British maker will build cars on a light CX-generation chassis, after using time-honoured ladder ones for 83 years
Steve Cropley Autocar
11 December 2019

Morgan will next year end production of its models built on a simple steel ladder-frame chassis, a system it introduced 83 years ago with its first four-wheeled model, called the 4/4.

In recognition of modern customers’ need for greater road ability, even in traditional sports cars, the company plans to replace the outgoing models – the 4/4, Plus 4 and Roadster – with “a range of models” that will utilise versions of the light and rigid CX-generation chassis it introduced with the Plus Six early this year.

“We recognise a need for a more resolved core product that meets both our customers’ needs and future legislative requirements,” said Morgan CEO Steve Morris. “The advanced engineering of the new platform is a vital underpinning for the next generation of Morgan sports cars.”

The chassis decision is part of a suite of changes and improvements that follow the purchase of the Malvern Link sports car company by Investindustrial, an Italian private equity firm that is also a major shareholder in Aston Martin.

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Developments include the opening in a few weeks of a modern and extremely spacious engineering and development centre (dubbed M-DEC, for Morgan Design and Engineering Centre) on a new site close to its Pickersleigh Road base.

“We need space to work on new projects,” said chief designer Jon Wells. “It has to be away from the suppliers and visitors who visit us nearly every day,” added Morris. “So we’ve made it close, but separate.”

Work is also about to begin on a major refurbishment of the Pickersleigh Road visitors’ centre, which annually greets 30,000 people, each of whom pays £24 for an expertly guided two-hour tour. Tours will stop between now and March, but the new, improved centre will be back in action by spring next year.

For now, Morgan is extremely secretive about the exact specification of its forthcoming new models, though it is believed most will maintain Morgan’s classic look. More details are likely to be available next March at the Geneva motor show, which the company traditionally attends.

Next year’s offerings are understood to include a model priced below the Plus Six’s £77,995, powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged engine – whose supplier is still secret – and mated to a manual gearbox. Company insiders confirm that the new car will be launched next year, though they won’t yet specify date, name or price range.

The performance and all-round capability of the Plus Six has proved so good that Morgan bosses regard it as a spiritual successor for the potent Plus 8 of former times, rather than the V6 Roadster.

Morgan says it won’t immediately abandon its traditional ladder chassis, however. Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the Plus 4, currently the company’s biggest seller, and designers are already laying plans for a small-run special edition.

“We’ll take the opportunity to mark the significance of the outgoing traditional steel chassis and its contribution to the marque,” said Morris. “It has been an integral part of the Morgan story and we look forward to celebrating its significance during the year.”

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Comments
5

11 December 2019

if you are going forward...

11 December 2019

How horrifically sad. The steel chassis "has been an integral part of the Morgan story" says the CEO. That may be the most egregious understatement spoken in automotive history. I assume the unique sliding pillar suspension (from 1909) will be gone with the chassis. This was a special and truly unique car, and the only old car that was the real thing and could be bought brand new. Buyers were fully aware of -- and embraced -- its "shortcomings."

The new cars are great, but they only look -- mostly -- like the Morgans that made the company and its cars the truly unique icons that they are. Correction -- were.

In the very recent past: 1) The Morgan family sold out; 2) the Plus 6 arrived without even the option of a manual gearbox; and 3) now the traditional chassis (and suspension) is going away.

The new owners, says the article, are the major force behind this decision. I was worried when they bought the company. My very worst fears are being realized.

A very, very sad day.

 

12 December 2019
Speedraser wrote:

This was a special and truly unique car, and the only old car that was the real thing and could be bought brand new. Buyers were fully aware of -- and embraced -- its "shortcomings."

But imagine how much better it could be if you could keep that lovely view out over the bonnet, the low-frills nature of the car, but with less squeaking from trim rubbing together, better handling, ride, and steering, and the ability to walk away from a crash. Much as I loved the Roadster I tried, a new platform might well have made the difference between fond memories of the thing and having one in the garage.

It's not as if they're making a compact crossover (though I'd love to see the car magazines' various awful imagined renderings of such).

12 December 2019

Sporky, I don't have to imagine. I had an early Plus 8 for 22 years. It's one of the most fun cars I've ever had, or driven. It is a completely unique and special experience. The Aero-chassis and CX-chassis cars are great cars (again, though, that a manual 'box cannot be had in the Plus 6 is horrific). That they are "better" is true from any objective assessment -- and that could not possibly be more irrelevant. As I said originally, the ladder-chassis, sliding pillar suspension Morgan has been for a long time, and will be for just a little longer, the only vintage car that can be bought brand new. It is a crying shame that it is almost at its end. What has happened since the Morgan family sold to an investment group strongly points to the rapid demise of so many of the things that made the cars -- and the company -- truly one of a kind, a throwback to a wonderful, characterful Britain from a very different time. This modern world was much better off as a result. And it seems to be going away. So very sad.

12 December 2019

To add to the above... the steel chassis cars also look better. They just do.

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