1988 Morgan 4/4 – Project Profile

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By Chris Pollitt

The Morgan brand is one of tradition, heritage and of the utmost Britishness. It’s a brand that has been there since, well, forever. Think of a classic British brand and Morgan is going to be fairly high on your list. And that’s no bad thing, because Morgan’s automotive offerings are rather good fun. Dripping with charm and personality, they are cars that you can’t help but fall in love with. And that’s certainly the case when it comes to the 4/4 model. It’s a car we, as a car-buying public, clearly have an affection for. After all, it has been in production since 1936. That’s some serious staying power. 

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The 4/4, so named because it had four wheels and four cylinders, was the first four-wheeled offering from the Malvern-based company, and it has been a mainstay in the Morgan brochure ever since. The century point into the Morgan range, the 4-4 as it was initially known soon found favour with the British motorist, and as such, Morgan worked hard to adapt it and evolve it over the years, when it became the 4/4. 

What is it? 

The car we have here is a 1988 Morgan 4/4. Interestingly, this is a four-seater model, though the rear seats are best used for short journeys, as rear seat passengers aren’t exactly gifted with a great deal of space. Still, it does make the bootless 4/4 somewhat more practical, which is never a bad thing. 

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Being an ‘88 model, this is powered by a CVH Ford engine mated up to a five-speed manual transmission delivering power to rear wheels. It’s a tried and tested method of motion, and being all common Ford stuff, it’s cheap as chips to run, maintain and repair. 

This car was supplied by Life’s Motors in 1988 and according to the current seller, Morgan specialist, Melvyn Rutter, it comes with a raft of history and even the photos documenting the original build at the Malvern factory. Not many cars can boast such history, but Morgan owners are an impassioned bunch and as such, this isn’t unusual. It’s also delightfully charming.

Why is it a project? 

As you can see, this is a case of the unstoppable Mog hitting an immovable object. Or at least a big, solid object. It looks to have been something small and low, a rock or boulder perhaps? The damage is located entirely at the front, but only the lower half. The grilled and housing have been bent, as has the bumper which did its best to help but buckled under the impact. 

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This impact, sadly, is a classic case of worse than it looks. The shunt has apparently damaged the chassis and the front crossmember, along with the steering. There is also other damage further along, again all from the same shunt. As such, the team at Rutter have advised that this car, which has been recorded as a Category S write off, would need to be fitted with a new chassis before it can see the road again. Happily though, this is something you can still get from Morgan. 

Other than that, this car seems to have been loved and cherished, and as such, would make the perfect project. Parts are readily available from specialists and Morgan itself, there is a huge enthusiast network out there and as such, there is all the support you could need to put this car back on the road. 

Five things to look for:

1) Chassis

Obviously the chassis needs inspecting, as the vendor is confident it needs replacing. But has the chassis bent and ripped or buckled mountings and the like? 

2) Body

The body of a Morgan is hand-formed metal over an Ash frame. You need to look for any damage caused by the crash (look at the mounting points) and also look for any rot in the wood caused by long periods of exposure to the elements. 

3) Roof

The roof and the condition are important, as it is unique to the four-seater. You need to check the frame for operation, the cover for holes and the studs for any rips. 

4) Engine

The engine might have been damaged in the crash. How’s the sump? Has the engine been shunted and as such, is the prop still good, or has it smashed into the differential? 

5) Body

The body is the bit you can save, so you need to inspect it. The grille will need to be replaced, but can the wings be repaired? Has the crash put stresses on doors, door shuts and other areas? All worth checking.

What should you do with it? 

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The market for Morgans is as strong now as it has ever been. Plus, there is absolutely no market for a modified Morgan. As such, the only way to really go with this one would be to restore it back to original specification. It’s going to be a lot of work, make no mistake, but it is something that with space and time, you could do yourself. The Morgan 4/4 of this era isn’t a wildly complicated car, it’s basic nuts and bolts stuff. If you can take labour costs out of the equation, this could be a rather lucrative project. Though do remember, this is an insurance write off and as such, would need to be inspected by the DVLA and signed off once the repairs are carried out.

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