Purple? Not sure?? But, the cinematography is good. Enjoy, Mark
If you remember a few month back, Richard Hammond co host of the ‘Top Gear’ television show, asked the public to specify the details of the Morgan Plus 6 he was ordering. We brought you that video on the MOGSouth Web, you can find it at http://www.mogsouth.com/2019/11/07/richard-hammond-wants-you-to-spec-his-new-car-video-drivetribe/
Well, now the car has been manufactured and Richard takes delivery. A fun video. Enjoy, Mark
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.
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.
This is a bit of a rehash of Morgan History narrated by some known Morgan personalities, e.g. Charles Morgan, Peter Morgan, Chris Booth, etc. Many of you will know have this information well ingrained but others are new(er) to the marque and some of this might be new. Regardless, a good refresher.
With all the speculation about the Plus 6, North American Imports, Component Cars, the changed attitudes at Morgan, etc., it is nice to revisit what was and for many of us, an understanding of why we are here in the first place. No real drama, perhaps a pleasant moment with the morning coffee. Enjoy, Mark
Alan Braithwaite will take his Three Wheeler on a a 3,500-mile, 33-day journey.
The Morgan Three Wheeler isn’t the first car you think of for a huge, cross-country drive, but that’s exactly what 73-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist Alan Braithwaite and his wife Pat are planning on doing.
The pair will embark on the Trans-India Challenge, a 3,500-mile, 33-day journey around India that will put the Three Wheeler to the ultimate test on one of the world’s most demanding road networks.
Morgan is officially backing the challenge which aims to raise £200,000 to support Indian aid NGO Goonj, and fund academic research into Goonj’s ‘circular economy’ model. The sustainable approach recycles urban waste to use as a form of ‘currency’ to reward rural communities for improving their local environment – like roads, water supply, hygiene or schools.
Fashion designer and famed car fanatic Ralph Lauren has also thrown his weight behind the challenge too, by donating polo shirts from his company’s Earth Polo range – a range made from thread derived entirely from recycled plastic bottles and dyed using an innovative waterless process.
Meanwhile the Morgan Three Wheeler being used has had very little in the way of modifications, keeping the 82 bhp S&S V-twin motorcycle engine and base weight of 525 kg, but having raised suspension to help the car cope with the rough terrain.
“The Morgan 3 Wheeler is the perfect car for the Trans-India Challenge because of the attention it brings: it’s different and it’s fun,” said Steve Morris, CEO of Morgan Motor Company. “You’re always on an adventure in a Morgan and you drive with a smile on your face. Not only does it demonstrate what a Morgan is capable of, but you also know it will bring attention to Goonj. It’s going to be a fantastic adventure all round.”
Braithwaite was thrilled to have Morgan’s official backing for the challenge, which will start in Mumbai on 1 February 2020 and take in cities including Pune, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Puri, Kolkata, Patna, Lucknow, Agra, New Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur and Ahmedabad, before returning to Mumbai at the beginning of March.
“We are delighted that Morgan has recognised the significance of the Trans-India Challenge,” he said. “It will be a massive test for the car, but will certainly put Morgan firmly on the Indian map. With Morgan’s durability, and the materials used in the cars’ manufacture being sustainable and re-useable, this is the perfect choice of vehicle. It is also another milestone in recognising the ‘circular economy’ model championed by Goonj.”
The start of the adventure will also be a mere six months after Braithwaite underwent open heart surgery.
“I actually needed more extreme modifications than the car for this trip, but I’m confident we’ll both reach the finish line in great shape.”
- Morgan confirms plans for additional models in 2020, underpinned by its CX-Generation aluminium platform
- The CX-Generation platform was introduced in the Morgan Plus Six, launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2019
- 2020 will mark the end of production for the traditional steel chassis, a variation of which was introduced in 1936 and is currently used in the Morgan 4/4, Plus 4 and V6 Roadster
- All-new CX-Generation models are in development to replace the existing models built on the traditional steel chassis
- The 2020 Morgan model line-up will feature a manual gearbox within the range, for the first time in a CX-Generation model
- New models will feature smaller capacity engines than the 3.0 litre inline six-cylinder engine in the Plus Six
Malvern, 11 December 2019
The Morgan Motor Company is to continue its technology drive with the launch of new models based on its recently introduced CX-Generation aluminium platform. The new car introductions will take place in 2020 and form a core range of models for the British manufacturer.
It follows the success of the first car to use this platform, the Morgan Plus Six. Launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2019, it has received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from both the press and customers, in large part thanks to its CX-Generation platform.
Designed in house by Morgan, the CX-Generation platform is twice as rigid as the previous aluminium chassis used by the company, which underpinned the Aero 8 and second-generation Plus 8 models. Thanks to a focus on reducing weight, it tips the scales at just 97kg, contributing to the Plus Six’s mere 1,075kg dry weight.
Although full details of the new CX-Generation aluminium platform models are yet to be shared, the company can confirm that the range will feature a variant with a manual gearbox, as well as an engine with a smaller capacity than the 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder unit used in the Plus Six.
The launch of new CX-platform-based cars in 2020 will mark the end of production for Morgan’s legendary traditional steel chassis. Introduced in 1936 in Morgan’s first four-wheeled vehicle, the 4-4, the steel chassis has played a hugely important role in the company’s history, underpinning its models for 83 years. A variation of the chassis continues to be found today, in the Morgan 4/4, Plus 4 and V6 Roadster.
Morgan has not confirmed an official end date for production of the traditional steel chassis models but recognises a period where it will be produced alongside CX-Generation models before its discontinuation in 2020.
More information on the model range, launch dates and celebration plans for the end of the traditional steel chassis will be made in 2020. Morgan wishes to inform any customers interested in purchasing the latest Morgan models, or the last of the traditional steel frame chassis vehicles, to contact their nearest Morgan Dealer.
Steve Morris, CEO, Morgan Motor Company, said “The CX-Generation aluminium platform represents a significant undertaking for a small company like Morgan. Following the success of the platform and the Plus Six earlier this year, I am delighted that we can finally reveal further plans for new models in 2020.
We recognise a need for a more resolved core product that fits in with our customer’s growing needs, as well as future legislative requirements. The advanced engineering encompassed within the new platform is a vital underpinning for the next generation of Morgan sports cars, and further demonstrates the exciting blend of craftsmanship and technology that makes Morgan cars unique.
“In addition to new models planned for 2020, the year will also bring about opportunity for us to mark the significance of the outgoing traditional steel chassis and its contribution to the marque. Used in Morgan’s core models since 1936, the traditional steel chassis has been an integral part of the Morgan story and we look forward to giving it a fitting send off.”
The ancient British roadster is a brand-new barn find.
[I removed a few photos from the article. Nothing new or nothing you haven’t seen before. Mark]\
The Morgan Plus 4’s doors are cut so low you can hang your left arm out while sitting behind the wheel and drum your fingers on the left front fender’s long tail. Through the flat windshield the view is all swoops, sweeps, and louvers. This is a car designed by people—long since dead—using nothing but their carpentry skills and an eye for grace and drama. Everything about the 2020 Morgan Plus 4 is archaic and uncompromised by concerns for practicality, comfort, noise, vibration, or harshness. The navigation system is a door pocket in which to stow a map. A thin, paper map. Bumpers are optional.
HIGHS: Gorgeous, beautifully built, rife with old-world charm.
Conventional wisdom doesn’t apply here. This is a car without a trunk. Trunks were a well-proven technology when this basic design went into production in 1936 as the 4/4. It was slightly stretched into the Plus 4 in 1950. It’s not impractical because it’s old; it’s impractical because that was the choice the designers made way back then. This is style first, everything else second. It’s not that fast, it doesn’t handle well in any ordinary sense, and the non-assisted rack-and-pinion steering is fine at speed but agony when parking. But look at it. So pretty.
Morgan has bounced in and out of the American market over time and is looking to reenter it again when the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 finally goes into effect. That’s the law that directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conjure up some regulations that would allow low-volume manufacturers like Morgan to sell mere handfuls of cars without the burden of overwhelming regulations.
But until that happens, Morgans sold here arrive via a circuitous route. The Plus 4 that C/D drove came to the United States without an engine. Its Ford 2.0-liter —basically the standard direct-injected inline-four installed in the just-euthanized North American-market Focus—came over in a separate crate.
LOWS: Primitive, uncompromising, with the compelling character of a psychopath.
The reunification of engine and rolling stock was done at Dennis Glavis’s Morgan West in Santa Monica, California. It’s the sort of small shop that persists because of its owner’s love of Morgans rather than on strictly economic grounds. The place is crammed with new, newish, old, and ancient three- and four-wheeled Morgans. It’s the kind of place best visited while holding a pint of Guinness, indulging a garrulous enthusiasm, and having an afternoon to kill. What are the legalities involved in all this? Hey, you’re not reading the Harvard Law Review here.
Back in the December 1967 issue, we tested a Plus 4 when the car was only in its 18th year of production. What was written then holds true now. “A tar divider strip will launch the Morgan on a flight that would put a Hell Driver [Hell Driver referred to any of the numerous stunt-driving exhibition teams that toured the U.S. from the 1930s through the 1990s – Ed.] to shame. A genuine bump will qualify you for flight pay,” the article explained. “Still, it’s not the takeoff that gets you; it’s the landing. About 3 landings a week should be tops. Anatomically. If you’re contemplating a Morgan, see your doctor first.”
Medical specialization has progressed over the last 52 years, but the Morgan? Not so much. So, beyond a back surgeon, keep a renal specialist on call. Because not only will a Morgan driver’s spine regularly compress, but their kidneys will also get shaken to the point where the car could qualify as a diuretic.
In a car that weighs 2150 pounds by our estimate, the stated 154 horsepower available is adequate. It’s actually 50 horses more—almost a 50-percent bump—from the 104 ponies claimed for the Triumph TR-4 iron-lump four in that 1967 example C/D tested. That one had considerably more power than the original Plus 4. When the Plus 4 was introduced at the 1950 Earls Court Motor show it was propelled by a 68-hp 2.1-liter Standard Vanguard four. The current engine, by the way, feeds a Mazda-made five-speed manual transmission from an early-generation MX-5 Miata.
Exhaling through a beautiful exhaust header, the Ford four barks awake with a raspy growl. There’s some sort of radio thing aboard, even a USB port, but the real sound system is the powertrain itself. No surprise, the Mazda five-speed snicks into gear easily and switches between ratios with little effort and absolute precision. The entertainment comes when the power is transmitted back to the solid rear axle, which is lashed to a pair of leaf springs.
The 1967 Plus 4 galloped to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds and ripped out the quarter-mile in 16.9 seconds at 81 mph. For the day, that’s hauling—at least for a British roadster. Morgan claims the current Plus 4 goes from zero to 62 mph in 7.5 seconds and tops out at 118 mph. If Car and Driver had tested this Morgan, which we haven’t yet, we could probably crack 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. So, it’s not that quick by today’s standards, but it’s not shabby either.
Unburdened by the relatively massive heft of a Focus, the Ford four delivers crisp throttle response and a friendly, wide torque band. Once the pilot has acclimated himself to the Plus 4’s, let’s say, demanding driving position, the responsiveness of the machine is exhilarating. The relatively tall 205/60R-16 Avon tires aren’t aggressive in the sense of what Porsche installs on 911s, but the mass here is modest enough that they aren’t challenged much. There’s plenty of stick, even without low-profile sidewalls.
And really, what would the Plus 4 do with additional tire adhesion even if it had it? The rear axle’s natural state is to be always on the verge of hopping, and Morgan’s sliding pillar front suspension is a hammer in search of a nail. The suspension is a road-divot amplification mechanism. Lower profile tires would only exaggerate the ride motions even further.
Accommodations inside the Plus 4 are tight. It’s a stretch to call them accommodations, and the word “inside” doesn’t really apply to a vehicle that leaves its driver and passenger so thoroughly exposed to the elements. The seats are good enough, but the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for height, rake, or anything else. Over time in the Plus 4, you learn to hold your left leg in a position where your calf doesn’t rub up against anything and to skew your right leg so that it’s not bouncing into the center tunnel but also doesn’t cramp up. The footbox is very tight, and the bottom-hinged brake and clutch pedals take some acclimation time. In fact, the footbox is so narrow and the pedals so close together that it’s actually possible to stomp on all three simultaneously if you’re wearing thick cross-trainers. Instead, consider Capezio ballet slippers.
Yes, there’s a convertible top and a pair of side curtains. We didn’t bother to put them up. Best to save the part of one’s brain where those intricate processes would be stored for future use memorizing, well, almost anything else. And besides, Southern California in the early November sunshine is a dang swank place in which to be driving a brand-new antique roadster with the top stowed.
As easy as it is to point out the Morgan Plus 4’s challenges and deficits, its charms are just as obvious. This is a car built to deliver a wholly analog and elemental experience. As a driver, you always know exactly what the car is doing, even if it is hopping over a lane after encountering a freeway expansion joint. Even under braking the tail lifts up disconcertingly.
All vehicles behave just like the Plus 4 to some extent or another. The difference is that the Plus 4 doesn’t even pretend to mitigate this behavior. Many of the things we know as manners in other cars are exposed as insulation from the road in a car as direct as the Plus 4.
Morgan will only ever export about 300 cars—three wheelers, 4/4s, Plus 4s, V-6–powered roadsters, and the new BMW turbo-six–powered Plus Six, which gets a new chassis to handle the power, even though it looks like a Plus 4. Every Morgan is built to the eccentricities of the person who has ordered it, and that makes each its own special thing.
If there’s one way in which the Morgan has truly improved over the years, it’s in the quality of its construction. The aluminum skin covers the ash body framing with tailored precision. (The chassis is galvanized steel.) And the paint is impeccable. It used to be that Morgans were great 50-foot lookers. Now they’d hold up under a microscope.
To get this experience and quality takes money. The Plus 4 starts at $69,995, and the demonstrator handed to us for two days cost considerably more. It’s not cheap, but truly unique experiences never are.
Specifications – Morgan Plus 4
- VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door convertible
- BASE PRICE: $69,995
- ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 154 hp, 148 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual
- DIMENSIONS: Wheelbase: 97.4 in, L: 157.9 in, W: 67.7 in, H: 48.0 in, Curb weight (C/D est): 2150 lb
- PERFORMANCE (C/D EST): 0 – 60 mph: 6.4 sec, 0 – 100 mph: 16.7 sec, ¼-mile: 15.1 sec, Top speed: 118 mph
- EPA FUEL ECONOMY: Combined/city/highway: 25/23/28 mpg
This is a video of our parade lap of the Daytona International Speedway (DIS) on Saturday. There was a plan for three laps but as the race before we were to go out had an incident that required the pace car, we ran out of time. Still it was an amazing lap. The high banks are much higher in real life. The pictures don’t do them justice! This video was taken by Tara Waltman, George’s daughter. Thanks Tara!!