1910 Although the first 4 wheel Morgan was introduced in 1936, the first Morgan ever was produced in prototype form in 1909 using a 7 h.p. Peugeot air cooled vee-twin. Two single seater versions were exhibited at the 1910 Olympia Exhibition with J.A.P. engines, an 8 h.p. twin and a 4 h.p. single.
1936 Just before WW1 a prototype four-wheeler with a Dorman 4 cylinder engine was made but never put into production. In 1935 the scheme to make a four-wheeler was revived. Production of the famous Four Four (meaning four-cylinder four-wheel) began in 1936 and the engine used was an 1172 c.c. Coventry Climax engine with overhead inlet and side exhaust valves, producing 38 b.h.p. Price at the time was £195. 5s and it had a top speed of around 80 mph with a 0 to 60 mph time of 28.4 seconds.
Autocar said at the time ‘The car’s suspension is admirable on ordinary surfaces, on the firm side over certain types of less good surfaces at low speed, and inclined to be hard over a really severe potholed section.’ It’s pleasing to know that nothing much has changes on the new cars!
1938 To add to the 2 seater and 4 seater cars already available Morgan introduced the drop head coupe. Prices where now £190, £205 and £225 respectively. During this year an old association with Sir John Black, who as a youth had drawn the original patent drawing for the three-wheeler, was rekindled enabling Morgan to introduce the Standard engine. This power unit was developed from the 9 h.p. side valve engine and was linked to a Moss gearbox mounted centrally in the chassis and connected to the 5-1 rear axle by a short propeller shaft.
1939/45 During most of this period the Morgan factory was involved in the manufacture of anti-aircraft gun parts and undercarriage components.
1945 Production restarted after the war when in July the factory was given permission to build 50 3 wheelers and 75 4 wheelers by the end of the year. They didn't reach this figure! The Four Four they produced at the time was fitted with a 1267 c.c. Special Standard engine.
1947 In this year the Standard Motor Co announced their ‘One Engine Policy’ which meant that after 1949 the 1267 c.c. unit would not be available to Morgan.
1949 In view of the demise of the 1267 c.c. engine Morgan built a prototype car using the Vanguard 1.8 litre engine and in . . .
1950 . . . introduced this car as the Plus Four. The engine eventually fitted was the 2088 c.c. Vanguard producing 68 b.h.p. This gave a much needed performance boost and for this the frame was strengthened, the front suspension improved and Girling hydraulic brakes fitted. The car was an immediate success! The price for a coupe bodied version in 1951 was £565 plus £315. 7s. 9d tax. Nothing new about taxing the motorist! Acceleration from 0 to 60 m.p.h. was 17.9 seconds with a top speed of over 85 m.p.h.
The decision was taken in this year to cease production of the three-wheeler.
1951 Morgan 4/4 Club formed
1954 The radiator was hidden beneath the bodywork to improve aerodynamics and the Vanguard engine was replaced with the 1991 c.c. Triumph TR2 unit providing 90 b.h.p at 4800 r.p.m. 0 to 60 m.p.h. was now 13.3 seconds and top speed was just over 100 m.p.h. The car cost £585 plus the inevitable £244. 17. 6d British purchase tax. You could even have a heater for £8. 12s!
1955 In this year the 4/4 was reintroduced as the Series Two. Fitted with the Ford 100E 1122 c.c. engine it was as the Morgan Motor Co put it ‘. . .the object being to provide a sports car of first-class performance and appearance for the enthusiast with modest means.’ In 1956 it cost £713. 17s including tax and did a somewhat leisurely 0 to 60 m.p.h time of 29.4 seconds! A review of the time said ‘The Four Four is a creature of compromise. Main items on the debit side are performance which is not exciting in standard form, difficulty of getting in and out, the laborious hood mechanism and the lack of accommodation for luggage.’ Some things have changed some have not!
1956 The Triumph TR2 engine in the Plus 4 was replaced with the TR3 100 b.h.p unit. When fitted with lightweight aluminium bodies these cars were extremely fast, capable of covering the standing quarter mile in 16 seconds.
1959 11 inch Girling disc brakes and knock-on wire wheels become available.
1960 With the demise of the Ford 100E engine Morgan launched the 4/4 Series Three with the new 105E engine from the Ford Anglia. The unit had a capacity of 997 c.c. and produced 39 b.h.p.
1961 Morgan announced the introduction of the Plus 4 Super Sports using a specially tuned Triumph TR engine developing 116 b.h.p at 5500 r.p.m. giving the car a maximum speed of 115-118 m.p.h. Complete with a gas flowed head with 9.0 to 1 compression ratio, a special camshaft, fully balanced crankshaft assembly, rods and pistons. Two double-choke Weber 42DCOE carburettors and a special inlet manifold feed breathing through a four-branch dual pipe exhaust system. The price was £1314 including purchase tax.
The 4/4 Series 3 was replaced by the Series 4 fitted with the more powerful Ford 109E engine of 1340 c.c. from the Consul Classic.
1962 A Plus 4 Super Sports prepared by the Morgan Motor Co and Chris Lawrence and driven by Chris Lawrence and Richard Shephard-Baron won the 2 litre class at the 24 hour endurance race at Le Mans. They covered a total distance of 2261 miles at an average speed of 94 m.p.h.
1963 The Four Four Series 5 was introduced with a Ford 116E engine of 1498 c.c.
The Plus 4 Plus was launched at the 1963 Earl’s Court Motor Show. Featuring a radically styled glass fibre body on a strengthened Plus 4 chassis it was fitted with a Triumph TR4 engine of 2138 c.c. producing 105 b.h.p at 4750 r.p.m. It had a reported top speed of around 110 m.p.h. and, including purchase tax, cost £1275. 7s. 1d. As a report pointed out this was the first Morgan to feature a curved windscreen and winding side windows. It did not appeal to the traditional Morgan buyer and production ceased two years later after twenty six cars had been built.
1966 In this year the Triumph TR engine was nearing the end of its life and the Morgan Motor Co started to look for a replacement. The Rover Motor Company offered the forthcoming aluminium V8 engine and Maurice Owen joined Morgan to take charge of development of the new car, the Plus 8
1968 The Plus 8 was introduced to the public at the 1968 Earls Court Motor Show. Fitted with the Buick derived Rover V8 of 3529 c.c. and producing 160 b.h.p at 5200 r.p.m. the car was a revelation. With a Moss Gear 4 speed box it could reach 125 m.p.h. and hit 0 to 60 m.p.h in 6.7 seconds. A performance test at the time on MIRA’s timing straights from a standing start gave 90 m.p.h in 14.5 seconds, just before the quarter mile post 15.1 seconds and 110 m.p.h. 10 seconds later at 25.7 seconds. Interestingly the 4.2 litre Jaguar E-type of the time took 15.1 seconds to get to 90 m.p.h. under the same test.
A motoring magazine wrote ‘ If, as many still do, you think that more than 4 ½ inch of front suspension travel is cissy, that a quickly erected top and winding windows are effete, and that beat-proof synchromesh on all gears is a sign of moral decay, then here is the car for you.’ It cost £1477. 18s. 4d and by comparison the Jaguar E-type Roadster was £2117.
The 4/4 Series Five became the 4/4 1600 fitted with Fords Kent engine of 1599 c.c. capacity. A competition model was also available with the 1600 GT version of the engine.