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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