10 Things Gearheads Forgot About Morgan And His Cars
Born over a century ago as a mechanic’s hobby, Morgan has become one of the best-known bespoke automakers surviving today. Despite a true reminder of the automotive past, including production techniques unique to the modern era, Morgan sports cars continue to be in high demand.
And the brand isn’t afraid to make a bold statement. The brand’s Plus Four CX-T takes a decade-old design and turns it into a Dakar-ready rally car. The Morgan Three Wheeler features only one rear wheel, reminiscent of the brand’s very first cars still made today. And everything else is just as crazy.
ten Morgan himself was an early adopter of the automobile
Henry Morgan bought his first car in 1902 while an apprentice on the railroad. It was an Eagle Tandem, pictured, followed by a 1904 Little Star. With this, Henry left his railroad ambitions behind and set up a car repair garage.
In 1909 he built a personal car from parts in his garage, and followed this with the production of cars for sale the following year. Promising reaction to his first car from his garage customers encouraged him to put it into production.
9 The company started with a trike
The three-wheeled Runabout production model. Thus was born the style that will be called “cyclecars”, a motorcycle engine attached to a light and simple frame. The cars were unveiled to the public at the London Motor Show in 1910.
Despite the praise the cars received, few were bought, as the simple construction design failed to win over potential buyers. However, enough were sold for the business to be considered a success, and it cemented the brand’s reputation.
8 Good power-to-weight ratio gives impressive acceleration
The original Morgans used Peugeot engines. The Runabout Trike sported a 7 horsepower engine, and its light weight gave it a power-to-weight ratio of 90 horsepower per ton, making it one of the fastest cars of its time.
This tradition of speed has continued over the years. Modern Ford engines propel the Morgan Roadster, unveiled in 2004, to 100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds. That’s performance on par with this year’s top sports cars, roughly the acceleration of the Porsche 911.
7 Morgan started winning races
Just months after its unveiling, Henry Morgan entered his new runabout in the London to Exeter Trial and, in a display of speed and reliability, won. Morgan continued to compete against other makes of cyclecars, dominating to such an extent that the cars were forced to start a lap down as a handicap in a race at Brooklands…and they still won.
Indeed, the cars have also won on the international stage. The Grand Prix International Cyclecar in France was won by Morgan in 1913, pushed by the publisher of Cyclecar magazine, which gave a very favorable review which contributed to a steady increase in sales.
6 Morgan has maintained a successful presence in motorsport
The company continued to compete with its cars, breaking the world record for distance covered in one hour in 1930 until winning its class at Le Mans in 1962. Morgan returned to France for the legendary 24-hour race in 2002 with the Aero 8 GT, shown. The competitive speed ended in a DNF after 5 p.m., still an impressive run for the team in its first major race in decades.
Morgan continued that effort in 2009 with an entry into the GT3 class, scoring a plethora of top five finishes. A mid-season penalty, which Morgan still laments, however, ended any hope of a competitive championship position.
5 It took decades to get four wheels
It wasn’t until 1936, nearly three decades after the company was founded, that the marque’s first four-wheeled car was unveiled, again at a London motor show. The 4/4, for four cylinders and four wheels, was a steel construction on the brand’s traditional wooden frame.
From there, four wheels became the new normal for Morgan. The three-wheeler was phased out, but not forever, in 1952, as the Series 2 4/4 offered an improvement over the more popular four-wheeler style.
4 It is now run by a family friend
Henry Morgan ran his business until his death in 1959, to be succeeded by his son Alan Morgan, who ran the business for the rest of his life. After a few years of leadership wrangling, with Charles Morgan, the founder’s grandson, serving as chairman for a time, Andrew Duncan was named chairman.
Duncan, pictured, is a lawyer and a loyal friend to the Morgan family. He pursued the family’s goals for the business, even as the family lost control of the business that bore his name.
3 The Morgan Plus 8 had been in production for almost four decades
The Morgan Plus 8, considered the car that saved Morgan with its success in a difficult time for the company, had a continuous production run of 36 years, ending in 2004. Unveiled in 1968, the car was so successful that it required the acquisition of a whole new factory to build it.
The model was available again in a more modern configuration between 2012 and 2018, notably with an electric prototype based on the Plus 8 presented.
2 The tricycle design came back a decade ago
Morgan saluted its heritage at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show with the unveiling of the new Three Wheeler. With 80 hp and a lightweight wooden construction, this car was the closest Morgan lineup came to the original recipe.
This car ended with the 2021 model year, but it remains a popular car for the brand, a major contributor to the brand’s renewed popularity.
1 Morgan is environmentally friendly
The brand says it’s committed to “green and efficient sports cars”, and that has always been true for the brand. Handcrafted wood construction keeps production environmentally friendly, and Morgan continues that tradition today.
The new modern Morgan design was created with efficiency in mind. Inspired by the ultra-efficient Lifecar concept, the aerodynamic styling is slowly replacing some of the traditional design cues.
The Brits are known for building legendary sports cars, at least until the early 2000s. These are the best they had in the 1990s.
About the Author