Our favorite anachronism is indeed returning, as we suspected. Rejoice!
Last year, we shed three tears for the iconic Morgan 3 Wheeler, an homage to its prewar cyclecars produced until 1952 and revived in 2011. Its death was due to a regulatory issue with its S&S X-Wedge V-twin engine, and it went out with a bang: The P101 limited edition, which rocked a dazzle-type wrap that looks suspiciously like the cloaking the newest 3-Wheeler you see here.
What the new 3-Wheeler won’t be is electric, at least at this juncture. One of the few details the company confirmed is that it will utilize a naturally aspirated Ford I-3 engine. There are several such three-cylinder engines in the Ford of Europe stable, ranging from 1.0-1.5 liters. Since the outgoing S&S-powered trike made around 115 hp, it’s likely going to be one of the larger-displacement “Dragon” engines.
That explains what looks like an iron gate tacked onto the grille area, to obscure that critical bit of the car that’ll be much different from the outgoing one. The V-twin was the visual focus of the old 3 Wheeler’s nose, the literal mechanical heart of the car exposed for all to see. The new I-3 will likely be in roughly the same place but faired in a bit more. Whether any or all of it will protrude into the open air remains to be seen. The nose doesn’t appear to be much longer than the old 3-Wheeler, for what it’s worth.
Some differences do appear in the bodywork. The rear deck appears to be a little sharper and sleeker than the more bulbous older car. And the front bodywork also appears to be wider and more muscular than the upright and rounded hood form on the previous car. Stalk-mounted taillamps appear to be set much further apart from the rear bodywork, but whether that’s merely set up that way for testing or whether it represents what’ll reach production is anyone’s guess.
Another prominent change that’s immediately noticeable from the older 3-Wheeler (seen in the gallery below) is the front suspension arrangement, which places the dampers and springs in a more inboard position, and puts the steering rack up front. More extensive front wheel fairings cover more of the inner part of the front wheel. The rear suspension and wheel are, of course, entirely covered up.
We’re excited to see what Morgan has cooked up for the next generation of the delightfully old-school, oddball 3-Wheeler, which remains one of the purest bits of silly fun in the automotive world. And we hope that, using the new 3 Wheeler as a basis, Morgan considers finally bringing its EV3 concept to production.
After a decade of the model, the current Morgan 3 Wheeler finishes production this year with 33 P101 special editions and a limited run of bespoke models. Our latest video captures a moment in time as the last few are built in the workshops at Pickersleigh Road. Reintroduced in 2011, the Morgan 3 Wheeler continued a legacy of three-wheeled Morgan cars that stretched back to our founding year of 1909. Watch this space for what comes next, as we have said before “The Morgan 3 Wheeler will return”… Morgan Motor Company
[I was a bit dumfounded when I first saw this! We tried years ago to get a few Morgans to go through the woods on a dirt trail and, if I remember correctly, only 2 of the 40 cars at the event were even willing to try. Too much polishing to risk dirt! So I am not convinced that this sort of thing was actually needed at this point in time? I do hope that it was something asked for by a paying customer, somewhat like the SPI special and its creation didn’t take any effort away from getting cars into the hands of the US dealers (and customers)! Mark]
Chris Bernath, son of MOGSouth members Chuck and Karen Bernath has time on his hands and the tools and talent to make interesting things!!
He has crafted two license plate sized metal signs, one with Morgan script and one with MOGSouth. These are perfect for states where there isn’t a front license plate requirement. Put in on your Morgan or put it on your daily driver!
“These products are made from 14 Gauge, 304 Grade Stainless-Steel and burnished to a Matte finish by hand. We recommend use of a Stainless-Steel Appliance cleaner/protector to keep this product free from fingerprints and other stains. Included is a backing of black or white depending on what looks best against the vehicle. Price for these is $55 each and includes shipping within the contiguous US.
The V8 sign is something new Chris is making for car lovers. This lighted sign is 30” x 23” and is selling for $350 which includes shipping. Limited supply of each but orders can be taken.”
The Morgan DHC has been fully restored from the ground up.
All new or restored parts new frame, panels and chassis.
Engine and gear box re-built (to run on unleaded).
Full pictures of this restoration plus Invoices from prior restoration.
Originally Owned by the Morgan Factory and used for the 1957 New York Auto Show.
Factory letter proving New York Show Car.
Many more restoration photographs available. Just ask!
Post restoration mileage is approximately 300 miles.
Priced in the UK at £32,950. Negotiable.
The MMC sold the car to Fergus Motors and they sold the car to it’s first owner in the US. The car was originally located in Florida. It was then shipped to the UK in 2011 where the restoration took place. The car is currently in the UK. If interested contact Ian Shelmerdine, MOGSouth Member, at email@example.com or call him in the UK at +44 1706 224088, Postal Address – 6 Edinburgh Road Helmshore Lancashire BB4 4RA England UK.
The new Morgan Plus Four combines cutting edge hardware with traditional craftsmanship. Chris Pickering reports
No other car manufacturer is quite as adept at blending old and new as the Morgan Motor Company. The original Plus 4 was the mainstay of the company’s range for an incredible 70 years from 1950 to 2020. Its origins stretch back even further, with the steel ladder frame chassis and the coachbuilt aluminium body effectively an evolution of those on the 4/4 that was launched in 1936.
Packaging these powertrains would bring their own challenges. The six-cylinder engine in the Plus Six is the longest ever fitted to a Morgan, while both come with complex control and aftertreatment systems. This meant that there was a constant temptation to open up the packaging volume, but Wells dug his heals in.
It may have the familiar elegant shape of its predecessors but under the bonnet the Morgan Plus Four is an advanced, modern vehicle
Now there’s a new Plus Four (the subtle change to the name reflecting what Morgan describes as the biggest advancement in the model’s history). Outwardly, it looks much the same as always. There’s the same classic roadster styling and the famous handmade ash frame supporting the sleek aluminium panels. But underneath it’s a car designed to take Morgan into the future.
“We recognised that we needed to ensure we had a strong future ahead of us in terms of emissions compliance, crashworthiness and the new GSR safety regulations,” explains Morgan’s head of design, Jon Wells. “That meant that we’d need a new vehicle platform, but a key requirement for us was to maintain the flexibility of coachbuilding with a separate body.”
With this in mind, Morgan decided to switch to a bonded aluminium monocoque design for the chassis, while retaining the traditional coachbuilding techniques for the body. It’s a tried and tested approach that the company has been using on its range-topping models since 2000.
Here, the majority of the structure is formed by folding sections out of sheet aluminium. The bonding surfaces are pre-treated with adhesive and then assembled on a jig before being baked at 180 deg C to create a single structure.
“It’s a really good solution,” notes Morgan’s chief engineer, John Beech. “We’ve been using this method for 20-odd years and we’ve never had a failure. It results in a very rigid structure – we use a small number of rivets for location purposes, but it’s the adhesive that does all the work.”
Morgan’s engineers refined this concept for the CX platform that would underpin the new Plus Four and Plus Six, Beech explains: “We managed to reduce the material thickness significantly – from 3 or 4mm down to 1.2mm in some places – which means the new chassis only weighs 97kg. At the same time, the stiffness has been doubled in comparison to the old Aero chassis.”
One thing that was set in stone from the outset was that the new Plus Four had to occupy the same footprint as its predecessor, Wells recalls. This presented numerous challenges. For a start, the Plus Four’s compact dimensions and low-slung running boards only left a narrow centre section for the main structure. And while the old Plus 4 used a live axle at the back and a sliding pillar arrangement on the front, the new car would use double wishbones all round.
Inside Morgan’s Pickersleigh Road factory in Malvern
Part of the design brief was that the car had to be capable of running wire wheels. This posed its own challenges, as wire wheels use spokes triangulated around a central hub, which leads to a larger offset than you’d find on an alloy wheel.
“With a wire wheel, all the running gear has to be packaged well inboard of the centreline of the wheel. Getting the suspension geometry to perform – achieving a manageable scrub radius, for example, becomes a lot harder in that scenario,” says Wells.
Morgan developed its own low-offset wire wheels in response to this, but it also necessitated extensive development work on the wishbones, uprights and brake components.
Morgan was keen to futureproof the Plus Four against incoming emissions requirements – both to safeguard its position in existing markets and to open new opportunities where the previous car was unable to meet the legislation. A deal was struck with BMW, which had supplied the V8s used in the Aero 8 and the later versions of the Plus 8, to supply a new generation of direct injection turbocharged engines – an inline four for the Plus Four and an inline six for its bigger brother.
The majority of the powertrain electrical architecture is also shared with BMW, as are the transmission options. Much of the calibration work has been carried out at BMW’s test facility in Aschheim, near Munich.
“The support and the hardware that we’ve received from BMW have been absolutely paramount to the programme. It’s a relationship that goes back over 20 years and the engineers we work with there are very much part of the team,” comments Wells.
Packaging the BMW powertrain represented a key engineering challenge
“Power bulge is a phrase that’s now banned from the Morgan Design Studio as it came up about once a day during the development,” he jokes. “And once you’ve got everything in there – with the radiator and the cooling pack pushed up against the engine, the next challenge is keeping it cool. That required a lot of complex under-bonnet aerodynamics work. We’ve used external CFD for many years, but this was the first time we’d carried out a major study on internal aerodynamics.”
Step into the Morgan factory on Pickersleigh Road and you’re still greeted by the sound of panel beaters’ hammers and the smell of fresh timber wafting through the air. In fact, there’s more wood used in the body frame of the CX generation Plus Four than in its predecessor.
Modern technology is used wherever it can offer an efficiency benefit without detracting from the traditional craftsmanship that lies at the heart of Morgan’s production philosophy. Laser cutting, for instance, is now used to create the blanks that will later be hand-shaped into the Plus Four’s elegantly-louvred bonnet. Likewise, 3D printing is used to create jigs and fixtures that are used in the wood shop.
One of the reasons for sticking with a traditional ash and aluminium coachbuilding process is that it provides plenty of flexibility for Morgan’s small production runs (typically around 800 cars a year).
“We do everything for a reason – we really value the traditional skills that we have here, but as soon as we have a job justifying something then we don’t force it,” comments Wells. “For instance, Morgan is known for using wood, aluminium and leather, but when we did our electric 3 Wheeler concept we used a lot of carbon fibre. It’s about choosing the right materials and processes for the job, not being too precious about doing things a certain way.”
The wings are formed using the Superform process, which heats a sheet of aluminium to around 500 deg C and then blows it into a mould to create a complex 3D shape. But the remainder of the bodywork is sculpted by hand, just as it always has been.
The results are exquisite – particularly as other cars typically get bigger, heavier and more generic. Morgan has managed to retain the elegance of its original pre-war designs, despite bringing in a host of new technology.
There’s undoubtedly more to come. Although the company says it has no specific plans for electric or hybrid models on this platform, it has been designed to provide sufficient flexibility should that be required. The last few years have also seen a significant period of expansion, with a team of 35 engineers and designers now occupying a dedicated 30,000-square foot engineering centre. Whatever challenges the future may have in store, you can be sure that Morgan will be well-placed to tackle them in its own inimitable style.
This car is light, responsive, and fun! A narrow-bodied Moss Box (4Sp) Plus 8. The best of all Plus 8s. A Morgan model in high demand!
This car was restored in 2006. Its odometer now shows 54055miles.
This car was the MMC’s Earls Court Plus 8 show car in 1971. It was bought off the MMC’s display stand by the international racing legend Anatoly Arutunoff (winner of the 1981 SCCA H Production Class in a Morgan 4/4) and shipped to New York on the (then new) Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2).
Originally the car was all Silver with a Stone Leather interior. It is now Burgundy over Silver, with a Regency Red leather interior, Super Sports bucket seats, and red wool carpet. The weather equipment, top, tonneau and side curtains are all matching dark red Mercedes cloth, new in 2011.
Over the years, the car has been modified for safety, reliability, and performance. It currently has a Holley 4 barrel carburetor instead of the finicky SUs, Luminition pointless ignition for reliability and an Edelbrock intake manifold to improve throttle response. The car also has Koni tube shocks in the rear, with AVO tube shocks in the front. New twin exhaust pipes and mufflers were installed in 2013. The car runs cool, even in Florida! It received a new water pump in 2014. Also, there is a cooling radiator scoop up front with an aftermarket electric pusher fan behind the grill.
The car has a racing electrical power ‘Cut Off’ switch for safety and the fuel pump sending unit was refreshed in 2014. Just recently (in 2020) the car got a new battery and new ignition wires / plugs.
If interested, call Mike to discuss at (352) 455-9218. Car is in Central Florida.