Everything You Need to Know About Morgan Motor Company

Morgan Plus 4

by Michael Satterfield - 01/19/2023

The Morgan Motor Company is a British car manufacturer that has been producing hand-built sports cars for over 100 years. Founded in 1910 by Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan, the company has a long and storied history that has seen it survive wars, economic downturns, and the rise of modern mass-produced vehicles. 

Morgan three wheeler

The early years of Morgan were marked by innovation and a focus on producing high-quality vehicles. Henry Morgan, a keen engineer was determined to create a car that was fast, reliable, and fun to drive. He began by designing and building a series of three-wheeled vehicles that were powered by small motorcycle engines. These cars were lightweight and agile, and they quickly gained a reputation for being fast and fun to drive. Three-wheel cars also took advantage of tax laws that made it cheaper to register a three-wheeler. 

As the company grew Morgan began to focus more on producing four-wheeled vehicles, the first four-wheeler the 4/4 was introduced in 1936. Morgan had experience producing four-wheeled cars as a coach builder, building custom bodies on chassis from other manufacturers like Alder. Morgan's 4/4 featured a powerful four-cylinder engine and a sleek, aerodynamic body that was designed to be both functional and beautiful. It quickly became one of the most popular sports cars of its time, and it set the stage for the many successful models that would follow. The F-series three-wheeler would end production in 1952 and it would take 60 years for enthusiasts to get the thrill of driving a new Morgan 3-Wheeler again, (more on the 3-Wheeler later).

Morgan three wheeler

The 4/4 was powered by a 1,122cc Coventry Climax engine that produced just 34 horsepower. Several different versions of the 4/4 were produced including a two-seater, four-seater, and drophead. Later versions of the 4/4 were powered by a Standard Motor Company 1,267cc engine which produced 39 horsepower. In 1938, Morgan took on the Circuit de la Sarthe, with Miss Prudence Marjorie Fawcett and Geoffrey White behind the wheel. They finished 13th overall out of 42 starters, but second in their class, a strong finish for a first-year Le Mans attempt by both Miss Fawcett and Morgan. Morgan sold replicas of her race car with cycle fenders, a fold-down windscreen, and a single spare wheel. Miss Fawcett would return the next year as a team owner, with Geoffrey White and Dick Anthony behind the wheel of the same car, they would come in 15th. 

Morgan would return post-war with the Morgan Plus 4 in 1950, sticking to the traditional styling that was quickly going out of mainstream fashion. The Plus 4 would remain in production from 1950-1969, before being revived from 1985-2000, with Fiat and Rover drivetrains, in 2004 a Ford four-cylinder found its way under the hood. In 2014, the Plus 4 limited edition was re-introduced as the Plus 4 Super Sports, only 60 were produced all of which were right-hand drive. 

Morgan Plus 4 parked on street

1962 would be a banner year for Morgan Motor Company with their first and only GT class victory at Le Mans, with Chris Lawrence and Richard Shepherd-Barron driving a Plus 4. Morgan would produce a two-seat Plus 4 Competition model in 1966, 42 of them would be built and only 11 are known to exist today. 

Perhaps inspired by the attempt by Sprinzel Lawrence Tune Racing to build streamlined race cars on the Morgan chassis in 1964. Morgan attempted to modernize their bodywork that same year with the Plus 4+ a fiberglass coupe body that had better aerodynamics and a more contemporary style. However, Morgan loyalists didn't care for the design and modern sports car drivers didn't care for the aging chassis, just 26 were built when production ceased in 1967.

In 1968, Morgan decided to stuff a Rover V8 into its Plus 4 chassis, creating the Plus 8, with the same weight as the four-cylinder and 190hp, the Plus 8 was the fastest production Morgan to date when it was introduced. The Rover-powered Plus 8 would remain in production until 2004, by the end of production the engine had grown to 4.6 liters and the car came with a five-speed manual transmission. 

With the Rover engine discontinued, Morgan would cease production on the Plus 8 until 2012 when it was reintroduced with a 4.8 liter BMW V8 and the choice of a six-speed automatic or manual gearbox. By far one of the more interesting variants of the modern Plus 8 was the Plus 8 Speedster which was only offered in 2014, and the Plus 8 GTR of which just nine were built as a special edition in 2021. 

Morgan Aero

The Morgan Aero 8, perhaps the most controversial vehicle in Morgan history thanks to its "cross-eyed" look would be released in 2000, with a contemporary take on the classic Morgan styling. In 2005, the cross-eyes would be replaced with more traditional headlamps on all subsequent Aero series. 2005 would also see the AeroMax coupe, which was designed by Matt Humphries, who was just 21 at the time, it was the first ever six-figure Morgan and it sold out in a matter of months. In 2009 the Aero Supersports would be released, with its targa roof and trunk designed for grand touring, it turned out to be one of the more popular of the Aero variants with over 130 produced before production ended in 2016. The Aero 8 would also see Morgan returning to Le Mans in 2002 and 2004, in 2002 the team didn't finish the race, but in 2004 they would return to finish in 27th place. 

2004 saw the release of the Morgan MK I Roadster, powered by a Ford 3.0 V6 engine and was offered with a two or four-seat configuration. The MK I Roadster would remain in production until 2019 and offered the same classic Morgan styling from the 1950s with modern conveniences like standard air conditioning. 

Morgan Plus 8

Morgan would again return to Le Mans under a new partnership with OAK Racing to produce a Le Mans Prototype 2 Class (LMP2) under the Morgan name. In 2013, five teams raced with these Nissan-powered Morgan/OAK Racing chassis, with an OAK Racing team winning the LMP2 class and finishing 7th overall. The Morgan/OAK Racing chassis would go on to also win the Asian Le Man Series and World Endurance Championship in the LMP2 class. 

2004 saw the release of the Morgan MK I Roadster, powered by a Ford 3.0 V6 engine and was offered with a two or four-seat configuration. The MK I Roadster would remain in production until 2019 and offered the same classic Morgan styling from the 1950s with modern conveniences like standard air conditioning. 

Morgan has made a few attempts to enter the EV space with the first being the Morgan Plus E, however, only a prototype was produced and shown at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. However, no production model was ever produced or attempted. 

Morgan motors

In 2019, Morgan introduced the Plus Six, on their new bonded aluminum platform called the CX-Generation chassis. It not only increased torsional rigidity by 100% over the previous platform used by the Plus 8, but with a 20mm longer wheelbase it added more interior space. The Plus Six is powered by a 335 horsepower BMW inline-six and is only offered with an 8-Speed ZF automatic gearbox that can be paddle-shifted. 

The new CX-Generation platform also allowed the revival of the iconic and almost unchanged-looking Morgan Plus Four, which was to be unveiled at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, which was canceled due to COVID-19. The new Plus Four is powered by a 2.0-liter BMW four-cylinder engine that produces 255 horsepower and can be ordered with a 6-speed manual transmission or an 8-Speed paddle-shifted automatic. 

Morgan CX-T

In 2021 Morgan released the limited edition CX-T an overland-ready Morgan. Based on the Plus Four the new CX-T was prepped by the legendary racing shop Rally Raid UK, the team behind some of the most successful Dakar rally cars ever built. The project highlights the durability of Morgan’s new CX-Generation platform which the Plus Four is based on. The exterior of the CX-T is designed to maximize gear-carrying capacity, and provide the occupant protection necessary for extreme environments. Most prominently, the rear panel of the vehicle has been replaced with an equipment rack, with unique side body panels designed to be reminiscent of the classic four-seater Morgan.

While Morgan ended the production of their iconic 3-Wheeler in 2021, after a nine-year production run, in early 2022 they presented the Super 3. A much more modern version of the three-wheel Morgan, powered by a 1.5-liter Ford 3-cylinder engine and a 5-speed manual transmission from the Mazda MX-5 the Super 3 shares more than the four-wheel Morgans than ever before, including much of the chassis that is used in the Plus Four and Plus Six.

Morgan 3-Wheeler

Thanks to new laws for boutique automakers, we are expecting to see Morgan cars back for sale in the US in 2023, while Morgan may still handmake all of their vehicles in Malvern, the US is still an important market for the brand and many enthusiasts are excited about the opportunity to own a brand new Morgan once again. 

Throughout its history, the Morgan Motor Company has remained true to its roots, continuing to hand-build its cars using traditional techniques and materials. This commitment to craftsmanship and quality has helped the company to survive and thrive for over 100 years, and it's one of the things that sets Morgan apart from its competitors.

Morgan Motor Company