Although the first 4 wheel Morgan was introduced in 1936, the first Morgan ever was produced in prototype form in 1909 using a 7 h.p. Peugeot air-cooled vee-twin. Two single seater versions were exhibited at the 1910 Olympia Exhibition with J.A.P. engines, an 8 h.p. twin and a 4 h.p. single.
Just before WW1 a prototype four-wheeler with a Dorman 4 cylinder engine was made but never put into production. In 1935 the scheme to make a four-wheeler was revived. Production of the famous Four Four (meaning four-cylinder four-wheel) began in 1936 and the engine used was an 1172 c.c. Coventry Climax engine with overhead inlet and side exhaust valves, producing 38 b.h.p. Price at the time was ˛195 and it had a top speed of around 80 mph with a 0 to 60 mph time of 28.4 seconds. Autocar said at the time ‘The car’s suspension is admirable on ordinary surfaces, on the firm side over certain types of less good surfaces at low speed, and inclined to be hard over a really severe potholed section.’ It’s pleasing to know that nothing much has changed on the new cars!
To add to the 2 seater and 4 seater cars already available Morgan introduced the drop head coupe. Prices where now ˛190, ˛205 and ˛225 respectively. During this year an old association with Sir John Black, who as a youth had drawn the original patent drawing for the three-wheeler, was rekindled enabling Morgan to introduce the Standard engine. This power unit was developed from the 9 h.p. side valve engine and was linked to a Moss gearbox mounted centrally in the chassis and connected to the 5-1 rear axle by a short propeller shaft.
During most of this period the Morgan factory was involved in the manufacture of anti-aircraft gun parts and undercarriage components.
Production restarted after the war when in July the factory was given permission to build 50 3 wheelers and 75 4 wheelers by the end of the year. They didn’t reach this figure! The Four Four they produced at the time was fitted with a 1267 c.c. Special Standard engine.
In this year the Standard Motor Co announced their ‘One Engine Policy’ which meant that after 1949 the 1267 c.c. unit would not be available to Morgan.
In view of the demise of the 1267 c.c. engine Morgan built a prototype car using the Vanguard 1.8 litre engine.
Introduced the Plus Four. The engine eventually fitted was the 2088 c.c. Vanguard producing 68 b.h.p. This gave a much needed performance boost and for this the frame was strengthened, the front suspension improved and Girling hydraulic brakes fitted. The car was an immediate success! The price for a coupe-bodied version in 1951 was ˛565 plus ˛315. 7s. 9d tax. Nothing new about taxing the motorist! Acceleration from 0 to 60 M.P.H. was 17.9 seconds with a top speed of over 85 m.p.h. The decision was taken in this year to cease production of the three-wheeler.
The radiator was hidden beneath the bodywork to improve aerodynamics and the Vanguard engine was replaced with the 1991 c.c. Triumph TR2 unit providing 90 b.h.p at 4800 r.p.m. 0 to 60 M.P.H. was now 13.3 seconds and top speed was just over 100 m.p.h. The car cost ˛585 plus the inevitable ˛244. 17. 6d British purchase tax. You could even have a heater for ˛8. 12s!
In this year the 4/4 was reintroduced as the Series Two. Fitted with the Ford 100E 1122 c.c. engine it was as the Morgan Motor Co put it ‘. . .the object being to provide a sports car of first-class performance and appearance for the enthusiast with modest means.’ In 1956 it cost ˛713. 17s including tax and did a somewhat leisurely 0 to 60 m.p.h time of 29.4 seconds! A review of the time said ‘The Four Four is a creature of compromise. Main items on the debit side are performance which is not exciting in standard form, difficulty of getting in and out, the laborious hood mechanism and the lack of accommodation for luggage.’ Some things have changed some have not!
11-inch Girling disc brakes and knock-on wire wheels become available.
With the demise of the Ford 100E engine Morgan launched the 4/4 Series Three with the new 105E engine from the Ford Anglia. The unit had a capacity of 997 c.c. and produced 39 b.h.p.
The Four Four Series 5 was introduced with a Ford 116E engine of 1498 c.c. The Plus 4 Plus was launched at the 1963 Earl’s Court Motor Show. Featuring a radically styled glass fibre body on a strengthened Plus 4 chassis it was fitted with a Triumph TR4 engine of 2138 c.c. producing 105 b.h.p at 4750 r.p.m. It had a reported top speed of around 110 m.p.h. and, including purchase tax, cost ˛1275. 7s. 1d. As a report pointed out this was the first Morgan to feature a curved windscreen and winding side windows. It did not appeal to the traditional Morgan buyer and production ceased two years later after twenty six cars had been built.
In this year the Triumph TR engine was nearing the end of its life and the Morgan Motor Co started to look for a replacement. The Rover Motor Company offered the forthcoming aluminium V8 engine and Maurice Owen joined Morgan to take charge of development of the new car, the Plus 8
The Plus 8 was introduced to the public at the 1968 Earls Court Motor Show. Fitted with the Buick derived Rover V8 of 3529 c.c. and producing 160 b.h.p at 5200 r.p.m. the car was a revelation. With a Moss Gear 4 speed box it could reach 125 M.P.H. and hit 0 to 60 m.p.h in 6.7 seconds. A performance test at the time on MIRA’s timing straights from a standing start gave 90 m.p.h in 14.5 seconds, just before the quarter mile post 15.1 seconds and 110 m.p.h. 10 seconds later at 25.7 seconds. Interestingly the 4.2 litre Jaguar E-type of the time took 15.1 seconds to get to 90 M.P.H. under the same test. A motoring magazine wrote ‘ If, as many still do, you think that more than 4 1/2 inch of front suspension travel is cissy, that a quickly erected top and winding windows are effete, and that beat-proof synchromesh on all gears is a sign of moral decay, then here is the car for you.’ It cost ˛1477. 18s. 4d and by comparison the Jaguar E-type Roadster was ˛2117.The 4/4 Series Five became the 4/4 1600 fitted with Fords Kent engine of 1599 c.c. capacity. A competition model was also available with the 1600 GT version of the engine.
The Plus 8 gains US type approval.
A Plus 8 Sports Lightweight is offered in addition to the standard model. Only 19 were built.
The Plus 8 gets the Rover SDI engine and the 5-speed Rover gearbox. The car width was increased to 62inch to take the 6inch by 14inch wheels. The engine produced 155 bhp at 5,250 revs. The price in 1977 was (basic) ˛5,095 plus for the ‘lucky’ ones in the UK ˛424.58 special car tax and ˛441.57 VAT.
4/4 Twin Cam launched as an alternative model fitted with Fiat’s twin-cam 1600 engine.
Fuel injection becomes an option on the Plus 8. Power is now 190 bhp at 5,280 rpm. Price was around ˛13,000.00 including UK taxes. In a Performance Car magazine road test the author writes ‘After our drive, photographer Peter Robain and I arrived back at Malvern Link, cold, senses battered by the gale blowing into the cockpit, irreparably disheveled, but grinning from ear to ear.’ Haven’t we all!
The Plus 4 is re-launched fitted with a Fiat 2.0 litre twin-cam fuel injected engine, 5 speed gearbox and Cobra style wire wheels. Maximum power was 122 bhp at 5,300 rpm with a maximum speed of around 112 mph. Price was just under ˛11,000.00. A road test at the time said ‘ Yes, the ride is harsh. Yes, it shakes, rattles and rolls over the lumpy bits of the road. But that, precisely, is its appeal. If you cannot understand all that, you never will, no matter how much I write.’
Plus 4 M16 introduced with a Rover 2.0 litre M16 engine and Rover 5 speed gearbox. This engine increased the bhp to 140 at 6000 rpm. Price was now around ˛13,500.
Wire wheels become standard on Four Fours. Plus 8 fitted with Rover 3.9 engine as used in the Range Rover Vogue SE producing 190 bhp at 4,750 rpm with maximum torque of 235 lb ft at 2,600 rpm. Autocar wrote ‘It offers a tactile experience entirely absent from the cocooned opulence of so many of today’s executive cars. Drive a Morgan quickly and the driver gets a real sense of achievement. It sets the pulse racing.’ Price in the UK with the normal extras was ˛25,341.00. Sir John Harvey-Jones visited MMC as part of the BBC TV programme Trouble Shooter. Need I say more?
The Plus 4’s M16 Rover engine is replaced with the T16 Rover engine.
Four Four is now fitted with Ford’s 1800 Zetec engine and five-speed gearbox. Power output was 114 bhp at 5,750 rpm. This gave it a top speed of around 111 mph and a 0 to 60 mph time of about 7.8 seconds. A road test at the time said, ‘And boy does the chassis communicate, yapping away like Ruby Wax, telling you things you’d rather not know about the road surface. And somewhere in all that cacophony there are messages that will get you around that next corner in one piece.’ Price was ˛16,256.00. Plus 8 now available with the factory option of wire wheels. Front discs get 4 pot calipers and a direct acting in-line servo.
4.6 litre engine for the Plus 8 becomes an option. Producing 220 bhp at 5,000 rpm and increasing torque to 260lb ft at 3,600 rpm. With almost every extra going, including air bags, the price was now just under ˛38,000.00. Autocar wrote ‘However much you want to slam the Morgan for its outdated dynamics and chronic ergonomics, it is hard not to be won over by the skill of the craftsmanship and the undiluted character of the driving experience. You are not merely buying a car but a perfectly preserved piece of motoring history.’ A number of production improvement where introduced including aluminium superform wings (all except the 4/4), longer doors, redesigned facia to allow for airbags and generally improved materials throughout.
The four-seater version of the 4/4 is re-launched with rear bucket seats as opposed to the earlier bench seat.
With Rover’s T16 engine no longer available productions of the Plus 4 ceases. The Aero 8 is launched at the Geneva Motor Show. Complete with a bespoke aluminium chassis, all independent suspension and powered by a 4.4 litre MBW V8 engine producing 286 bhp at 5.500 rpm this was a radical departure from the traditionally build Morgans. Its styling was controversial and it was definitely in the love it or hate it category. Performance was 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds with a top speed of 151 mph.
The Aero 8 GT(N) racer was launched at Autosport International. Powered by a Heini Mader-prepared, dry-sump BMW M62 V8, with water/oil heat exchanger it produced 500 bhp at 6,900 rpm. It could be yours for ˛180,000. Le Mans ’62 commemorative editions announced available in Plus 8 and 4/4 versions. 40 of each version to be built at a price of ˛39,900 for the Plus 8 and ˛27,500 for the 4/4. Morgan returned to Le Mans with the DeWalt/RSS Aero 8 GT(N). It succumbed to engine failure after 171/2 hours.
New entry level Morgan launched. Named the Runabout it was available in 3 standard colours only with a standard no-option specification. The price was ˛22,000 around ˛2,500 less than the 4/4. It could be recognized by the reduced number of bonnet louvers. After 35 years of production Morgan announced the Anniversary Plus 8. Around 200 of this version were sold. Limited Edition Aero 8 GT Coup≠ announced.
The new USA Specification Aero 8 was launched at the 2004 Los Angeles Motor Show. Now using the latest BMW M62 V8 engine it also had a wider body and a slightly modified rear end. Price (excluding VAT) was ˛58,500. With the demise of the Rover V8 engine due to it being unable to meet current emission regulations the final Plus 8’s were built. In production for 36 years the Plus 8 was Morgan’s largest selling model with around 6,000 being built. Morgan returned to Le Mans after the disappointment of 2003. The Aero 8 finishes the 24-hour race but fails to complete sufficient laps. The ESCRA prize for best technical assistance crew in the race was awarded to 4 members of the Morgan team. The Runabout ceased production.
The Roadster is launched at the British Motor Show as a replacement for the Plus 8. Powered by Ford’s 3.0 litre V6 engine, as used in the Mondeo ST220, it produces 225 bhp with a claimed 0 to 60 mph figure of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 134 mph. Price (basic) including VAT was ˛34991.50 as at November 2004. A ‘lightweight’ version of the Roadster is also launched ready for immediate action on the track. Weighing in at approximately 850 Kg and with an engine output rated at around 248 bhp and 300 Nm (221lbs ft) torque it promised a hot performance. Price was ˛29,373.83 as at November 2004.
2004 Plus 4
The Plus 4 is re-launched using the latest 2.0 litre Ford Duratec engine. Producing some 145 bhp it, as MMC says, perfectly bridges the gap between the 4/4 and the superb new Roadster. Prices are from ˛28,111.88 as at November 2004. A four-seater version will be available as from early summer 2005. As of November 2004 no prices have been announced for this version.
Production of Plus 4 four-seater put back until early 2006. North American Roadster announced. Only 82 examples will be available for delivery between December 2005 to February 2006 at a price of $73,950 plus shipping and local taxes. Standard equipment includes driver and passenger air bags, air conditioning, leather upholstery, folding and reclining sports seats, stainless wire wheels, walnut dashboard and even chrome door handles! The unique Morgan Aeromax is commissioned by Prince Eric I. Sturdza, President of Banque Baring Brothers Suisse. Aluminium wheels become a NCO on the Plus 4. LIFECar Project announced which promises to demonstrate an efficient high performance fuel cell sports car within three years.
4/4 70th Anniversary Edition announced. Just 142 cars will be built – two cars for every year of its production life since launch. Each car individually marked with the year it honours, and finished in period style. The price (April 2006) was ˛27,950.00 including VAT. New Aero 8 Launched. The most striking change was the restyled front, that bore more than a passing resemblance to the graceful lines of the AeroMax coupe that starred at the 2005 Salon de L’auto at Geneva. The all-aluminium super performer now sports more traditional Morgan lines, whilst preserving its remarkable handling and performance. Powered by a BMW 4.4 litre V8 producing 325 Bhp and 331-lb/ft torque. 0 to 62 mph was under 4.5 seconds. It cost ˛62,500 (including VAT) at April 2006. New 4 seater launched. Long awaited by aficionados, the 4 seater made a welcome return with a raft of new specification, options and for the first time in its 70-year history, engine choice. The Morgan 4 seater had never been available with a range-topping engine – until now. Unveiled at the Salon de L’auto in Geneva, Morgan introduced a 223 Bhp version, giving this model the highest power to weight ratio of any open 4 seater on the market. Two engine variants were available, a lusty 145 Bhp 2.0 in the +4 4 seater, and the smooth and powerful 3.0 V6 in the Roadster 4 seater, both using versions of Ford’s well proven Duratec engine delivering performance, economy and reliability which compliment the sheer practicality of this new model. The Plus 4 version was priced at (April 2006) just over ˛32,000 and the Roadster version at just over ˛39,000 including VAT. A limited run of just 100 individually numbered coach built Aeromax coupes was announced in June. Cars to be constructed at 1 or 2 a week with the final model leaving the production lines in Morgan’s Centenary year – 2009. Pricing was anticipated to be around ˛94,000 + VAT and would be supplied strictly on a first come first served basis.