Morgan Cars: What’s Going On?

THE MORGAN MOTOR COMPANY HAS BEEN BUILDING ITS DISTINCTIVE FAST CARS SINCE 1909 WHEN HENRY FREDRICK STANLEY MORGAN BUILT THEIR FIRST THREE-WHEELER

MorganNow there’s trouble in the Malvern Hills where they make spring water and Morgan sports cars.  Charles Morgan, the last member of the Morgan family fully involved with the company, (allegedly), has been ousted from the board.  Mr Morgan stepped down as strategy director less than a year ago, and now in a bloody putsch has been told by the new M.D. Steve Morris that he will have no role with the iconic car maker at all.  Seems that the men on the factory floor aren’t so happy with the effective ending of the Morgan family connection after more than 100 years.  Seems the network of 65 Morgan Dealers isn’t so happy with the board either.  Morgan appears to shipping out new cars with far too may faults in them.

As The Telegraph strapline says, Morgan: what’s going on?

SpitfireNowadays Morgan builds an eight car range, (seven of which seem almost exactly the same as the Morgan 4-4 from 1936, while the other model is a three-wheeler, again very similar to the models they built in the 1930s). The current range costing from about £33,000 to more than £85,000.  A bewildering host of optional extras are available.  All of the cars look as though they should belong to one of the ‘Few’ and live at Biggin Hill Aerodrome among the Hurricanes and Spitfires.  All of the cars are much, much faster than they look.  Theoretically there’s a waiting list for a new Morgan and, unlike a lot of companies, Morgan makes a healthy profit.

However, buy any Morgan and you can expect it to go wrong.  Seems even brand new Morgans are being delivered with hidden faults.  If you’re interested Morgan has a pretty good website at http://www.morgan-motor.co.uk which covers their current range in impressive detail.

On the plus side, Morgans are very fast on British country roads, look great, hold their value, and are just about the only other convertible which can be driven by the more mature male without making him look stupid.  (Along with the equally iconic Lotus / Caterham 7.)

Morgan-3-WheelerA Morgan should be looked at as more of a hobby than a means of transport, and as a reasonable investment.  You can probably only drive your Morgan during the warmer months of the year, when it hasn’t been raining.  If you own a Morgan three-wheeler you can probably only drive it on half a dozen weekends, in England, not too far from your home.  Owning a Morgan is a bit like living with a very independent cat.

cat

Nevertheless, having toured all of civilised Europe in totally unsuitable sports cars, (Jaguar E-Type, Triumph TR6, Austin-Healey Sprite, Caterham 7), including driving over the Stelvio and St. Bernard passes, I can confidently say that you could use your Morgan for your three-week Continental Road Trips.  The major drawback for your partner is that there’s almost no luggage space in any proper British sports car.  Some of the luggage space will be taken-up by your tool kit, because your British sports car will break down, probably seriously.

On paper the best of the current Morgan range is the Roadster, powered by a 3.7 litre Ford cyclone V6, which gives the antediluvian-looking machine about 300 bhp per ton and a top speed of 140 mph.  One of those will set you back about £45,000.  Personally, if I was in the market for a Morgan, (which I’m not), I’d look for an older +8 with the venerable Rover V8 under the bonnet.  Probably start at around £25,000 for a decent car.  Face it, the new cars look almost exactly the same as the old cars.  An older car may have all of the faults fettled out of it, (possibly).

morgan-cars-21However, every now and again Morgan does something different.  Different like racing at Le Mans, having their own one-make racing series ~ the Aero Racing Morgan Challenge http://www.morganchallenge.co.uk or building a pretty little closed coupe, or making the three-wheeler again, or making completely wacky, hideously expensive, stupidly fast, limited editions, such as the Aero Coupe.  (A used Morgan Aero will set you back about £85,000)

The practical upshot is;  Morgan seems to be going through a bit of a transition.  Now may not be the time to buy a new Morgan.  Should you want a Morgan, I would look for a well cared-for older car, which will look exactly the same as most of the newer cars.  Look for a car with aluminium bodywork.

There are dozens of books about the Morgan Motorcar, in all its variants, the latest is a 300 page history of the Morgan Aero 8 by Gavin Farmer.  A Brave and Exciting New World £60 from Ilinga Books.

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