Nonenthusiasts may be excused if they've never heard of Morgan. Even ardent sports-car fans are often surprised to discover that Morgan roadsters — the direct descendants of the famed, traditional British two-seaters of the distant past — can be purchased in the United States. After all, Morgan abandoned the U.S. market around 1970, and even in its heyday only a handful of these back-to-basics roadsters made their way across the Atlantic.Since 2001, a modern-day Morgan roadster has been marketed in the United States. A second, more contemporary sports-car model will join the lineup for 2005.
|Morgan Aero 8|
H.F.S. Morgan built his first vehicle — a three-wheeler — in 1909. The first four-wheeled Morgan arrived in 1936, and a Plus 4 model debuted in 1950. In 1968, the Plus 8 appeared and was powered by a V-8 engine. Not long after that, Morgan dropped out of the U.S. market but the cars remained in limited production in Britain for sale elsewhere in the world.
In the late 1970s, a California company called Isis Motors began to import a trickle of Morgans. Because they couldn't meet contemporary U.S. emissions standards in their original forms, the roadsters were fitted with propane-powered engines.
Since 1973, Isis Motors has worked with the British company to develop a U.S.-spec Morgan. A Plus 8 roadster with a Land Rover 4.0-liter V-8 engine became available in the summer of 2001. Buyers could order one directly from the company for delivery by enclosed truck anywhere in the continental United States.
Morgan also has a more modern Aero 8 model. Approximately 300 have already been sold in Europe, and the car will reach U.S. shores in September 2004 — as a 2004 model. The Aero name was inspired by one of Morgan's early three-wheeled models that was built between 1919 and 1936.
Following a debut at the 2004 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, the Aero 8 appeared at the New York show in April. Built under a four-year development program, the Aero 8 is a "sports car that is worthy, exciting to drive, exciting to look at," said Charles Morgan, the third-generation managing director of the company.
|2005 Morgan Models (all prices are MSRP)|
Models debuting in the 2005 model year
Aero 8 (2004)
|The Aero 8 roadster seats two occupants in a traditional-type motoring environment that makes extensive use of Connolly leather and bare aluminum. A BMW 4.4-liter V-8 generates 325 horsepower and works with a Getrag six-speed-manual gearbox. The Aero 8 is the first Morgan to use drive-by-wire technology and onboard diagnostics. Run-flat 18-inch tires are installed, and no spare tire is supplied. Air conditioning and a navigation system are optional. The Aero 8 weighs a mere 2,200 pounds.|
Existing models that may have an additional trim level, more features or no changes since the previous model year
|As the Aero 8 becomes available in the United States, the company's traditionally styled Plus 8 is likely to fade away at least temporarily. Even though it's been modernized, the basic appearance of the Plus 8 hasn't changed much since the model debuted in 1968. In fact, it's not much different from the four-cylinder Plus 4 of the 1950s that featured a long, louvered hood and a distinctive cowled radiator. The Plus 8 still looks and feels more like a British roadster of the 1940s and '50s than like any contemporary sports car. Beneath its hood is a Land Rover V-8 engine.|