When it comes to choosing something special in the automotive sector, those with money to spare have always been spoiled for choice. Even in this modern age when cars are designed by computer and you have to get up close to tell the difference between a range topping Mercedes or its Lexus equivalent, there are still those pioneering specialist car makers out there who can provide something that will stand out from the crowd.
Morgan Motor Company represents a perfect case in point. Its wood-framed cars are built by hand and the vintage lines of the Plus 4 and Plus 8 are reminiscent of a different age. Despite an order book that is always full to overflowing, the company has had its times of difficulty, not least in terms of manufacturing lead time. At one point, customers had to wait 10 years from the date of order to take delivery of their new car, but today, that is down to about six months.
Even Morgans move with the times
The cars might look old fashioned and use traditional manufacturing processes, but Morgan knows that nostalgia alone is not enough to sustain a car company – just look at Bristol for evidence of that. Over the past decade, it has produced the Aero, the AeroMax and an electric version of the classic roadster, the Plus E. But its latest creation goes back to Morgan’s earliest days to create a driving experience like nothing else.
Fun on three wheels
If your notion of a three wheeler is a Reliant Regal van of the type featured in Only Fools and Horses, it is time to adjust your preconceptions. Morgan’s first cars, in the pre-war era were three wheelers with two wheels at the front and one at the back, and the Super Sports was one of the highest performing cars on the market in the late 1930s, with a proven race pedigree.
The new Morgan Three Wheeler has very similar styling to its 1930s forebear, but with Harley Davidson power, a Mazda 5- speed manual gearbox and a 0-60 acceleration time of just 4.5 seconds.
Climb into the cockpit, and despite the presence of a passenger seat, your surroundings can best be compared to a single seater track car – or perhaps a fighter jet. The dashboard is spartan but neatly laid out and trimmed in leather. The starter button, located under an aircraft-style cover, is a further reminder that this is no ordinary car. Thumb it, and you are rewarded with a throaty exhaust note that promises fun ahead, but does not have the frantic response you might expect from a motorcycle engine when you feather the throttle.
Compared with vehicles like the Ariel Atom, the performance is nothing spectacular, with a top speed of around 115mph, but with this car, that is not the point. Whether you are careening round the track or blatting around the country lanes, the Morgan Three Wheeler is all about maintaining an ethos that has sustained the company for almost 100 years – and that is providing a driving experience that is simply unique and is guaranteed to leave you smiling all over your face.