24 Apr

How To Tow a Car Trailer (Ernst – WWW.Hemmings.Com)

[I was surfing the web and found this. It caught my eye as I am trailering one of my Morgans, this coming weekend, to Pensacola for their all British Car Show. Lately I find I am driving less and trailering more. Especially with the older cars or for car events farther afield. Maybe it’s the creature comforts offered by the tow vehicle, or I may just be getting old. (I don’t like the second option so I’ll go with the first!) I have a car trailer and have some experience however I don’t want to become over confident or complacent with something this critical. So, give it quick read and perhaps you will learn something new, as I did. The last thing we need it an accident or worse yet, an injury. Be safe but have fun! Mark.]

Hemmings’s own tow rig, used to transport cars to events. Photos by the author.

According to statistics compiled by the DangerousTrailers.org web sitee, an average of 68,358 American motorists are involved in towing-related accidents each year, each resulting in average damages exceeding $43,000. While towing a trailer seems simple enough, proper equipment, safety practices and loading techniques are all essential components in ensuring that trailering drivers get from point A to point B with vehicles, passengers and equipment intact.

The first step to towing any kind of trailer is ensuring that both trailer and tow vehicle are properly rated for the load to be carried. Should the proposed tow vehicle be rated by the manufacturer to safely tow up to 5,000 pounds, pulling a double-axle car trailer, loaded with a 1961 Chevrolet Impala, across Colorado’s Independence Pass certainly isn’t recommended. The best advice here is “buy enough truck,” understanding that new towing requirements may require the purchase of a different tow vehicle with a higher weight rating.

A proper hitch and receiver are the next essential components, and for towing a vehicle the absolute minimum recommended would be a Class III hitch and receiver, rated at a maximum trailer weight of 6,000 pounds (when used with a weight carrying hitch) or 10,000 pounds (when used with a weight distributing hitch). A Class IV hitch and receiver gets a higher rating (up to 14,000 pounds, when used with a weight distributing hitch setup), but may not be applicable for tow vehicles aside from full-size pickups and SUVs. Beyond this lies Class V hitches (rated up to 17,000 pounds with weight-distributing hitches) and fifth-wheel hitches, which are primarily the domain of heavy-duty pickups.

Once satisfied with tow vehicle and hitch setup, the next challenge becomes finding a suitable trailer to handle your perceived vehicle hauling needs. If your towing is limited to hauling a Formula Vee racer to regional vintage events, a double-axle enclosed trailer will likely be overkill in terms of both size and weight. On the other hand, when towing a Mercedes-Benz Unimog cross-country, a two-wheel car dolly may be suboptimal for your needs. When purchasing a trailer, try to consider both current and future needs; if your passion is for restoring Corvairs, then sizing a trailer may be fairly simple. Should your passion extend to all GM products, including pickups, sizing a trailer may be more of a challenge.

An adjustable height Class V receiver.

For hauling vehicles, trailers should be equipped with a weight distributing hitch and trailer brakes (which may or may not be required by the state in which you reside). An anti-sway system may be a wise investment as well, particularly for those new to towing. Sway likely represents the biggest danger to towing trailers, and it can be caused by factors as diverse as excessive speed, strong crosswinds, passing trucks or improper trailer loading.

To minimize the risk of sway, loads should ideally be centered over the trailer’s axles, evenly balanced from side to side. This isn’t always possible, so most recommend carrying slightly more weight to the front of trailer (assuming that the rig’s tongue weight isn’t exceeded in doing so). Under all circumstances, avoid placing the heaviest part of the load to the rear of the trailer’s axle, as doing so will increase the likelihood of trailer sway.

If a trailer begins to sway, the best corrective action is to gently let off the accelerator, slowing (without applying the tow vehicle brakes) until the trailer is again under control. Should you have an electronic trailer brake controller, applying the trailer brakes manually will bring a swaying trailer under control, which is further justification for an electronic trailer brake and controller setup. Accelerating further or braking the tow vehicle heavily are likely to exacerbate the problem, so both should be avoided. Be aware that certain situations (crossing bridges or being passed by tractor-trailers, for example) are likely to create cross winds; be aware that this make increase the chances of trailer sway, and be prepared to act accordingly.

Emergency trailer brake controller; should the cable pull tight, the trailer’s electric brakes activate.

Ensuring that trailer and tow vehicle are level will also help to minimize the risk of sway, and different trailers may require the use of different height receivers. If you frequently tow more than one trailer, investing in a multi-position receiver may be easier and less expensive than buying separate receivers for all trailers. Also, ensure that the receiver ball size matches the hitch of the trailer; attempting to tow a 2-5/16-inch hitch with a two-inch receiver ball is a recipe for disaster.

Prior to loading the trailer, it’s a good idea to give it a full inspection, particularly if it hasn’t been used in a while. Check tire pressuree as well as tire tread depth; tires may show ample tread, but those with signs of dry rot should be replaced. Attempting to wiggle the wheels and tires from side-to-side may show if wheel bearings are worn, and it’s a good idea to pack (non-sealed) bearings with grease annually. Check electrical connections for corrosion, and use dielectric grease on the connector pins to minimize the chance of future corrosion. Inspect wood deck planking for any signs of rot, and replace as necessary. Finally, hitch the trailer to the tow vehicle to double check that all lights (and electric trailer brakes, if equipped) are functioning.

The specific procedure for loading and strapping down a vehicle on a trailer will vary by trailer and the type of ratcheting strap used, but some general guidelines still apply. First, be sure the vehicle’s weight is centered over, or slightly forward of, the trailer’s wheels. As much as you can, ensure that the side-to-side weight of the trailer is balanced by offsetting tool boxes with things like fuel jugs. When using ratcheting straps that cradle a vehicle’s tires, be sure that all attachment points are secure and close enough to the tire to ensure proper operation (per the strap manufacturer’s instruction). When using over-the-axle type ratcheting straps, be sure the strap is wrapped around a structural member, but not rubbing against coolant hoses, fuel lines or brake lines. When using ratcheting straps that attach to the vehicle, ensure (again) that straps are attached to strong enough part of the frame to carry the load. As a general rule of thumb, one strap in each corner should be the absolute minimum number used, and placing four wheel chocks (in front of the front wheels and behind the rear wheels) gives additional piece of mind. As a further reminder, the trailered vehicle should be in Park (or in first gear), with the handbrake set.

Properly hitched trailer, showing sway control bar.

Once the trailer is hitched to the tow vehicle, it’s a good idea to go through one more safety checklist. Is the load level, or does the tongue weight of the trailer (or the drop of the receiver) need to be adjusted? Are all the electrical connections tight, and do all signals, lights and brakes work as intended? Are the safety chains crossed in an X-pattern beneath the trailer hitch, forming a cradle in the event of a hitch failure? Is the tether for the electric trailer brakes set? Is the nose wheel up and locked, and is hitch securely locked into position? Have the lug bolts on the trailer (and any other fasteners potentially prone to loosening) been tensioned to the proper torque?

As with most tasks, prior proper preparation is the key to safe and successful trailering, and the best way to avoid becoming one of the 68,000 plus motorists involved in trailering accidents each year.

A tip of the hat to Brad Babson for his help in compiling this piece.

16 Apr

Morgan Motor Co Factory Tour (Nov 2018)

[This is a view of the factory as it is prior to any real changes. Things may be different in the future as modifications are driven, in processes and tooling, by the new investor. Also, there is an Aero 8 GT in build, well it appears all but finished, with a matching M3W. Striking color! (Turn up the volume or the tour guide is hard to hear.) Enjoy, Mark]

01 Apr

Epic Engines: Buick Aluminum V-8 – (Hagerty.com)

The Little Aluminum V-8 That Saved Britain’s Bacon

LIKE THE KID WHO FLUNKED FIFTH grade and then grew up to become a decent stockbroker, the troubled youth of GM’s 215-cubic-inch (3.5 liter) aluminum V-8 didn’t hinder its fruitful life.  Born in 1961, this resilient engine introduced turbocharging to production cars but failed to earn a sufficient U.S. audience, whereupon it was sent to England to live out its life in everything from Range Rovers to TVRs.  Along the way, this mill, commonly known as the “Buick aluminum V-8” for reasons that will soon be explained, inspired countless designs and enabled a cottage sports-car industry.  It was the only American engine design ever to win a Formula 1 title.  One could argue that GM’s aluminum V-8 was every bit as ingenious as the Chevy small-block.

General Motors began studying aluminum V-8s in 1950 to power its LeSabre and XP-300 dream cars.  Although cast aluminum had been used early in the 20th century for crankcases, constructing entire blocks and cylinder heads out of this material was a major breakthrough in the U.S.

In Europe, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lancia, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, and Volkswagen perfected aluminum construction after World War II.  The success of VW Beetle imports convinced U.S. automakers they would need downsized cars powered by smaller and lighter engines to compete.  In 1960, the Chevrolet Corvair began the move to aluminum engines, followed by Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Plymouth, and Rambler in ’61.

Aluminum’s appeal is a density, or weight per volume, that is 60 percent lower than that of cast iron or “gray iron,” until then the traditional engine-block material.  Per pound, aluminum yields two to three times the bending stiffness and strength of cast iron and three times the tensile strength.

Aluminum’s downside is cost.  Iron ore is simply mined, melted, and mixed with a few ingredients before casting, but refining aluminum is a complex, energy-intensive process.  First, bauxite ore, a claylike material, is mined.  After melting and settling, alumina (aluminum oxide) in the molten ore is purified with an electric current, a process called electrolysis.  Because of aluminum smelters’ high electricity consumption, they are typically located near hydroelectric dams, where the electricity is plentiful and cheaper.  As a result, aluminum typically costs five times more per pound than gray iron.  In the mid-1950s, GM engineer Joseph Turlay, who designed Buick’s first production V-8 for the 1953 model year, topped an experimental cast-aluminum block with hemi heads, a supercharger, and dual carburetors to produce 335 horsepower from 3.5 liters.  That V-8’s 550-pound weight was a major breakthrough compared with the typical 700-pound iron-age engine.

GM engineers soon began work on a production aluminum V-8 to power the Buick Special, Oldsmobile F-85, and Pontiac Tempest slated for 1961.  Buick won the development and manufacturing assignments, with Turlay overseeing and Cliff Studaker assisting the engineering effort.

1961 Buick Special with 215 CI V-8

GM’s game plan was to use a stretched Corvair unibody to underpin its new compacts.  More refined ride and handling would, hopefully, justify higher prices for the upmarket models.  In addition, the aluminum V-8 would foster weight savings throughout the chassis, thereby improving performance.

Toward that end, the 3.5-liter V-8 was a showcase of light design.  The block, heads, intake manifold, timing chain cover, water pump, and water outlet were all made of GM’s 4097M aluminum alloy containing II-to-13-percent silicon.  This added material lowered the aluminum’s melting temperature, helped it flow more readily into molds, and reduced shrinkage during solidification.  A touch of copper was added to improve corrosion resistance.  The pistons, rocker arms, and carburetor were also aluminum.  The final 324-pound dry weight was 200 pounds lighter than Chevy’s small-block and roughly half the weight of Buick’s 6.6-liter V-8.

Turlay’s engineering team applied creative solutions to myriad design issues.  Because aluminum bores weren’t durable enough to withstand piston scuffing, cast-in-place iron sleeves with grooved outer surfaces engaging the surrounding aluminum were used.  This provided a tough bore surface without sealing concerns.  Shrink-fit iron valve seats and guides were incorporated into the aluminum heads, also for durability.  A deep-skirt block with five cast-iron main-bearing caps provided a stiff bottom end.  The cast-aluminum pistons were linked to the cast-Armasteel crank through forged-steel connecting rods. (Armasteel was GM’s name for a special cast iron manufactured by its foundries.)

Combining an 8.8:1 compression ratio with dished piston crowns and shallow combustion chambers achieved detonation-free operation on regular gas.  The spark plugs were located within half an inch of the bore center to minimize flame travel.  The 3.50 inch bore and short 2.80-inch stroke minimized piston speed and engine height.

Because aluminum expands significantly more than iron when heated, the engineers worried that steel bolts screwed directly into aluminum threads might loosen in service. Testing proved the bolts would maintain the desired torque if they were well lubricated during assembly.

Aluminum-block manufacturing was the one area where Buick ventured into the unknown.  The technique adopted was called semi-permanent mold casting, because it mixed conventional sand cores with permanent steel dies.  Sand cores defined the internal coolant passages and the crankcase portion of the block.  The reusable steel molds used for the outer flanks, deck surfaces, and valley area saved manufacturing minutes and provided a smoother finish than was possible with sand cores.

Following dyno development and a million miles of durability testing, Buick’s engine was tuned to deliver 155 (gross) horsepower at 4800 rpm and 220 pound-feet of torque at 2400 rpm, with a relatively flat torque curve.  Upping the compression ratio to 10.25:1 and adding a four-barrel carburetor hiked output to 230 pound-feet and 185 horsepower, or 0.86 horsepower per cubic inch.  Chevy’s 283-cubic-inch V-8 delivered 230 horsepower (0.81 horsepower per cubic inch) with a four-barrel carburetor.

Oldsmobile entered the 1961 model year with a version of this V-8 called the Rockette to evoke a family tie to the Rocket 88.  To make efficient use of manufacturing facilities, Buick cast all the blocks and crankshafts, and Olds manufactured its own heads, pistons, valvetrain, and intake manifolds.  One significant difference in the blocks was Buick’s use of five head bolts per cylinder whereas Olds preferred six (stay tuned for the reason why).  Pontiac equipped most of its Tempests with what it called an Indy Four—basically, a V-8 chopped in half—with the Buick 3.5-liter V-8 available as an extra-cost upgrade.

The racing community was impressed by America’s new small V-8, too.  Mickey Thompson concluded that this ultra-light engine was the ideal means of rattling the Offenhauser crowd at Indy.  In 1962, Dan Gurney qualified eighth in Thompson’s Harvey Aluminum Special powered by a 4.2-liter Buick V-8, but he dropped out half-way through the race with a broken gearbox.

Unfortunately, the buying public didn’t swarm to the General’s new premium compact cars.  Only Pontiac topped 100,000 sales in 1961; combined Special/F-85/Tempest sales exceeded the Corvair’s volume by only 10 percent.  The issue was price.  The cheapest Olds F-85 cost $118 more than a Chevy Bel Air.  Instead of merely hoping sales would rise, Buick and Oldsmobile swiftly rejiggered their game plans.  In 1962, Buick moved down-market, and Oldsmobile grabbed the next rung up the price ladder.

Buick’s 1962 companion to the aluminum V-8 was a V-6 made by whacking one cylinder per bank.  To spare the higher cost of aluminum, the block and the heads were converted to cast iron.  Keeping the V-8’s 90-degree V-angle was hardly ideal from a vibration standpoint, but it did allow machining the new V-6 with existing tools.  What began as a crude expedient eventually ended up as GM’s rock-star 3800 V-6, a story for another day.

Oldsmobile promoted its Rockette aluminum V-8 to Jetfire Turbo Rocket status by adding a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger fed by a single-barrel side-draft Rochester carburetor.  Beating Chevy’s Corvair Monza Turbo to market by a few weeks gave Olds bragging rights for the world’s first turbocharged production model.  Peak power surged to 215 horsepower at 4800 rpm—clearing the one horse-per-cubic-inch hurdle.  The torque curve peaked at a potent 300 pound-feet at 3200 rpm.  Without major changes to the host engine or any loss of smoothness or drivability, midrange torque rose by 40 percent.

Turbo pinwheels spinning at 90,000 rpm were supported by aluminum sleeve bearings lubed by engine oil. Exhaust gas accelerated the alloy-steel turbine wheel from 40,000 rpm during cruising to 80,000 rpm in less than a second after the throttle was floored. An exhaust waste gate built into the turbocharger limited boost pressure to 5 psi.

Instead of lowering the naturally aspirated V-8’s 10.25:1 compression ratio, which would penalize efficiency, Oldsmobile devised a system that metered Turbo Rocket fluid during boost conditions in a 1:10 ratio with the gasoline consumed.  This 50/50 elixir of distilled water and methyl alcohol (antifreeze) with a splash of corrosion inhibitor cooled the gas and air mixture sufficiently to forestall detonation.  To their surprise, Olds engineers found that the alcohol content added six horsepower to peak output.

The tank that stored this juice was pressurized by a tap off the turbo’s compressor to force delivery to the carburetor’s float chamber.  Safeguards were provided to inhibit boost when the essential fluid was depleted.  Testing predicted the 5 quart supply would last nearly 1000 miles.

BEATING CHEVY’S CORVAlR MONZA TURBO TO MARKET BY A FEW WEEKS (AND BMW AND PORSCHE BY A DECADE) GAVE OLDS BRAGGING RIGHTS FOR THE WORLD’S FIRST TURBOCHARGED PRODUCTION MODEL.

Osmobile’s 1962 JetRocket V-8 topped by a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger fed a single-barrel Rochester downdraft carburetor. Five psi of boost raised output to 215 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 300 pound-feet of 3200.

Those extra head bolts?  Oldsmobile designed them into its version of the 215 to help avoid warpage and blown head gaskets on the turbo variant.  The pistons, the bearings, and the valves were also upgraded.

Proud of their achievement, Oldsmobile engineers Gil Burrell, Frank Ball, and James Lewis concluded their Turbo Rocket tech paper by saying, “This engine is a development that will be appreciated by all engineers, performance enthusiasts, and other people interested in advanced mechanical powerplants.”  Car and Driver technical guru Roger Huntington dubbed the engine “the most radical design from an American factory in many years.”  He rated the ’62 Olds Cutlass F-85 Jetfire “an elegant and comfortable high-performance car of medium size”.

Unfortunately, GM’s hot small engine was caught out by radical changes sweeping through the industry.  For the 1964 model year—the dawn of the muscle-car era-—GM’s premium compacts grew into intermediate A-bodies powered exclusively by iron engines.  Buick and Olds kept the V-6 and added larger V-8 options.  Pontiac used a Chevy inline-six for base power and offered V-8s ranging from 326 to a wild 421 cubic inches.

The aluminum 215 V-8 lasted only three model years, in part because it was a costly indulgence.  The casting process suffered from porosity issues—seepage through the cylinder-block walls—and the high scrap rates gave top management the willies.  If the porosity wasn’t discovered upfront, coolant contamination of the oil triggered an expensive warranty claim.  Customers who used the wrong antifreeze suffered radiators clogged with aluminum deposits.  Mechanics hurriedly changing spark plugs occasionally stripped threads in the aluminum heads.

Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire owners often ignored the dash light urging them to replenish their Turbo Rocket fluid.  The most pressing issue was fewer than 10,000 turbo cars sold, resulting in its cancellation after only two model years.  Some dealers even stooped to removing the booster for disgruntled customers.  The Corvair Monza Spyder also failed to top 10,000 sales in 1962, suggesting that turbochargers were too mysterious for most small-car buyers.

On the opposite side of the earth, Oldsmobile’s light, compact V-8 was held in higher regard.  Australian racing driver Jack Brabham commissioned auto-parts supplier Repco to base a Formula 1 V-8 on the Olds block endowed with SOHC heads and a flat plane crankshaft to produce more than 300 horsepower from 3.0 liters.  That shrewd move earned Brabham the 1966 drivers’ and constructors’ titles.  This was the first and last time an engine with American production-car roots prevailed in Formula 1.

Britain’s Rover also took advantage of GM’s aluminum V-8. By the early 1960s, the 3.0-liter F-head inline-six that powered its flagship sedan was overdue for replacement.  On a visit to the States, Rover’s managing director, William Martin-Hurst, stumbled across a Buick V-8 that Mercury Marine intended to install in a boat.  The engine was instead shipped to England, where Rover engineers concluded it would suit their needs.

In 1965, Rover inked a deal with GM that included all rights to the aluminum V-8, tech data, blueprints, and a few used engines.  Designer Turlay, about to retire from Buick, moved to England to assist the production restart.  Apparently, it didn’t occur to anyone at GM that Rover would be competing against GM’s own European brands, Opel and Vauxhall, with the exiled engine.

Rover switched block manufacturing to conventional sand casting with pressed-in cylinder liners to solve the porosity problem for good.  Starting with the P5 sedan in 1967, Rover’s 184-hp V-8 graduated to the P6 a year later and to the Range Rover luxury SUV when it debuted in 1970.  The enduring success of the Land Rover brand in our market is the direct result of its arrival with a smooth, potent engine.

Growing in steps to 5.0 liters, the aluminum V-8 thrived in MGS, Morgans, Triumphs, and TV Rs and stayed in production until 2004.  The remanufacturing firm MCT then took the baton to continue the supply of engines to Britain’s low-volume specialty brands until 2010.  Without this V-8, the Japanese would have annihilated British sports cars as quickly as they had laid the U.K.’s motorcycle industry to rest.

GM’s courageous aluminum and turbocharging initiatives yielded several worthy permutations of the original Buick 215 V-8, notable racing success, and millions of satisfied customers.

In life, as in the engine lab, tenacity pays off.

21 Mar

Routine Maintenance Items

As you all know, I have several Morgan cars. Each of these cars is different and each of these cars needs to be maintained in a different manner.

For each car, I have identified a number of maintenance tasks that need to be accomplished at specific times and/or mileage intervals. I also have a tracking mechanism (computer program) that keeps me from forgetting to change the oil or check the lights on a given car.

These maintenance tasks have been identified over time through personal experience, found in published books, MMC handbooks, or recommended by others with similar cars. These lists have evolved over time, and continue to evolve.

These service lists may seem excessive or not accurately match your specific list, but I thought I would provide them, not as gospel, but as merely a suggestion, starting point, or food for thought.

In each of these service lists there are also likely to be duplicate tasks, misspellings or other editing problems. My apologies, these errors get fixed as I find them, as this really is a work in progress.

These service lists are provided as Microsoft Excel files (*.xlsx) which should be readable and/or editable by just about everyone. If, however, you cannot read and/or edit these file, and want to, just let me know. I will find another format that works for you.

There are certainly others of you that are far more technically inclined than I am and can offer some very good advice (send me an email!) on what I should change.

Cheers, Mark

05 Mar

Morgan Takes On Financial Partner – 5 March 2019

European Investment Group Investindustrial Acquire Morgan, 5 March 2019 – https://classiccarcuration.co.uk/

Morgan

Investindustrial has today announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Morgan Motor Company Ltd (“Morgan”), the iconic 110-year old British sports cars manufacturer.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed, and it is expected to complete in April 2019. The Morgan family will continue to act as stewards for the brand and retains a minority shareholding. Meanwhile, for the first time in its history, the management team and all employees will become shareholders in the business.

The investment is executed without financial debt, and Morgan will have a positive net cash position upon closing of the transaction. The investment in Morgan is made by a separate fund (with a different strategy) from Investindustrial V L.P. (whose investment subsidiaries hold a stake in Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC).

Steve Morris, CEO, Morgan Motor Company, commented:

“The future is bright for Morgan. We are coming off the back of two record years. We have an all-new vehicle architecture and powertrain,
and have just launched the most dynamically capable Morgan yet, the exciting new Plus Six at the Geneva International Motor Show. Now we have the best possible owner and partner to take the business to the next level and develop Morgan’s global potential.”

Founded in 1909

Founded in 1909, Morgan continues to this day to hand-build premium sports cars with a classic design in its historic factory in Malvern, UK, which is visited by more than 30,000 enthusiasts each year. With revenues of £33.8 million and net profit of £3.2 million in 2018, the company sells around 700 cars per year including a portfolio of iconic car designs and a unique 3 Wheeler manufactured using three core elements: ash, aluminium and leather.

The Morgan brand is synonymous of quintessential British craftsmanship, elegance, performance and design. Morgan has a loyal and active owners’ community with more than 5,000 members and 50 clubs globally.

As part of the transaction, and as a sign of its long-term faith in the company and the wider British automotive sector, Investindustrial will support Morgan to accelerate new product development, after the launch today of the new Plus Six at the Geneva motor show, the first to adopt the company’s new CX-Generation architecture, increase global distribution and broaden customers’ experience with unique events, enabling Morgan to fulfil its global potential as an iconic maker of hand-built British sports cars. In supporting the company, Investindustrial will leverage its vast experience and track record in the automotive industry, developed through a number of successful investments over the last 30 years, such as Aston Martin and Ducati.

Dominic Riley, Chairman, Morgan Motor Company, commented:

“The past two years have been the most successful in our company’s 110-year history. However, to really fulfill Morgan’s full potential and secure our long-term future, both the family and management team, felt it was essential to bring in a strategic partner. A partner that shares our vision for Morgan and has the expertise, financial resources and track record of success in the automotive world, to make it happen. That partner is Investindustrial.”

Morgan will continue to focus on its niche classic segment within the automotive sector, with bespoke manufacturing, hand-built products, and the use of ash remaining central to its strategy. Investindustrial will work closely with current management and the wider Morgan family to make sure that future development of the business will be respectful of and remain true to the company’s unique heritage.

MAJORITY STAKE ACQUIRED IN ICONIC SPORTS CAR MANUFACTURER (5 Mar 2019, www.insidermedia.com/)

Majority stake acquired in iconic sports car manufacturer

A majority stake has been acquired in an iconic 110-year-old British sports car manufacturer.

Investindustrial has acquired the interest in Morgan Motor Company for an undisclosed fee. The deal is expected to complete in April.

The Morgan family will continue to act as stewards for the brand and retain a minority shareholding while the management team and all employees will have a share of the business.

The investment has been executed without financial debt, and Morgan will have a positive net cash position upon closing of the transaction.

The move has been made by a separate fund, with a different strategy, from Investindustrial VLP whose investment subsidiaries hold a stake in Aston Martin.

Founded in 1909, Morgan Motor Company hand-builds premium sports cars with a classic design in its historic factory in Malvern which is visited by more than 30,000 enthusiasts each year.

With revenues of £33.8m and net profit of £3.2m 2018, the company sells about 700 cars per year including a portfolio of iconic car designs and a unique three-wheeler manufactured using three core elements: ash, aluminium and leather.

As part of the transaction Investindustrial will support Morgan to accelerate new product development, after the launch of the new Plus Six at the Geneva motor show today – the first to adopt the company’s new CX-Generation architecture, increase global distribution and broaden customers’ experience with unique events.

Dominic Riley, chairman at Morgan Motor Company, said: “The past two years have been the most successful in our company’s 110-year history.

“However, to really fulfil Morgan’s full potential and secure our long-term future, both the family and management team, felt it was essential to bring in a strategic partner.

“A partner that shares our vision for Morgan and has the expertise, financial resources and track record of success in the automotive world, to make it happen. That partner is Investindustrial.”

Jill Price, Peter Morgan’s daughter and longest serving Morgan family director, added: “Having very carefully considered all options for the future success of Morgan, the family concluded that this new ownership structure and Investindustrial, have the pedigree and resources to secure the long-term future of Morgan.

“It was important for the family to retain a shareholding, and we are delighted that our loyal management team and workforce will now also have a share in the business going forward.”

Andrea C. Bonomi, Investindustrial’s chairman of the Industrial Advisory Board, said: “Morgan is one of the most famous names in the automotive world. Morgan’s handmade British sports cars are true icons of the industry.

“We have followed the company and seen its progress for some time and see significant potential for Morgan to develop internationally whilst retaining its hand-built heritage, which is at the heart of the Morgan Motor Company.

“We share with the Morgan family the belief that British engineering and brands are unique and have an important place in the world.”

Steve Morris, chief executive at Morgan Motor Company, said: “The future is bright for Morgan. We are coming off the back of two record years.

“We have an all-new vehicle architecture and powertrain, and have just launched the most dynamically capable Morgan yet, the exciting new Plus Six at the Geneva International Motor Show.

“Now we have the best possible owner and partner to take the business to the next level and develop Morgan’s global potential.”

05 Mar

2019 – New Plus 6 Announced at Geneva

[Here it is! The new Morgan we have been waiting for. As predicted it has BMW power, but a lot of other things are new. Although it looks like a typical classic, there are a number of significant changes. A new, modern, aluminum chassis, and a host features specifically addressing creature comforts, and area typically ignored by Morgan. I have just been studying the pictures and can see loads of new features. If you want more, google Morgan Car Geneva and read the various reports. When and if we will see the car in the US is still TBD. Cheers, Mark]

Introducing the all-new Morgan Plus Six (MMC Press Release)

In its landmark 110th year in business, the Morgan Motor Company is excited to introduce the next generation of Morgan sports car, debuted today at the Geneva International Motor Show. The all-new Morgan Plus Six is, without exception, the most dynamically capable Morgan ever produced. Further extending Morgan’s unique blend of craftsmanship and technology, the Plus Six celebrates Morgan’s timeless design, underpinning it with the newly introduced CX-Generation aluminium bonded platform and the latest BMW powertrain.

An expanding in-house Research and Development team, a growing list of strategic technical partners and an extensive testing programme ensure the Plus Six is the most thoroughly developed Morgan product to date.  

The Plus Six represents several firsts for Morgan, most notably the first time the company has utilised a turbocharged engine. The BMW 2019 B58 TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine is a latest generation BMW powertrain and Morgan has worked alongside BMW to fine-tune the performance capabilities of the Plus Six.

A closer look at the iconic Morgan silhouette gives a number of clues to just how radically different the Plus Six is to any other Morgan model before it. Subtle vents provide a hint of the raw power and performance that underpin the beautiful flowing lines of the exterior. Make no mistake, whilst familiarly Morgan, almost every part of the Plus Six has been refined or redesigned, with less than one percent of the 4,000 parts being shared across other Morgan models.

A completely redesigned cabin celebrates the natural materials used within Morgan craftsmanship, as well as offering greater levels of personalisation than ever before. The new cockpit is more driver focussed and encompasses appropriately introduced technology, whilst also allowing customers more leg room and increased stowage space.

The Plus Six is one of the cleanest vehicles within the Morgan range. The introduction of the new powertrain has led to a CO2 figure of 170g/km and a combined MPG figure of 38.2mpg. The achievement of a more fuel-efficient vehicle allows the Plus Six to compete in key European markets, which have previously proven prohibitive for high-performance Morgans due to tax reasons in recent years. 

The Plus Six goes on sale today, and is priced from £77,995 inc. VAT in the UK.

CX-Generation Architecture

The all-new CX-Generation bonded aluminium platform is a leap forward in terms of the engineering that underpins Morgan’s most dynamically capable model. Weighing less than 100 kilograms, the all-new platform benefits from a 100% increase in torsional rigidity. 

The key engineering attributes of the CX-Generation platform not only aid performance for the Plus Six, but also offer several important driver benefits including 200mm increased leg room and 31% increase in stowage space.

First Editions

The ‘first edition’ Emerald and ‘first edition’ Moonstone Morgan Plus Six models represent the diverse array of specification options that are available on Morgan’s latest model. Each of the 50 first Plus Six models will be built in ‘first edition’ specification and are available to order now.

Reimagined Interior

The Plus Six features an all new, more driver focussed and refined cockpit. A reimagined interior offers greater levels of personalisation than any Morgan previously, whilst cleverly incorporating technology throughout. A display screen is neatly positioned within the driver’s field of vision, subtly embedded into the dashboard with an unlimited level of wood and colour combinations. Sculpted doors incorporate all new puddle lighting, central locking mechanisms and hidden speakers.

The Morgan Plus Six comes with Supra power (www.topgear.com)

Old looks, but an entirely new Morgan with turbo power from BMW (and Toyota)

Meet the Plus Six, an almost entirely brand new Morgan. Which looks – perhaps reassuringly – just like an old Morgan. Believe it or not, a mere four components have been carried across from previous models, and they’re the round metallic stoppers for the centrally hinged bonnet. Everything else has been replaced or completely redesigned.

What those stoppers protect is the big news. Morgan had already told us the Plus 8 was surrendering its V8, and its change in name is a ginormous clue to what lies beneath, namely a 3.0-litre straight-six turbo engine producing 335bhp and 369lb ft.

If that sounds like a familiar set-up, well it is; the engine comes across almost wholesale from the BMW Z4 and, indeed, the Toyota Supra. The car of the moment. The Plus Six gets its own calibration and exhaust tune, mind, and with a mere 1,075kg to move around, achieves a stocky 166mph top speed and 4.2secs. More modern aerodynamics would likely improve both figures…

That turbo six drives the rear wheels, but despite this being Morgan’s first ever turbocharged car, via no safety systems whatsoever. There’s not a jot of traction or stability control, ABS being the only sop to that entirely modern attitude of ‘not wanting to crash’.

But this is where news story number two comes in: the Plus Six is based upon an entirely new aluminium and ash architecture that should futureproof Morgan’s next range of high-end sports cars. The so-called ‘CX’ platform may host an entirely familiar looking car to begin with, but expect considerably more radical Morgans to follow. Hybrids, EVs, active safety systems, even a degree of self-driving… this new age of Morgan will be able to adapt to whatever its maker (or legislation) sees fit.

So while future Morgans can be malleable to changes in safety rules, the Plus Six channels all of that turbo power through no filters whatsoever. There’s only an eight-speed ZF automatic for now, with fixed plastic paddles behind the wheel and the same central gear selector as all the BMWs (and the Toyota) the drivetrain is shared with. A manual may follow in due course.

There’s a choice of comfort, sport and sport plus drive modes, though they operate only on gearbox and throttle reactions. There’s no adaptive damping or suchlike, but again, it’s something future models may get. If you’re worried, then the new platform is twice as strong as the one it replaces with inevitable benefits to handling prowess.

It may look old, but we’re promised this thing really is all new

The Plus Six has had three years of development work, much of it alongside BMW, and is without doubt the most thoroughly honed Morgan ever, with hot and cold testing overseas and lapping at Idiada in Spain.

“We worked very closely with BMW,” says Morgan’s design boss, Jonathan Wells. “Their engineers were very excited by the fact the engine isn’t concealed behind layers of sound deadening and interfering tech, and it’s very much a visceral engineering activity.”

That new platform also halves the production time compared to a Plus 8, down from eight to four weeks, and thus should double the wide-bodied Morgan’s sales, from 150 to 300 a year. The company is famed for its almost infinite bespoke options, though, and reckons the Plus Six will be more customisable than ever thanks to the new seat and trim options freed up by a bigger, more flexible interior.

It’s actually pretty familiar inside. The dials are as simple as before and the interior doesn’t suddenly submit to an endlessly connected world; driving a Morgan will remain an antidote to all of that, but there is a new LCD trip computer so you can see how close to its claimed 38mpg you’re getting. The biggest change is an additional 200mm of legroom that should open up Morgan ownership to a hitherto unsatisfied tall audience.

“The first thing we packaged was the people, then we put the components around them,” says Wells. “It’s a completely new approach to how we develop cars with much more flexibility.”

Yep, it may look old, but we’re promised this thing really is all new, and the clues are there as soon as you prod beneath the surface. The doors stay open and don’t jam your leg. There’s remote central locking and automatic headlights. There’s puddle lighting, for heaven’s sake…

Order books are open now, with the Plus Six starting at £77,995. Considerably more than the BMWs and Toyotas its engine is shared with, but much less than the £120,000 those final Plus 8s sold for. The two cars you see here are the now de rigueur Launch Editions, which cost £89,995, come in a fixed spec and include the removable hard top that’ll be optional on regular Sixes.

Overseas, the price difference will be yet more stark thanks to the smaller engine’s cleaner CO2 emissions. In some European markets they’ll drops the car’s registration tax from as much as 60,000 euros to around 10,000 euros. Yikes.

“We recognise the classic Morgan has remained very popular for us and we still see a lot of mileage in the running board design,” concludes Wells. “We think it’ll appeal to current Morgan owners but also turn the heads of people who haven’t considered them before.

“We’re taking a really long look down the road at the moment – what does a 2030 Morgan look like? – which is great for us designers. We have a very robust product plan looking forward.”