After Eight – Morgan Brings Back the V8

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By Chris Pollitt

The automotive landscape is full of electric this and hybrid that, these days. And that’s fine. The more people we can get into EVs, the better. Electric cars, for the day to day, are what’s needed. Plus, it means the petrol for our classics will be plentiful, as it won’t be going into Aygos and Micras. But we digress. The point is, when it comes to new vehicle launches, EV and other cutting-edge tech is what we expect to see in the headlines. What we don’t expect is for a car company to say it’s making a new car powered by… a 4.6-lite V8. But, because the Morgan Motor Company is a brilliantly bonkers law unto itself, that’s exactly what it’s doing. This, ladies and gents, is the new Plus 8 GTR. And it is a celebration of just how fun setting liquified dinosaurs on fire can be. 

New GTR will use old Aero chassis

Only nine cars are being built. This might seem like an odd number, but apparently it’s because the GTR is to be based on a small number of rolling chassis that the company has re-acquired. Apparently, the original buy will now not be using them, and so they are headed back to Malvern. Our money is on these chassis being from what was once Bristol Cars, but we’re just guessing. Either way, rather than going on the scrap pile, they are instead returning home and will be built into fully realised machines. It’s a celebration of Morgans of old, but with newly learned and developed skills and ideas being employed in the build. We think it’s rather wonderful, frankly. 

As part of their transformation from rolling chassis to finished vehicle, each GTR will be handcrafted using Morgan’s traditional coachbuilding techniques. In a break from over a century of Morgan tradition, much of this work will be completed not at its famous Pickersleigh Road factory, but at the nearby Morgan Design and Engineering Centre (M-DEC). The Plus 8 GTR runs alongside core programmes and is one of several Morgan special projects to be announced this year. It follows numerous special project Morgan models in recent years, such as the Aero GT, SP1 and Aeromax.

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These ‘Aero-chassis’ Plus 8s use the Morgan first-generation bonded-aluminium chassis developed initially for the Morgan Aero 8. Previously, from 1968 to 2004, Plus 8 models used Morgan’s traditional steel chassis and were powered by Rover V8 engines.

All ‘Aero-chassis’ Morgan Plus 8s were powered by the BMW N62 4.8-litre engine, and the GTR will be no exception. In its original specification this unit produced 362 bhp, however, the exact power output for the GTR is yet to be finalised. A choice of a six-speed manual or ZF six-speed automatic gearbox will be available, with fixed allocations for each transmission option.

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Just nine Morgan Plus 8 GTRs will be built, with production beginning in summer 2021. The transformed special project will be available in certain worldwide markets, subject to local rules on the importation of European vehicles. As part of the special projects programme, customers will be invited to commission their bespoke Plus 8 GTR alongside Morgan’s design team.

Jonathan Wells, Morgan Head of Design, said: “Reviving a V8-powered Morgan at the current time may not seem like the obvious choice for a manufacturer firmly focused on new platforms and powertrains. However, when the opportunity presented itself to recommission a number of rolling chassis and create an exciting special project such as Plus 8 GTR, we embraced it fully. This project has allowed Morgan’s design and engineering teams to revisit some of their favourite elements of past Morgan models, as well as experiment with some features that we hope will appear on future Morgan cars.”

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