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:
Engine:
– Re-mapped ECU and sports exhaust system producing 180 BHP at the flywheel
– Oil cooler
Suspension:
– Panhard rod
– Four externally adjustable shock absorbers
Brakes:
– Competition front pads
– Race brake fluid
– Brake bias valve
Wheels:
– 4 x 6.5” x 15” bolt on
alloys with no spare wheel
Tyres:
– 195/55×15 Toyo R888R E marked road/track tyres
Body:
– 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.

Cheers,
Mark

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.”

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

05 Apr

First example of £120,000 Morgan Aero GT rolls off production line (Apr 4, 2018 – www.shropshirestar.com)

The first of the swansong version of the Morgan Aero 8 – the Aero GT – has been built, with just seven more slated for production

At this year’s Geneva Motor Show in March, British sports car manufacturer Morgan showed off its latest limited-run vehicle – the Aero GT – and only a few weeks later, the first example has been built.

Just eight units of the swansong version of the Aero 8, which has been in production since 2001, are set to be made and this is the first. It’s finished in Miami Blue paint, and is heading to Revolutions Morgan in Perth, Scotland, where it will be collected by its new owner.

“It was a pleasure to reveal the car to the world just a few weeks ago, to see the first car leave the factory is an honour and I know the new owner will be delighted when they take delivery.”  Steve Morris, managing director of Morgan

Powering the Morgan Aero GT is a BMW-sourced V8 engine, delivering 367bhp to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. It’s capable of 0-60mph in 4.1 seconds with a top speed of 170mph possible.

To help keep that power to the ground, the bodywork has been heavily revised from the Aero 8 – with the GT taking inspiration from Morgan’s GT3 racing efforts in 2009 – to produce more downforce. Each car is also fitted with adjustable suspension, while a carbon fibre roof is available as an optional extra for those looking to shed more weight.