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Morgan Plus Eight

Worcestershire Sauce Published: 19th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Morgan Plus Eight

Fast Facts

  • Best model: Post-1986 cars
  • Worst model: They’re all good!
  • Budget buy: Late 3.5-lire cars
  • OK for unleaded?: It’s best use an additive
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L3960xW1600
  • Spares situation: Excellent
  • DIY ease?: Mechanics good, body bad
  • Club support: Superb
  • Appreciating asset?: Defi nitely
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Good buy
Trusty Rover V8 power gives supercar pace and easy owning Trusty Rover V8 power gives supercar pace and easy owning
Driving position is old fashioned with wheel close to chest but okay. Driving position is old fashioned with wheel close to chest but okay.

Model In Depth...

Ride is harsh Ride is harsh
Lovely period touches are what Morgans are all about Lovely period touches are what Morgans are all about

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With a Plus 8 you can enjoy supercar thrills – and make money on one while you’re at it!

Pros & Cons

Performance, raw thrills, charisma, support and back up, appreciating and appreciated
Tricky to restore, can rot badly, costly to buy

Morgans are a way of life and Plus 8s live it to the full. Malvern’s marvel was launched back in 1968 – atime when the Rover- powered Plus 8 could slaughter almost anything on the road. And they can still put plenty of modern machinery to shame, too! While you’re having fun embarrassing all and sundry in its vivid vintage, you’re still being sensible, as good Plus 8s are better than money in the bank.


The jag S-TYPE V6 replaced the V8

The cowled-radiator Morgan debuted in 1954 with a meagre four-cylinder engine – it wasn’t until 1968 that the V8-powered Plus 8 hit the scene, with the evergreen Buick-derived Rover powerplant. Those early cars were fi tted with a Moss four-speed gearbox but by 1972 there was a proper, slicker, easier to handle Rover fourspeed unit behind the engine. In 1976 the Sports Lightweight was introduced, but just 19 examples were made, so you’ll have your work cut out trying to fi nd one. The following year, there was a change of engine and gearbox. It was still the 3528cc Rover V8 unit, but tweaked to SD1 specifi cation. At the same time, alloy panels became optional while the car’s width also increased to house wider wheels and tyres. There wasn’t much development for a few years, but in 1983 the car received fuel injection as an optional extra, which by 1986, was fi tted as standard to all cars. Three years later, in 1989, a 3.9-litre V8 joined the range, while in 1997 a beefy 220bhp 4.6-litre unit was added to the options list as well as a redesigned dash, while the doors were lengthened to allow easier access to the cabin. Morgan launched a commemorative Le Mans edition in 2002 to celebrate 40 years since the company’s success at La Sarthe. This was followed up with an Anniversary edition in 2003, celebrating 35 years of Plus 8 production although emission regs were to kill it off. In 2004 Morgan pulled on Plus 8 production after 6233 models, replaced by Jag V6 power.


They say hard work doesn’t hurt anybody and a Plus 8 is as arduous as an intense session in the gym. At least newer models are easier todrive, thanks to a wider track, which makes them less skittish on broken surfaces. Post-1990 cars has telescopic dampers at the rear, which make a huge difference to roadholding and ride. The bottom line is this: don’t buy one expecting tidy manners or a smooth ride because you get neither from this Morgan. What you do get is a V8-powered rollercoaster. All Plus 8s are extremely fast and have more than enough power considering their antiquated steel/wooden structures, which Noah probably had a hand in! The earliest cars are the fastest carb-fed Plus 8s due to their gearing, low weight and pure grunt, but all versions can crack 0-60 in little more than six seconds. So if you’re careless with the throttle in the wet then chances are you’ll be exploring the scenery. It’s not just the driving experience that marks it out as hardcore, as the rest of the car is pure vintage with merely adequate storage space and an old fashioned hood. But nobody said the Plus 8 was for daily driving and as Morgan expert Melvyn Rutter of Hertfordshire says, the vast majority of enthusiasts that buy an early model already own a modern Morgan – it’s highly unlikely that somebodynew to the marque will go for an original Plus 8 straight off.


Morgans have always been surprisingly good value from new. When the Plus 8 was launched in 1968 it cost £1467, some £300 more than an MGC. In 1972, the Morgan it was priced competitively with the sports car killjoy of the day, the Ford Capri 3.0-litre. Today, the equivalent Jaguar 3.0-litre V6 model sells for £36,550 – a few grand more than a posh Audi TT V6 roadster. But the values of early Plus 8s are currently rocketing, as good ones are in astonishingly short supply. Moss-gearbox versions are especially sought after and usually get snapped up as soon as they hit the market. You’d be lucky to fi nd one for less than £25,000, which is a lot of cash when you think that a decent example of the later 3.5-litre Plus 8 can be worth as little as £18,000. Newer Plus 8s with 3.9 or 4.6-litre engines can be rather more valuable – such cars still change hands for up to £35,000. Melvyn Rutter currently as a mint early Plus 8 up for £52,000 – 18 months ago it would have retailed at around £10,000 less! Other specialists such as Richard Thorne also see top dollar for these models. So if you want an early car don’t let the thought linger, or a Plus 8 may become out of your reach.


A caring owner will have fi tted a remote greasing point for the front suspension, which makes lubricating the kingpins easier. At just £35 per side, it allows the front suspension to be lubricated from under the bonnet. Check for vertical movement of the steering wheel, which indicates that the collapsible steering column top and bottom bush has worn. The best move is to get a replacement column from Melvyn Rutter for £350, (exchange) which is machined and improved to eliminate this problem. Leaks from the lever arm dampers are common, but it’s possible to eliminate this weak spot altogether by converting to modern telescopic alternatives. The kit costs £120 or £250 depending on whether you want to fi t the original style of conversion or upgrade to what’s fi tted to the latest cars. Whichever you buy, you’ll also need to splash out around £150 for a pair of quality sports dampers. There’s a raft of engine tuning parts for the evergreen Rover V8 engine (which can be taken up to 4.6-litres), but isn’t a Plus 8 already quick enough in standard tune for our Gatso-infested roads? Besides with a Plus 8 originality will become more critical as the years roll by.

What To Look For

  • The car’s construction is based on pre-war technology, with a steel chassis and an ash frame, over which lie stretched steel or alloy panels. Even if the outer panels are fi ne, the chassis and/or frame could be rotten and need a full restoration.
  • Post-1986 cars survive best – their treated wood and wings that were painted before fi tting, rather than afterwards. Earlier cars are more likely to have a rotten frame, as moisture gets into the seams between the outer panels due to cracked paint. The key thing is how well the car has been stored.
  • Major dismantling is costly, and new front wings are nearly £900 each. Rear items are almost £400 a piece. Also, major panels are supplied for an approximate fi t – getting them to line up properly often requires a lot of labour, but at least there’s no welding anywhere except for the chassis.
  • Start by checking for play in the door hinge post. Hold the door along its trailing edge and see how much vertical movement there is. Ensure the play is in the post and not the hinge pins – the latter are easily replaced but the former is a signifi cant problem that costs £1500 or more per side to fi x, plus painting.
  • While the door’s open, push on the B-post (or elbow rail in Morgan terminology). If the wood behind the bodywork is rotten there’ll be plenty of movement.
  • New body tubs are available – they come as an ash frame that’s panelled and includes doors. A bonnet, rear panel and wings are extra, but everything will be new and the cost is around £3500, which may be cheaper than paying for lots of localised repairs.
  • Wing edges need careful checking for corrosion. Each edge is rolled around a steel wire that causes electrolytic corrosion with alloy panels. Things are little better with steel panels, so inspect the inside edge of each outer panel and make sure the wire isn’t hanging out, as it will weaken everything.
  • The chassis is simple but durable and strong enough if it’s in good condition. Until 1986 it was only painted – galvanising became optional from then on and standard from 1997. The cross members are the most rust-prone areas, especially the one at the back – replacement means that the rear of the car has to be dismantled. Also check the chassis around the engine mountings as cracks can appear here, which spread if they’re left unrepaired and ruin the chassis.
  • At the front of the chassis is the cross frame,which carries the suspension. A hefty whack from the front will distort this, so make sure the car pulls up straight and get underneath to look for signs of an impact.
  • New crossframes cost around £500 but if the chassis has distorted then a new one costs £700 – and 500 or more hours worth of labour to rebuild the car around it. The key area to check is forward of the toe board, which is where the most distortion is likely to be after a big shunt.
  • The V8 is reliable as long as the anti-freeze concentration has been maintained and the oil has been changed every 5000 miles. The unit is so unstressed that 250,000 miles are no problem at all as long as it has been maintained properly.
  • If the engine has been neglected, or it’s covered an inter-galactic mileage, it will have worn and that’s bad news if you’re keen to retain originality. Slotting a different powerplant in is easy enough, but parts to keep some Plus 8s standard are becoming hard to fi nd – especially those built up to 1976.
  • Morgans are incredibly light and transmissions are reliable if the cars aren’t thrashed. If wear does occur, repairs can be costly. The diffi culty is often poor parts supply and four-speed Plus 8s are affected the worst.
  • Listen for a rumbling from the gearbox, ensure that it doesn’t jump out of gear and check that the synchromesh hasn’t gone – although there isn’t any fi rst-gear synchro on the Plus 8 Moss ’box. It’s the same with the rear axle – make sure it’s not whining or leaking oil.
  • All cars featured a Salisbury back axle, with limited slip. Parts are hard to fi nd but specialists can rebuild the existing unit for you – at a price. However, only bearings, gaskets and seals are available and if a new crown wheel and pinion or any gears are needed, you’ll need to convert the car to a BTR axle, at around £2500.
  • Expect play in the steering, but more than a couple of inches means it’s time to get the wallet out. Until 1984, all Morgans featured old-fashioned Burman worm-and-peg steering box so it’s somewhat imprecise. Tyres are getting progressively wider, which puts increasing strain on the steering gear, causing it to wear ever quicker.
  • Rack-and-pinion steering became standard in 1984, which is usually trouble-free, aside from the gaiters splitting – but they’re an easy and cheap fi x. Really heavy steering suggests worn track rod ends, and new items cost £55 each. Open the bonnet and try to move the steering column; if there’s signifi cant play, it’s time for a new universal joint at a cost of £100.
  • The sliding pillar suspension works well but the kingpins last no more than 20-25,000 miles, while the rear leaf springs sag and replacements cost £70 each.
  • Many Morgans have wire wheels fitted, so check for worn splines and broken or damaged spokes. Jack the car up and get someone to sit in it, pressing on the footbrake. Try to turn the wheels backwards and forwards – if there’s any movement it’s because the splines need to be renewed at a typical cost of £135 per side at the front and £275 each side at the rear.
  • Starting problems can be caused by the battery’s earthing strap corroding. It’s a particular problem with two-seaters, where the battery is located at the back of the car and gets bombarded by road spray.
  • Items such as lights, switches and instrumentation are readily available and affordable, but the rocker switches in post- 1976 cars can be temperamental. These are the ones that incorporate warning lights, and their contacts tend to fall apart with age.

Three Of A Kind

If you want pre-war charms in a (just about) post-war body then this ticks the box. There’s great club and specialist support while values will always be strong. The earlier cars are more handsome, but the driving experience is even more vintage. Don’t forget good replicas like the Naylor.
Panther Lima
Panther Lima
Like the Kallista thatsucceeded it, this pseudovintage offering is opentopped motoring and pre-war looks but with less agricultural, more modern mechanicals. But will you buy it and wish you had the real thing soon after?
It’s not as much of a vintage as a Morgan, but the Big Healey must be considered as an alternative due to its antiquated macho manners and brute power. It looksgreat, but rots like mad and it’s as dear to restore as an E-type or Plus 8


As one 1975 road test put it: “It is, of course, a four-wheeled anachronism, apart from the engine… There is, however, nothing misleading about the Morgan. It says what it is loud and clear. The only surprise is the sheer delight ofdriving such a crude kind of car.” And 35 years on, those words hold true, so it’s no surprise that many people buy a Morgan then stick with one for decades. Warts and all.

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