The 2022 Morgan Plus 8 GTR Track Car Happened Because Morgan Refused to Let Unused Chassis Go to Waste
The Bristol Bullet was set to be a Morgan Plus 8-based retro drop-top powered by a BMW V8—except now we’re getting nine 2022 Plus 8 GTRs instead.
Founded in 1945 primarily to keep the Bristol Aeroplane Company’s crew busy after the war, Bristol Cars went from using pre-war BMW technology to producing some of the most quintessentially British motorcars ever made, all hand-built to Rolls-Royce-rivaling standards. Bristol maintained a single dealership on the corner of London’s Kensington High Street and Holland Road, and this conservative attitude towards sales slowly and steadily pushed it into bankruptcy by 2010. The group that bought Bristol’s assets promised a new speedster by 2015, powered by a BMW V8 and limited to 70 units to celebrate Bristol’s 70th anniversary.
“Project Pinnacle” led to a drivable Bristol Bullet prototype presented at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed, only for the new venture to go silent afterwards and into liquidation in 2020. Yet back in 2015, the new Bristol company purchased rolling chassis from Morgan for the Bullet—specifically, the Plus 8 bonded aluminum platform fitted with a 370-horsepower BMW V8. As with Les Edgar’s revival of TVR, the Bristol rebirth looked great until it didn’t.
The Bullet itself made perfect sense. A hot limited-edition speedster with BMW powered just like the original Bristols, except styled somewhat like a late 2010s restomod AC Cobra. Given the size and enthusiasm of the British collector car market, the entire 70-car run could surely sell out in no time.
With its suitably long hood, fine leather inside the two-seater cabin, AP Racing brakes and German V8, the Bullet could have been a proper dream machine.
Two years ago, the Morgan Motor Company had to move on to a new aluminum platform that used turbocharged straight-six BMW engines to keep up with our times. However, when nine of its old Plus 8 rolling chassis went up for sale when Bristol closed, Morgan quickly realized that nine track-focused specials based on that older tech could be built for 2022. The resulting Plus 8 GTRs would feature a naturally aspirated V8 under a new aerodynamic Plus 8 body that pays tribute to Charles Morgan’s mad “Big Blue” endurance racer from 1995.
As Morgan put it: “The project has only been possible because of the recent availability of a number of Plus 8 rolling chassis, which have been re-acquired from a third party following a discontinued project.”
Big Blue was Morgan’s test bed for the then-new bonded aluminum chassis that made the Aero 8 and other roaring V8 sports cars possible. This new run of nine 2022 Plus 8 GTRs will be what the Bristol Bullet couldn’t, only with a roof and the rest of Morgan’s bold design.
I happened to be at Goodwood the day they introduced the new Bullet. Stunning car. Sorry to see it fail.