assembled around an ash wood frame, and the asymmetrical metal dashboard would look equally at home in the cockpit of a 1960s airliner. If it ain’t broke…
Just over 200 examples of this first-generation car were produced between 2000 and 2004, and they still pop up in the classifieds periodically. Its Series 2 successor, subtly restyled to comply with US safety standards and allow for a roomier cabin, packed a hefty power upgrade but was built for only a year in limited numbers, so most have been retired to private collections.
The closest the Aero 8 came to receiving what you might call a facelift was in 2005, when the Series 3 was launched with Mini headlights in place of the previous New Beetle items, giving it a more conventionally styled visage without compromising on its retro appeal.
Mechanicals were left largely untouched until the roadster entered its final form in 2007 with 362bhp from a 4.8-litre V8 that BMW kindly continued producing on a limited basis for Morgan after retiring it from its own line-up. An automatic gearbox was also made available for the first time, featuring an optional Sport mode and offering improved straight-line performance over the six-speed manual unit.
The Morgan Aero 8 has pace and kerbside status in spades, but it’s very pricey.
Later variants include the ultra-exclusive, boat-tailed AeroMax coupé and its Targa-topped Supersports sibling, the traditionally styled Plus 8 and, more recently, the Series 5 – a revived, subtly updated version of the Aero 8, produced from 2016 to 2018. The austentacious Aero GT acted as the car’s swansong, and was made in very limited numbers.
Happily, because improvements and tweaks made to the supercar over its 18-year life cycle were so subtle, choosing which version to go for is simply a matter of deciding your budget: prices for early cars begin at £40,000 (plus shipping costs if you opt to import), but you can expect to pay above £120,000 for low-mileage Series 5 cars and special editions.
How to get one in your garage
An expert’s view
Melvyn Rutter, Melvyn Rutter Ltd: “It’s a very finite market, and not that many come up for sale, because people tend to like them and drive them. Initially, there was a huge rush and Morgan couldn’t make enough. It was only the really determined who stuck with it and waited; they weren’t impulsive buyers. Like the 3 Wheeler, there were people who had never really thought about a Morgan before, and we got new people into the fold.”
Engine: The side-exit sports exhaust is a highly prized option, giving post-2004 cars a bassy growl. Both BMW-derived V8 engines are characteristically durable, but stick to their servicing schedules and shell out for genuine parts.
Body: Series 1 and 2 cars are known to suffer leaky roofs, so keep them garaged. Wooden element of the chassis means crash repairs and restoration work is a specialist job best undertaken by a Morgan dealer. Body panels, especially the bootlid, evolved over the years, so research before replacing them. Low front splitter is prone to stone chips.
Gearbox: Don’t be put off by a noisy manual gearbox. The Aero 8 features far less soundproofing than a contemporary BMW, so a degree of crunchiness and whirring is par for the course. Installing a quick-shift gearstick helps to eliminate some of the clunkiness.
Electrics: Exposed indicator wires can come disconnected, so check under the front wings if they’re playing up, and later Beetle headlights have a tendency to let water in and become misted. Series 1 cars suffered from a sticking starter motor, especially after long periods of non-use. Fit a conditioner to keep specialist gel battery in working order. Power-steering pump is a weak spot, but replacements are easily found.
Interior: Later interiors are more modern but still prone to wear if not maintained properly. Popular modifications include an aluminum steering boss and a Mota Lite steering wheel, while an upgraded stereo is a wise investment.
Also worth knowing
The manufacturer offers a full maintenance and restoration service at its Pickersleigh Road headquarters, with a fixed price servicing structure.
As is the norm, MOGSouth will have a Noggin on the Friday evening (March 5, 2021) before the Saturday Cars and Coffee event (March 6, 2021) on Amelia Island, the weekend of the big Concours d’Elegance. The Concours d’Elegance is on Sunday, March 7, 2021.
To make is easier on the masses, we have moved the Noggin a bit south, and will convene the MOGSouth Noggin around 5 PM at the Surf Restaurant, along A1A, 3199 S. Fletcher Avenue, Fernandina Beach, FL.
It is the same location we use to rendezvous on Saturday morning before the Cars and Coffee event. There is parking in the lot out front as well as behind the restaurant.
We haven’t used this location for the Noggin, as yet, but the staff seems quite excited to have us. The menu looks quite good and there appears to be sufficient parking. (Click on the link above to go to their web page!)
Looking forward to the event and hope to see you there!! Mark
[I guess it had to happen eventually with all the hype around electric vehicles. Converting this older RHD Morgan 4/4 4 Seater may not bend too many rules but I personally hate to see any Morgan get excessively modified or scrapped. As stated in the article we will have to wait and see if this project is ultimately successful or not. Mark]
Electric cars are seen as the pinnacle of technology and modern engineering; however the Retro-Electric brigade seem to choose vehicles that are about as far removed from modern machines as possible. We have covered early Land Rovers, VW Beetles, Type 2 campers and Morris Minors. None of which could ever have been said to have been cutting edge, even when they were new.
There is something about these cars though, they have a character through their basic roots that others just do not have. However, Morgan takes traditional build to a different level, after all this car is still built from the same material that they make horse carts from!
The Morgan 4/4 has been in production since 1936, in a largely unchanged style. In fact, it was Morgan’s first car with four wheels, the name indicating that the model has four wheels and four cylinders.
Apart from a break during World War Two, the 4/4 has been in continuous production from its debut right up to the present day. The original engine was a 1.1l Coventry climax, increasing in size to the modern 1.8 ford engine currently used, however despite recent headlines about a future vehicle, never has electricity powered a Morgan.
Greg Mittman from Kansas City in Missouri is about to change that.
You would be right to expect a Morgan Retro-EV conversion to take place in the UK, after all it’s the home of the very British marque, however during the 1950’s and 1960’s the US accounted for over 85% of all production and they remained a very popular, if specialist, car in the states.
The Morgan was no stranger to a conversion in the USA either, in 1974 emission regulations threatened to kill off the car, so the company converted all imports to run of propane to pass the US emission regulations, therefore electrifying a Morgan is putting a modern twist to an old story.
Initially Greg had no plans for a Retro-EV, he wanted to restore a vehicle with his father, Sam, who is an experienced home mechanic. With no specific model in mind they started looking through online auctions for something interesting nearby.
Greg came across the ad for the 1969 Morgan 4/4, but was completely unfamiliar with the brand, however he did a little digging and the British charm and unique design convinced him that this was the car to restore.
Sam was convinced, an experienced hobby mechanic, the basic structure and mechanics meant the Morgan should have been a simple restoration.
However, when they got the car home it became obvious that they had taken on more than expected. The engine in the car was not original and missing many parts which would have been exceedingly difficult to source in the US.
Half joking Sam suggested, “We could make it electric” and what initially seemed unlikely has become a two-year labor of love.
The car has been converted by the pair at weekends and during downtime and is now starting to near completion, despite this being the first experience of E-power for either of them.
Taking advice from enthusiasts and experts has helped them specify the right parts for the conversion.
Greg has chosen a Netgain Warp 9 DC customer motor coupled to the cars original ford gearbox for its powertrain. The Warp 9 is one of the most popular motors used for conversions in the US, its size and performance combination make it a popular choice, delivering 32hp and 70ib ft of torque. The Warp 9 is also a cost-effective solution at around $2000.
The project will use 40 LiFePO4 3.2v 100ah batteries. As with the motor, they are one of the most popular choices. The Morgan offers plenty of room for fitment of the batteries behind the seats and at the rear, with additional room up front to help balance the load.
A Curtis 1231c controller has been purchased and will be fitted to keep everything performing correctly.
One of the key elements in any build is the charger, many projects can be ruined with the choice of a poorly specified charger. Make sure that you consider your requirements carefully when choosing your charger. Greg chose a TSM2500 unit. This unit has user adjustable settings and has been setup for 110V US power. The units also offer great output in a relatively small size, very useful for Retro conversions.
Greg is still testing the car but is comfortable that upwards of 50 miles to a charge is comfortably achievable with the specification he has chosen, it’s also likely to comfortably outperform the original powertrain.
The Dilithum BMS installation is nearing completion and then the pair will move on to the final part of the build, the body.
The handmade windscreen is out for chrome and It still needs body, interior and instrumentation work, but Greg is convinced that this is the easy part and can’t wait to get the car on the road.
The “e-Mog” has some way to go to completion, however the unusual right-hand drive car has already generated a lot of attention in Kansas where the electric conversion will be totally unique in gas loving middle America.
Keep an eye on our site as we continue to cover Gregs conversion.