04 Apr

Understanding Spark Plug Heat Range

(https://www.enginebuildermag.com/)

[I know many of us have tunnel vision when it comes to modifying the Morgan.  “Originality is a must!  Modification is simply heresy . . .

Ok, I get it, but I will have to say that in my opinion, one of the wonders of the Morgan car is the ability to modify it with relative ease.  Sometimes, we find a need to improve something in the interest of safety.  Sometimes, it is just a wild hare that gets us going.  I have a few Morgan cars and have to say all of them have been modified in some way.  Some are performance modifications while some are simply cosmetic. 

In the midst of one of my efforts, the topic of Spark Plug heat range came up.  As usually, I found a void in my understanding. So after a little searching, I found this article. It seems simple and direct so I thought I would share.  Cheers, Mark]

Depending on the engine modifications you’ve made, you’ll need to take a few extra factors into consideration before settling on the right spark plugs.

These factors include spark plug seat design, thread length and diameter, and reach. One of the most important – and most misunderstood – factors in choosing aftermarket spark plugs is the heat range. 

What is Heat Range?

Heat range is the speed at which a spark plug can transfer heat from the firing tip to the cylinder head water jacket and into the cooling system.  Choosing the right heat range is crucial for high performance engines.  If the heat range is too cold, the spark plug will be unable to properly self-clean by burning off carbon deposits.

If it the heat range is too hot, your engine could experience detonation, pre-ignition, or power loss.  Most spark plug manufacturers recommend that the tip temperature remain between 500° C and 850° C.

Heat ranges are designated by each spark plug manufacturer with a number.  In broad terms, spark plugs are often referred to as “hot plugs” or “cold plugs.”  A cold plug has a shorter insulator nose length – the distance from tip to spark plug shell – and transfers heat rapidly from its firing tip to the cylinder head water jacket.

Cold plugs are ideal for high rpm engines, forced induction applications, and other instances where the engine produces high operating temperatures.  Conversely, hot plugs are good for applications that operate mainly at low rpms.  Because they have a longer insulator nose length, heat is transferred from the firing tip to the cooling system at slower pace.  This keeps the spark plug temperature high, which allows the plug to self-clean and prevent fouling.

Unfortunately, heat range numbers are not universal – each brand has its own method for assigning heat ranges.  You’ll need to talk with your sales rep or consult with the manufacturer to find the best heat range for your application and spark plug brand.  Be prepared to supply some basic vehicle information, including any modifications you’ve made.

[The internet is a great source for a given vendor’s spark plug offerings and some provide the relative heat range information. ]

As a rule of thumb, you can expect to require one heat range colder than the factory-supplied plugs for every 75 – 100 horsepower you’ve add with your modifications, according to Champion Spark Plugs. Here are some more basic guidelines to get you pointed in the right direction:

Basic Heat Range Guidelines

[Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. You can always revert to what you have now! Mark]

  • Increased compression ratio [Common with Morgans]Higher compression ratios mean higher cylinder pressure and temperature. Once again, you’ll need a colder heat range to rapidly transfer all that extra heat to the cooling system.
  • Air/fuel mixture modifications [Common with Morgans]:  Lean air/fuel mixtures raise the operating temperature, along with the plug tip temperature, possibly causing knock or pre-ignition.  Use a colder heat range for leaner air/fuel mixtures.  Rich air/fuel mixtures can cause the plug temperature to dip, allowing carbon deposits to build up on the tip. Use a hotter heat range for rich air/fuel mixtures.
  • Advanced ignition timing [Common with Morgans]In general, advanced ignition timing will raise the spark plug temperature.  In fact, NGK estimates an increase of 70° to 100° for every 10° advance in ignition timing.  For this reason, you may need to go with a colder heat range to prevent knock or pre-ignition.
  • Prolonged acceleration/high speed driving [Common with Morgans]Frequent and drawn-out acceleration and high-rpm driving raises combustion temperatures and generally requires a colder heat range.
  • Supercharging/turbocharging [Turbocharging is not unheard of with Morgans however Supercharging is not common]: Forced induction leads to increased cylinder pressure and temperature, which could lead to detonation.  Depending on the exact application, you’ll need to go with a significantly colder heat range (faster heat transfer) over stock.
  • Nitrous oxide [Not common with Morgans]The high cylinder temperatures caused by nitrous usually requires a colder heat range over the stock plug.
  • Methanol [Not common with Morgans]Since it has a higher octane level than standard gasoline, methanol delivers more complete combustion. As a result, you’ll need a colder plug to transfer more heat from the combustion chamber.
24 Mar

MORGAN MOTOR COMPANY STATEMENT (24 Mar 2000)

The principles of family have defined the Morgan Motor Company for generations. We’re not just talking about H.F.S Morgan – who founded the company 111 years ago – and his descendants, but the wider Morgan family: our workforce, our customers, our dealerships and our fans around the world.

To these people, few things are more important than building and driving Morgan cars. Normally, our factory does not close, but today our craftsmen and women will put down their tools.

It’s for one simple reason: without family, nothing else matters. And at this time, our family and your family are all that matters.

For the first time since World War II, and following [UK] Government advice, we have made the decision to close the Morgan factory for at least one month. During this period, we are committed to looking after each of our employees.

We would urge you to keep your Morgan in the garage, to follow Government advice and stay at home. The next adventure can wait, and when all of this is over, your next drive will feel like your first.

It’s more important now than ever before that we stay connected. We’ll still be online, so let’s keep the conversation going…  

Important Information: 

The Morgan Motor Company factory and offices are expected to be closed from 25 March to 20 April 2020. During this period, most of our usual business activity is suspended.

Morgan factory tour, car hire, and experience drive bookings during this period have been cancelled. These bookings can be rescheduled, and we will be in touch with you upon our return to work to assist you to with this.

Bookings made directly though Morgan Motor Company can be refunded if you are not able to reschedule. If you have purchased a voucher through a third party and are not able to reschedule, please contact the provider for more details.

All vouchers with an expiry date on or after 24 March 2020 will now be redeemable until the end of 2021.

Our online shop remains open.

For sales enquiries, please contact your Morgan Dealer. You can find your nearest Dealership here.

For Morgan Works Malvern aftersales, factory servicing or Aero Racing enquiries, please email dsc@morgan-motor.co.uk

For all other enquiries, please use the contact form on the link below and we will deal with your enquiry as best we can.

Thank you for your support during this period, we wish the best of health to all of you and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Morgan Motor Company

19 Feb

Morgan ends 70-year run of building Plus 4 sports car (https://driving.ca/ – 1/20/2020)

The roadster hasn’t changed much over seven decades — that goes for this send-off run, too

It would appear that the demand is still there for the traditional ladder frame cars so the MMC, not wanting to miss out on a good thing, will make a few more . . . the 70th Anniversary Plus 4s. Mark

Morgan is sending its Plus 4 into the history books, where it’s pretty much been for 70 years, anyway. However, this time it’s doing something special to mark the end of its seven decades of production of the sports car.

To commemorate the life of the Plus 4, Morgan will build a special edition heritage roadster.

It will feature a more powerful 2.0-litre engine from Ford, as well as a Mazda-provided five-speed manual transmission.

The four-cylinder now makes 180 horsepower thanks to in-house tuning company Aero Racing, up from the previous 154 horsepower. Sixty miles per hour (96 km/h) happens from a standstill in just 7.0 seconds now.

We should note the 70 years of manufacture of the Plus 4 weren’t continuous: the vehicle ended production briefly in 1969, only to return in 1985 looking almost exactly the same.

Hilariously, Morgan released a design sketch of this last Plus 4, showing no changes to the design since it was revealed in 1950, and that’s a good thing. Just because the design is ancient doesn’t mean the tech is. Heated, leather-upholstered seats now adorn the interior, as well as a Ravenwood-veneered dashboard with a numbered 70th Anniversary plaque in the center.

Every one of them will be painted in Platinum Metallic paint and feature dark grey wire wheels with black trim and a “motorsport-inspired” front panel.

[They also will come with is a ‘gold’ painted (coated) chassis? Something I can’t really come to grips with. Mark]

Along with your special vehicle, Morgan will also provide a photo book containing images of the vehicle being built.

Morgan is only going to make 20 of them, and they’ll cost £60,995 ($103,000) each. If you want one, don’t even bother looking at the price, because they’re all sold out anyway. Deliveries will begin in the spring.

18 Feb

The Truth About Car Paint Sealant (https://avalonking.com/)

You can argue the pros and cons of automotive paint sealants, compare it to waxes, and staunchly defend your favorite brand. We all have our opinions, however. . .

In my opinion, one of the most compelling reasons to use a paint sealant on a Morgan in MOGSouth is protection.  In many of our locations, our cars are subject to extremes.  It is frequently hot!! With the sun baring down on our cars, unmercifully.  Our cars need as much protection as we can give them. 

Another strong motivator for using a sealant is time.  Our Morgans are not typically our only cars, nor are they our only commitments.  We have other cars that need to be addressed (and other things that take up our discretionary time) so we can continue to work, eat, shop, etc.  Spending all day, every day, playing with our Morgans is not always possible.  We need products that last.  

Another thing I like about paint sealants is they seem to be slicker than waxes. That means the unavoidable ‘dirt and grime’ that seem to be ‘magnetically’ attracted to my Morgan, doesn’t stick. The car stays cleaner, longer. And for me, that is a good thing! Cheers, Mark

In the automotive world, there is always a middle ground. Whether you’re buying a new car, or looking for paint protection products, our industry is packed with multiple options to fit consumers growing needs or limited budgets. When it comes to protecting your car’s paint, a popular mid-level product is a car paint sealant.

Automotive paint sealants are mainly manufactured and sold by the same companies that produce car wax and polishes. They are often designed to provide a thin layer of protection that prohibits contaminants and UV rays to penetrate to the clear coat.

And like any other paint protection or car care product, there are some paint sealants that are really good – and some that are just simply – crap.

With the multiple products out there, it’s common to find some less than honest marketing lingo that oversells what they can and can’t do. So, in order to provide some clarity or just some simple facts, we’ll dive into the truth about car paint sealant.

We’ll define what car paint sealant is and what it’s made from, explain what it is designed to do, how they are applied onto a vehicle, some pros and cons about them, and finally, we’ll answer some of the most common FAQ’s. 

So, let’s dive into some car paint sealant facts.

What is Car Paint Sealant?

If you’re familiar with car wax and polish, then you may have met it’s older, and longer-lasting cousin – car paint sealant. It’s usually made from synthetic ingredients, polymers, and car wax to allow it to last longer. It’s designed to protect the paint from exposure to UV rays and contaminants and usually lasts up to six months.

Why is the Car Paint Sealant Important?

Many car owners choose car paint sealants as a longer-lasting alternative to car wax and polish. But it also produces results far superior to these two products. There are a few reasons why this product is quickly becoming a top seller in the paint protection market.

It provides a deeper depth of paint

Car paint sealant typically creates a deeper or high gloss finish on when applied to paint in good condition. So, not only does it protect, but it enhances the natural shine.

It protects paint longer than wax

Car wax (usually the natural carnauba wax) will last about 6 weeks. Some synthetic car waxes can last up to 3 months. A car paint sealant which is made from polymer technology and synthetic ingredients will last from six to 10 months.

Provides stronger protection

Some harsh contaminants like acid rain, bug splatters, and bird droppings contain strong acidic levels. These items can penetrate basic car wax and cause damage to the clear coating. Car paint sealant is stronger, long-lasting and protects the paint from these harmful contaminants.

Increases the vehicle’s resale value

When a car owner uses car paint sealants it helps to protect the clear coating (?), which preserves the paint quality – and also the resale value when you trade in the vehicle.

Makes it easier to wash and dry a vehicle

Paint sealants have very good hydrophobic properties. Like a ceramic coating, they resist the collection of standing water, dirt and debris, which makes it easier to wash and also dry the car.

How to Apply Car Paint Sealant

Since these products are similar in their ‘construction’ to liquid car wax and polish, they are usually applied in a similar fashion. Generally, auto detailing experts agree that there are two basic ways of applying the best car paint sealant products:

Hand Application

The hand application method of a paint sealant is virtually identical to car polish. In fact, many consumers will apply a paint polish first, then apply a car polymer sealant on top. This helps to improve the luster and shine of car paint. Essentially, applying car synthetic sealant follows a three-step process:

Prep the vehicle

The prep work for applying car paint sealant simple. Just wash the car using the two-bucket method and apply an IPA spray solution to remove any small particles or contaminants.

Apply the sealant

Applying the actual paint sealant is also easy. Using a microfiber applicator sponge, apply a dime-sized drop of the product and rub it on the paint surface in a forward or vertical pattern. Don’t use a circular motion so you can avoid paint swirls. While the video above shows the guy doing the entire hood, for optimal results, stick to applying in a 2 x 2-foot section.

Buff

Once you’ve applied the product, and it’s dried, test the product by rubbing your thumb over it. It should ‘haze’ and wipe clean. Just buff the paint surface with a microfiber towel.

Machine Application

The machine application is another method of applying automotive paint sealants. It’s essentially the same process as described above but increases the potential of swirl marks. The key to reducing swirl marks is making sure the paint surface is 100% clear and free of microscopic imperfections.

If you’re going to use the machine method, you should probably complete extra prep work, such as using a clay bar treatment before the IPA spray solution.

Are Paint Sealants Worth It?

Determining whether a paint sealer is ‘worth it’ really breaks down to your personal comfort level, desire to keep your vehicle protected, and your pocketbook.

That being said, here are a few of the Pros and Cons of using a paint sealant to protect the paint surface of your ride.

Paint Sealant Pros

  • Simple to Use
    • As we described above, applying paint sealants are incredibly simple. You don’t need a detailer to apply it. It’s not a one-step product like some people think. But, it’s really easy. Just prep the paint, rub it on, let it dry, and wipe it off.
  • Combines with polishes and waxes
    • You also don’t need to remove waxing or polish jobs before applying a paint sealant product. In fact, many people use them all in conjunction. And many makers of these products combine a car sealant and polishes into an all-in-one solution.
  • Produces a shiny appearance
    • When you apply a synthetic polymer sealant to a properly prepped and clean paint surface, it will produce a very shiny or glass-like appearance. It also helps to reduce road grime from sticking.
  • Longer lasting than car wax alone
    • Most good paint sealant products will hold up for up to six months. There are a few pro-grade car paint sealants that can produce lasting protection for almost a year, but it comes at a premium cost.

Paint Sealant Cons – While there are some positive attributes of paint sealant products, they are not perfect. Here are a few items to consider before you fork over your hard-earned money.

  • Highlights imperfections
    • Very similar to a ceramic coating, a paint sealant will highlight any paint imperfections on the clear coating. If you have swirl marks, the paint sealant will make them look larger and more detailed. To combat this, most car owners have paint correction completed by detailers prior to using this type of product.
  • Needs more prep work than car wax and polish alone
    • The Paint surface needs to be very clean to allow paint sealants to adhere to the surface well. While you don’t need to strip wax or use a polisher, it’s important to clay bar treat the surface at the minimum for optimal results.
  • Hard to remove
    • If you’re wanting to remove a car paint sealant, you’ll have to look for and purchase a specialty automotive soap. These products are developed to strip paint sealants and car wax products, so it will completely remove everything in most instances. It can also take a few attempts to fully remove.
  • Middle-level paint protection solution
    • We talked about the range of product options in the automotive world in the intro. Well, paint sealants are that middle ground. Are they easier to apply than a ceramic coating? Yes, they are. However, they last about 1/8th the expected longevity of a ceramic coating.

When Should You Use Car Paint Sealant?

By no means do I believe that car paint sealants are not good. In fact, there are times when I’d suggest using a car paint sealant above a ceramic coating as a paint protectant.

Some of the best situations where a car paint sealant is your best option to protect your paint finish include:

Perfect for daily drivers on a budget

If you’ve recently purchased a newer car, and you’ll be spending a lot of time commuting highways, a car paint sealant is a good, entry-level product. While I’d personally use a ceramic coating, some people just don’t want to put the time and effort to prep or pay a professional to do it for them. In this case, a good paint protection option is a good car paint sealant.

Great for winter or extremely hot weather areas

If you live in Florida, Georgia, or Mississippi, or Alabama, and again, don’t want to put the effort or make the financial investment for a ceramic coating, a paint sealant to protect auto paint from exposure is a good alternative.

If the car paint is in good condition

We indicated above that paint sealants will highlight visible paint damage. So, if the paint is in good condition, and you don’t need to complete paint correction, a paint sealant is a good option.

Car Paint Sealant FAQs

To wrap things up, we ‘ll address some of the most popular car paint sealant FAQs, so we can clarify some common questions.

  • Q – Which is Better – Car Wax or a Paint Sealant?
    • A – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, when it comes to determining whether car wax is better than paint sealants, it really breaks down to what’s important for you. A car paint sealant is going to last longer and protect the vehicle about 5-times longer than even the best car wax. However, car wax is not going to highlight paint damage as much as paint sealants, so it might actually make your older car look better.
  • Q – How Long Does Car Paint Sealants Last?
    • A – We touched on this above, but most paint sealants will last anywhere from four to six months. There are some professional-grade paint sealants that can extend life expectancy to almost a year. However, these products typically require professional application and will cost a lot more than off-the-shelf products.
  • Q – How Expensive is a Car Paint Sealant?
    • A – You can find most car paint sealants at local auto parts stores for $25 to $40. You can also purchase them online on amazon.com and from manufacturer websites.
  • Q – What’s the Difference Between Car Wax and Sealant?
    • A – A car wax provides a hard shell of protection that actually gets stronger with added temperature. This is due to the natural carnauba wax ingredients derived from a palm tree in Brazil. A paint sealant is a fully synthetic product that is comprised of polymers that chemically bond onto the paint surface. When they ‘flash’ it provides a stronger layer of protection than car wax – and thus lasts longer than car wax.
  • Q – Can you Wax over a Paint Sealant?
    • A – Yes, you can use both products in conjunction. In fact, applying a car wax over sealant may provide an extra layer of protection by filling in smaller imperfections.
11 Feb

Bill Fink, celebrated importer of Morgan sports cars, dies in Bodega house fire (SFGATE – Feb 10, 2020)

As many of you will remember, Bill Fink was our honored guest at the MOGSouth 40th Anniversary Meet in Aiken SC. My first Morgan was a Bill Fink propane car as is my current Plus 8. ISIS Imports has been a wonderful supporter of MOGSouth for many, many years. To me he was a good friend and my Morgan hero. He will get greatly missed by us all!! Mark

<p>FILE - Bill Fink, Morgan guru in the Bay Area talks to a customer as he cruises around San Francisco.</p>

Well-known Bay Area sports car importer and vintage car racer Bill Fink was identified Monday as the victim of a house fire in Bodega.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said Fink, 77, died late Sunday in a fire that destroyed a single-story home on Salmon Creek Road. Although Fink’s wife and two friends were able to escape the blaze, firefighters were prevented from getting inside the home due to intense flames and heat.

“A number of the volunteers and first responders knew the victim. That’s hard for anyone that responds in a rural setting,” Gold Ridge Fire Protection District Chief Shepley Schroth-Cary told The Press Democrat. “And in an effort to save somebody, they were close to the victim before being driven out by fire. That’s always tough when you’re close but not successful.”

Schroth-Cary said the fire’s origin has not yet been determined, but it is not considered suspicious.

Fink was well known in the world of vintage British cars, especially among owners of Morgan sports cars, a legacy brand with a cult following. For decades, he was the only West Coast importer of Morgans through his San Francisco business Isis Imports, now called Morgan Cars USA, which had moved to Bodega in recent years, while still maintaining space on Pier 33. The Chronicle dubbed him the “Morgan Master” in a 2000 profile. Fink’s company celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2018.

The Morgan Motor Company, founded in 1909, still hand-builds about 800 sports cars annually, each based on their cars from the 1930s onward, as well as more modern versions which still feature similar lines. Fink had a close relationship with the company in England, and is credited with helping to keep the marque alive in the United States by working with the car maker to meet American import requirements and emissions standards.

It didn’t stop with new cars, though. Fink and his business has helped keep many vintage cars on the road though restorations, the supply of parts and expertise. His involvement with the Morgan Sports Car Club of Northern California reaches back to the 1960s.

“It was Bill who kept Morgan’s alive in the 1980s and most of us were in some way touched by his unbelievable efforts,” wrote one owner on a Morgan forum.

Fink spent the hours before his death on Sunday with the club on their annual “Oyster Run,” an organized rally through Marin and Sonoma counties, spending time with old friends and talking cars.

30 Jan

The 2020 Morgan Plus 4 Feels Like it’s From an Alternate Reality (https://www.msn.com/)

Much has been made of the 3.7 Roadsters coming into the US but little of the other options, like the Plus 4. Here is a good review, thanks to John Wade in Huntsville. Enjoy.

Slide 1 of 22: 2019-Morgan-Plus-4-Front-Side-Detail-2.jpg

The lack of airbags didn’t worry me. Nor did the conspicuous absence of rollover protection, ABS, traction control, stability control, and power steering. That stuff (or lack thereof) is cake; be mindful of your surroundings and your right foot, and you’ll more than likely be alright. Rather, it was the five (six? seven?) step process to erect or disassemble the cloth top of my loaner 2020 Morgan Plus 4 that caused me to sweat the most.

As if on cue, the skies above Morgan West—the home of Morgan Motors in Los Angeles and one of nine authorized dealers scattered around the U.S.—was ominously gray and heavy with the rain my weather apps declared was inevitable. Clearly, I’d need to memorize the innumerable snaps, clips, latches, and handles involved, along with the correct way to collapse the top, so I could avoid a soaking of both myself and the car’s gorgeous saddle brown interior. Beyond ruining interior electronics and leather, I ran the risk of shearing portions of the canvas lid if I didn’t fold its exposed metal joints in the correct manner.

Despite my fumbling, my instructor and Morgan West master mechanic Stefan Mincu wasn’t concerned. “You can be rough with these cars,” he explained as he leaned into the cockpit. “They look and feel delicate, but they’re quite robust. Plus, if you break anything, don’t worry—we’ll fix it.” That’s not something you expect to hear from a boutique automaker whose nationwide inventory would likely fail to fill half the lot at a Ferrari dealership.

a car parked on the side of a mountain

However, if the silver blue Plus 4 roadster I got my hands on for a few days is anything to go by, that could all change in the next few years. Like many other ultra-low-production manufacturers—Superformance is the first to sprint to mind—Morgan awaits whatever comes from the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015. That act was a dictate to NHTSA to develop specialized and more lenient regulations for small-scale automakers without requiring them to adhere to the same safety and emissions rulebook held by multinational behemoths like Toyota and Ford.

For now, all new Morgans inside Morgan West’s showroom sneak into the country via the same loophole many other kit-car and low-volume manufacturers take advantage of: The cars arrive in the U.S. sans engine and sometimes transmission, and are only introduced to their new hearts on U.S. soil. My tester Plus 4 received its transplant at Morgan West, presumably where the mass majority of L.A.-based Morgan customers opt to have their cars prepped.

Don’t call the Morgan a kit car, even if it toes the same regulatory gray lines as such machines do. All Morgans are handcrafted originally in Malvern, Worcestershire, U.K., via a blend of modern and old techniques that, yes, do still include extensive use of wood. Specifically, the frame that supports the exterior body is built from ash wood and overlaid with aluminum paneling for rigidity and longevity. Wait, you say, I thought the chassis was made of wood? No, it’s steel. Same goes for those allegedly wooden body panels that are actually aluminum.

Pep-talk over, I cut my way through the heart of Santa Monica in a vehicle I was woefully unfamiliar with. After taking stock of the interior, every preconceived notion I held about Morgan shattered. The Plus 4’s fit, finish, and quality is beyond even the best products emerging from top luxury brands. That doesn’t mean the Morgan is more luxurious or well-furnished, but the car feels hand-built and unique in a way semi-mass-produced cars do not, regardless of price. Leather appointments are tight and of the highest quality, and the metal trim and touchpoints are flawless and substantial. The floorboards have a nice strip of polished metal etched with the Morgan crest running the length of the footwell; it’s all done with a level of extreme care and artisanship you’ll be hard-pressed to find as part of anything not wearing Aston Martin wings on its snout.

a car parked on the side of a road

All this finery and care put into presentation and build quality does an excellent job of enhancing the off-the-shelf switchgear. Buttons, knobs, warning lights, and signal stalks are surely lifted from something else, but it all seems very mise en place. Even the gauges add to the experience: Charmingly, the tach and speedo are both mounted on the center of the flat dash, just above the shifter. This attention to detail extends to the exterior with impeccable paintwork and tight panel gaps.

Just about the only thing not hand-built (or at least hand-finished) is the 2.0-liter Ford Duratec GDI four-cylinder engine under the split front cowl. This is essentially the same naturally aspirated 2.0-liter found in the recently discontinued U.S.-market Ford Focus, and it puts out 154 horesepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, routed to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission purloined from an early-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata.

All of these separate ingredients—craftsmanship, 1950s styling, quality control, modern engine—add up to a rather bizarre package. As most newish Morgans do, it looks like it rolled directly out of the post-war sports car boom, but when you slide inside, you find seat belts, heated seats, a digital odometer, and Bluetooth connectivity. The engine is direct injected, electronically controlled, and eco-friendly, but as mentioned there are no driving aids, no ABS, no power steering. The car is appointed like a fine grand tourer, but the ride is excruciatingly raw, there’s no trunk whatsoever, there’s no glovebox door, and the only way to keep the weather out is to drive with the removable side-curtains installed.

a car parked on the side of a road: 2019 Morgan Plus 4 Front Three Quarters Top Down 4

Taken as a whole, the Morgan Plus 4 is a unique automotive experience. In 2020, it’s the anti-car, a flash from an alternate reality where we retained what made old cars so charming and visceral, and gussied them up with better tech and build quality. Forget restomod muscle cars; those are designed and built to drive more like a modern car than an old one. The Plus 4 is perfect parity between the Old World and New Age, warts and all.

I departed Santa Monica and took to Malibu’s nearby hills for a shakedown run. The 154 hp only has just more a ton to haul around, returning straight-line performance that’s similar to a new Miata’s, and is more than enough poke. It might be new-fangled, but Morgan fussed with the Ford 2.0-liter’s character to handily turn it from staid commuter to an effervescent and buzzy little engine befitting of the Plus 4’s antiquated persona. A Miata transmission of any age remains one of the best in the business and is a joy to snap-off quick shifts with in pursuit of the 2.0-liter’s peaky powerband. A completely redesigned exhaust system from what the engine usually mates to is partially behind the personality shift, but even without the rasp, it’s rev-happy and alive in a way you wouldn’t expect from an engine designed for basic transportation.

Then, I found a corner. I drove gingerly for the first half-hour, cognizant about the lack of any built-in safety nets. Manual steering and stiff brakes force you to think far ahead, though the steering is one of the Plus 4’s best attributes once you fall into rhythm. At speed, it’s well-weighted and exceptionally tactile, sending small (or not-so-small) jolts through the leather-wrapped polished metal steering wheel for each pebble or lane divider you cross.

a close up of a car

Handling is more difficult to get a read on than most classic small sports roadsters I’ve driven in the past, primarily due to an antiquated suspension layout. The hardware includes thoroughly modern bushings, springs, and shocks, but the Plus 4 retains the same sliding-pillar front suspension and solid rear axle design as it did nearly 70 years ago. The whole car creaks and flexes when pushed, and feels completely disjointed over rough pavement, but once you start to learn what to expect from the chassis, your confidence builds on a smooth canyon road and you begin to push a little harder, inch by inch.

Eventually, all the ragged stuff just melts away. The squeaks and rattles become endearing, the punishing ride forgivable, and suddenly, the idea of an independent rear suspension and adaptive ride seem like futuristic follies. Who cares about entry speed when you’re having this much fun? You’ll get to where your going eventually.

Therein lies the Plus 4’s secret: manage your expectations, and it’s unfiltered, unpasteurized automotive fun of the highest caliber. Drive one around for a few hours, and while you might not rush down to Morgan West to place a deposit, you’ll get it. You’ll understand why a small group of enthusiasts plunk down brand-new Porsche Cayman S money for a car that has no trunk, a complicated cloth roof, no fixed windows, and zero safety features beyond a three-point seatbelt.

Here’s hoping the Plus 4 sticks around for another seven decades.

19 Jan

Richard Hammond takes delivery of his Plus 6. The one spec’d by the public. (youtube)

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