[I liked the bit . . . ‘perfect imperfections’ . . . Mark]
Retro-styled roadster looks set for a second-gen revival, and all the signs point to a heavy overhaul
Morgan has begun testing a substantially overhauled second-generation version of its lightweight 3 Wheeler roadster, as it prepares to wind down production of the current car this year.
Autocar has obtained an exclusive image of a prototype being put through its paces, giving us a first look at how the Malvern manufacturer will update the diminutive 3 Wheeler, which remains similar in its concept and design to the Morgan Super Sports launched in 1933.
Most obviously, one of the current car’s defining features, its front-mounted V-twin engine, has been removed. Morgan previously confirmed that the outgoing car’s 1998cc motorcycle-derived 82bhp aircooled engine – supplied by American manufacturer S&S – would become non-compliant with emissions regulations in 2021, but has not yet detailed its replacement. Irrespective of output, Autocar understands the engine will continue to drive the rear wheel exclusively.
It is now two and a half years since Morgan shelved plans for a pure-electric version of the 3 Wheeler, citing problems with its powertrain supplier and vowing to bolster its EV development capabilities by bringing “additional specialist resource in-house”. It remains unclear whether this second-generation car could spawn a zero-emission variant.
With no engine elements on show, it appears the next-gen 3 Wheeler’s powerplant will be housed, more conventionally, in the bodyshell itself. That means it’s likely to be larger than the current two-cylinder unit and, as is the case with the other models in Morgan’s range, will likely be sourced from a third-party manufacturer.
BMW currently supplies engines for Morgan’s four-wheeled sports cars, but the smallest is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder taken from the Z4 sports car, and would almost certainly be too large for the 3 Wheeler’s shell.
Beyond that, we can see clues as to a subtle redesign for the brand’s smallest model. With the engine relocated, it looks as if Morgan will introduce a more streamlined front end, although the front wheels will remain exposed while the rear wheel is enclosed within the tail of the car. However, the roll cage pictured here is for testing purposes and won’t make production.
More significant are the apparent revisions to the 3 Wheeler’s chassis. With the front track visibly widened, we get a good look at what seems to be a much more advanced suspension set-up, while the vented brake discs at the front have been substantially upsized, all of which points to a more overt handling focus and potentially a power increase for the 3 Wheeler.
The new 3 Wheeler is expected to be shown in full towards the end of this year, ahead of an international market launch in 2022.
Folks, Lee Gaskins sold his palatial house and garage and has downsized. He now needs to get the following Morgan parts and cars into the hands of others. In addition to those listed there are lots of used wire wheels, NOS chassis frame for a Morgan, miscellaneous hood, fenders and body parts. Also 2 Triumph engines and a Lotus twin cam engine.
Lee is looking for any reasonable offer on any of the car parts. Lee has not individually priced anything on purpose because he truly just needs to find new homes for all of the above.
Lee is also ready to sell his white 1967 DHC Morgan that he’s owned for 15 yrs. Current mileage is 28K. He’d like to sell it for $30,000.
He also has a 1994 Jaguar XJS 6 cyl convertible for sale – flamingo red w/tan interior last tagged in 2019. Mileage around 90,000. Also a rare 1947 MG TC EXU Export model. Lee’s owned this car since 1966.
Photos of the cars (and the listed parts!) are available if desired.
Gary and Judy Heck are helping Lee temporarily store these items, so contact Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org, 404-234-0948 if interested in any or all and she will put you in touch with Lee directly.
1) Pair of NOS alloy Morgan Super Sport fenders
2) Used Morgan nose fits +4 ‘54-‘68
3) Morgan nose NOS part # 1M3100 mfg 12/1997
4) Morgan grille – broken in lower R fits ‘54-‘68
5) Morgan grille – broken in lower L fits ‘54–‘68 +4 4/4
6) Used Morgan ‘54-‘68 front fenders
7) Used flat rad cowl
8&9) Used Morgan +4 rear fenders fit ‘54-‘68
10) Pair of NOS 3 wheel Morgan fenders fits ‘35 and maybe others
11) Used Morgan gas tank fits ‘55-60s 4 seater
12) Used Morgan gas tank fits ‘54-‘68 +4 4/4
13) Used TR3/TR4 carburetors 4 with manifolds – 1 separate manifold
14) Set of 4 NIB Morgan knock off wheel hubs
15) Pair of Morgan 3 wheel fenders
16) 2 pair of used Weber air filters
17) 2 Weber carburetors Part# 45 DCOE
18) Triumph rebuilt head 302137 for +4 Morgan
19) Triumph rebuilt head 302137
20) 6 Morgan steel wheel hub caps – 1 with very slight dent
21) 4 used Morgan steel wheel hub caps
22) Modified TR4 oil pan enlarged for racing
23) Morgan super soft leather interior for ‘54-‘68 car with bucket seats
24) Pair of GE head lamps w/cloth wires
25) Morgan radiator fits +4 4/4 embossed with “EJ Bowman, White House St., Birmingham 89145”
26) 2 Triumph air filter housing for Morgan +4
27) Exhaust manifold fits mid 60s TR or Morgan embossed with DA 14221 304164
28&29) Rowland radiator fits Morgan +4 mid 60s embossed with 57830
30&31) Morgan +8 radiator
32) TR3 reconditioned crankshaft 010 main 010 rod
33) TR3 reconditioned crankshaft 010 main 020 rod
34) TR3 valve cover
35) TR3 intake manifold w/Stromberg carburetor
36) TR3 reground cam shaft 300 mech 110 degrees
37) New Triumph distributor Mallory part# 2332001
38) New Morgan knock-off wheel hubs 1 RH and 1 LH
39) Set of 4 15” diameter 6” wide wire wheels marked RSM 67 6L X15 KE – made in England
40) Pair of used Brookland Aero Screens
41) Pair of Aero Screens – unmarked
42) 3 Aero Screens with hardware only 1 marked Brookland – 1 has cracked glass
43) Mini-Lite style 15”x6” wheels – set of 4 very good condition
Morgan has recently appointed a distributor for Ireland and the company, still on the go after some 111 years, has now unleashed the first in its ‘CX-Generation’
When Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan founded the Morgan Motor Company in the Malvern Hills back in 1910, I doubt very much he thought the company would be on the go 111 years later, still producing unique and bespoke sports cars.
The fact that the company is still fully functioning is a credit not only to Henry Morgan’s vision, but also to that of an Italian-owned investment company which took it over in 2019, promising to expand the operation which is still based in the small British town of Malvern Link.
Some 220 people are employed in the manufacture of Morgan cars and roughly 850 units are made annually in an operation that is actually a lot more modern than most people think, even though the marque’s characteristic trait — the use of wood in the manufacture of the chassis — is still part and parcel of the company’s raison d’etre.
Although the rose-tinted vision of a Morgan probably involves a Spitfire pilot with a twirly moustache, a silk scarf, and a blonde WAAF speeding along Second World War-era English country lanes, the modern incarnation of the car differs little in appearance but those driving them these days are certainly nothing like the originals.
Down the years, Morgan has made everything from three-wheelers to roadsters to coupes, and they were renowned for such as their sliding pillar suspension and their wooden chassis, made of ash and African Bubinga red hardwood. Over time, the cars grew a modest but well-heeled fan base who adored not only the retro look and manufacturing techniques, but also the lovingly sporty nature of these handmade specials.
Latterly, and especially so since the company’s takeover by Italian investment group InvestIndustrial in 2019, the business has re-emerged as a more focused and modern entity.
You can add a hand-stitched leather interior, if you so desire. Picture: Dan Linehan
This is underscored by the fact that its current model line-up now has the essential Morgan look, but is underpinned by modern construction techniques — albeit still incorporating an element of wood within.
The company describes the modern models — the Plus Six and the Plus Four — as being the first in its ‘CX-Generation’ which bear a bonded aluminium platform which is much stronger than the traditional chassis. They sport BMW engines and gearboxes instead of the Matchless, JAP, Coventry Climax, Standard, Triumph, Rover, and Ford engines the company used down the years.
Morgan says that despite the look and feel of the new Plus Four, it remains the same as when the model was first revealed almost seven decades ago; only 3% of the components are shared with the outgoing version.
And, having driven it, I can confirm that the new beast is a whole lot more ready for the modern world than anything that preceded it.
As brand development is now moving along nearly as quickly as one of the company’s products, it is appropriate that this new era for the company is reflecting a push for new markets and customers.
That is why Morgan has recently appointed a distributor for Ireland (all 32 counties) and why it has reached out to someone with lifelong connections to the industry here and a special connection with motorists who like something different from the norm.
The new distributor is a company called Edgewood Automotive and the man running it is Fermoy, Co Cork-based Wayne McCarthy, the son of the late but legendary industry figure John McCarthy, who ran an Opel franchise, among many other business interests, in the town for decades.
Wayne also ran the Motorpoint operation on the Lower Rd in Cork City for many years; it was a Saab dealership as well as the source for many unusual automotive imports to this country.
He is not only terribly proud of his history in the business, but also noticeably confident about the future of a brand such as Morgan, even given its undoubtedly niche status.
Even though the entry-level Plus Four model will cost north of €100,000 here, it is easy to see why his confidence in the product is not in any way rash. The whole issue here is that while you can order an-off-the-line model, you can also personalise it to the max.
The list of stuff you can add to the car — everything from a hand-stitched leather interior to the bespoke Avon tyres and the specially crafted wire wheels to the brass knock-offs which hold them in place — is extraordinary and will certainly appeal to people who like the word ‘unique’.
Element of trepidation
There is an element of trepidation involved in taking anything of this nature for a spin — especially around the unfamiliar backroads of north Cork — and the mild expectation is certainly present that you’re about to be subjected to a boneshaker which can trace its roots back to a time not long after the Wright Brothers were first taking flight.
Fire it up and you get a low burbling thrum encouraging you to find out what’s possible here. Picture: Dan Linehan
Nothing could be further from the truth. Lower yourself — you have to, believe me — into the driver seat and you find yourself cossetted by high-grade leather and appropriate amounts of dashboard and centre console wood, of which there are seven options. You look out on the long, hand-louvred bonnet and get a feeling of unadulterated motoring richness.
Fire it up and you get a low burbling thrum encouraging you to find out what’s possible here. And with 255 bhp on offer, what’s possible is nearly alarming. Boasting a dry weight of 1,009kg, the Plus Four is light, but with that four-pot BMW turbo under the hood, there’s no shortage of poke and an eight-speed auto ‘box, also from Munich, helps get that power on the road when and where you want it.
Top speed is a shade over 240km/h and the 0-100km/h dash is achieved in just 4.8 seconds, which is 0.4 of a second quicker than the option with the six-speed manual gearbox. These figures suggest a certain fleetness of foot and they are not wrong because the rate of progress here is pretty savage.
That being so and what with the car also being rear-wheel drive, you might jump to the conclusion that you’ll be applying the opposite lock on a fairly regular basis — depending, of course, how far you dial up the inner hooligan — but unless you’re very bold or very dumb, that does not have to be the case.
In fact, the car is nothing like as tail-happy as I anticipated and even on dampish roads, there was nothing of the sphincter-tightening nature I expected. I thought I might be heading for Castlelyons looking mainly out the passenger window, but there was none of that.
Neither was there much blood-rushing when the brakes were applied. Once upon a time, Morgans were noted for their reluctance to stop, but now there is a proper ABS system onboard here and any thoughts you may have had of a fishtailing, smoke-wreathed roadster can be dismissed.
This is indeed a beauteous beast and while some might find the retro look a little naff, those who appreciate the hand-built craft on offer, as well as the modern chassis and drivetrain, will look to the individuality and distinctiveness that Morgan sells and they will embrace that fully.
This is a car with great history and now, also, a great future. It melds the old and the new into a fascinating concoction of thrills and heritage with a large dash of exclusivity.
That’s a blend that’s definitely intoxicating.
Colley verdict – The cost: From €106,000, The engine: A muscular two-litre petrol turbo, The specification: You can have pretty much anything you desire, The overall verdict: A classic, Star Rating: *****
The Bristol Bullet was set to be a Morgan Plus 8-based retro drop-top powered by a BMW V8—except now we’re getting nine 2022 Plus 8 GTRs instead.
Founded in 1945 primarily to keep the Bristol Aeroplane Company’s crew busy after the war, Bristol Cars went from using pre-war BMW technology to producing some of the most quintessentially British motorcars ever made, all hand-built to Rolls-Royce-rivaling standards. Bristol maintained a single dealership on the corner of London’s Kensington High Street and Holland Road, and this conservative attitude towards sales slowly and steadily pushed it into bankruptcy by 2010. The group that bought Bristol’s assets promised a new speedster by 2015, powered by a BMW V8 and limited to 70 units to celebrate Bristol’s 70th anniversary.
“Project Pinnacle” led to a drivable Bristol Bullet prototype presented at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed, only for the new venture to go silent afterwards and into liquidation in 2020. Yet back in 2015, the new Bristol company purchased rolling chassis from Morgan for the Bullet—specifically, the Plus 8 bonded aluminum platform fitted with a 370-horsepower BMW V8. As with Les Edgar’s revival of TVR, the Bristol rebirth looked great until it didn’t.
The Bullet itself made perfect sense. A hot limited-edition speedster with BMW powered just like the original Bristols, except styled somewhat like a late 2010s restomod AC Cobra. Given the size and enthusiasm of the British collector car market, the entire 70-car run could surely sell out in no time.
With its suitably long hood, fine leather inside the two-seater cabin, AP Racing brakes and German V8, the Bullet could have been a proper dream machine.
Two years ago, the Morgan Motor Company had to move on to a new aluminum platform that used turbocharged straight-six BMW engines to keep up with our times. However, when nine of its old Plus 8 rolling chassis went up for sale when Bristol closed, Morgan quickly realized that nine track-focused specials based on that older tech could be built for 2022. The resulting Plus 8 GTRs would feature a naturally aspirated V8 under a new aerodynamic Plus 8 body that pays tribute to Charles Morgan’s mad “Big Blue” endurance racer from 1995.
As Morgan put it: “The project has only been possible because of the recent availability of a number of Plus 8 rolling chassis, which have been re-acquired from a third party following a discontinued project.”
Big Blue was Morgan’s test bed for the then-new bonded aluminum chassis that made the Aero 8 and other roaring V8 sports cars possible. This new run of nine 2022 Plus 8 GTRs will be what the Bristol Bullet couldn’t, only with a roof and the rest of Morgan’s bold design.
Production of special-edition Morgan Plus 8 GTR will begin this summer, limited to nine examples
www.autocar.co.uk/ 18 February 2021
A special-edition Morgan Plus 8 GTR will be built this summer, three years after production of the standard car officially came to an end.
Morgan says the GTR will be a “gloves off” version of the Plus 8, with the project made possible after several chassis earmarked for a discontinued external project were reacquired from a third party.
Only nine examples of the Morgan Plus 8 GTR will be built, but the British firm is set to reveal several other special edition models in 2021.
Power will come from a 4.8-litre BMW N62 engine, although Morgan has suggested that output from the recommissioned units will be higher than the 362bhp achieved in their original specification. Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions will be offered, although allocations for these are fixed for the production run.
The chassis are completely unused, having been built by Morgan before 2018. The company says some mechanical components will be upgraded for use in the Plus 8 GTR.
“Reviving a V8-powered Morgan at the current time may not seem like the obvious choice for a manufacturer firmly focused on new platforms and powertrains,” said Morgan’s head of design, Jonathan Wells. “However, when the opportunity presented itself to recommission a number of rolling chassis and create an exciting special project such as Plus 8 GTR, we embraced it fully.
“This project has allowed Morgan’s design and engineering teams to revisit some of their favourite elements of past Morgan models, as well as experiment with some features that we hope will appear on future Morgan cars.”
Morgan’s design and engineering teams have been told to “let their imaginations run wild” for the GTR, with inspiration coming from the ‘Big Blue’ GT series racer of the 1990s. That vehicle was used as a test bed for the bonded-aluminium chassis tech that later replaced Morgan’s traditional steel chassis in 2004.
With a full unveiling due before the car enters production this summer, sketches show the GTR sporting a high shoulder line “not seen on a traditional Morgan body for decades”.
The wheel arches have been resculpted and the five-spoke centre-lock wheels are a nod to the Plus 8’s racing heritage. The rear end, front wings and front splitter have all been reworked, with a hard-top replacing the original fabric item.
Every example of the GTR will be handcrafted using traditional coachbuilding techniques, but in a break from tradition, production will take place at the Morgan Design and Engineering Centre (M-DEC) rather than at the Pickersleigh Road factory.
Customers will be given the chance to create a bespoke Plus 8 GTR with the help of Morgan’s design team.
Replica car production expected to start within months after NHTSA rulemaking
Replica car sales permitted under the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act will start to take place within the next few months now that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has – after five years, numerous reminders, and one lawsuit prodding the agency – issued its final regulations on the matter.
“The roadblocks have been eliminated,” SEMA President Chris Kersting said in a press statement. “SEMA applauds NHTSA’s final rule allowing companies to market classic-themed cars.”
Since 1967, federal law has prevented carmakers from producing turnkey vehicles that do not meet federal motor vehicle safety standards. Replica carmakers have only been able to sell brand-new cars and trucks until now by selling kits or engineless vehicles that the customer then has to finish.
However, under the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act, which passed in December 2015 as part of a highway funding bill, replica carmakers would be able to sell turnkey replica vehicles that do not necessarily conform to current automotive safety standards, provided they adhere to production caps (no more than 325 vehicles per year, built by companies that construct no more than 5,000 vehicles per year worldwide), use EPA- or CARB-certified current model-year engines, and replicate vehicles at least 25 years old.
The law also mandated that the EPA and the NHTSA draft guidelines and regulations for anybody who wanted to take advantage of the law within a year of the law’s passage. While the EPA issued its draft guidelines by the end of 2017, the NHTSA didn’t do so until about eight weeks after SEMA filed its lawsuit asking a federal appellate court to compel the federal agency to act.
The recent regulation, which the NHTSA issued Friday [15 Jan 2021] and which will be enacted in the Federal Register in the coming days, addresses a number of minor issues that arose when the agency issued its draft of the regulation in December 2019. Perhaps the most significant change, according to Stuart Gosswein, SEMA’s senior director of federal government affairs, is in the agency’s definition of “resemble.”
“NHTSA started off with a more conservative approach” under which replica vehicle manufacturers would be limited to the same length, width, and height as the vehicle being replicated, Gosswein said. The draft regulation even specified that the replica vehicle’s interior would have to match the original vehicle’s interior dimensions as well. “So they’d just be building reproductions. We argued that the operative word is ‘resemble,’ not ‘duplicate,” and they agreed.”
Under the revised guidelines, interior dimensions will not be considered and replica vehicle manufacturers will be allowed a 10 percent difference in external dimensions – possibly more with the agency’s permission.
“Whether a replica motor vehicle sufficiently ‘resembles’ an original motor vehicle is a matter NHTSA will decide on an individualized basis and in its discretion, taking into account the overall appearance of the vehicle,” the agency wrote in the regulation. “To be clear, the FAST Act creates an exemption program designed to allow historic models to be replicated in a less costly way by low-volume manufacturers. NHTSA does not interpret ‘resemble’ in a manner in that would allow vehicles that are merely inspired by older vehicles to be built, or otherwise allow for artistic license to create vehicles that merely remind the public of past automotive heritage.”
In addition, the NHTSA’s final regulation allows foreign carmakers to sell replica cars in the country via registered importers, relaxes the burden of proof on replica carmakers regarding copyrights and licenses necessary to produce the replica cars, and allows replica carmakers to purchase rolling chassis from production carmakers provided the two companies can agree to stamp VINs according to the specifications in the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act.
The agency also clarified that its regulations apply only to vehicles that were originally offered for consumer sale and thus does not permit replica vehicles based on prototypes, concept cars, or show cars.
Roughly a dozen companies have expressed interest in replicating everything from Checkers to ’32 Fords to DeLoreans to Lamborghini Countaches to Shelby Cobras, though the unanticipated delays in the EPA’s and the NHTSA’s regulations – caused by bureaucratic delays and a plethora of unfilled positions at the NHTSA – led some of those companies to backburner or even cancel their plans.
“They’ve been waiting for this day so they can unpause,” Gosswein said.
The publication of the NHTSA’s regulations does not mean that replica car sales will start immediately, Gosswein said. “The rule will take effect immediately, but companies will still need to register with NHTSA, EPA, and CARB and get their proposals approved. It’ll be some months until sales begin, though there are definitely some companies – about five or six of them – with their proposals ready and waiting to submit.”
One potential remaining holdup concerns the number of drivetrains available for replica car companies to use in their vehicles. While it’s possible for low-volume manufacturers to use any EPA-certified production engine package, the law also specifies that the replica carmakers have to use a CARB-certified engine package, and at last count CARB only approved of one engine package: the 430-hp LS3 E-Rod V-8 crate engine from GM.
“The engine manufacturers were enthused when the law was enacted, but then everything got put on hold,” Gosswein said. “This is why our focus now will be on engine packages and on getting as many out there as possible for a variety of sizes and needs.”
While many of the replica carmakers Gosswein knows of are expected to power their vehicles with internal combustion engines, he said at least a couple are looking to go electric, possibly with packages like GM’s eCrate system.
For now, though, Gosswein said the major push is over and all that’s left for SEMA to do is help the various replica carmakers navigate the application process.
“We’re just eager to move forward,” he said.
[If you look closely you will see a Morgan Plus 8 under there! Perhaps something to do with your underused Morgan?? Cheers, Mark]
Dec 22, 2020 (REVS Limiter)
[Another drive and review of the New CX Plus 6, but still no definitive dates for importation into the US. And, no I don’t expect one for Christmas! Cheers, Mark]