In a week where seemingly everyone’s been fighting to say ‘but we’re going electric, too’, some relief from the Worcestershire countryside. This is the Morgan Plus 8 GTR, and it’s a V8 sportscar with an even hairier chest than the Malvern company’s norm.
Just when all of its cars have gone turbocharged and had their numeric names retired comes a very welcome surprise: a limited run of naturally-aspirated specials built on a handful of Morgan chassis that have been reclaimed from a discontinued project outside of the company, believed to be the ill-fated Bristol Bullet of five years ago. It’s like a million-quid continuation special, but at a probable tenth of the cost and without decades of delay preceding it.
The V8 is the same 4.8-litre BMW unit used in Morgan’s halo sports cars until the new Plus Six landed in 2019, and hooked up to your choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. While it used to peak at 362bhp, “the exact power output for the GTR is yet to be finalised,” we’re told. A cheeky hint that there’s more on offer?
The extra vents stamped into its handbuilt bonnet certainly suggest so. As does the whole of its newly muscular body. While we only have these sketches for now, it’s very evidently inspired by Morgan’s 1990s racecars, with a fixed hard-top, big five-spoke, centre-lock alloys and some very sculpted arches, which provide actual aerodynamics. How modern. There’s even a rear diffuser tucked around ceramic exhaust pipes. Notice the doors, too, which are larger than Morgan’s norm and lend a slenderer look to the side windows.
“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,” says Morgan design boss, Jonathan Wells.
“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.”
Perhaps even more excitingly, this is “the first of several Morgan special projects to commence in 2021”. What’d you like to see next?
STORY Stephen Dobie