Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan bought his first motor car in 1902 at the age of 21, designed and built his own car in 1909, and went into production a year later.
Click here to read Morgan Motor’s history to the Second World War
Morgan Auto to the present day
With the Second World War over, many skilled workers returned to re-join the factory and car production, which resumed in 1946 and Morgan Auto was back in business. Morgans son Peter joined the company in 1947 as the Development Engineer and Draughtsman.
Morgan Motor Car Enthusiasts form their own clubs
In 1945 ‘The Morgan Three-Wheeler Club‘ was started by a few of enthusiasts and despite the demise of the three-wheeler, the club grew rapidly. Members of this Club were keen to visit the Pickersleigh Road factory, and there is a great photograph on the Morgan Motors website showing the line of cars in front of the factory still bearing wartime camouflage. In 1951 the ‘Morgan Sports Car Club‘ was formed for the Four-wheeler enthusiasts and these two Clubs are still in existence today supporting the enjoyment of these Morgan enthusiasts and their cars.
In 1947 the Standard Motor Co who had been supplying engines to Morgan Auto moved to a ‘One Engine Policy’. This forced Morgan Auto to produce a prototype using the Standard Vanguard 1.8 liter engine. This engine increased performance, and in 1950 the production of the Morgan Plus Four began. Eventually, the Plus Four was fitted with a 2088 c.c. Vanguard 68 b.h.p. unit and this model leaped to immediate success in competitions, winning awards at the R.A.C. Rally in 1951 and 1952 with Peter Morgan as a driver in both teams.
This model offered an open two-seater, a four-seater and a Drophead Coupe, which due to its very high-power-to-weight-ratio further successes on the track was enjoyed. The pre-war design saw some significant updates in 1954, with the radiator hidden beneath a cowl and grille to improve the aerodynamics, and this iconic design remains in production today.
Over the next few years, the Morgan sports car continued to see improvements to the chassis and the engine and the Plus Four won many production sports car races in the USA.
Just one year before the companies 50th celebrations, the company suffered a huge loss when Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan died in 1959. As one of the greatest pioneers of Motoring, he was very much respected throughout the motor industry. His Son Peter Morgan took over the running of Morgan Motors for the next 44 years.
Le Mans 24 hour endurance race
1962 brought further success at Le Man, the 24 hours endurance race. Morgan Auto prepared the Plus Four Super Sports for Lawrence and Richard Sheppard-Baron who drove over a 2,261 mile, averaging speeds of 94 m.p.h. After the race, the car was happily driven on public roads back to the UK.
1963 saw the introduction of a completely new model called the Morgan Plus 4 Plus, based on the conventional Plus 4 chassis, but now fitted with an elegant glass fiber body. Unfortunately, this car was not a success as only 26 were built over a 4 year period.
In 1964 a radical sports car was introduced using the Morgan chassis, designed by Chris Lawrence and John Sprinzel. The Morgan SLR had the first aerodynamic body that helped it to produce speeds in excess of 130 m.p.h at the Le Man, Mulsanne Straight.
During 1966 Maurice Owen joined Morgan Auto to oversee the development of a new car, the Morgan Plus Eight. A new aluminum V8 engine from the Rover Motor Company replaced the soon to be retired Triumph TR engine, and the Plus 8 maintained Morgan’s success on the race track. This model was in production for 36 years until it was discontinued in 2004.
During the late 1960’s Morgan Motors acquired further factory buildings to the south of the existing site, providing modest expansion to the Pickersleigh Road operations.
During the 70’s and 80’s the Plus Eight continued to win races such as the Fred Dixon Modsports Championship, the BRDC Production Sports Car Championship in 1978, the BRSCC Production Sports Car Championship in 1979 and the only 24-hour race held in Britain at Snetterton in 1980, 81, and 82. Morgan Motors reintroduction the Plus Four with a Fiat engine in 1985 which was later replaced by Rover’s award-winning lean burn overhead cam 2 liter engine.
Charles Morgan grandson of the founder Henry Morgan, joined the company full time in 1985
The annual Morgan Sports Car Championships was set up in 1987 to give owners a chance to race their cars. The championship was a great success and the attendance of over 300 cars were common. This success prompted a Hill-Climb Championship solely for Morgans and this inspired the German Morgan Owners Club to set up a race series in Europe called the Continental Morgan Championship.
From ’87’ to ’93’ the Plus Eight continued to demonstrate how fast a Morgan could go against other makes in the 750 Motor Club Roadsports Series and in Morgan Marque racing.
Throughout the ’80s’ and ’90s’ the Morgan Motors continued to build a classic range of sports cars;
- The 4/4 being the entry level model
- The Plus 4 for more performance
- The Plus 8 being top of the range and was very quick
1997 brought an extensive overhaul of the production models, and the standardization of longer doors, the new Aluminium super form wings (this did not include 4/4), redesigned fascia to include airbags, the introduction of a 4.6 litre V8 version and the use of improved materials throughout.
In 1989 the Plus Eight was enhanced from 3.5 to 3.9 litres making it one of the fastest accelerating roads cars, and the German magazine “Auto Motor und Sport” crowned the Morgan Plus Eight the fastest car they had ever tested in fifth gear, “the world champion for flexibility”.
In the mid-’90s’ a new Morgan began to take shape. Charles Morgan decided to develop a completely new chassis in order to remain competitive on the race track and to maintain Morgan’s reputation for producing world-class sports cars. Charles and a Morgan dealer; Bill Wykeham, raced a specifically designed aluminium chassis Plus 8 in the international 1996 BPR race series. This model became the FIA GT series in 1997 and this car showed that the factory were able to make and run a successful race car, but, it also showed the aerodynamics of the existing shape were a major limiting factor to success.
The Aero 8 was the next car to be developed in the factory and race track and was a remarkably advanced car using a strong lightweight bonded aluminium chassis, aluminium body panels, all assembled around a wooden frame. This created a revolutionary new Morgan sports car! It took 5 years to develop and finally launched at the Geneva motor show in March 2000 with a B.M.W. 4.4-litre V8 engine, giving the car a dramatic increase in performance, equal of many exotic supercars.
The Aero 8 was an instant success and many orders were taken.
In 2002 Morgan once again returned to LeMans with a racing version of the Aero 8 called the Aero 8 GT. It was driven by Richard Stanton, Steve Hyde, and Richard Hay, but the car suffered vibration from the back axle and engine failure eventually forced retirement after 17 hours. Although they failed to finish, it was acknowledged as a great achievement for a car that had only been developed a few months earlier on a very small budget. Morgan’s entry the following year was rejected by race organisers the ‘Automobile Club de l’Ouest‘ but Morgan returned to the race in 2004. This time drivers Adam Sharpe, Neil Cunningham, and Steve Hyde completed the 24 hours, even with a fuel pump problem, two radiator changes, a broken throttle cable, serious engine trouble and a 3-hour delay. This was a remarkable achievement in the world’s most grueling race, and in recognition of the pit crew’s outstanding performance, the authorities awarded the ‘team prize’ for the best technical crew to Morgan.
In 2003 the Morgan community and motor industry were sad when Peter Morgan died after 44 years of steering the company through some difficult times to maintain the success of the Morgan Motor Company.
In 2005 the Aero 8 continued to be refined and updated, and a stunning new fixed-head version called the AeroMax was launched. The elegant design was the work of a talented young graduate from Coventry University, Matthew Humphries, and although it was originally intended to be a one-off vehicle, such was the interest shown, that it was decided to put the car into production as a very special limited edition of just 100, and ALL were sold within a few months of the model being launched!
The traditional cars continued in production in ever-increasing numbers, with the famous Plus 8 being discontinued and replaced by the Roadster V6. This new model, although superficially similar to the Plus 8, used the Ford 3 litre V6 engine and maintained the tradition of having a high-performance classic in the range.
The popularity of the AeroMax pushed the design team to develop a further supercar based on the proven Aero chassis. The car retained the sleek lines of the other Aeros, but aft of the cockpit a new distinctive shape was produced. Now featuring a capacious boot to accommodate the removable roof panels, drivers now had the option of open air motoring in favourable conditions.
100 Years of manufacturing the most iconic British Sports Car
2009 saw the very special milestone for Morgan Auto; 100 years of manufacturing the most iconic of British sports cars. Thousands of enthusiasts visited Malvern, and the new Morgan Visitor Centre developed to the North East of the main factory site. This new facility gave a spacious reception area with a factory shop selling a wide range of attractive accessories, books, and fashionable Morgan clothing. The Morgan Museum was also housed here, displaying artifacts, images and a few of the cars from the past 100 years of production. To mark the Centenary, a new Aero model was launched called the Aero Super Sports, a name revived from the high-performance three-wheeler back in the 1930s, along with a special limited edition Super Sports Pedal Car for the younger enthusiast. This pedal car was hand-made in the factory in much the same way as the full-size cars, using a wooden body frame and aluminium panels.
The main centenary celebrations were held in the July with a week-long program of events, culminating in a huge gathering of Morgans at Cheltenham Race Course. Many thousands attended the event, and 23 nations represented the overseas visitors. 3200 Morgans were present at the Race Course and in the car parks and despite bad weather, it was a huge success.
The Morgan Motor Company Management
Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan ran the successful Morgan Motor Company until he died, aged 77 in 1959. Peter Morgan, his son, continued running the company until just a few years before he died in 2003. His replacement as chairman was Alan Garnett, a non-family director, however, he resigned in 2006 and a four-man management team was formed. This new management team comprised of Charles Morgan’s son, Peter Morgan, Matthew Parkin, Tim Whitworth and Steve Morris. Matthew Parkin was appointed as Managing Director but he soon resigned, and Charles Morgan was named Managing Director. With the company faltering it was decided to remove Charles Morgan as Managing Director in 2013, and he was replaced by Steve Morris, but continued as the strategy director, but in October 2013 Charles Morgan was ousted, both as an employee and as a Board Director.
In 2013 shareholders appointed Andrew Duncan as the Chairman but he resigned from the company in 2016 and was replaced by a new director, Dominic Riley, a business turnaround expert. The ethos of the company remains unchanged. Morgan remains extremely proud of its heritage and are synonymous with excellence and the best craftsmanship in the industry. All their sports cars are coach built, are in continual development in order to stay within standards of safety and offer thoroughbred performance.
To fully experience Morgan Auto, take a Morgan Motors Factory Tour in Malvern. If you need accommodation, you will love your stay at Orchard Side Bed and Breakfast to make it a truly special weekend. If you drive a Morgan Auto or Classic Car, the owners Neil and Gigi can offer you secure parking behind electric gates and limited garaged parking at Orchard Side Bed and Breakfast.