I have a raging cold. The cause of my sniffling is a Morgan Plus 4. I spent the Bank Holiday weekend driving one around Cornwall in the St Mawes Classic Car Rally.
Around 30 cars took part and my £30k ‘classic’ didn’t look out of place up against the Ferraris, Aston Martins and other items of spectacularly expensive beauty.
And that’s the joy of a car like the Morgan. It’s a new-old car that ticks both boxes. With a timeless number plate, it’s almost impossible to know the Morgan was only built six months ago.
Of course, if you want to spend £400,000 on something a little more exotic that’s fine too. But having travelled in both this weekend, I can say the Plus 4 is just as entertaining.
If only you could hear the stereo above 65mph, it would be the perfect weekend motor…
Rumour has it that Welsh rugby winger George North loves Morgans. Unfortunately, he has a deal with Land Rover – and also finds it very hard to squeeze inside a Plus 4.
North will go in to battle on the Lions tour of New Zealand this summer with England forwards Mako and Billy Vunipola. Today I interviewed the brothers and it’s official:
There’s no chance of squeezing that pair into my Morgan!
For the rest of us, the Plus 4 has a lot more room than a Caterham Seven. There’s a space behind the seats where the roof folds away that will take two weekend bags.
Generally speaking, the Morgan is a lot more civilised too – although Car Couture will test the 60th Anniversary Seven in July. That’s not to say it isn’t very noisy when pushed hard.
Even so, I could hear the music system at speeds up to 70mph. Believe me, that’s a major bonus in any Morgan…
Whenever I visit the Morgan factory in Malvern it’s like stepping back in time. The buildings are relics from the war-time and things haven’t changed much since long before that.
Well, they now have plastic gingham tablecloths in the café, rather than linen – and there’s one of those Dyson dryers in the loo that almost blows your skin off.
I met an elderly gentleman outside with a walking stick. He bought a Morgan 60 years ago for £400 and guess what? Even he doesn’t think they have changed that much.
Of course, that’s what makes a Morgan great. They haven’t changed much at all. Sure it has a Mazda gearbox and a Ford engine – the Plus 8 is powered by a BMW unit – but time has stood still here.
In an age of Brexit, fake news and presidents with orange hair, it’s good to know some things never change…
You might think the Volkswagen Beetle is the longest running production car in the world. Or perhaps the Land Rover?
The Morgan 4/4 was launched at the 1936 London Motor Show – long before the Second World War, or the abdication of King Edward VIII.
That means it holds the record and this special 80th anniversary model celebrates the fact.
Everything, from the brass wheel nuts to the leather bonnet straps, will remind your grandad of the great days of motor cars.
This 1.6 model is not a machine to thrash around corners, or impress a lady with straight line performance. No, it’s a sedate old thing that should remind drivers of pure motoring – without traction control or even a window winder.
The driving position may be rather too upright, some of the trim isn’t up to standard for a £39k car but what a glorious feeling steering a 4/4 into a corner – and coming out the other side alive!
Perfect week for a Morgan! But what happens when the sun goes out and you need that warm wind in your hair feeling again?
Swap from four wheels to two and head down to you nearest Harley-Davidson dealership. It’s giving riders the chance to escape the impending chill with the chance to win a £5,000 holiday adventure of a lifetime in South Africa.
To enter the ‘Follow The Sun’ competition you just need to book a test ride before the end of November.
The winning name out of the hat in December will take home a stonking holiday that is part of Harley’s Authorized Tours programme.
For more information visit http://www.h-d.com/testride
If you wanted quintessential British country motoring it would no doubt include an image of a Morgan scooting across the Cotswolds.
You will require an additional piece of kit to make the journey more pleasurable thought – a tea towel.
Why? Well, with the roof in place, the mohair hood has a nasty habit of flapping at speeds in excess of 50mph. It’s like having a giant butterfly trapped in the cabin.
The towel can be stuffed between the hood and the frame to prevent it happening.
It will eventually drive you mad but at least the sweet drone from the exhaust system covers up most of the noise…
Having noted the lack of sun visors in the 4/4 I can now happily report that it has three windscreen visors to compensate. Brilliant.
And what is especially remarkable about the Morgan is the 1.6-litre Ford engine. It sips fuel soooo slowly. I must be averaging 45mph+. I can’t give you an exact figure because the Morgan doesn’t have an onboard computer of course.
The 4/4 has two sweet spots. On the motorway, rattle along at 75mph – otherwise it loves tackling a country lane between 35-50mph. The five-speed gearbox is a joy.
This is really the Morgan for gentle pottering around the Cotswolds. Not like the madcap Plus 8 that is an absolute bruiser to steer.
It’s great fun – I just wish this speical edition didn’t have quite so many naff ’80th anniversary’ decals splattered about the place…
After whinging about the lack of sun visors in the Morgan, I now discover my Land Rover doesn’t have them either. It’s a soft-top too, circa 1972 and just as bonkers to drive as the 4/4.
So what does the 80th annversary Morgan actually have to boast about? Well, apart from the fun factor it has a mohair roof, door locks and rather swanky, brass wheel nuts.
There’s some extended leather trim, cream-faced Smith dials (you have to know British cars to understand what they are) and a matt finish walnut dashboard.
You see, what makes this car special is that is has very little of anything. No driver aids, no infotainment system, no accoustic exhaust.
It’s quite lovely for a Friday drive in the October sunshine…
It’s 6.30pm and I’m heading west from Heathrow Airport in a Morgan 4/4. I’ve just driven 2,000 miles to the Arctic Circle in a rather splendid Fiat 124 Spider and returned home to something with an equally iconic badge.
Except I’m cursing by the time I reach Reading on the M4 motorway because the setting sun is hitting me straight in the eyes. I reach for the sun visor that isn’t there – this is a Morgan and visors are for wimps.
Perhaps I should have checked the radio for a traffic alert but the 4/4 doesn’t have one of those either. Or air con to keep me cool in the heat of the moment – or, well, the list goes on.
You don’t get behind the wheel of a Morgan for such niceties. This is all about motoring stripped back to the bare minimum – apart from the price tag that is. I love Morgans and the fact I’m smiling in the face of a setting sun really says it all…
May 25 I can’t tell you the Morgan Plus 8 is value for money, or the fastest two-seater on the road for circa £90,000. It’s also ridiculously noisy at motorways speeds, leaks worse than the Labour Party and is a bugger to access, even with the roof down.
And yet after almost 1,000 miles of driving around Ireland, I can’t honestly think of a car that has given me so much pleasure, including any Porsche 911, Ferrari, Lambo or Aston.
If this sounds like a rather rash statement, you might want to consider what you want from a sports car. Is it a machine that cossets you in driver aids and help you clock 60mph in 0.1 of a second faster than the bloke’s car parked next to you?
Or would you like a machine that truly tests your driving skills, demands respect but will reward driver input by the bucketload?
All I can tell you after testing cars for 30 years is that the Plus 8 is, without doubt, one of the best cars I have ever driven…