Currently reading: Morgan ends steel chassis production after 84 years
British maker will build cars on a light CX-generation chassis, after using time-honoured ladder ones since 1936
Steve Cropley Autocar
News
3 mins read
7 July 2020

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. 

First Morgan Plus Four 70th anniversary models roll off line

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.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Read our review

Car review
Morgan Aero Supersports

The Morgan Aero 8 has pace and kerbside status in spades, but it's very pricey

Back to top

“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. 

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.

READ MORE

Morgan Plus Six is marque's first all-new model in 19 years

Morgan plots range expansion after major investment

Morgan boss on how investment will boost company

Join the debate

Comments
9

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.

7 July 2020
It's very evident that there are some big admirers of the Morgan.
I've driven one and I can see there is something, just not a something that floats my boat.
As the philosopher Lucertius once said, That which to some is food, to others is rank poison.

7 July 2020

I reiterate my December 11 post.

7 July 2020

... and my Dec 12 posts.

7 July 2020

I watched a re-run of Wheeler Dealers wherein Edd China had to replace the chassis of an older Morgan. I was quite shocked at how flimsy it appeared to be - no stronger than some old bed stead even before the rust got at it!  For years Morgan were criticised for retaining age-old running gear which gave a pretty awful ride and heavy handling and I always wondered why Morgan didn't update the underpinnings while retaining the classic looks.  That appears to be exactly what it has done and athough I will never be able to afford one of its cars I really like the direction in which it is going.  I was so looking forward to a factory tour until this wretched virus thing ruined everything.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week