Morgan Pre-Launch in Los Angeles, Ca.
By Jon Rosner, Fri, 16 Jul 2004 08:00:00 PDT
Brilliant eccentricity is the only was to describe Morgan cars, their owners and the people who build them. For most of the last fifty years if you wanted a Morgan you got on a list and waited for oh, say five years, or convinced a family that has owned theirs, for the last generation or two, to part with a family member.
On December 30th 2003, Charles Morgan came to the Los Angeles Auto Show to announce that his grandfather' s company will sell 99 cars in the United States in 2004, ramping up to 250 vehicles for 2005. And by the end of the LA Auto Show he already had 70 firm deposits.
There are mixed feelings in the press about the inwardly canted headlamps, that aside, the car is extraordinary. Laser cut aluminum chassis adhesively bonded for rigidity, hand lacquered English ash framing for doors and trim, technicians who still cut and fit small alloy panels by hand. Only the English could design and build a leading edge chassis and then get away with completing the finishing touches by hand in what is certainly the last of the truly bespoke automobiles.
And lest you think that the 140 employees of Morgan didn't build a serious car How about BMWs best and lightest massively grunty 4.4 liter V-8 in a car that weighs all up less than 2,500 lbs. On paper, the car is very conservatively rated at 325 horses and 330 foot pounds of torque with a claimed zero to 60 of under 5 seconds. Given that BMW claims similar numbers for a car weighing nearly 2,000 pound more, one has to wonder.
The Aero 8 replaces the much loved Plus 8. Charles Morgan said "we have gone from the 19th to the 21st Century." "We are a tiny manufacturer with a tiny team." Charles Morgan, Dennis Glavis, the Morgan Dealer from Santa Monica, and Adam Sharpe the fellow who has been making a large splash racing the Aero 8 in competition were very friendly and easy to speak with. Dennis called the Aero 8 "a bit of a wolf in very sexy sheep's clothing." And he's right.
The Aero 8 will set you back a cool $99,000.00, but for that you will get a car that does naught to 60 in a screaming 4 seconds, has AP 6 pot racing brakes that will suck your eyeballs out when you stop, 1 g lateral acceleration from a very sophisticated suspension to take you around any corner, and the nicest wood interior this side of a very high end antique dealer's jewelry case. You don't have to be eccentric to own and drive a Morgan, but it doesn't hurt. There are 9 Morgan dealers in the United States and with 70 of 99 cars destined for the US market spoken for the new Aero 8 is off to a flying start. And one other thing, Morgan drivers always seem to be smiling while they drive, one drive and I think that you will know why!