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From the November 2003 affair of Car and Driver.
Before we burrow into the new Morgan Aero 8 roadster, let’s get something, uh, arresting out of the way first. The nose. It’s a unique-looking bill with a acutely recessed grille and a brace of arch fenders that are capped with flush-mounted, account headlights. To some, “unique” doesn’t do it justice-it’s been likened to a absurd Pekinese, or a frog fatigued by the Merry Pranksters.
However you see it, the Aero 8 is the aboriginal absolutely new car the little aggregation in England has alien in 50 years. Its antecedent model, the Plus 8, appeared in 1968, and it was little added than a diffuse adaptation of the Plus 4, which had its admission in 1950. Although the Plus 8 has been consistently updated, it has remained about as avant-garde as a VW Beetle, but barter nonetheless endured six-month cat-and-mouse lists and a $65,000 amount to snag one of the 200 Plus 8s produced anniversary year, of which maybe 50 trickled into the U.S.
If there were no blast or emissions regulations, Morgan apparently would acquire connected on with the Plus 8 for eternity. But these regulations got tougher with anniversary casual decade, and the austere reaper assuredly had his eyes durably bound on the Plus 8.
Imagine the bind at Morgan’s Malvern Link headquarters: Precisely how do you accomplish a new car afterwards axis off the loyal core of barter who are admiring to the classic, age-old British auto that is the Plus 8?
So you try designing a new, avant-garde car that retains the old, archetypal attending of the Morgan. The assignment fell to Charles Morgan, grandson of the company’s founder, H.M.S. Morgan. The anatomy emerged from a Plus 8 chase car that Charles had congenital in the mid-1990s. In 1995, Christopher Lawrence (“The Mad Monk of Malvern Link,” June 1999), a 61-year-old chase engineer, abettor designer, and fabricator, abutting Morgan to advice about-face that chassis-and body-into the Aero 8.
Highs: Light weight yields accomplished performance; precise, calmly controllable chassis; able brakes; looks like annihilation abroad on the road.
In 2000, a completed Aero 8 fabricated its admission at the Geneva auto actualization and anon afterwards went on auction in Europe. Since then, the aggregation has reportedly invested $1 actor to accredit the car for the U.S. Interestingly, the company’s chairman, Peter Morgan, was already quoted as adage the close could “lose [the U.S. market] tomorrow and never notice.” Obviously, that account is no best operative, and Morgan would absolutely be beholden for U.S. buyers, whose purchases could compensate the amount of developing the new car.
The aboriginal Aero 8s should access abutting bounce at a amount of about $95,000. We got an aboriginal drive and analysis address of Morgan’s East Coast agent, Cantab Motors. The dejected car you see actuality is the sixth Aero 8 congenital and served as a ancestor and analysis mule. Although its autogenous and trim $.25 are awkward and unfinished, mechanically, it’s the absolute deal.
Morgan has never congenital its own powertrains. The 4.4-liter V-8 and six-speed chiral chiral are from BMW. Plucked from the 540i, the DOHC aluminum V-8 produces 282 application at 5400 rpm and 324 pound-feet at 3600 rpm.
The agent is army able-bodied abaft the advanced arbor for acceptable weight distribution, and from the actualization of the deeply adapted anatomy rails, it looks as admitting the car were advised about the motor. The anatomy is an absorbing aggregate of ellipsoidal aluminum tubes that are able with affirmed and absorbed aluminum panels. The bark is additionally fabricated from aluminum.
The Aero 8 is a baby car. It’s alone 6.5 inches best than a Mazda Miata. Its wheelbase, however, is 10.4 inches longer, so the Morgan doesn’t acquire that little-roadster attending to it. Say what you will about the nose, but the guy’s got the eye. The Aero is afterwards a agnosticism a Morgan, and although it appears to acquire the aerodynamics of a barn door, the annoyance accessory is a poor but not abominable 0.39 (the glace Corvette has a abundant bigger amount of 0.29).
We’ve apparent added aluminum cars with alone baby weight savings, but the Aero 8 is absolutely a featherweight. With a abounding catchbasin of fuel, it weighs alone 2476 pounds, which is about 50 pounds added than the four-cylinder Miata and 700 pounds beneath than the 405-hp, $52,000 Corvette Z06 (not to acknowledgment about 1300 pounds beneath than the 540i auto the agent was advised for).
The Z06 has the power-to-weight advantage (7.8 pounds per application adjoin 8.8 for the Morgan) and is quicker, but not by much. The Morgan scampered to 60 mph in alone 4.2 abnormal and through the division in 12.7 abnormal at 110 mph. The Vette can hit 60 in 4.0 abnormal and does the division in 12.4 abnormal at 116 mph.
There are affluence of high-dollar sports cars the Morgan can dust off, including the Porsche 911 and Mercedes-Benz SL500, and some-such as the $119,000 Porsche 911 Turbo-that would absolute the Morgan to the weeds. But the capital point is the Morgan can blot you into the bench in any gear. It’s a amusement to row through the six-speed box, the about-face batten is able-bodied placed, and the clamp takeup is smooth.
Like a Dodge Viper, which rockets advanced behindhand of the accessory it’s in, the Aero is acquiescently responsive. Larboard in sixth gear, this Morgan needs 5.4 abnormal to go from 30 to 50 mph and 5.7 abnormal to bound from 50 to 70 mph. Those are acutely acceptable times, bigger than the Corvette’s at 9.5 and 9.4 seconds, respectively.
Part of the acclaim goes to the low-geared rear end (3.08:1) and a sixth accessory that isn’t as alpine as the Vette’s, but the big acumen is that the agent doesn’t acquire abundant accumulation to cull around. We did our testing at Summit Point Raceway in Summit Point, West Virginia, and afterwards application the beeline for our dispatch testing, we did some hot laps to see aloof how antic this Englishman with the German affection is.
Lows: Goofy-looking nose; chiral top operation; accepting in and out makes you attending abhorrent or, worse, burns you.
That’s area we abstruse that downshifting is not appropriate to accumulate the Aero 8 cooking. The V-8, as we’ve appear before, is buttery bland and redlines at alone 6100 rpm. The agent feels underworked and calmly whips the car around. Afterwards a few laps we begin it was aloof as quick to skip downshifts and let the adjustable agent do its work.
The anatomy acquainted acutely able and is absolutely up to avant-garde acerbity standards. Bumps or alley irregularities did not accelerate the council cavalcade shaking, and the cowl backward put. That acerbity lends an alertness and attention to the achievement that we had not expected.
We got on the clue cerebration we’d do bristles laps for the columnist and get a activity for the car’s administration balance. But bristles grew to 10, again to 15, again 20. The Aero 8 rocked out there.
The chat that kept advancing to mind: modern. The Aero 8 abeyance uses unequal-length control-arm geometry at all corners and imparts amazing trackside anchor and confidence. The humble tires are army on ambush center-bolt magnesium wheels.
It’s an absorbing bureaucracy because there are no anti-roll bars, which best added sports cars in assembly today have. Perhaps it is Morgan’s admiration to be different, but the abeyance delivers fantastically active administration and endless of anchor (0.96 g). We never accepted to feel so adequate sliding the car through corners and acid the banned of adherence on the alien track.
We shouldn’t balloon how the brakes and council accord to the acceptable vibes. The advanced brakes use 13.0-inch rotors and four-piston calipers; the rears acquire 12.0-inch rotors and two-piston calipers. These are big brakes that would be acceptable for a abundant added car. On the failing Morgan, we didn’t acquaintance any fade. Anti-lock ascendancy is not available, but the close pedal offers accomplished acknowledgment and is accessible to modulate. We abstinent 178 anxiety to stop from 70 mph. (The Corvette Z06, with anti-lock brakes, stops in 160 feet.)
The council uses capricious ability abetment that is a little defective in the acknowledgment department, but it has no dash and firms up accurately as cornering armament build. Assembly cars affection a angry and telescoping council cavalcade not on our prototype, which had a council caster that about rubbed adjoin the top of our thighs and fabricated accepting in somewhat undignified. The pedals are account to the larboard in a baby footwell that doesn’t acquire abundant allowance for a asleep pedal. The anchor and gas pedals are too far afar for accessible heel-and-toe maneuvers. There was affluence of legroom, though, and alike with the bench confused all the way rearward, the seatback was still reclined at a adequate angle. It’s affectionate inside, with alone six or so inches amid the amateur of pilot and co-pilot.
There’s solid copse trim at the abject of the cocked windshield that continues assimilate the acme of the alpine doors. That handsome trim and the appearance over the connected affected awning admit a best feel that was absolutely at allowance with the Aero’s strong, avant-garde achievement and aciculate handling. We were recalibrating ourselves over the absolute drive, aggravating to adjust that old-time attending with the avant-garde anatomy dynamics.
That recalibration connected on accessible roads. Admittedly, in Virginia and West Virginia, we never encountered the affectionate of crater-laden surfaces that we adulation to abhorrence actuality in Michigan, but the bumps we did hit were blood-soaked up aloof fine.
We did not ascertain any acerbity clarification through the chassis, and admitting the abridgement of anti-roll bars, there wasn’t a lot of angular in the corners. The ancestor bankrupt pipes that drooped beneath the rear abeyance on their way to the bifold rear outlets hit the alley a few times, but assembly models acquire a arrangement with added clearance.
Heat from the bankrupt was one of our better gripes. The catalytic converters abide beneath the fenders and at a point abutting to the doors. These fenders attending like active boards but are about eight inches advanced and won’t abutment any weight. They accomplish for advanced sills that you acquire to hurdle while accepting in and out. You end up attractive abhorrent as you action abominably to get out afterwards affable your beasts on the fenders.
The Verdict: A decidedly modern—and fast—performance car from the aftermost purveyors of the board British roadster.
The ancestor alone had the disposable hardtop, so we didn’t acquaintance the chiral softtop. Reports we’ve apprehend from British car magazines advance it’s far from absolute and not acclimate tight.
A convertible top that charge be aloft and bargain by duke is boxy to acquire in a $95,000 car. Still, the Aero 8’s aggregate of best looks, accomplished performance, and rarity–only 50 or so will accomplish their way actuality in 2004–makes it acutely cool. Which is good, because this new Morgan may not see any changes for addition 50 years.
2004 Morgan Aero 8 Roadster
VEHICLE TYPEFront-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door roadster
ESTIMATED PRICE AS TESTED $95,000
ENGINE TYPE DOHC aluminum 4.4-liter V-8, aluminum block and heads, anchorage injectionDisplacement: 268 cu in, 4398ccPower (SAE net): 282 bhp @ 5400 rpmTorque (SAE net): 324 lb-ft @ 3600 rpmRedline: 6100 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
DIMENSIONSWheelbase: 99.6 inLength: 162.2 inWidth: 69.7 inHeight: 47.2 inCurb weight: 2476 lb
C/D-TEST RESULTS Zero to 60 mph: 4.2 secZero to 100 mph: 10.4 secStreet start, 5-60 mph: 4.8 secStanding ¼-mile: 12.7 sec @ 110 mphTop acceleration (drag limited, est ): 155 mphBraking, 70-0 mph: 178 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.96 g
PROJECTED FUEL ECONOMYEPA burghal driving: 15 mpgEPA artery driving: 31 mpg
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