THE FAMOUS MORGAN PLUS 8

 

In 1966 the Triumph TR engine was nearing the end of its life and a suitable replacement was sought. The Rover Motor Company offered the forthcoming aluminium Rover V8 engine. Mr. Maurice Owen joined the firm to take charge of development on the new car, the Morgan Plus Eight, and this model was announced to the public at the Earls Court Motor Show of 1968.

The Plus 8 maintained Morgan's reputation on the race track as seen here with the second prototype MMC11. This proved to be one of the most successful cars that the company has ever built and production continued for 36 years until the model was discontinued in 2004.

 

In the late 1960s the Morgan Motor Company acquired additional factory buildings to the south of the existing site. This allowed a modest expansion to the Pickersleigh Road operations.

The racing pedigree of the Morgan was enhanced in 1972 and 1975 when Robin Grey driving a Plus Eight won the Fred Dixon Modsports Championship and Chris Alford won the 1975 BRSCC Production Sports Car Championship in a 4/4. MMC II, the first production Plus Eight, took the BRDC Production Sports Car Championship in 1978, this was followed with victory in the BRSCC Production Sports Car Championship in 1979. The drivers were Charles Morgan, the grandson of the founder, and Rob Wells. Morgans were prominent in the only 24 hour race held in Britain at this time covering the greatest distance by a single car entry in the Willhire event at Snetterton in 1980, 81, and 82. In the USA Tony Arutunoff won the US National Production Championship in class H and in 1982 both British National Sports Car Championship belonged to Morgan with Steve Cole winning in Prodsports with his ultra-lightweight Morgan famous for its one-piece alligator body.


In 1989 the capacity of the Plus Eight was increased from 3.5 to 3.9 litres and this ensured that the Plus Eight continued to be one of the fastest accelerating roads cars. The German magazine "Auto Motor und Sport" crowned the Morgan Plus Eight as the fastest car they had ever tested in fifth gear, “the world champion for flexibility".
 

The Plus Four was reintroduced in 1985 with a Fiat engine which was replaced two years later by Rover’s award winning lean burn overhead cam 2 litre engine. Also that year, Charles Morgan, grandson of the founder, joined the company full time. Bruce Stapleton, the London Morgan agent gallantly tried to put the Morgan back amongst the winners in International Sports Car Racing competing with Porsche and Lancia entries in Group 4 and drove an early Plus Eight 12,000 mile to Australia in the London Sydney Marathon setting the fastest time on a number of stages. In the Pirelli Marathon Rick Bourne came second overall in a Morgan Plus Four Supersports and echoed the successes of the Plus Four in the International rallies of the 1950's.


The Morgan Sports Car Championships began in 1987 as an annual championship designed to give owners the chance to race their cars in a one-make series. The championship grew fast and grids of 309 cars became common. The success of the series prompted a Hill-Climb Championship exclusively for Morgans and encouraged the German Morgan Owners Club to start a race series in Europe called the Continental Morgan Championship. From 1987 to 1993 the Plus Eight of Graham Bryant and Matthew Wurr consistently demonstrated how fast a Morgan can go against other makes in the 750 Motor Clubs Roadsports Series and in Morgan marque racing.


Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the Morgan Motor Company continued building the classic range of sports cars, the 4/4 being the entry level model, the Plus 4 for those who required a little more performance, and the very quick Plus 8 being top of the range. In 1997 the production models were extensively overhauled, with the standardisation of the new Aluminium superform wings (all except the 4/4), longer doors, redesigned facia to allow for airbags the introduction of a 4.6 litre V8 version and generally improved materials throughout.
 

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