The last Morgan to be built on a simple steel ladder-frame chassis has left the firm's Pickersleigh Road factory, 84 years after it made its debut under its first four-wheeled model, the 4/4.
The platform has been in near-continuous use since then, with production only pausing during the Second World War and the coronavirus pandemic, making it, Morgan says, "the longest-running production car architecture of all time, anywhere in the world".
The Plus Four 70th Edition was the steel platform's swansong. Featuring a gold-painted chassis, platinum metallic bodywork and a motorsport-inspired valance, it was priced at £60,995 and limited to a production run of just 20 models. Four examples had been completed before the factory closed as a result of the pandemic, but now the final model has been delivered to its owner, a Morgan collector.
In recognition of modern customers’ need for greater road ability, even in traditional sports cars, the company will introduce “a range of models” that will utilise versions of the light and rigid CX-generation chassis it introduced with the Plus Six in 2019.
“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.
Developments include the opening last year 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 under way 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.
Morgan is extremely secretive about the exact specification of its forthcoming new models, though it is believed most will maintain Morgan’s classic look. The new Plus Four was revealed in March as the second model to sit atop the new CX-generation architecture. Using a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine from BMW mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, it shares just 3% of its parts with the old car, despite its familiar design.