Morgan Four-Wheeled Cars

©By John Worrall

Published in January 1995 issue of Motor Sport,

Reprinted from the Morgan Motor Car Club; Dallas, Texas; January 1996 issue.

Last update: March 30, 2006

The Morgan Motor Company have produced four-wheeled Models for 59 years now on a continuous basis except for the War Years when the Company was engaged in the production of aircraft refueling parts and other work for the Ministry.

The basic construction of the cars has remained suprisingly similar over that time; each car is individually coachbuilt using an ash frame mounted onto a steel chassis with Z-section side-members and tubular cross-members. The front suspension and steering are carried on a separate frame of "X" section flat steel on tubular cross members mounted onto the front chassis legs. The body frames have been paneled in steel or aluminum over the years.

While the Morgan is now the only truly "coachbuilt" sportscar in series production, there have obviously been many changes over the years in order to keep the performance and other features of these individual Sports Cars competitive in the market place.

All Morgans produced have always retained the famous "Sliding Pillar" front suspension. patented by H. F. S. Morgan (the founder) in 1910!
The First Model dot_clear
March 1936: Introduction of the 4-4 (note the designation which was later changed to "4/4" in 1946) 2 Seater Roadster. 1122cc Coventry Climax Engine and Meadows gearbox. The cars have an imposing chrome-plated "flat-front" radiator with separated chromed headlamps and central pass lamp. The first 50 cars had rearward-hinged doors.

August 1937: Introduction of the 4-seater version.

March 1938: Moss gearbox replaces Meadows.

August 1938: Drop-Head Coupe introduced with folding hood and chromed frames to the sidescreens which have glass sliding windows. The interior of the coupe has polished wood door cappings to the more substantial doors.

March 1939: Le Mans Replica model introduced fitted with 1098cc Coventry Climax engine, "cycle" front wings and modified rear panel. Only 3 "Le Mans Replica" were produced, although a total of 62 cars were fitted with the 1098cc engine for competition purposes.

May 1939: Climax engine replaced by 1267cc "Standard Special" engine. This engine was produced especially for Morgan and had the Morgan name cast into the rocker cover. (713 cars were produced with the 1122cc Climax Engine and 525 with the Standard Special engine).

July 1950: Prototype Plus 4 (chassis 2038) produced using similar chassis and body design with Standard Vanguard 2088cc engine and Moss gearbox.

October 1950: Plus 4 launched at the Motor Show. To be available in 2-Seater, 4 Seater and Coupe format.

September 1951: 4-seater Drop Head Coupe introduced. Only 2 of these were made in "flat radiator" format, and 27 in the later cowled format.

1952: Rolling chassis supplied to Cooper Motor Bodies for production of the ONLY Morgan Saloon. Car is now in the USA.

December 1953: External "flat radiator" gives way to what is later known as the "Interim Cowl", this being a radiator cowl with flat grill and the headlamps placed in tube like "pods" set low into the front wings. The Triumph TR2 engine was now offered as an option. Only 18 interim cowled models were made.

June 1954: The cowl is redesigned to a more rounded shape, the headlamps are moved to teardrop-shaped nacelles set higher into the wings. The outward shape of the car now bears a closer resemblance to the models of today.

October 1955: An additional (less expensive) model offered, known as the "4/4" Series 2" with Ford 100E Side-valve engine and 3-speed gearbox. 349 of these cars were produced between 1955 and October 1960. All were 2-Seater roadsters except for Chassis A553 which was a Drop Head Coupe produced for Miss Skinner who was related to the Morgan family. Car was registered 380AAB.

March 1956: Triumph TR3 engine now fitted to Plus 4s. Some cars still used the TR2 engine until October 1957.

September 1957: A "Competition" model Series 2 4/4 was offered using the Ford 100E Engine in tuned form. 38 genuine Competition models were made: 37 were 2-Seaters and just one (experimental) 4-Seater, chassis A296 (now in Holland).

October 1958: The last Vanguard-engined Plus 4 was produced. The road wheel size (Previously 16") is reduced to 15" and 60 spoke wire wheels are offered as an optional extra.

May 1959: Front disc brakes are made optional on wire wheeled Plus 4s. (Available on disc-wheeled cars from October).

September 1960: All Morgan Plus 4s have front disc brakes as standard.

October 1960: 4/4 Model becomes "4/4 Series 3": fitted with Ford 105E 997cc overhead valve engine and 4-speed gear-box. 61 of this model were made between 1960 and November 1961.

February 1961: Triumph TR4 Engine offered as an option on Plus 4 models.

Plus 4 Supersports introduced using "Lawrence tune" TR3 or TR4 Engine with extensive modifications to cylinder heads, camshaft and exhaust system with twin 42 or 45DC)E Weber induction and lightweight aluminum bodywork. 72-spoke wire wheels are fitted and an oil cooler was mounted to the underside of the front cowl box. The model was offered until the end of Plus 4 production in 1969 and many were extremely successful in international competition. 40 were produced with TR3 engines, 63 with TR4/4A engines including a special 4-Seater version for the Morgan agent at Canfield (Eric White).

November 1961: 4/4 Model becomes "4/4 Series 4"; fitted with Ford 109E (Consul Classic) 1340cc engine and 4-speed gear-box. Front disc brakes were standard. 206 of this model were produced from 1961 to March 1963 including one "competition" model (chassis A664).

June 1962: Chris Lawrence wins the 2 litre Class in the Le Mans 24 hour race driving TOK258, a Plus 4 to "Supersports" specification at an average speed 93.97 mph for 2255 miles! Morgan's finest hour?

March 1963: 4/4 Model becomes "4/4 Series 5"; fitted with Ford 116E 1498cc engine and 4-speed gearbox. A remote Wooler type gear change was offered as an option. A "Competition model" was available with the remote gear change, Cortina GT Engine and Armstrong Selectaride shock absorbers. 640 Series 5's were produced between 1963 and March 1968 including 270 Competition models.

November 1964: Plus 4 Plus introduced. This was a fiberglass coupe bodyshell (produced by EB Plastics of Stoke on Trent) mounted onto a normal Plus 4 chassis and fitted with the standard TR4 engine and Moss gearbox. Morgan's attempt to modernize - it failed!! 26 were produced before its demise in 1967.

October 1965: Plus 4 Competition model introduced. Uses a standard TR4 engine with improved exhaust system by Derrington, and Selectaride rear shock absorbers. Only 42 were produced (all 2-seaters). It was discontinued in November 1966.

The last Triumph-engined Plus 4 to be delivered was Chassis 6853, a Drop Head Coupe; in January 1969. A total of 4584 Standard-Triumph engined Plus 4s were produced including 656 "flat radiator" models and 3 "SLR" competition aluminum streamlined coupes built by Sprinzel Lawrence Racing who also built a similar car on a Triumph chassis.

March 1968: 4/4 model becomes "4/4 1600"; fitted with Ford "Kent" 1600 Crossflow engine and 4-speed gearbox. A Competition model was initially available with the Ford 1600 GT Engine. The model was offered as a 2 or 4-Seater Roadster. Wire wheels were an optional extra.

October 1968: Plus 8 is launched at the Motor Show. Fitted with Rover 3528cc V8 engine, Moss gearbox and Salisbury LSD rear axle with 15" cast alloy wheels. Available as a 2-Seater Roadster only. This model will replace the Plus 4 range. 484 Moss gearbox Plus 8s were produced between 1968 and April 1972.

May 1971: All 4/4 Models adopt the previous "Competition" spec of 1600GT Ford engine and the designation "Competition is dropped.

1971: Morgans build the ONLY genuine Factory-built Plus 8 Drop Head Coupe (chassis R7317). Built especially for Mrs. Jane Morgan (registered (M53) and used automatic transmission from the 3500 Rover. The ONLY automatic built by the Morgan Motor Company!

April 1972: Plus 8s now fitted with Rover 4-speed gearbox. 702 of this version were made including the only genuine factory built 4-seater Plus 8 (Chassis R7525), again for Eric White, the Morgan Agent at Cranfield.

October 1975: Plus 8 Sports Lightweight offered as an option to the standard model. Uses standard Rover (pre-SDI) V8 engine and 4-speed gearbox with wider (6") wheels of 14" diameter and aluminum bodywork with wider wing width to cover the wheels. Very much a homologation special, only 19 genuine "Factory" Sports Lightweights produced prior to its demise in January 1977. This includes the TRACO Plus 8 (RB112) which was built to race at Le Mans (although it never did); fitted with a Traco Oldsmobile V8 engine with quad Weber 48 IDA carburetors, TR8 gearbox and 7" wide wire wheels. The cars UK registration number was OTN4 but it is now in Sweden.

October 1976: Plus 8s now fitted with Rover SDI V8 engine and Rover Vitesse 5-speed gearbox. The wings are widened to cover the new 6" wide 14" cast alloy wheels and aluminum bumpers replace the previous chrome ones.

October 1981: "4/4 Twin Cam" introduced as an optional model, fitted with fiat 1600cc engine and 5-speed gearbox. Only 92 were produced between 1981 and 1985 including 10 fitted with 2-litre carburetor engines).

February 1982: Plus 8s now have 15" x 6 1/2" cast alloy road wheels.

March 1982: 4/4 becomes "4/4 CVH"; fitted with Ford CHV 1597cc engine and Cortina 4- speed gearbox.

January 1983: 4/4s now fitted with Sierra 5-speed gearbox.

October 1983: Plus 8s are offered with the option of the fuel injection Rover V8 and also with rack and pinion steering in place of the previous steering box. These options become a standard fitting to all Plus 8s from early 1987.

October 1985: Plus 4 Twin Cam introduced as an additional model. Fitted with 2- litre Fiat fuel-injected engine and 5-speed gearbox, together with "Cobra" style center laced 15" x 6" wire wheels and wider wings to cover them. Available in 2 and 4 seater format. This "wider" body style is also offered as an option on 4/4s. Only 122 Fiat-engined Plus 4s were produced from 1985 to 1988.

May 1988: Plus 4 M16 introduced: fitted with Rover 2-litre M16 engine and Rover 5- speed gearbox. Other details as previous Plus4. A total of 357 Plus 4 M16 were produced from 1988 to 1992.

January 1990: Wire wheels be come standard fitting on all 4/4s.

June 1990: Plus 8 - fitted with Rover 3.9 litre engine. UK cars have high compression engine, certain export markets require dual catalysts and low compression unit.

March 1991: Plus 8 now fitted with Gabriel telescopic rear dampers...the first major change to Morgan's rear suspension! The new telescopic rear suspension is gradually introduced onto the other models.

November 1991: 4/4 becomes "4/4 1600 EFI"; fitted with Ford 1600 Fuel injection (XR2i) and 5-speed gearbox. 196 of this model were produced from 1991 to February 1993.

December 1992: Plus 4 becomes "Plus 4 T16"; fitted with Rover 2-litre T16 engine and 5-speed gearbox. The Plus 4 is now built on the same chassis as the Plus 8. All Morgan cars for all markets are now catalyzed.

March 1993: Plus 8 available with the Factory option of wire wheels for the first time (2 Plus 8s had previously been so, chrome bumpers replace the aluminum ones.

May 1993: Major changes to the braking system on all models. Front discs now have "4 pot calipers". A direct acting brake servo integral with the master cylinder is now fitted; 4/4 becomes "4/4 1800"; fitted with Ford Zetec 1800cc engine and 5-speed gearbox.

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