If there ever was an automaker that channeled the spirit of Throwback Thursday, it would likely be Morgan. The British company has built an international following for its neo-retro models like the Plus Four. However, just because Morgans look old-fashioned doesn’t mean they can’t offer modern performance. And in the new Morgan Plus 8 GTR’s case, it offers a lot of modern performance.
New-ish face, old name: the Morgan Plus 8 story
While the Morgan Plus 8 GTR is a new model, it’s not technically a new car. Rather, it’s an updated version of the discontinued Plus 8, the company’s first and last V8-powered road car, MotorTrend explains. However, although the Plus 8’s lineage dates back to 1968, weirdly, it was one of Morgan’s most modern cars.
Up until 2004, the Morgan Plus 8 featured the brand’s traditional design—an ash-wood frame over a steel chassis—with a Rover V8 under the hood. But as with the outgoing 3-Wheeler’s engine, the V8’s emissions certification was running out. So, after 2004, no more Plus 8. However, its story wasn’t quite over.
Several years earlier, Morgan introduced another V8-powered car: the Aero 8. Today, an aluminum-chassis Morgan isn’t odd: all its current cars ride on one (though ash-wood frames still support the bodywork). But at the time, brand purists were aghast at unwelcome modern touches like an aluminum chassis and fully-independent suspension.
However, these features made Aero 8 sportier without sacrificing the brand’s lightweight principles. And thanks to the naturally-aspirated 4.4-liter BMW N62 V8 under the hood, it was as fast as the contemporary Porsche 911. So, although the Aero 8’s looks were polarizing, its performance credentials weren’t.
But recognizing not everyone was a fan of its looks, Morgan decided to put the Aero 8’s chassis in a more ‘traditional’ body. And for good measure, it stuck the 4.8-liter version of the BMW N62 under the hood. Thus, the 2012 Morgan Plus 8 was born.
Bristol’s failure becomes a resurrection: Morgan brings the Plus 8 back one last (limited) time
Unfortunately, emissions regulations struck again and BMW discontinued large-scale N62 production. Then after 2010, it stopped even the small-scale hand-built production it kept going for Morgan, Road & Track explains. With no fresh supplies coming in, Morgan discontinued the Aero 8 and Plus 8 in 2018. And while BMW still supplies powertrains to Morgan, they’re all turbocharged four- and six-cylinder ones.
It seemed, therefore, that the Morgan Plus 8 was gone for good. That is, The Drive explains, until Morgan had a stroke of good luck. Or rather, Bristol had a stroke of bad luck.
As part of its revival attempt in 2015, Bristol purchased several rolling Plus 8 chassis from Morgan to underpin its planned Bullet roadster. However, the revival went nowhere and Bristol went belly-up again in 2020. And as part of its liquidation, the company had to sell its assets—including nine Plus 8 chassis.
Sensing an opportunity, Morgan bought those unfinished platforms back. And now, BMW’s V8 is getting one final hurrah in the Morgan Plus 8 GTR. But this last dance has some new steps.
The Morgan Plus 8 GTR cries ‘havoc’ with BMW fury and race car looks
|Morgan Plus 8 GTR|
|Engine||4.8-liter ‘N62’ V8|
|Curb weight||2425 lbs (2018 model, MotorTrend)|
|0-60 mph time||4.3 seconds (2018 model, MotorTrend)|
While the Morgan Plus 8 GTR has the same basic N62 V8 as the 2018 model, it comes with a new tune and an aluminum twin-pipe sports exhaust. So, in addition to a better throttle response, the V8 goes from 367 to 375 hp. Mild as that seems, it’s still enough to make the GTR the most powerful Morgan road car ever.
But while the Morgan Plus 8 GTR is designed for the road, it also has some race car touches. Its fixed roof, revised rear, five-spoke wheels, as well as front splitter and side wings are modeled after the 1995 ‘Big Blue’ race car. That’s a nice historical nod, as ‘Big Blue’ was the testbed for Morgan’s first aluminum chassis. So, in a way, the GTR brings the Plus 8 story full circle.
However, those extra features aren’t there for show. Those five-spoke wheels, for example, are center-lock, like on a race car. Also, the new roof, rear, splitter, and wings are handmade from aluminum. Furthermore, Morgan offers optional carbon-fiber race seats with harnesses.
How much does the limited-edition GTR cost?
Morgan hasn’t revealed pricing details for the Plus 8 GTR. But considering the Plus 8 50th Anniversary cost about $170K, the GTR is likely deep in six-figure territory. It’s a moot point by now, though. Morgan could only make nine GTRs and they’re all spoken for.
However, while BMW isn’t making NA V8s anymore, the 2022 M5 CS does have a twin-turbo V8. So, maybe there’s still hope for another Plus 8 chapter.
Follow more updates from MotorBiscuit on our Facebook page.