Morgan has joined the likes of Jaguar Land Rover and McLaren by initiating a special division for bespoke commissions, and has marked the new venture with the surprise unveiling of its first creation, the SP1, at Salon Privé in London.
Ordered by long-time Morgan customer Brian Voakes, the styling of the SP1 (for ‘Special Project 1’) draws heavily on the company’s LifeCar fuel cell concept shown at Geneva in 2008.
Features including the canopy-style roof structure, solid-surfaced wheels and twin ribbons of wood that encompass the seats and dashboard are direct carry-overs from the LifeCar.
The SP1 was created by Jonathan Wells, Morgan's current head of design, who was involved in the development of the LifeCar while studying transport design at the University of Huddersfield.
While the 1050kg SP1’s ash-framed aluminium body is closest to the V8-engined Aero Coupé among Morgan’s current line-up, its steel chassis and 3.7-litre Ford V6 – uprated from 280bhp to 320bhp via ECU tweaks and a sports exhaust – come from the classically styled Roadster model. Estimates put the 0-60mph time at 5.0sec and top speed at 145mph.
New-to-Morgan features include a curved windscreen, iPad-controlled infotainment and Watt’s linkage rear suspension in place of leaf springs.
The leather-clad, steel-framed wooden seats fold down to reveal a pair of luggage pods, while a row of overhead switches (including starter toggles) add theatre to the controls.
“We’re dipping our toe in the water with this car,” said Morgan's managing director Steve Morris. “If a customer wants something special and it’s on-brand, this is a great way for us to demonstrate our bespoke coachbuilding skills.” “Making everything by hand gives us so much flexibility,” added Wells.