Britain's Greatest Car Manufacturer - Morgan
The next manufacturer in our series is the family owned Morgan Motors whose combination of performance, class and design has enabled it to become a revered brand.
History of Morgan
Morgan was created by Henrey Fredrick Stanley (H.F.S) Morgan in 1909. Their first vehicle was a Morgan three-wheeler, dubbed a cyclecar, due to its simple design of a motorcycle engine put into a light-weight chassis and body. The cyclecar was breaking records both domestic and the world. It won over 24 Gold Medals in reliability and had success on the race track with a Cyclecar cup win at Brooklands by a two-minute margin
Entry into Harrods
In 1911, a two-seater runabout was created. An instant success, it caught the attention of Mr Burbridge who was the Managing Director of Harrods. The car was placed in the shop window, the only car to ever do this, and Harrods would sell runabouts.
Evolution of Morgan
Originally, Morgan had produced 3-wheeled cycle cars. When the runabout was created, they catered to a larger audience by putting in 4-seats. Morgan finally entered the family tourer market with the aptly named Morgan 4/4 in 1936. This marked a transition for Morgan whereby they were producing vehicles for multiple markets.
Morgan 3 and 4 Wheeler Clubs
When the 3-wheelers were discontinued, a group of enthusiasts formed The Morgan 3-Wheeler club in 1945. There was also a club for 4-wheeler enthusiasts called the Morgan Sports Car Club created in 1951 which both exists to this day.
In 1962, A Plus Four Super Sports prepared by Morgan and Christopher Lawrence won the 2-litre class at Le Mans. The car covered a total distance of 2,261 miles at an average speed of 94 m.p.h.
In 1951 and 1952, the Morgan Plus 4, driven by H.F.S's son Peter Morgan, won the R.A.C Rally. Peter drove for both teams.
The 70's and 80s was another period of track success for Morgan who won championships across the world with their plus 8 and 4/4 model.
1987, Morgan created the Morgan Sports Car Championships which was a one-make series and were experiencing grids containing up to 309 cars. This inspired other championships such as the Hill-Climb Championships and the Continental Morgan Championship.
Morgan returned to Le Mans in 2002 but had a DNF, in 2003, their entry was rejected and in 2004, a race laden with car trouble, Morgan finished the 24 hours and their pit crew were rewarded with an award for their outstanding performance.
Morgan had two Aero Super Sports enter a GT3 race series and they won the first two races and were consistently finishing among the top 5 throughout the season. The grid consisted of 35 of the best sports cars in the world.
Morgan's Longest Running Models
Morgans are known for their longevity. Their first 3-wheelers were winning awards in Reliability and their Le Mans triumph was aided by repair times of less than 40 minutes. This longevity has enabled their models to stand the test of time and the series in which they are a part of to still be in production today. Examples include:
- Morgan Plus Four (1950-present)
- Morgan Plus 8 (1968-04)
“The lack of multiple electronic safety nets is somehow rather liberating.” - Richard Dredge review of the Morgan 4/4
Morgan released the updated Aero 8 in 2000. The new Aero 8 was quite nimble with its aluminium body band panels and chassis and powered by a BMW 4.4L V8. This made put it on an equal field with exotic supercars and became an instant success.
"It looks amazing. Undeniably a Morgan, but with a modern twist, which means it will steal the attention away from just about any other car on the road" - autocar review of the Morgan Aero 8
Morgan's commitment to the environment was illustrated with their Life car in partnership with QinetiQ and other organisations. The advanced car was designed to achieve 150 mpg using electrical power and KERS technology.
A Century of Morgan
To mark the centenary of Morgan, the new Aero model was released in 2009 to acclaim. it was named the Aero Super Sports. The centenary events took place in July 2009 and attracted over 3,000 Morgans and people from 23 nations.
Morgan has endeared motor enthusiasts with their sleek designs and successes across motorsport but is it enough to be crowned the greatest ever? Next in our series is Noble.