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You may well think you’d love to own a Morgan – should a test drive put you off?

It’s one thing to desire a certain classic car and quite another after you’ve test driven one – and Morgans fall into that category. That’s not a criticism, it’s merely to point out that you must drive any potential classic you fancy, not simply to gauge the condition of the vehicle but to ascertain whether it’s actually your cup of tea and there’s little argument that just a quick skip around the block is of little use to any Malvern marvel. The good news is that of the many Morgan dealers around, not only are lengthy test drives on offer but so too is hiring one say for the weekend and that’s got to be money well spent. But here’s our thoughts to whet your appetite however…

On the move

The first thing you notice as you clamber aboard is the car’s vintage design that in many ways hasn’t changed over the eight decades that the 4/4 has been in production. There’s just something very right and quintessentially British about a Morgan particularly its interior. Some may not find the body-coloured dashpanel to their taste with its inset black section containing large speedo and rev counter along with warning lights and aluminium switches, but to our eyes it works well.

Cabin space is acceptable but drivers soon discover the close set steering wheel to their chests although that’s a benefit on older cars as the effort to work the wheel can be considerable. Later interiors are plush and inviting, with Morgan’s high-back leather seats offering genuine support with the cockpit mixing the best of the old with the 21st Century, and we really like that. Peering through the letter box of a front windscreen you view the long curved bonnet and mudguards and all models are easy to place on the road, visibility with the hood up excepted.

First find the right key because having four different ones – separate items for doors, ignition, storage box behind seat (no boot) and fuel-cap in some instances can get a bit irritating!

The Plus 8 was created because someone at Morgan Motor Company felt that it would be a hoot to install a Rover V8 into one of their cars. For a time, it was the UK’s fastest accelerating car. Even now Morgan claim that the current generation is the lightest V8-powered vehicle you can buy and anything with such might under the lid are a real thrill, more so than a similarly powered TVR we reckon as they feel more raw (a rudimentary engine installation, perhaps?). Power is not an issue and yet the four-cylinder models are not second best. In fact, some Morgan experts regard them as the best handlers due to a lighter weight up front while they offer a more manageable gearchange compared to pre-1970 Plus 8s.

Out of the many 4/4s and Plus 4s, Morgans to mark out includes the Fiat twin cam 1600 versions plus the later Rover 16-valve 2-litre unit; both offering enough performance for many but with a certain zing about them. Today’s equivalent is now underpinned by an autophoretic-coated steel chassis, with power coming from a Ford GDI 2-litre engine delivering 154bhp, which although not tarmac-scorching is enough to propel a car weighing just 927kg along the road very nicely. The gearbox is now a Mazda MX-5-spec five-speed, which blends well with the Ford engine giving reassuring gearchanges without any sign of notchiness. In contrast, the classic versions are burdened with notably heavier clutch and change actions.

Round the corners

This is where the driver (and to a lesser extent) passenger have to work for their thrills, of which the rewards are plenty. That venerable old chassis and suspension design is not shy about its age and the first thing you note is a ride quality that many will not have experienced before, unless they have driven T-Types, MGAs and TR3s as well as Big Healeys – but more hard core.

Also among the shakes and jolts on anything less than a smooth surface, there’s notable steering kickback and scuttle shake. “It isn’t a car whose steering wheel you can casually control betwixt forefinger and thumb… you must take firm grip of the steering wheel with both hands and drive it”, opinioned Motor back in 1983 and it’s as true today as it was then – part of the problem is the heaviness of controls that makes the car feel more unwieldy than it actually is. Payback, on smooth roads, is quite exceptional handling however and by adopting the equally old school ‘slow in fast out’ flat cap technique, any Morgan becomes a rewarding classic and in contrast with many other sports cars, you feel you’ve put in a proper shift on that Sunday drive.

No matter, in the right conditions and frame of mind, there’s nothing quite like a Morgan – with the hood down, of course, as the cabin is too claustrophobic otherwise and besides buffeting at high speeds, for such an old timer, is pleasingly moderate and we’ve experienced worse.

Go or no go

It’s has to be the former – but not everybody is really up for Morgan ownership as it’s no MGB, let alone MX-5. This is why we strongly advise hiring for a weekend to see whether you can tolerate the quirks and traits that a gallop around the block won’t show up. As Motor remarked 35 years ago, “When the World is full of standardised shoe boxes (aren’t they here already?-ed), it’s cars like the Morgan we’ll miss the most.

Quick spin


Depends on engine fitted but all are quick enough, especially V8s


More bruiser than cruiser due to ride


You need to show it who’s boss but the rewards are plenty


Adequate on all models, and easily uprated if needed


of use Best as a weekend treat we reckon

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