Morgan Plus 8
The Morgan +8 sports car
What do you say when Charles Morgan, of the Morgan Motor Company, asks you if you’d like to drive the companies latest V8 powered sports car? Well, anything other than “yes please!” would be extremely rude.
Here, in brief, are my initial impressions of the 2012 Morgan +8; The first things that impresses you about the reborn Plus 8 are both the ride quality and steering feel. After spending many hours behind the wheel of a standard Aero 8, an Aeromax and a variety of Classic Morgans, the new +8 went straight to the top of the pile in terms of steering precision. The poise is aided by the chassis being closest to the Series 1 Aero and thus with the minimal overhang of the Plus 8 bodywork, the car feels both nimble and lithe (this is also helped by the fact the 2012 Plus 8 will have an excellent power to weigh ratio).
This power to weight ratio also meant the Plus 8 felt extremely quick – acceleration was always rapid (no need for the right gear or the right RPM, the torque seemed to mean the power was always on tap) and it was only the rules of the road that restricted your ability to proceed at a physics bending pace; all the above was only exacerbated by the superb handling adding huge confidence, even on a slightly damp British winter road. A quick nod should also be made to the exhaust note, which in typical V8 fashion is there to egg you on – in the new Plus 8, you cannot help but fall in love with the idea of pressing down on the accelerator, simply to hear the tune it plays.
Aesthetically, the 2012 Morgan Plus 8 is a very purposeful looking Classic. The rear and the front perspective afford it a wonderfully wide stance; in the Black bodywork of the development car, the Plus 8 possesses an attractively menacing quality, more subtle than many performance cars but with plenty of presence. The profile is more difficult to judge because I simply don’t like the wheels on the development vehicle and therefore, tried to imagine it with another set in situ. Were a set of Classic Morgan wheels fitted, I think you’d be hard pressed to tell it apart from the rest of the range from afar (which given the heritage of the profile, is certainly not a bad thing!). I will watch, with interest, which wheels MMC choose to fit to the production cars because I believe getting them correct is essential to completing the package. I’m sure the company will devise a suitable solution; their Sport line for the Classic range has proven they understand simple beauty and the elegance of clean lines.
Whilst not fair to judge a development vehicle on fit and finish, the interior was a nice place to sit, the cut down doors adding to the elbow room. The dash was still a work in progress but was coming together nicely: blending Classic and modern with panache. The hood seemed substantial and consideration has been given to the side screens and the fit of them when the Plus 8 is at speed. As it stands, the development car was rattle free and felt very solid and well put together. I look forward to sitting the finished product but all signs point to another Morgan cabin that is a pleasure to spend time in.
I believe that gives a fair reflection of my opinion on the new Morgan Plus 8. It is quite easy to fall under the spell of this wonderful vehicle and even in development form, it is an extremely attractive package. Once the development process is over and the car has reached the public, I believe the Plus 8 will sell itself; the words of others, such as myself, will become superfluous to the individuals experience behind the wheel. This is a Morgan which needs to be driven to truly appreciate the depth of its potential and the magic it is capable of.
One of the team behind Talk Morgan, Brian Voakes, had the chance to drive prototype 2012 new Morgan +8 in September 2011; which is believed to be the first time a member outside the MMC team has been offered a drive of the new V8 engined traditional Morgan. As an owner who has had the keys of many Morgans pass through his hands and done many miles behind the wheels of both traditional and Aero Morgan, Brian was well placed to comment on how this exciting model is shaping up. With praise such as, “(the new Morgan Plus 8 is) really well planted and also very light and without the same slight roll-oversteer you get with most post Series I Aero’s, but there is now doubt that it is fast and there is certainly nothing much wrong with the set-up straight out of the box” you can tell this car has left a positive impression on one stalwart Morgan owner. The rest of the story and photographs of the development Morgan +8+ can be found on Talk Morgan.
Is a love affair with cars an innate quality, something preordained by our inherited DNA, or a result of parental, and wider family, nurture? Furthermore, can an inanimate object become part of the family or is it simply an heirloom, a reference to the tastes and proclivities of former generations? I doubt these are questions that the average ‘petrol-head car lover’ ask themselves very often; however, if we found ourselves in the same position as Dan Stewart, perhaps we would be motivated to do so.
In his short story Time Machine: One Family’s 40 Year Morgan Odyssey, Dan tackles the retelling of his family’s 40-years of Morgan sports car ownership. Blame it on the sentimental side of me but by the end of the story, I could not help but imbue the Sunset Yellow Plus 8 with a personality all its own. Dan has promised to document his upcoming road trip, through the Carolina mountains, in the Morgan; therefore, I can look forward to hearing further adventures of this bright member of the Stewart family. Until then, I hope you enjoy Dan’s story as much as I did…
Time Machine: One Family’s 40 Year Morgan Odyssey
by Dan Stewart
The December, 1968 issue of Road & Track arrived in the mail about a month late, as it always did at our home in San Salvador, El Salvador. My father had been a subscriber for years, and as his career had taken our family first to Europe and then Central America, he and I had become accustomed to receiving the magazine late, and occasionally in tatters.
This issue contained an item that captured my father’s attention more than most. On pages 102 and 103, there was an article by Eoin Young about a sensational new Morgan, the Plus 8, powered by the Rover 3.5 liter all-aluminum V-8. This engine was of particular interest to my father, who spent his entire thirty-eight year career working for Alcoa Aluminum; first as a metallurgist, and then in upper management with the company’s international division. He was an enthusiastic proponent of the aluminum internal combustion engine, and during the war had assisted Packard with their production of the mighty Merlin V-12 that propelled the P-51 fighter aircraft. He had previously owned a 1962 Buick Skylark convertible powered by the same compact V-8 used in the Morgan before GM had sold the production rights and tooling to Rover. I should add that my dad was an unapologetic automotive enthusiast, and although he had never owned a British sports car he was more than open to the idea if the right one came along.
Nothing was going to come of it as long as we lived in El Salvador, but our family’s four-year sojourn there was coming to an end. The following summer, we learned that Alcoa management had decided that my father was just the man they needed to manage their expanding operations in the UK. So it was that in the fall of 1969, my parents moved to the town of Droitwich, in Worcestershire, and I was sent off to a boarding school in Rome, Italy to complete my senior year of high school. My sister, three years older than I, was by this time attending college in California.
This being long before the days of cheap, instant communication, the weekly letter from home was eagerly anticipated. I was especially interested to hear about the new family home and surroundings, as I had travelled directly to Italy from El Salvador. When one particular letter arrived that autumn, I quickly found a quiet spot to read it. My mother always wrote her part first, and I got the usual tidbits about the new house, neighbors, and surroundings. When I came to my father’s section, my heart raced with excitement as I read that he had “…Placed an order for a Sunset Yellow Morgan Plus 8 at the Earl’s Court Motor Show.” He went on to say that the car would be delivered in the late spring of the following year. I quickly wrote back to praise my father for the wisdom of his decision and began to count down the days to delivery.
~ to continue reading Dan’s story about 40-years of Morgan Plus 8 ownership, click here