Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2003 Morgan Plus 8 "Anniversary Edition"

A/C Cobra, Sunbeam Tiger, Triumph TR8. Those are the names usually associated with vintage V8 British roadsters. Most people have never heard of the Morgan Plus 8.

The car in the picture above is a 2003 Morgan Plus 8. Although it's build date is 2003, it's more of a vintage sports car than any of the long gone models I mentioned.

It's not a gray market car. It was legitimately imported in very limited numbers.

Even when new, this car was an antique. Unibody? Nope. It was built on a wooden frame. Independent suspension? Nope. The front suspension is called a "sliding pillar" suspension and was designed in 1909. The lubricant for the sliding pillars is taken from the engine oil and applied via a push button on the firewall known as the "One Shot": "One shot every morning on long trips or one shot every 200 miles or so under everyday driving conditions". The rear suspension is a rigid axle and a pair of leaf springs, kind of like what you'd find on a truck. A very old truck.

For awhile, all Morgan Plus 8s brought to the US ran on propane. This was done to circumvent the Rover V8's lack of EPA certification. When Rover re-certified the V8 for use in the Range Rover, Morgan started using that engine and its emission control systems in the Plus 8.

The car being offered on eBay is a Plus 8 "Anniversary Edition". According to Motor Trend "The 35th Anniversary Plus 8 features a number of special trim features to identify its unique status." While not specifically mentioned, it should have the 4.0 liter version of Rover's V8 in it. The seller believes this car is the last one shipped to the US. It's number 100 of 100.

You can see some of the tacked on items needed for this car to be sold in the US. The side marker lights and especially the bulbous high mounted brake light look out of place on this car, but are required by the DOT.

On paper, the Plus 8 makes absolutely no sense. Thankfully, if there was a "paper", no one read it. Morgan sold as many of these cars as they could build (about 5 a week) and is still in business.

Time and, more significantly, DOT regulations have finally caught up with Morgan and their cars are built more traditionally now. If you want a new Morgan, sign up now. The last time I checked there was a 6 month waiting list.

The car being offered on eBay has 7000 miles on it and appears to be in perfect condition. Located in Santa Monica, CA, click here to see the eBay listing.

For a very impressive article about the Morgan and the Plus 8 in the US, click here to see the January 1977 reprint from Car & Driver magazine.
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Just for fun, imagine this scenario... You just wrote a six figure check for an Audi R8, Aston Martin Vantage or Ferrari F430. You're stopped at a light in your new car and a Morgan rolls up next to you. Looking for a little fun, you nod at the driver, blip the throttle, and when the light turns green, nail it. You look in your rearview mirror and the Morgan is not there. HE'S NEXT TO YOU AND PASSING YOU!

That's not an impossible scenario. Isis Imports Ltd, Morgan's US distributor, is now putting Corvette 7.0 liter LS7 engines into older Morgan Plus 8s! According to Road & Track, this set up propels the aerodynamic-as-an-aquarium Morgan to 60 MPH in 3.6 seconds. It does the quarter mile in 11.7 seconds at 123.2 MPH. How scary is this car to drive? I have no idea, but I'd love to find out. For more info you can find the Isis Imports site here.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Forget Zeibart, just call Terminix...

Just A Car Geek said...

Great comment!

Dave

Anonymous said...

is it really a 35th anniversary edition where are the crome wire wheels ?? an earlier edition