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Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan started out as a railway apprentice at Swindon, but in 1906, and with the blessing of his clergyman father, opened his own garage in Malvern Link. Three years later he designed a lightweight chassis for a three-wheeler to take an air-cooled vee-twin engine and commissioned Mr Stephenson Peach, engineering master at nearby Malvern College to machine components for him. The tiller-steered single-seater prototype became the forerunner of over 15,000 Morgan three-wheelers made until 1952. Four-wheeled production started in 1936 with the 4-4 (4 wheels, 4 seats) and in essence the cars have changed little to the present day. Still occupying its Pickersleigh Road, Malvern Link factory, Morgan has remained 100% family owned and is truly unique amongst British sports-car manufacturers. This guide features a selection of six classic Morgans from the F-type 4-cylinder model of 1933 to the V8-engined Plus 8 of 1968.
Morgan Three Wheeled Morgan 1912-1952
The Morgan three-wheeler arrived on the scene in 1912, before the cyclecar craze that hit its peak in the 1920s, and it outlasted every other make of cyclecar, for the last Morgan three-wheeler was built in 1952. It owed its longevity not only to ingenious design, which enabled it to combine low weight with high performance but also to the business acumen of HFS Morgan. The F4 model was introduced in 1933 and featured the car-derived Ford 8HP four-cylinder engine.
Morgan 4-4 Series 1 1936-1950
Called the 4-4, standing for four wheels, four cylinders, Morgan announced their first four-wheeler in "The Light Car and Cyclecar" in 1935. The prototype was based on the Morgan F-type chassis and powered by a Ford 993cc side valve engine, although production models would be fitted with the more powerful and sporty 34bhp Coventry Climax 1122cc engine and later the 39bhp Standard "Special" engine, retrospectively known as the Series I.
Morgan 4/4 Series 2-5 1955-1968
In 1954, after a gap of four years, Morgan re-introduced the 4/4 as a lower powered more economical model to run alongside Plus 4. The new 4/4 was a fully cowled model whereas the last 4/4 had been a "flat-rad" and the engine was a Ford, rather than Standard Triumph product. This revived ties that went back to the days of the three-wheelers. As Ford changed its engines, Morgan followed and the 4/4's performance improved as it went through the 105E Anglia (Series III), 109E Classic (Series IV) and 116E Cortina (Series V) engines.
Morgan Plus 4 1950-1969
The Plus in Plus 4 stands for extra power, provided in the first instance by the four cylinders of the 2038cc Standard Vanguard engine and then by the engines of the Triumph TRs. Introduced in 1950, the two-seater reached production first, followed by the four-seater and the coupe within the space of a year. By 1954, after some experimentation, the classic "high-cowled" style was achieved.
Morgan Plus 4 Plus 1963-1966
The 1960s was a difficult time for the company. Morgan's old-fashioned styling was out of vogue and competition was fierce with an ever increasing array of new sports cars on offer from the likes of MG, Triumph and Lotus. In an attempt to modernise the Morgan, the Plus 4 Plus was introduced in 1964. It used a Plus 4 chassis, with the same TR4/TR4A engine, exhaust system, gearbox and back axle as the standard Plus 4 of the time. The body however was a fixed-head coupe, with two doors and an externally opening boot. Only 26 were made in two years.
Morgan Plus 8 1968 on
The introduction of the Rover V8-engined Morgan Plus 8 in 1968 added a genuine high-performance model to the company's range. Retaining Morgan's traditional design, with styling as the Plus 4, the Plus 8 addressed the needs of the Morgan's sporting customers. Enthusiastically received by the motoring press and tested by Autocar in September 1968, a prototype Plus 8 achieved a maximum speed of 124mph and 0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds.