Cars & Bids Bargain of the Week: 2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler

Is it a car? Motorcycle? Technically, the Morgan 3-Wheeler is both and neither. Regardless of its legal classification, though, it’s certainly not like anything else that you regularly see on the road. And luckily, Morgan is bringing it back soon for another generation. But the new 3-Wheeler will lack one of the outgoing model’s key features. Luckily, it’s a feature that the bargain-priced 2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler currently listed on Cars & Bids bears proudly.

2012 saw Morgan bring back its iconic 3-Wheeler in modern V-twin style

The rear 3/4 view of a silver 2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler in a car dealer's garage
2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler rear 3/4
2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler
Engine2.0-liter air-cooled V-twin
Horsepower82 bhp
Torque103 lb-ft
TransmissionFive-speed manual
Dry weight1157 lbs
0-62 mph time6.0 seconds

As odd as the Morgan 3-Wheeler looks today, it would’ve looked right at home in the early 20th century. When H.F.S. Morgan established his eponymous company, British tax laws dictated that cars must have four wheels. Thus, to keep prices down, Morgan created a trike, or ‘runabout,’ as he called it powered by a bike engine. And because they were light, Morgan’s three-wheeled ‘motorcycles’ were also rather fast.

Depending on where you live, the Morgan 3-Wheeler is still classified as a motorcycle. And when Morgan re-imagined its original vehicle for the modern age, it also gave it a motorcycle-style engine. That fuel-injected V-twin stuck proudly on the autocycle’s outside comes from renowned supplier S&S Cycle. And apart from the 3-Wheeler’s, well, three wheels, it’s arguably the defining feature of the 2012-2021 model.

Regarding features, whether you’re talking 2012 or 2021, the Morgan 3-Wheeler doesn’t have a lot of them. The cabin—it’s not really an interior—has some gauges, a few milled-aluminum switches, three pedals, and two seats. Those seats are also non-adjustable (the pedals move), though they are upholstered in high-quality leather. Also, it lacks doors, windows, and a roof. And the only meaningful onboard storage space is the passenger-side footwell, Road & Track says.

However, you won’t care how impractical the Morgan 3-Wheeler is once you get going. The V-twin bellows its mellow song through the twin pipes while the wind roars through your hair. And sliding it around corners, pretending you’re at Goodwood, is easy thanks to its unassisted steering and surprisingly little body roll. To paraphrase R&T, this isn’t a motorcycle so much as a vintage airplane for the road. And it’s a barrel of fun.

There’s an updated first-year 3-Wheeler up for auction on Cars & Bids

A black 2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler with a quiled-red-leather cabin
2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler | Cars & Bids

Morgan made some running changes to the 3-Wheeler after its 2012 introduction. In 2014, for example, it strengthened the chassis, revised the suspension and steering, improved engine cooling, and fitted a stronger drive unit for the transmission. And it eventually offered ‘luxury’ features like heated seats and power outlets. But mechanically, a 2021 Morgan 3-Wheeler is virtually identical to a 2012 one, down to the rear drum brake and Mazda Miata manual.

The 2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler currently listed on Cars & Bids has some of those later upgrades, though. Specifically, the urban cooling and steering upgrade kits. The former added a cowl and an electric fan so the V-twin ran cooler in urban conditions. Meanwhile, the latter kit’s new track rod ends corrected early 3-Wheeler’s propensity for bump-steer. In addition, this M3W has the retrofitted factory frame brace that was standard on 2014-and-later models.

Besides the factory upgrades, this 2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler also has quilted leather upholstery and a rear luggage rack. It has a quick-release steering wheel as well. Also, the owner replaced and relocated the rectifier, another commonly-recommended modification/update. Plus, the sale includes two helmets, a set of driving goggles, the tonneau cover, a Brooklands steering wheel, and the factory tool kit.

The top of a 2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler's updated V-twin and under-hood area
Updated 2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler engine and hood area | Cars & Bids

Apart from some minor exhaust pitting and seat wear, this 2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler is basically factory-fresh. It also has less than 1600 miles on the clock. And besides the new rectifier, the current owner also fitted new seatbelt tensioners. This M3W has some extensive service records, too.

The selling Morgan dealer installed the upgrade kits in early 2021, which is also when it replaced the clutch, transmission, and brake fluid, as well as the engine and bevel-box oil. During the same service, the dealer also replaced the brake lines, fuel lines, tires, and regulator mounts. Also, it tightened the tension and drive belts, adjusted the clutch and pedals, and re-aligned the rear wheel.

Affordable V-twin Morgan 3-Wheelers like this don’t come around often

As of this writing, this 2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler is listed at $20,000 with four days left in the auction. That’s roughly half of what a base 3-Wheeler cost when it was new. And used 3-Wheelers typically cost at least 50% more these days.

It’s worth noting that this 2012 Morgan 3-Wheeler doesn’t have the upgraded ‘Centra’ rubber drive unit that later models received. However, while it is a recommended upgrade, it’s not immediately necessary. And even with parts and labor costs, it still makes this 2012 M3W cheaper than the market average. Also, while early Morgan 3-Wheelers had some quirks, they’re in many ways easier to live with than later ‘Euro4-spec’ ones, PistonHeads says. Furthermore, minus a few quirks, this is a fairly reliable hand-built vehicle.

Plus, now that the P101 Final Editions are sold out, the Morgan 3-Wheeler doesn’t have a V-twin anymore. So, if you’ve seen one of these odd but thrilling machines on-screen or IRL and wanted to experience it, this 2012 one might be your affordable chance.

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