Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Plus 8

Published: 5th Jan 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Plus 8
Plus 8
Plus 8
Plus 8
Plus 8
Plus 8
Plus 8
Plus 8
Plus 8
Plus 8

Buyer Beware

Ash frame is used, over which are stretched metal panels; sometimes aluminium and sometimes steel. All this sits on a steel chassis, which rots just like the ash frame and steel body panels. Cars built after 1986 are safest bet, as the wood was treated and the wings were painted before being fitted, rather than after.

Check for play in the door hinge post, by holding the door along its trailing edge and seeing how much vertical movement there is. If it’s a structural fault that’s expensive to put right. If things are really bad, it could be worth investing in a new body-tub.

The chassis is simple but durable, and strong. The most common rot spots are the crossmembers. If these need replacing it’s a major job. New crossframes cost £525 (with replacement needing to be jigged up), but if the chassis has distorted, bank on spending £800 for a new one – then thousands more to rebuild the car around it.

Series II 4/4s have an 1172cc Ford 100E sidevalve engine, which typically lasts no more than 50,000 miles between rebuilds. Later ohv Anglia 105E engine is simple, with no inherent faults, but 1340cc powerplant is weaker.

XR3 CVH engine on the 4/4 1600, is good. The most common malady being worn valve guides with this unit and crankcase fuming.

The Ford gearboxes are incredibly tough. Propshafts are equally long-lived but you have to make sure the differential isn’t on its last legs, so make sure it’s not whining or leaking oil. A Salisbury diff was fitted to Series II to V cars. Parts are hard to find, but specialists can rebuild existing unit for you. They tend to leak oil.

All 4/4s were fitted with a cam-and-peg steering box, with a Burman-made system being used until 1985. Later cars have a Gemmer steering box, which can be fitted as a replacement, being lighter in use and also has better self-centring. Play in the column could also be down to wear in the upper or lower plastic bush. Re-bushing has to be done by a specialist as the parts aren’t available on a DIY basis. Best bet is to get an improved column from Melvyn Rutter for £750.

Magazine Subscription
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

A Plus 8 may be great, but a Morgan Four is hardly a chore! And, with such a wide choice, you’re bound to find your perfect playmate

When it comes to classic Morgans, size doesn’t always matter! How many enthusiasts decide upon a Plus 8 without even giving the smaller siblings a second thought? For many, the V8-powered wonder is the only Morgan, but we’d wager that, if they only tried a four-cylinder model, they’d like it just as much – and probably find it much nicer to drive and live with. Does this include you?


First introduced some 80 years ago, the 4/4 and Plus 4 may look as though they haven’t evolved much over the decades, but the reality is that there’s virtually no interchangeability between the latest and earliest models, even if the basic fundamentals and styling have hardly changed at all.

All use the same steel chassis and an ash-framed bodyshell, but where the older model’s panels were steel, newer cars have an aluminium outer skin. Power comes from a variety of engines, to suit their eras, with four-and five- speed transmissions, but never any official auto options.

Handling the power, which can be in excess of 130bhp, is a live rear axle and Morgan’s quirky but effective sliding pillar front suspension. Disc brakes surfaced in the early 1960s. Let’s talk about models. In basic terms there’s the Plus 4 and the 4/4; the former (launched in 1950) invariably relied upon Standard- Triumph power and there were also tuned ‘Competition’ versions, which are now highly prized. The Plus 4, TR4-powered in 1962, was replaced by the Plus 8 some six years later, but the Plus 4 re-emerged in 1985.

To differentiate the ranges, Morgan ‘relaunched’ the 4/4 (four cylinders, four wheels) in 1955 and it’s fair to say that these are the more popular Morgan ‘fours’, relying upon a variety of power units – Ford up to the 1980s – depending upon component supply as much as anything else (Escort XR3 power replaced the earlier Cortina ‘Cross-flow’ GT unit, for example).

What’s right for you? Well, despite Morgans being seemingly timeless, like any production vehicle, the newer the design the more enhancements. Here are a few upgrades to ponder on; improved steering (‘84), galvanised chassis (’86), better brakes (‘93) and the adoption of the Plus 8 chassis in this decade, along with airbags.

Sticking our neck out somewhat, we’d recommend at least a Cortina-powered car from the late 1960s and preferably to GT tune, which provides pretty lively performance, considerable tuning potential, good economy and ease of running. The earlier Anglia and 100E models are a bit slow for the die-hards (especially three-speeders) but in contrast the XR3 and Fiat-powered versions are highly rated for their ‘zingy’ nature and particularly well-balanced handling.

Two or four seats? Obvious answer we suppose, depending upon whether you intend carrying passengers.

Otherwise, while the added seats and body length add to the spaciousness and practicality (there’s no boot as such) they don’t look half as good – downright ugly with the hood in place, we say – while the ride with its harder springing is much harsher. Four-seater ‘Fours’ (4/4s and Plus 4s) are much rarer finds and are usually cheaper by a couple of grand.

A new 4/4 will set you back over £31,000 – call it the thick end of 34 grand after the wire wheel and leather trim options. You can pick up a modern (Ford Zetec or Duratec-engined) 4/4 for around £20,000, and say a Rover or Fiat- powered version at around £13,000- £17,000 depending upon age, condition and spec. A Triumph-powered Plus 4, and also anything boasting official competition history and specification, can be worth well over £50,000.

Finally, know what you’re getting! Morgan can supply a certificate of the record of a car’s chassis for under £100 and that’s well worth paying for, particularly if you find a rare model.


Well, we’re not talking MX-5s here and that’s important to remember before you become a Moggie owner. Try one first to see if you like the experience because, irrespective of their age, an MGA or TR4 feels positively modern by comparison. Perhaps the closet comparison today is that they are not unlike driving a Land Rover Defender – okay in short bursts but a bit tiring after a while for many.

Don’t overlook this aspect, especially if others also intend to drive the car. The old suspension chassis flexes and doesn’t deal with potholes very well, and a mid-corner bump will have the rear end skipping all over the place. The steering is also quite heavy and vague on pre-84 cars, and models featuring non-servoed brakes require a good shove. You know when you’ve been out for a drive in a Morgan and that’s the whole point of it!

In the right conditions, and when you’re in the right frame of mind, a Morgan is a joy to drive and the four-pot cars have enough poke for most needs; later versions using Fiat and Rover power aren’t that much slower than an original Plus 8 plus handle better.


Due to their vintage design, Morgans may look super simple mechanically and as a result lend themselves to home help, but specialists say most owners leave servicing and repairs to the professionals as there’s a good many wrinkles worth knowing. That said, there’s nothing too difficult, especially on Ford-powered models and the trusty Kent unit in particular.

Keeping the kingpins lubed (they can last as little as 30,000 miles anyway) is essential, as is keeping the wood and metal chassis well protected, against the elements. However, if you come across a car that’s bad but a bargain, don’t mess with patchwork repairs as new frames cost comfortably under £1000 – it’s the arduous part of rebuilding the car that’s the biggest hassle, unless you wanted to carry out a restoration anyway.


A Moggie for mundane everyday motoring? Well you can do this and many do, but doesn’t that dilute the pleasure of this special treat? Later post-mid 80’s cars are best for regular use, due to lighter steering and better brakes, but one point all ‘Fours’ share is a more manageable gearbox over the tedious Plus 8. As we said earlier, they take on a different character to the Plus 8 and, dare we say it, feel a bit sportier?

If you do intend to drive one every day, you’ll find winter motoring a drag due to the poor heater, primitive hood and sliding side windows unless you invest in the works hardtop. Morgans are best with the hood down, so save yours for the dry days!



The ‘cowled radiator’ design takes over. Because the flat-rad 4/4 was known as the Series I, the first of the cowled-rad 4/4s was the Series II, fitted with a 36bhp Ford 100E 1172cc SV engine and three-speed


The Series III goes on sale, with Ford Anglia 105E power and a Ford four- speed gearbox. The Series IV arrives with Ford Classic 1340cc engine and also disc brakes at the front.


The Series V arrives and features the more robust 1500cc Cortina engine. Also it’s at this point that the 4/4 gains synchro on all forward gears. Just under 650 models were made.


After toying with TR5 engine, the decision is made to drop the Standard- Triumph-powered Plus 4 (made since 1950) and replace it with Plus 8 the following year.


Fiat’s firey 1584cc twin-cam becomes available, alongside Ford’s Kent unit, but it proves less popular. This edition morphed into the reintroduced Plus 4 (1985) after 96 examples were made.


Ford’s 1.6-litre CVH engine used in the Escort XR3 hot hatch replaces the Kent unit. A new Lowline option for 1985 means slightly wider wings and six-inch Cobra wheels.


The XR3 CVH powerplant gets electronic fuel injection, displaced by Zetec unit in 1.8-litre 121bhp guise for 1993. During the early 1990s a 138bhp Rover 2-litre T16 engine was offered (Plus 4).

1997-TO DATE

Longer doors, driver’s airbag and also alloy wings feature. Plus 4 dropped (2001) but reintroduced four years later, same time as 1.8 Ford Duratec surfaces; 4/4 uses 1600cc version.


Current Morgan line up comprises of Four Seater, 4/4 and Plus 4, the latter which the company says is the World’s favourite model, now with 2-litre Ford power. Test drive one!

We Reckon...

Morgan ‘Fours’ are in no way a second best substitute to the iconic Plus 8. In fact, for many enthusiasts who use their head rather than their heart, it’s the better car, being more manageable and yet just as entertaining to drive. You’ll find them usefully cheaper in the main plus they also hold on to their value very well. As you’ve no doubt been told frequently in the past (by the wife?!), size isn’t everything you know!

Share This Article

Share with Facebook Share with Facebook

Share with Twitter Tweet this article

Share bookmark with Delicious Share bookmark with Delicious

Share with Digg Digg this article

Share with Email Share by email

User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Subscribe Today
Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%