By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
The weekend gives us a bit of slack in our leash, and even though we usually don’t cover new car announcements this one was too good to ignore.
The Morgan Motor Company of Malvern Link, Worcestershire, UK recently announced that it would soon re-introduce a modern version of the company’s iconic Threewheeler. The original trike was a single seat, three-wheeled cycle car later expanded to include a passenger. They were built from 1910 through 1953, and for many in England and Europe, the first car in a family was a Morgan Threewheeler. (As a side note, the company didn’t make its first four-wheeled vehicle until 1930.)
Nearly 50,000 originals were built and they are instantly recognizable—the two-cylinder motorcycle engine is completely exposed between the spoked front wheels, and the tapering bodywork covering the single rear wheel is a dead giveaway to what lies beneath.
And lest you think these “old crocks” were laughably slow, one of them won the 1913 French Grand Prix and others were repeatedly exhibited and raced at Brooklands at average speeds over 100 mph. Part of that secret was their very light weight and good aerodynamics.
There are still several examples of the original model in the U.S. and they appear frequently at vintage shows and races across the country. I can tell you from personal observation that they can be made to go right-quick and they regularly hold their own against their racing class peers. I can also tell you that if you ever get the chance to ride in one, drop what you’re doing and take the offer—it will cure what ails you and you’ll grin for a week. It is primal, visceral, bugs-in-the-teeth motoring at its best.
Morgan Motor is waiting to officially debut this new car at the upcoming Geneva auto show, but has provided some advance information. Noting that “…young people may not have experienced the same thrill as the early Threewheeler pilots…,” the company emphasized that “now the time is right to relaunch this exceptional design…. whilst encapsulating the original Morgan Threewheeler’s DNA.”
DNA acknowledged, but there are also some welcome genetic mutations as well. The powertrain is a 1900cc V-twin engine from S&S in Wisconsin (an attempted deal with Harley-Davidson didn’t work out)
coupled through a Mazda five-speed gearbox that includes reverse. A V-belt drives the rear wheel, and the whole package is designed for “reliable trouble-free motoring.”
All of this comes wrapped in a tube-frame chassis with two optional roll hoops behind the seats. The bodywork is described as an “aerodynamic bullet hull” and, although physically bigger than the original, remains visually true in proportion.
Another of the original traits carries over as well. The engine, rated at 115hp, is asked to propel only 500kg (~ 1100 lbs) of total weight. Morgan is anticipating 0-60mph times on the order of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of around 115 mph.
The interior is styled to replicate the look of a WWII aircraft, and Morgan plans to offer a list of bespoke (we call it customized) options – colors, leather, decals, etc – to buyers at extra charge.
Approximate retail for the new Threewheeler is £30,000, or about $45,000, and news reports mention that over 300 folks, (many who already own other Morgan products) have already ponied up the full cost and are standing eagerly in line. The guess here is that the line is about to get much longer quite soon.
Did we mention that Morgan says it has U.S. and Euro safety and emissions approval for the Threewheeler? Did we mention you can get it with almost as much chrome as a ’59 Buick? Did we mention there’s no roof, but you really won’t care?
Morgan said it expects to have the new car in production within six months. In this era of bland, beige unexciting sedans, here’s a hat tip to a company that wants to put —gasp!—FUN back into driving. Bless ’em for that, and I hope they sell a zillion of them.
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