Morgan Aero 8

25 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Morgan Aero 8

Morgan 4/4

Morgan Aero 8

Predecessor: Plus 8

I t is hard to imagine Morgan#8217;s cars remained largely unchanged since 1936 yet enjoyed the industry#8217;s longest waiting list. The answer is simple: Morgan is a timeless icon. Look at that classic shape, chromed details, wooden chassis frame. nothing can be more special to own.

Because of this, Peter Morgan did not bother to make any big changes. Nevertheless, his son Charles Morgan – the third generation of the family business – wants to explore a new territory where his father never dare to. He hired the best men to design an aluminum chassis. He restyled the classical shape by himself, modernized it while – for the first time – taking aerodynamics into consideration.

He contacted BMW for sourcing a V8 engine, and he was surprised that the German giant was even interested in providing help in dynamics. Lastly, he submitted the car for full European type approval and got the certificate, a thing many British sports car makers do not manage. The result is Aero 8.

Aero 8 is to be the company#8217;s top model rather than replacing the traditional Plus 8, the latter is still crucial as – predictably – not all customers can accept the radical approach of the new car. Take the exterior shape as an example, many people are not convinced with its aerodynamic-optimized front wings and 959-like headlights. It is a combination of classic and modern, but can also be criticized as neither classic nor modern, depends on whether you love it.

But sitting inside still feels very Morgan. Firstly, you sit low and near the rear axle, looking forward see a long long bonnet rarely found in modern machines. Secondly, what surrounding you is still the lovely ash wood frames and leather tailored in good old tradition.

Dashboard now has milled-finished alloy surface to enhance the sense of occasion unfound in other cars. The cabin is still narrow – thanks to the pre-war front wings that eat into cabin#8217;s width – but everything feels good. Good driving position, reasonable legroom, supportive seats, good visibility from square and flat windscreen.

The only complaint is the soft hood, which is leaky and inconvenient to operate.

The chassis is an aluminium tub, bonded by rivets and glue like Lotus Elise. Of course, it is many times stiffer than Plus 8#8217;s ancient steel ladder chassis. This seems a big contrast to the wooden frames which support the aluminium skin. In fact, Charles Morgan preserves the wooden frames for customer satisfaction rather than technical reason. It is the rigid chassis rather than the non-stressed skin that withstand crash test.

The skin, however, is designed to optimized aerodynamics for the first time. Morgan will never reveal the drag coefficient of the old cars, but the new car#8217;s 0.39 is undoubtedly a good work for a classical-shaped open-top vehicle, especially when you consider that pre-war windscreen. Aerodynamic lift is not a problem as well, thanks to the little spoiler on the boot lid and the diffuser under the tail.

The Aero 8 weighs just 1135kg, this makes a standard BMW 4.4-litre V8 (286hp and 324lbft) powerful enough to launch it to 60mph in sub-5 seconds. Unsurprisingly, the BMW engine is creamy smooth and almost too quiet for a sports car. It pulls strongly at any rev, providing a superior mid-range or in-gear acceleration than many real sports cars. So, next time when you see this strange-looking Morgan in the mirror of your 911, you#8217;d better to move to the slow lane.

The 6-speed manual comes along with the V8, so shift quality is still in BMW#8217;s tradition.

Some words to say about the V8: it is amazing how Morgan fit the V8 into the narrow engine bay of the car. Open the engine lid and you#8217;ll see it is tight fit – so tight that I#8217;m afraid the newer, more powerful Valvetronic V8 will not fit. One of the reasons why Morgan decided to try BMW#8217;s engine is to prepare for the death of Rover V8, so it must make sure that BMW can supply its V8 in the foreseeable future.

Anyway, as the new Range Rover will also use this BMW 4.4 V8, supply seems guaranteed in the future.

The Aero 8 is effortless and enjoyable to drive fast, thanks to the superb engine. Its ride is also a big improvement from the rock-hard Plus 8. As the chassis is very rigid, suspensions are tuned more absorbent to road irregularities yet body control remains flat in cornering. However, being a good ground-covering machine is not necessarily a good sports car.

Although it has some good ingredients – lightweight, strong power, stiff chassis for example – its steering is not very communicative, also lack of self-centering. This makes the car difficult to be placed accurately. Brake feel is not very consistent too.

Autocar#8217;s road testers are especially critical about its handling.

Anyway, Morgan has never pretended to be a real sports car. It is sold to those enjoy laid-back motoring and admiring sights. Buying this revolutionary Morgan just add more flexible power, refinement and ride comfort to enhance those traditional values. Then any gain in performance and handling is just a bonus.

I think Autocar has misunderstood the best-ever Morgan.

The above report was last updated on 11 Nov 2001 . All Rights Reserved.

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