20 May

AR Motorsport’s latest offering is the Morgan Plus 4 Club Sport

Motorsport at all levels is prevalent throughout Morgan’s rich history. Since the inception of the Morgan car in 1909, 3 and 4 wheeled examples have been used in trialling, rallies, circuit racing, sprints and hill climbs to name but a few motorsport disciplines. From trialling 3 Wheelers to victories at the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race, Morgan cars have been competing in motorsport around the world for over 100 years.

Morgan’s motorsport division, AR Motorsport, is a dedicated part of the Morgan Motor Company, and produce a range of race prepared vehicles, road and race performance parts as well as accessories for new and old Morgan cars. Working as a division within the company, their expertise and knowledge is second to none.

AR Motorsport’s latest offering is the Morgan Plus 4 Club Sport. Following on from other race and road models including the Plus 4 SuperSports, Plus 4 BabyDoll, ARV6 and AR Plus 4, the Club Sport is specifically designed for those looking to make a start in Morgan motorsport.

+4 CLUB SPORT – 2018 Morgan Plus 4 GDI 2.0
The Club Sport differs from a standard road car with:
– Re-mapped ECU and sports exhaust system producing 180 BHP at the flywheel
– Oil cooler
– Panhard rod
– Four externally adjustable shock absorbers
– Competition front pads
– Race brake fluid
– Brake bias valve
– 4 x 6.5” x 15” bolt on
alloys with no spare wheel
– 195/55×15 Toyo R888R E marked road/track tyres
– Lightweight style with no interior trim or carpet
– Interior surfaces of body and door are aluminium covered
– Rubber floor mats
– Body colour painted dashboard
– Standard heater remains
– Removable spare wheel cover
– Post type centre rear view mirror
Weather equipment:
– Quick release traditional style windscreen with electric heating
– Black PVC hood
– Black PVC side screens
– Driver side aero screen.
Safety equipment:
– 1x Tillet FIA race seat and brackets
– 6 point race harness
– Fire extinguisher kit (manually operated)
– Battery cut off switch
– Rear FIA rain light
– Front towing straps
– Rear towing straps
– Set of bonnet pins
– Pair of race roundels
– Safety sticker kit
– Rear roll bar and integral belt bar
– Removable side intrusion bars
– Suede 14” racing steering wheel
– Inertia bypass switch.
Optional extras:
– Quick release steering wheel boss
– Spare wheel and tyre
– Front undertray
– Round door mirrors
– Additional Tillett passenger race seat and harnesses
– Electric fire extinguisher

Oh, I almost forgot . . . £48,994 INC VAT + OTR.  See the MMC Web Site www.Morgan-Motor.co.uk for more.


10 May

Morgan profits up as it races into new era (www.financialtimes.com – May 2018)

UK sports car maker thrives despite changes in technology in automobile industry

Profits at Morgan Motor Company hit record highs last year after the luxury British sports car maker raised prices and made preparations for a future producing electric vehicles.

With its wooden frames and decades-old hand-crafted manufacturing techniques, the specialist group is thriving despite larger global rivals inserting more technology into their vehicles.

Operating profit climbed to £3m last year — the highest in the company’s history — compared with £1.6m in 2016 and £792,000 a year earlier.

Car sales rose from 707 to 751, with revenues climbing 18 per cent to £35.6m, another record.

As part of its efforts to adapt, the group has doubled research spending over the past two years, and will launch its first electric car — a battery driven three-wheeler that uses technology from Metrocab partner company Frazer Nash — at the end of this year.

It is a sign that one of Britain’s oldest carmakers, which only relatively recently ceased taking delivery of whole trees at its site to use for the wooden frame of its models, is meeting the big changes in the auto industry head on.

“These are not investments that are forced on us, we are being proactive because we need to keep the brand relevant,” said chairman Dominic Riley.

Its R&D team has risen from 13 in 2015 to 22 last year, and the company is in the process of expanding the research offices.

Profits have trebled in three years amid a drive to diversify its customer base beyond older men and bring the brand within reach of younger driving enthusiasts — those seeking a visceral experience of driving open-top cars untempered by technology such as traction control or power steering.

The company is also grappling with its place in the new world of cars.

With the industry investing in electric technology and self-driving systems to adapt to changing demands, Morgan wants to keep its heritage of making classic-looking vehicles.

“As a small company, we can’t afford to do everything ourselves,” said Mr Riley, who joined two years ago.

Morgan has partnerships to buy its eight-cylinder engines from BMW and other engines from Ford, outsourcing powertrains so that it can focus on the coach-building that has been its heritage for the last 109 years.

Of its profits, about £200,000 was paid as a dividend to the Morgan family that wholly own the business, but the vast majority was reinvested into the company.

There is no better way of driving sales than putting bums on seats Dominic Riley, Chairman

In its 10-acre factory site outside Malvern in Worcestershire, new technologies, such as a 3D printer for niche components, nestle among more traditional forms of manufacturing.

These include wood frames held together with glue in moulds that have been used since managing director Steve Morris joined the business on the factory floor 35 years ago.

“The look of the cars has remained the same, but under the skin a lot has changed,” Mr Morris said, during a tour the factory.

Automatic gearboxes, once a curiosity for its owners, are becoming more common, while the need for more electronics and computing in the engines it buys in is seeing the company try to hire electronics engineers.

Large parts of the cars are still wooden, from the dashboards that are made from a single piece of wood, to the frames of the cars that sit on blended aluminium bases.

Each one takes between 13 and 22 days of continuous man hours, which means in reality between five and 10 weeks from a customer’s order to delivery — with an average waiting time of about six months.

Many customers come to see their cars being produced at the factory, and since re-purchasing the site during the year — it had been sold and leased back 11 years earlier to pay for the launch of the Aero car — Morgan has opened a museum and visitor centre at the factory.

Mr Riley and Mr Morris have been working over the past two years to diversify its revenues and appeal to new customers.

It has launched a parts business, allowing owners of older vehicle to have their cars fully re-fitted, that accounts for about 10 per cent of revenues.

The group has also moved into offering leased cars and pay-monthly PCP offers, the payment means that dominates car purchases in Britain and makes vehicles more affordable to customers who cannot pay up front with cash.

£3m Operating profit last year — the highest in the company’s history

Additionally, Morgan is exploring short-term rentals that will allow motorists to hire a vehicle for a weekend away, or a wedding, and has teamed up with several luxury hotels to offer its vehicles to residents.

“There is no better way of driving sales than putting bums on seats,” said Mr Riley.

Aside from its engines and some of the parts, almost everything on or in the car comes from inside the factory — something that will partly insulate the company after Britain leaves the EU, even though it still buys engines in euros.

About a third of its sales are in Europe, with another third at home and the final third in the rest of the world. It sells cars in 26 countries, but costs continue to constrain the company’s ability to expand.

But its size, while a weakness in investment, also offer nimbleness that allows the company to pivot quickly if it needs to.

“We are extremely adaptable,” said Mr Riley. “If in 100 years everything is electric, Morgan will still be there.”

10 May

Keep it Tight (Grass Roots Motorsports – 5/10/2018)

By J.G. Pasterjak  May 9, 2018

Earlier this year, SCCA Solo Nationals week started off rather promisingly. A third-place trophy in the CAMInvitational gave us high hopes heading into the SCCA Championship event. But our excitement dropped to the ground when our inattention to a single bolt cost us a strong finish.

We want you to learn from our misfortune, so we put together a guide on keeping fasteners fastened.

Split Lock Washer

Description: Split lock washers are the most common type of locking device. They’re also one of the least effective, but they’re easy to produce and readily available. Split lock washers are flat washers that have been cut and “twisted” so that they create tension under the bolt head. In theory, this tension applies additional load to the threads and makes them less likely to back out. Typically, however, it takes far less torque to completely compress the washer flat than the fastener needs for proper hold.

Pros: Readily available, inexpensive and ubiquitous.

Cons: Doesn’t really do much.

Should be used when: Loads are light and non-critical and nothing better is available.

Wave Washers

Description: Wave washers are similar in principal to the split washer, but this is a continuous loop with a “wave” shape that applies tension as the bolt is tightened. Drawbacks are very similar to the split washer, but the wave washer is kinder to the surface and will not leave burrs.

Pros: Does not require a flat washer. Looks neat.

Cons: Similar to split washers. Looks weird.

Should be used when: You have a very light load and don’t want to use an additional flat washer.

Serrated Washers


Description: Serrated washers are also referred to as “star” washers, which rather accurately describes their appearance. These are available with the “teeth” on either the inner or outside diameter of the washer, and work by physically digging into the underside of the bolt head as well as the (hopefully soft) surface against which they are used.

Pros: Simple. Nice, direct mechanical operation.

Cons: Not terribly strong. Not good on hard surfaces.

Should be used when: You’re putting small fasteners into soft materials (aluminum, plastic, etc.).

Tab Washers

Description: A tab washer is a flat plate that is installed under a bolt head or nut, affixed to another fastener, then bent up to keep the primary fastener from rotating. Cool idea, but there’s an inherent weakness: Any material soft enough to bend will be soft enough to crush under the fastener’s tension. Good thing the tab washer is there to keep the bolt tight, because that tab washer is crushing under the bolt head and trying to make it looser.

Pros: Easy to improvise. Ease of visual inspection.

Cons: Inherently flawed, much like modern country music.

Should be used when: You have nothing left to lose.

Nylon Collar Lock Nuts

Description: Commonly referred to as “nyloks,” these nuts feature a nylon collar insert that is a smaller diameter than the threads. When the nylon is engaged with the male threads, it forms a compression interface that keeps the fastener from turning on its own.

Pros: Readily available, inexpensive, does not require additional bits of hardware.

Cons: Still somewhat susceptible to vibration loosening, although will rarely back out past the point where initial bolt tension is lost. Should not be heavily reused. Heat can melt the nylon insert.

Should be used when: Whenever you can. Good all-around performer from an effectiveness/ cost/availability standpoint. Everyone’s hardware assortment should include nylon locking fasteners.

Prevailing Torque Nuts

Description: Picture a regular nut, with regular threads for most of its length, but with an end that has been distorted into (usually) a more triangular shape, or “teeth” that are angled inward. When the nut is applied to the male threads, the force distorts the nut into a round shape, but the inherent tension creates a strong mechanical friction.

Pros: Strong and very vibration resistant. The good ones (mil-spec) are surprisingly reusable and won’t damage the bolt’s male threads.

Cons: This is a kind of specialized bit of hardware, so availability isn’t wide. Cheap ones will be one-time use and could mess up male threads when removed.

Should be used when: You’re rich and can afford the mil-spec stuff. Use prevailing torque nuts when you’d usually use a nylok nut, but high temperatures won’t allow it.

Slotted Beam Stop Nuts


Description: Commonly called castle nuts, these feature a segmented top section through which a cotter pin can be inserted for use on a cross-drilled bolt. A similar-looking arrangement also works like the elastic stop nuts. In this version, the slotted parts are angled inward and create mechanical friction on the fastener when tightened.

Pros: Very positive and visually identifiable locking.

Cons: In some applications, aligning the slots with the hole may result in the application of either too much or not enough torque.

Should be used when: Specific torque isn’t critically important, but retention is.

Wedge-Locking Washers

Description: Most commonly referred to as “Nord-Locks,” which is actually a brand name of one of the more common versions, these wedge-locking washers actually feature a two-washer system that uses interlocking plates to create additional friction that prevents rotation. The washers have two toothed surfaces that fit together and provide torque counter to the direction of rotation. Serrated outer surfaces grip the bolt head and surface plate.

Pros: Most vibration-resistant system that doesn’t use an external force (such as safety wire). Can be installed with common tools, just like a regular washer.

Cons: Many times more expensive than regular washers. Serrations will mark surface it mates against.

Should be used when: When you really need resistance to both vibration and rotation and don’t mind the extra cost. Wedge-locking washers are what we chose to lock down our Mustang’s Watts link; for mission-critical fasteners, they’re likely worth the cost.

Diamond-Embedded Friction Washers


Description: As the name implies, and the microscopic closeup shows, these washers are embedded with crushed diamonds, which creates an extremely high-friction mechanical connection. The hardness of diamonds means these work very well on hard surfaces. Most widely used in the aerospace industry and among OEMs for stuff like cam bolts and crankshaft bolts.

Pros: Strong mechanical connection. Works great for hardened surfaces, or surfaces without a lot of inherent friction.

Cons: You’re not going to find these at Ace Hardware. This is specialized stuff with a price to match.

Should be used when: Your ruby washers just don’t have the same panache anymore. Seriously, this is a good product for when you need a high-friction connection, but don’t want to introduce additional pieces as required by the wedge-locks.

Safety Wire

Description: A wire is passed through a drilled hole in the fastener and attached to another hard point to prevent loosening.

Pros: Probably the safest overall solution, both structurally and for ease of visual inspection. Even a mediocre job of safety wiring is stronger than most other things on this list.

Cons: Complex and time consuming. Requires additional specialized equipment and knowledge. Not good for anything that requires frequent removal.

Should be used when: You don’t want something to come off, and you don’t intend to take it off any time soon. See also: every bolt on a helicopter.

Jam Nuts


Description: Besides sounding like that party band your uncle was in during college that he just won’t shut up about (no, Randy, you never “almost got signed”-let it go already) jam nuts are one of the best “conventional” locking methods around. A jam nut is a second nut that is applied to a bolt’s male threads and then tightened against the first fastener. This produces opposing stresses and increases friction on the threads.

Pros: Easy, cheap and reliable. Jam nuts are a go-to solution that’s easy to implement in the field. Use a nylok jam nut for even more reliability.

Cons: Requires additional male threads to implement, so not suitable for some tight quarters.

Should be used when: You need a reliable solution, but have limited stuff in your box. Or when you have the space available.

Chemical Thread Locking Methods


Description: As the most prolific brand, Loctite has become synonymous with chemical thread lockers, but it’s just one of many high-quality brands out there. Thread locking compounds are anaerobic (meaning they cure in the absence of air) liquids or gels that effectively act as glue between the male and female threads. Books can and have been written about their use and properties.

Pros: Easy to use, readily available and highly effective. Available in varying strengths and heat resistances.

Cons: The joint is only as strong as the surface is clean. You always run out right when you need just a little more.

Should be used when: Whenever possible. Lots of specific formulations for different applications means lots of options.

Of course there are more solutions out there, and you’re ultimately limited only by cost, complexity and possibly access to secret government files. This should get you headed toward making good decisions about how to keep your fasteners in place. We highly recommend Carroll Smith’s “Nuts, Bolts, Fasteners and Plumbing Handbook” for in-depth discussions of many of the solutions we mentioned here.

As for us, as we mentioned, we’re going with the wedge-locking washer system for now, coupled with a dab of medium-strength thread locker. We’ve also put a splash of paint on our Watts pivot and many other critical fastener connections, so we can easily see if there’s been any movement in these fasteners since they were last torqued.

26 Apr

Where does Morgan go after the V8?

If you have driven on the M25 near Heathrow recently you will have seen the latest big car company advertising billboard. It’s a massive double-sided digital screen, 62 feet wide and visible to all 12 lanes of M25 traffic.

Now that’s what you call exposure. And the car in the picture? The latest hi-tech BMW or futuristic Audi perhaps? No. As the slogan makes clear – “Hand-made in Britain since 1909” – this is as retro as motoring gets…
It is the Morgan Motor Company’s first-ever billboard ad campaign in the capital; there is another huge display on the M4 between Chiswick and Hammersmith. Why? For managing director Steve Morris it’s about taking the Morgan message to a new audience.

Morgan seems to be on a bit of a roll right now. In February this year, the family-owned firm announced record growth of 19 per cent, employment at the Malvern Link works at its highest-ever level, exports up and improving margins for a £2m pre-tax profit in 2017.

To celebrate it went out and bought a London bus: the No 159 to Islington Green, and the last-but-one Routemaster to be taken out of service in 2005. Once converted into “event space”, it will be all aboard for hospitality, Morgan-style, at a range of events this year. And yes, of course, it is due to be on duty “Over the Road” at the Goodwood Revival in September.

The connection between this bus and Morgan? The Routemaster first went into service in 1968 which was the year the Morgan Plus 8 was launched. Like the No 159, the rip-roaring sports car has decades of faithful service behind it on road and track – it has been Morgan’s flagship, icon and breadwinner – but it too has now been pensioned off as the supply of BMW 4.8-litre V8s ends. The last bent-eight Morgans checked out in style at the Geneva Motor Show in March with special farewell editions of both the Plus 8 and the Aero GT.

Once the 50 Plus 8 50th Anniversary models and the eight Aero GT specials have sold out (which they virtually have, says the company), Morgan will be down to just its Classic range – 4/4, Plus 4 and Roadster – the Three-wheeler in petrol vee-twin form and, due in production by the end of 2018, the battery-powered EV3.

The Classic models are popular and the Roadster should be in line for a boost after 2018 updates that include – shock horror! – a coil-sprung multilink rear end to replace the cart-sprung live axle. But the V8s were the money-spinners (the final models are selling for around £140,000), while it is still only the Three-wheeler that is exported to the US, the Classic range stymied by its lack of airbags and signature sloping back end – it looks great but is said to fall short in the crash tests.

V8-less, it could be said that Morgan might be in a bit of a hole, despite the upbeat mood. The firm is certainly at a crossroads; question is, which direction will it take for the new audience it is carefully grooming?
Morgan marketing chief Toby Blythe might have just lost a third of his range but he is staying positive – and looking across the pond. The long-awaited changes to US low-volume exemption rules will, if approved, grant safety and emissions concessions for cars that are imported in small numbers.

GRR found out more about where Morgan is going next when we caught up with Toby Blythe recently…

Just how important is the US market to Morgan?
After 109 years it should be one of our biggest markets. We have 13 franchise partners in the US selling about 70 Three-wheelers a year, and they are crying out for the Classic four-wheelers. As soon as the exemption goes through it will open up a 500-cars-a-year market for us.
How are you getting your message across to the US administration?
I would like to offer President Trump an open invitation to visit us in Malvern Link, have the factory tour, drive some cars and experience first-hand the most iconic British sports car. We would explain that we are a small eco manufacturer that wants to support the US businesses that work with us.

It’s too late now to sell the V8 models in the US but what about their replacements?
Right now there is no direct replacement for the Aero and the Plus 8’s future in the Morgan line-up hasn’t been decided either way. We are working 3-4 years ahead on new product and have an ever-growing research and development department. It’s not just about the past 109 years, we are preparing ourselves for the next 109 years.
What engine will replace the BMW V8?
We are not expecting to make an announcement on that in 2018.

Would it be important to have a British engine? What about the JLR supercharged V8?
It’s more about finding the right power unit for the model rather than where it comes from. In terms of Britishness, we don’t need to worry about that. Everything else is British and hand-made in Malvern. There is no dilution of Britishness using different engines and never has been. The JLR V8? That would be good, 575hp. But it’s a matter of finding the right partner to supply engines for the life of the product. You know, we have never manufactured our own engines…

Would any new Plus 8 have to have a V8?
No, I wouldn’t think so. Historically the name has been synonymous with a V8 but it doesn’t have to be, as others’ naming strategies have shown.

You are about to have one electric model, what about a battery-powered or hybrid Plus 8?
People like electric cars. We are looking at all kinds of possibilities for the future.

How well is your partnership with (electric and range-extender specialists) Frazer-Nash Research working?
It’s brilliant. As new powertrain partner, they have helped us with the EV Three-wheeler which has come on leaps and bounds in terms of range and packaging. There is still some work to do but it will be on sale by the end of the year.

23 Apr

Morgan celebrates Plus 8 anniversary in a very big way – 20 April 2018 (journal.classiccars.com)

Historic double-decker Routemaster bus will share the 50th birthday spotlight

Morgan Motor Company plans a special way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Plus 8, displaying one of the last active Routemaster buses, also produced in 1968, alongside its own historic vehicles at various events in 2018.

“The Routemaster bus is arguably one of the most iconic vehicles in existence, it serves as a symbol of Britain and is part of our national identity,” Morgan’s managing director Steve Morris said in a news release. “It therefore gives us great pleasure to continue the life of one of the last decommissioned buses as our event space.

“Morgan has an exciting year ahead, and we can’t wait to utilize the bus at events all around the UK. Our plans for the bus will make it the ideal event space for Morgan customers and enthusiasts alike.”

The car company acquired the bus, the next to last that was still in service, earlier this year. The bus traveled more than 1.5 million miles during its working life, Morgan said.

The last Routemaster in active service resides at the London Bus Museum at Brooklands. Routemasters served British transit passengers from 1956-2005. The Morgan Plus 8 roadster was built from 1068-2004 but was put back into production in updated form in 2012.

Morgan’s bus — SMK 759F — is being refurbished in-house at the Morgan company in Malvern, UK, in preparation for its use as Morgan anniversary events this year.

19 Apr

Book Report – “Buying and Maintaining a Modern Traditional Morgan” by David Wellings

The new Morgan book, “Buying and Maintaining a Modern Traditional Morgan”, by David Wellings, has just come out, and it is terrific!

While most Morgan texts deal with the history of the company that we all know, David writes about innovative ways to tweak your Morgan to make it more “you”. He concentrates primarily on the 1997 – 2018 models in the traditional line, but many of the ideas apply to any age of our 4-wheeled trads.

He writes briefly about buying a new versus older model, and provides one with good reasons for both. He underlines the major factor in buying a car – Never buy one without actually looking at it and driving it!

Other chapters deal with practical aspects of maintaining your Morgan and making it better, including ways to “keep the rain out”, protecting the wings and body tub, how to and where to select and fit various accessories, adapting the Morgan suspension, making yourself a tool tray (giving many how-to pictures), and how to construct different types of undertrays and front valances, among other ideas.

The book is packed with 192 pages of pictures as well as commentary. For example, David tells you how to cure the Morgan whistle (which I never knew existed!), and what type of hammers to use for various things.

It is a well-deserved addition to any Morgan owner’s library, and will be spending much of its time out in my garage with my car!

Buy it, you’ll like it!

Tony McLaughlin