Cars

The Morgan Plus 4 Is a Brand-New Classic Car

Today, it’s possible to restore classic cars to better-than-new condition and performance. There are companies that restomod Ford Broncos, Range Rovers, Chevy trucks, Mini Coopers, and so on. Some even convert these classic rides into EVs. British automaker Morgan, though, doesn’t really do restomods. That’s because their products are already essentially brand-new classic cars. Or, in the case of the 3-Wheeler, motorcycles (kind of). But change comes even to Morgan. And The Smoking Tire’s Matt Farah wanted to send the current-gen Morgan Plus 4 off properly.  

What is the Morgan Plus 4?

2019 Morgan Plus 4
2019 Morgan Plus 4 | Morgan Cars USA

The Morgan Plus 4, aka ‘4/4’, was actually the company’s 2nd vehicle, debuting in 1936 after the original 3-Wheeler’s discontinuation. That ‘4/4’ signified that this car had 4 cylinders and 4 wheels. Throughout the decades, Road & Track reports, the Plus 4 has actually left and re-entered production several times. And, although it’s hard to tell at first glance, the 2020 Morgan Plus 4 is more modern than the original car. In some ways.

For instance, the rear-wheel-drive 2020 model still uses a four-cylinder, albeit a 2.0-liter fuel-injected one taken from Ford. It makes 154 hp and 148 lb-ft, Car and Driver reports, and is linked to a 5-speed Miata manual. And it does have some other modern touches, Automobile Magazine reports, like a Bluetooth-equipped stereo, a heater, and heated seats. The interior, like the rest of the car, is hand-built, with excellent leather upholstery, and metal dies and switches. However, in other ways, the Morgan Plus 4 is just like the classic car it appears to be.

2020 Morgan Plus 4
2020 Morgan Plus 4 | Automobile Magazine via Instagram

While it does have 4-wheel disc brakes, the Plus 4 doesn’t have ABS, traction or stability control, or even power steering. And no airbags. All this means, though, that the car only weighs about 2150 pounds. And it does so without a bit of carbon fiber. Instead, it has a steel chassis, aluminum body panels, and a body frame made of British ash wood.

Not only is the Morgan Plus 4 not built like any modern car, but it also doesn’t drive quite like one.

What’s the Morgan Plus 4 like to drive?

The 2020 Morgan Plus 4 still uses a solid rear axle with leaf springs, not unlike some pickup trucks and SUVs. And it has sliding-pillar front suspension, one of the earliest independent suspension designs. The ride, R&T reports, transmits every road imperfection to the driver and passenger. The British sports car is also low enough for you to touch the pavement, and its cabin is rather tight.

The Morgan Plus 4, Farah reports, “drives like a really old car.” But not like a tired one—a classic car. You cannot be distracted while driving a Morgan. For one, there are no safety features. Secondly, the seats are basically right on top of the rear axle. If you aren’t careful with the throttle, you can spin out.

But then again, the car doesn’t let you get distracted. The steering communicates every road detail. Wind rushes through the cabin, as does the exhaust noise. You can feel the chassis flex. It’s sensory overload, like on a motorcycle. It’s what classic cars are all about: the experience, not the outright performance. Behind the wheel of a Morgan Plus 4, you feel just like Jay Gatsby.

As a car, it’s far from practical. But to quote Farah, “it’s the best way on four wheels to start and end your workday.”

Getting one of your own

For 2021, Morgan will introduce a redesigned version, the Plus Four, R&T reports. The steel chassis will be replaced, after 83 years, with a new aluminum one. The body frame will still be made of wood. However, in place of the Ford engine, the Plus Four will use a turbocharged BMW 2.0-liter four-cylinder, rated at 255 hp and 295 lb-ft. The suspension is also being completely overhauled.

The 2020 Morgan Plus 4, though, is still available. Though, it’s not cheap: the starting price is $70,000. With options, it’s closer to $90,000. That kind of money can buy you a brand-new Porsche 911, which is noticeably more practical, and faster.

But then, people don’t buy classic cars for practical reasons.

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