Morgan has shocked its supporters and much of the sports car world by launching a £200,000 limited-edition off-road version of its recently launched Plus Four roadster, dubbed CX-T, which is “designed explicitly for overland adventure”.
The car, which has made its public debut at Salon Privé, has a three-fold purpose, according to design chief Jon Wells, who has harboured a desire to produce an off-road Morgan for years. First, it is an opportunity to demonstrate the strength and rigidity of the new CX monocoque platform that underpins both the new-generation Plus Four and Plus Six models. Secondly, it pays homage to the historic durability of Morgan cars, demonstrated in extensive endurance trialling victories in the 112-year-old company’s earliest days. Thirdly, says Wells, it recognises the fact that many Morgan owners have tackled “extraordinary adventures” even in their standard models.
The CX-T project began in earnest early last year when one of Morgan’s new owners, Andrea Bonomi, chairman of the Italian-based Investindustrial private equity group that bought the Malvern Link concern in 2019, happened to see an illustration of an off-road Plus Four on the design department wall and asked if such a car could work.
Wells and Morgan MD Steve Morris were immediately keen on the idea, so a plan was hatched to build eight cars – several of which have already been sold to “friends” of Morgan and the investors themselves. “We don’t anticipate that the remaining cars will be without owners very long,” says Wells.
To ensure the CX-T’s capability in extreme driving, Morgan enlisted the aid of the Huddersfield-based specialist engineering firm Rally Raid UK, whose principal, Mike Jones, has built 60 Dakar vehicles for 13 events over the years – and never failed to have a finisher.
Together, Morgan’s and Rally Raid’s engineers decided that the standard Plus Four chassis and powertrain could fit the bill, if equipped with modified Plus Six suspension arms and bushes, much bigger wheels and tyres and EXE-TC coilover suspension units, already well proven off road. Together, these measures have increased the ground clearance from a standard 120mm to 230mm.