14 Jul

Morgan Plus Six 2019 review https://www.autocar.co.uk

What is it?

Picture Britain’s typical family-owned and operated business. The sort that mothers and fathers pass on to their kids, or in which uncles, aunties and cousins all pitch in together. You’re imagining a chip shop, right? Just me? Perhaps a pub, a corner shop or a post office, then. Not a car factory, I’d bet.

Well, just imagine one – if you can. It won’t be easy. Making cars isn’t something you succeed at simply by getting up early, drinking lots of tea, getting your hands dirty and having a go. It’s complicated. It requires up-to-date specialist know-how, and expert design, engineering and manufacturing skill. Peeling spuds, pulling pints or stamping envelopes, it ain’t. And yet The Morgan Motor Company was family-owned and operated right until the year of its 110th anniversary; this year. Not a bad innings, that.

Change has finally come to Pickersleigh Road, however. Earlier this year, the Morgan family decided to sell a majority share of the business to the Investindustrial private equity group that previously owned Aston Martinuntil its recent market flotation.

Ask around at the firm’s visitors’ centre as to why that decision was taken, and the answers come very honestly. “It was the right offer, when all the others over the years just weren’t,” one staffer said. “We’d reached the point where the family was beginning to hold the company back rather than drive it on. Growing the business now needs investment and well-connected, industry-savvy leadership. Which, we’re hoping, is what we’ve now got.”

At the same time as announcing that change in ownership, back in March, Morgan also announced its first ground-up new car in 19 years: this one, the Plus Six. In development since 2016, this’d be better thought of as the old regime’s parting gift to the company rather than the first fruit of the new one. Ironically, though, it’s definitely ‘all-new’ enough to feel like the latter.

Based on a new aluminium box-section monocoque chassis twice as stiff as the old Aero-series chassis that served under the Plus Eight, but also no more heavy, it’s also the first factory Morgan with a turbocharged engine: BMW’s 335bhp ‘B58’ turbo straight six hooked up to the familiar ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. Unlike any Morgan before it, the Plus Six has electromechanical power steering, and its new chassis has even been designed to accommodate electric drive motors in future.

What’s it like?

You’re getting into a little bit of the company’s future, then, when you click the chromed button door release, swing open the tiny, cut-down driver’s door, and step over one of those famously wide running boards to lower yourself carefully into the Plus Six’s all-new cockpit. The seats remain pretty narrow, just like the footwells – but the cabin has clearly grown for length, with this 6ft 3in tester is genuinely spoilt for leg room. There’s both reach and rake adjustment on the steering column, and a very sound layout of controls overall. I’m not sure that footwell leaves room for a third pedal except at a squeeze, though there has been talk of a manual version. Even so, chances are you could be comfy here for a few hours at a stretch, almost regardless of how you’re built.

The Plus Six’s cabin finish is generally very good. Our test car had attractive ‘box weave’ carpets, embroidered headrests and soft, attentively stitched hides – though it could have done with a more appealing-looking steering wheel. Instrumentation is by traditional analogue clocks placed, in Morgan convention, in the middle of the fascia – and the more distant positioning of the speedo than the rev counter, together with the size of its numbering, makes you glad there’s also a small digital trip computer screen with a digital speedo visible through the orbit of the steering wheel rim. If not for that, you’d need to take a passenger with you at all times, just to tap you on the knee as you hit the national speed limit – which, for all I know, may very well be what Morgan owners do anyway, just in case.

And it really wouldn’t take long to hit that limit, by the way. That BMW straight six sounds a bit tuneless at times, offering a lot more turbo induction noise than exhaust burble under load – although an ‘aftermarket’ exhaust which might, I suspect, be fitted to your car even before it leaves the factory, apparently adds greater audible fruitiness.

Assuming it adds enough of it, there’d be very little else to find wanting here about a powertrain with more torque than a top-of-the-range six-pot Jaguar F-Type operating in a car weighing half-a-tonne less. The Plus Six is instantly quick, picking up from dawdling speeds with real swiftness. It is not a car that needs to be driven at all hard to go fast, or to feel enlivening for its outright pace. That’s new ground for Morgan, in my experience. There’s no doubt that a good manual version would be more involving and, to this tester, would suit the car better. Still, the ZF auto’s manual mode is quick enough to feel like a very acceptable compromise, and it’s as slick as anywhere when shifting by itself (although I do wish Morgan had found some nicer-feeling shift paddles than the somewhat flimsy, plasticky ones familiar from the PSA-Peugeot-Citroen parts bin).

On to that new chassis, then, which pretty plainly gives Morgan a great deal of fresh opportunity for enhancing and fine-tuning the handling of this car – but which you wouldn’t say it had fully explored just yet. It has certainly helped to banish some of the worst dynamic traits that Morgan owners may be used to from this car. The Plus Six tracks very straight over bumps taken at speed. It has a reasonable amount of supple compliance in a ride that remains only medium-firm feeling; one that doesn’t feel nearly as wooden or brittle as some Morgans have, over the years, but that still struggles to keep perfect close control over pitch and squat.

The new chassis has put a little bit of extra length into the car’s wheelbase compared with that of its predecessor model, and yet it retains steering that’s uncharacteristically slow by sports car standards, with almost three full turns between not especially tight-feeling extremes of lock. It’s also suddenly quite light of weighting.

For both reasons, while the Plus Six handles gentler faster bends with appealing precision, it doesn’t feel quite as agile, wieldy or keen as it might through tighter ones – and for what remains a small, light sports car, you really do notice. It was a contributing factor, for this tester at least, in eroding slightly the immediacy of control you’d ideally like over the car’s steered axle – the other being the sheer distance between that axle and where you sit in the car, which is another way in which this appealingly small two-seater is made to feel larger than it might.

Should I buy one?

Well, you’d certainly have to get used to the proportions of the Plus Six – likewise the slightly athletic entry and exit routine, the placing of the minor switchgear, and the intricate sequence of doing and undoing of steel pop fasteners and opening and closing of latches necessary to get the roof up quickly in a shower. So much of all of that feels akin to memorising the password for the manned door of the owner’s club. It’d all be a labour of love to get to know, I’m sure – and, for the lovers, the dynamic strides that Morgan has taken with this car will surely seem great.

For me, it’s what this chassis might go on to do that’s really interesting – because while the Plus Six is a lot better than you expect it might be in some ways, and in others quite honestly just a lot less bad than you might have feared, it now seems tantalisingly close to becoming a much better driver’s car with the right kind of dynamic tuning. I’m not suggesting it’ll ever handle like a Porsche, Lotus or Alpine – and neither would anyone want it to. But it’s certainly diverting to wonder, for now, just how close it might get.

Morgan Plus Six specification

Engine 6 cyls in line, 2998cc, twin-turbocharged petrol Power 335bhp at 5000-6500rpm Torque 369lb ft at 1600-4500rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 1075kg (dry) Top speed 166mph 0-62mph 4.2sec 

[Don’t believe everything you read. It is not a twin turbo (e.g. two turbos) , rather it is a single twin-scroll turbo. Mark]

20 Jun

This is what it’s like to drive Morgan’s AR Plus 4… https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/ By Chris Pollitt

Photos by Bruce Holder

When you think of a Morgan it’s perfectly acceptable for the mind’s eye to draw up the image of gentle drives in the countryside, gingham blankets and picnics in the sun. And for many older Morgans, that is most definitely the case. However, we really shouldn’t let ourselves think that. Morgan has been entwined with motorsport since its black and white beginnings way back in the 1900s. The company was founded in 1909, but just three years later in 1912, Morgan’s three-wheeled offering was on the steep banking of Brooklands, where it was competing to win the award for greatest distance covered in an hour by a cycle car. Admittedly, Morgan lost out to a GWK, however, the following year it scooped the victory by covering 60 miles.

The point here is that Morgan cars and competition go hand in hand. Over the decades the model range has grown, and so too has the racing arm of Morgan. Morgans have been seen at Le Mans, they’ve been seen at hill climbs and thanks to the incredibly popular Morgan Challenge racing series, they have been seen battling it out in packs at almost every circuit in the UK. Yes, Morgans like to race. A lot.

This has led to the growth of Morgan’s side business, if you will, which goes by the name of Aero Racing. It’s here that select Morgans are ‘breathed’ on in order to get them competition ready. Suspension, wheels, brakes, race equipment such as seats, roll cages and fire extinguishers, and of course, engines, are all fitted or built in house at Pickersleigh Road alongside the road-going counterparts.

Of course, when you have a race shop on site, you’re going to want to capitalise on that, which is exactly what Morgan did a few years back with the car you’re looking at here. This is the Morgan ARP4. That’s Aero Racing Plus 4. And this is more race car than road car, but it’s a road car nonetheless. Think of it as Usain Bolt in a houndstooth jacket. Smoking a pipe.

The Plus 4 has been in production since 1950 and many would argue that it has proven itself to be the backbone of the company. The Plus 4 is the go-to car from the Morgan range. There’s the smaller-engined 4/4, but that can leave more spirited drivers wanting. There’s the V6 Roadster, but for some this it too far removed from the traditional Plus 4. Then of course there are the V8 Aero cars along with their successor, the Plus 6. These are halo cars though, and their bonded aluminium chassis and modern tech detract, for some, from what a Morgan should be. The Plus 4 is pure, traditional Morgan though, hence its huge popularity. Even now, in 2019, the Plus 4 still boasts that traditional steel ladder chassis with an Ash-framed body sitting on top, all handmade of course.

The ARP4 takes the normal 2.0 Plus 4 and squarely drop-kicks it into the absurd, but in the best possible way. As you look at the car it’s all very familiar. Those long, flowing wings. The bonnet that spurs away from the driver for a seemingly impossible distance, that tight but perfectly trimmed cabin. Yes, it’s just a Plus 4. Until that is, you look closely. The custom-made Image 16×7-inch split-rim wheels grab your attention first, and then your eyes are naturally drawn to the rubber wrapped around them. Yokohama 225/55 AD08R in this case, which for those in the know, is a serious tyre.  

There are other visual hints towards the ARP4’s true purpose. The black grille, the lack of bumpers, the exposed aluminium in the cabin, it all suggests something other than gingham and sandwiches.

Open that handmade, heavily louvred bonnet and you’re in for a treat. The 2.0 Ford engine that you’d normally find in a Plus 4 is still there, but only in essence. The reality is a 2.0 Ford engine that has been breathed on, heavily, by none other than Cosworth. And Cosworth knows a thing or two about screwing the ponies out of a Ford engine. 225 ponies in this case, thanks to throttle bodies, level 2 race cams, a re-worked cylinder head and a reworked crank  on which you’ll find Cosworth’s forged rods and pistons. Bolted onto the back of it is a five-speed manual close ration ‘box, which in turn is bolted to a 3.9:1 differential.

Of course, power is nothing without control, but the ARP4 has the covered in spades. First of all, there are those sticky Yokohama tyres. Then there’s the five-link rear suspension, while Spax adjustable shocks can be found at both the front and rear. Four-pot Aero Racing developed brakes sit up front with vented discs, while solid discs take care of things at the back. This is a fully resolved, no point missed, out and out race car. It just happens to have a radio and leather seats.

And that’s the thing. As we slide into the driver’s seat, we can’t help but be lulled into a false sense of security by the familiar leather and rich box weave carpet. It’s just like sitting in a ‘normal’ Plus 4, but with white dials and a touch more metal on show. It is not, however, the ARP4 is not a normal Plus 4 when you press the start button.

The car barks into life with an urgency that takes you aback. The throttle bodies snarl and gulp for air, and then you jab the throttle. The noise of the throttle bodies is captivating, intoxicating in fact, and more than enough to remind you that this is no normal Plus 4.

As we engage first, we look out on the empty runway of Bruntingthorpe ahead of us. No traffic, no speed cameras, no laws to abide. It’s just us and a car that was built, that wants to go fast. Engage first, come off the surprisingly light clutch, we’re off. Without trying the rear wheels spin up and rooster tail water behind us. Second, we find grip and reward the ARP4’s obedience with a bit more throttle. Third, we’re coming up to 100mph and also the first corner, a long, sweeping right-hander at the bottom of the runway. Camera car in front of us, we decided to lean on the Morgan through the corners in a bid to get a heroic powerslide shot. But we can’t. Despite being rear-wheel drive, powerful and about as heavy as a Post-It note, it will not slide. This thing is planted firm. We try to induce it with a clutch kick. A little slide out, then back in line. It will not break traction without a fight. We are, frankly, impressed. The ARP4 is a well set-up car.

We come out of that bottom corner and start our advance of the runway itself. Camera car be damned, we want to see what we can get out of the ARP4. Fourth, 120mph and we’re still pulling. The wind noise is loud, but those throttle bodies are not willing to lose the shouting contest. Fifth and final gear in that MX-5 gearbox and we climb to 135mph before we need to work back down through the gears for the tight right-hander. As we do, the brakes bring the speed down quickly and without drama, the car stays level through the fast corner and then we start the process all over again as we head down the back straight. This thing is like a drug. The noise, the speed, the sharpness and directness of it. It’s astounding. And the grip, just… wow.

Limited to a production run of just 50, the ARP4 was a rare car when it was new, but it’s even rarer now. However, they do come up for sale from time to time. To get yourself into one, expect to part with £60k at least. But trust us, if you do, you’ll be very glad indeed. The only thing that will upset you is the fact you don’t have your own runway to play on.

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.”

 
29 Jan

British sports car maker Morgan profits rev up as it prepares to launch new models (Daily Mail (UK) 29 Jan 2019)

[There is lots of speculation about the new power plant. Some say an inline 6 cylinder from BMW (like this report) while others see an I-6 as a direct competitor of the current V6 Roadster. I guess it is possible that they might go to a Supercharged or Turbocharged engine. I guess we will find out soon enough. Mark]

British sports car maker Morgan announced record results as it prepares to launch a range of vehicles in its 110th year.

The Malvern-based family-owned firm, which employs 204 staff, said profits jumped to £3.6million last year from £2million 12 months earlier.

Output dropped from 750 to 681 cars as the firm said goodbye to the thirsty V8 engine and the Aero 8 and Plus 8 models which use it.

On a roll: Malvern-based family-owned firm Morgan, which employs 204 staff, said profits jumped to £3.6m last year from £2m 12 months earlier

Morgan is expected to launch a more frugal but sportier replacement at this spring’s Geneva Motor Show. 

Output last year dropped from 750 to 681 cars as the firm said goodbye to the outgoing thirsty V8 engine and the Aero 8 and Plus 8 models which use it, and prepare instead for the launch of less thirsty but even sportier replacements. 

This will be a new wide-bodied Morgan sports car with a new flexible aluminium chassis – which the firm has spent £7 million developing – plus an expected leaner, meaner six-cylinder petrol engine from BMW, which bosses believe will together create ’the most dynamically capable production Morgan ever’.

Chairman Dominic Riley said that as part of a five-year strategy the business had increased the gross margin on its cars from 25 per cent to 35 per cent, making it more efficient and profitable.

Morgan exports 70 per cent of its production to around 50 countries.

Riley said they were taking prudent precautions to stockpile and store sufficient engines to see them through any short-term Brexit hiccup.

He said: ‘We’ve been trading with Europe for 110 years. 

‘So we’re very adaptable, nimble and flexible. We’re taking sensible measures.’ 

26 Jan

New Morgan ‘Wide Body’ Sports Car Caught Testing (Autocar – 25 Jan 2019)

Morgan’s 110-year anniversary model uses all-new aluminium platform and ditches V8 engine

Morgan is set to launch an all-new sports car this year, and the first shots of prototypes testing have emerged. 

As expected, the model’s design is a familiar adaptation of the 1930s-inspired look that Morgans have carried for decades, set to evolve further with a new range-topping model in 2020. But under the skin there’s substantial developments.

The new model, known internally as the ‘Wide Body’, will make use of an all-new and lighter bonded aluminium platform.  The company also says the new car will feature “a powertrain never before installed in a Morgan”.

This year marks the 50th – and final – year of the Malvern-based maker fitting V8 engines to its cars. The final examples of the Aero 8 and Plus 8, fitted with BMW’s N62 V8, will be kept for Morgan’s heritage fleet. It is thought that a downsized, forced-induction six-cylinder engine will be used for an upcoming flagship model, due in the early 2020s – and this could be the powertrain used for next year’s car.

Morgan claims the sports car is positioned above the Roadster, Plus 4 and 4/4 in performance terms, but is “not designed to be a direct replacement for the outging Plus 8 and Aero 8”. Those models will be replaced in the next few years by the new flagship.

The new car’s chassis is said to be twice as stiff as the aluminium chassis used in previous flagship Morgans, which together with the new engine “will result in the most dynamically capable production Morgan ever”, according to the firm.

Graham Chapman, Morgan’s technology director, says next year’s launch “is the culmination of several years of unprecedented development in design and engineering for Morgan. This has produced the most advanced development programme in Morgan’s history, the results of which we cannot wait to share with our customers worldwide”. 

04 Dec

Aston Martin Vanquish IP Mystery Buyer Found? Hint: the suspect is also English – 4/12/18 (autonews.com)

[This rumor is swirling. There are lots of press reports stating that Morgan and Aston Martin have negotiated some sort of deal related to the Vanquish.  Perhaps we will hear something from the Geneva Show, where Morgan typically makes their announcements and new vehicle reveals.  Mark] 

We reported recently on the $26-million sale of Aston Martin’s intellectual property and design drawings for its departed Vanquish. Rumors abound about who the buyer was and while Automotive News had initially surmised that the Morgan Motor Company may have been involved, both Aston and Morgan were non-committal.

The reason Auto News is now practically convinced that it was indeed the 110-year-old British car manufacturer is that Morgan has just announced plans to build a new model with specs that practically mirror those of the outgoing Vanquish.  Namely, a rear-wheel-drive, front-engined coupe built on a bonded and riveted aluminum chassis.  [This is the Aero 8’s and Aero based, Plus 8’s current spec, and has been for years,  so this isn’t the ‘smoking gun’, they seem to think it is.]

Aston Martin’s CEO Andy Palmer explained to Automotive News that he agreed to sell the Vanquish tooling as well as 18 months of Aston Martin Consulting services to help with the new car’s development.

He only did so after receiving reassurances about the way the future car would be executed. He also mentioned that the customer didn’t want the Vanquish connection named. And so, it remains, no official announcements have been made but we would be surprised if this were not the case.

Morgan currently offers three models to US customers, the quirky three-wheeler and the Plus 4 and Roadster 3.7 (which you need to source your own engines for). [Not exactly true.  Morgan provides the engines and the dealers have them installed.]  All three have long wait lists.  But with this new high-performance flagship, due for release at some point in the mid-2020s, it could be the ideal vehicle to offer power-hungry American shoppers.

Aside from mentioning that the design would follow its traditional approach, details on the engine and other drivetrain components have not been revealed yet by Morgan. Whether it ends up using a version of the Aston’s 5.9-liter V12 or perhaps another BMW V8, we cannot wait for some more details in the coming months.

 

31 Oct

Morgan to Reinvent Itself with High-Performance Sports Car (www.autocar.co.uk)

30 October 2018

[This article seems to have a few more specifics that help clarify the reported new offering.  Things I picked out include (1) coupé and roadster, with gasoline or electric drive, (2) in house design (3) bonded aluminum chassis, similar to Aero 8, (4) standard front engine, rear drive, (5) forced induction (turbo or supercharged?) and manual or automatic transmission, (6) traditional bodied application this coming soon (2019) (a new I-6 turbo Roadster perhaps?) and (7) chassis looks to be long enough to handle an inline 6 cylinder engine.  See picture.  Cheers, Mark] 

All-new two-seat coupé and roadster are under way to take Morgan into the future

Jon Wells (left) is leading the design team on the new car

Morgan is working on an all-new high-performance sports car flagship that will both reinforce its reputation for classic design and move it on a couple of decades, notionally into the Jaguar E-Type era.

The new car, which will be made in both coupé and roadster forms , follows several years of research into what a traditionally minded 109-year-old car company should do next, without threatening its successful classic model range.  It is being created in-house by design and engineering teams that now total around 30 people as a result of recent, well-targeted investment.

The new hand-made flagship’s first iteration is understood to be a two-door, two-seat coupé that should appear in the mid-2020s, estimated to be priced near the level of an Aston Martin V8 Vantage.  It will use a new architecture with the classic Morgan front-engine, rear-drive layout and continue the marque’s tradition for compact dimensions and light weight, while utilising the latest in chassis and powertrain engineering.

Morgan bosses are coy about revealing the new car’s performance and power, not least because it will have several different powertrains, including electrified variants, over its life.  Early versions are likely to use a downsized, forced-induction six-cylinder petrol engine producing 350bhp-plus, driving through either a manual six-speed or paddle-shift automatic gearbox .

Performance is likely to be close to Plus 8 levels, which means a top speed of 150mph-plus and 0-60mph acceleration in the 4.5sec bracket.

The new car’s key structural element will be its new-era bonded and riveted box-section chassis in aluminium , created specifically for versatility in multiple applications.

This chassis, under final development now in Morgan’s workshops, will have its first production application next year in a model that uses the brand’s current classic architecture , to be launched as part of Morgan’s forthcoming 110th-anniversary celebrations.

Previous premium-level Morgans also used a bespoke aluminium chassis, but that design was created in 2000 and has been much modified since to meet current legislation. Morgan believes the new design can provide the right basis for its pricier models for the next decade, and probably beyond.

Morgan managing director Steve Morris said the new flagship shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for the Aero or Plus 8 models, recently discontinued after Morgan’s supply contract for normally aspirated 4.8-litre BMW V8s ended.  Rather, it is an early result of several years’ study into how the company should shape its future.

The new chassis is the first tangible sign of this, said Morris. It is very similar in weight and dimensions to the Aero’s outgoing structure but twice as stiff. It can also provide comfortable driving for both bigger and smaller people than existing Morgans, hence its internal description as “the wide-bodied car”.

It can also cope with the predicted demands of electrification, which might, for example, require the car to carry sizeable traction batteries and provide space in its centre-rear chassis for electric drive motors.

Design head Jon Wells said shaping the new Morgan requires integrating traditional Morgan values into a new look that moves forward in era.

One model in Morgan’s design history that faced a similar challenge is the Plus 4 Plus of 1962, a coupé that set out to modernise Morgan and is widely admired today for its beauty.  Only 26 copies were sold, mainly because the company’s marketing people (at the time dealing with enormous demand for their roadsters) unrealistically priced it alongside the then-new Jaguar E-Type.

The Plus 4 Plus was “neither classic nor modern”, said Wells, but made the bold move of ditching Morgan’s tradition for running boards.

Wells believes Morgan’s design palette is wider than most people think, aided by elements of the Plus 4 Plus, the Aero and Aeromax, and the recently revitalised 3 Wheeler.

Among desirable Morgan design traits, he lists a short front overhang, a longer rear overhang with a low rear deck [this seems backwards, shouldn’t we see a long front with short back?] , round headlights, the driver located behind the car’s centre line, a rounded ‘mouth’, elegant front wings whose highest point is over the car’s front wheels and, above all, a look of coachbuilt authenticity, enhanced by great care with surfacing and positioning of shutlines.

“Our task is to take the charm of classic motoring and make it relevant,” Wells said, “so that it can be respected and desired as a good piece of modern design.”

Morgan has great timing: 

Morgan’s decision to take time over launching a new range of flagship models looks extremely wise, given that it has just had its best car-selling year in 109 years.

In today’s uncertain conditions, it must be reassuring to be selling models whose appeal is a given, and which face no head-to-head rivals. If it keeps making the classics, the Malvern company is almost bound to stay healthy. This is also a nice moment for a new flagship. The outgoing Aero leaves a gap ready to be filled by something different. Design head Jon Wells knows the brand and its customers well and is at the height of his powers. Those of us who know and love Morgan have often wondered how this unique brand can progress. Over the next few years, we’re going to find out.

30 Oct

Morgan Working on All-New Model (www.pistonheads.com)

October 30, 2018

Electric-ready aluminium architecture and 150mph-plus performance set to characterise new era for Morgan.

Morgan may have recently announced that development of its electric three-wheel EV3, has been indefinitely halted, but the manufacturer does have more up its sleeve than special editions and bicycles.  That’s if reports in Autocar are to be believed, at any rate, the publication claiming that a 30 strong design and engineering team is currently working on an all-new model.

Touted to be released in the mid-2020s, the hand-made two-door, two-seater is predicted to initially be powered by a turbocharged six-cylinder motor producing 350hp-plus. Additional body styles – including a convertible – and powertrains – including electrified variants – are expected to follow, though all will be based on the same new front-engined, rear-wheel drive platform currently being developed.

We won’t have to wait quite as long to see that platform as we will to get a glimpse of the rest of the car, though; the chassis is set for its debut in a more recognisable Morgan next year as part of the marque’s 110th anniversary celebrations.

Despite its historic grounding and traditional techniques Morgan, like any manufacturer, will need to take steps to future-proof itself in the face of a rapidly changing industry. The incredible success of the Aero GT and 50th Anniversary V8 has seen revenue has rise by 19 per cent to £36 million in the past year, leaving the company in as strong a position as ever to take the significant step of creating a brand-new base upon which future models can be constructed.

The lightweight aluminium architecture in question will be comparable to the Aero’s in terms of weight and dimensions, but is said to be twice as stiff.  This will not only provide additional flexibility in terms of accommodating occupants more comfortably within the vehicle, but also when it comes to housing the hybrid gubbins associated with the expected electrified iterations of the car.

Obviously, the chassis and powertrain aren’t the only considerations for the Malvern-based manufacturer, with styling also vital to the success of the brand.  To that end, Head of Design Jon Wells states that his task is, “to take the charm of classic motoring and make it relevant, so that it can be respected and desired as a good piece of modern design.”  To do so he’ll draw on elements of the Plus 4 Plus, Aero and Aeromax, as well as the 3 Wheeler, stating that a short front overhang, round headlights and a driver located behind the car’s centre line are among his priorities.

Despite Managing Director Steve Morris’s claim that the new flagship shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for the recently discontinued Aero, its retirement from the range undoubtedly leaves room for a successor.  With a 4.5-second 0-60 time and a top speed in excess of 150mph projected, and pricing expected to be similar to that of Aston Martin’s latest Vantage, we’re certainly excited to see what form that car takes.

 

 

30 Oct

Morgan EV3 Development Halted (www.pistonheads.com)

Oct 10, 2018

British firm wants to “bolster” its EV team before integrating electric technology into the 3 Wheeler.

Development of the all-electric Morgan EV3 has been halted due to contractual disagreements with powertrain supplier, Frazer Nash. Morgan said that although it “remains committed to an electric future,” it has shelved the EV3 project until it gains “more EV know-how inside [its] Malvern headquarters”, suggesting more of the development could be brought in-house.

You’ll remember that the British firm’s first electric model was previewed in a concept back in 2015 before being evolved to prototype level the following year, along with a promise that a run of 19 cars would be produced in late 2018. But the company had expected Frazer Nash’s supply of hardware to be simply integrated and quickly turned moved to “turn key” level.

Managing director Steve Morris told Autocar that “our current EV powertrain supplier is no longer able to fulfil the project within the terms of the contract”, but no further explanation has been provided for the decision.

Meanwhile Frazer-Nash Energy Systems’ managing director, Noamaan Siddiqui, agreed that the deal had failed “for a number of contractual reasons”, but said that prototypes his company had built were “very promising”.  Part of the firm was recently liquidated, but, according to Companies House, it continues to operate with several new projects.

We therefore live in hope that a little more work will bring this cool open-air electric experience to market. Due with an expected 120-mile range, the EV3 mixes the latest electric technology with retro design and details. Until the project picks up pace again and sales eventually begin, though, we’ll just have to make do with the pulsing, loud and oh-so-characterful V-twin motor version.  Poor us…