With its long bonnet, curving running boards and throaty note, the Morgan Plus 8 50th Anniversary Special Edition looks every inch the retro roadster.
Beneath those classic lines, though, lurks something altogether more modern. There’s a bonded aluminium chassis, for starters, together with a 4.8 litre, V8 BMW engine that can launch you from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds and which delivers a breathtaking top speed of 155mph.
So far, so muscular, but the Morgan is also remarkably light, one of the lightest V8 passenger cars in production, in fact. That serious power plant is propelling just 1,200kg of vehicle and that all translates into a feeling of remarkable acceleration and maneuverability.
Inspired by a Sixties classic
The original Plus 8, named after its eight-cylinder engine, first hit the road in 1968 and the famous English company is celebrating this half-century milestone by producing just 50 individually numbered versions of this Special Edition.
Rover supplied the engines for the original Plus 8s with German powerplants being used since 2004. The 50th anniversary Plus 8 will also be the final Morgan to feature a naturally aspirated engine.
Steve Morris, managing director of the Morgan Motor Company, says: ‘For many, the Plus 8 is the archetypal British sports car combining handcrafted, bespoke luxury with exhilarating performance. That’s why it’s been a mainstay of the Morgan range for 50 years.’
Morgan can supply the cars in left- or right-hand drive configuration and with automatic or manual transmissions, while the driver, seated just above the rear axle, enjoys a very tangible link with the machine.
The elements feel pretty close, too. Driver and passenger take cover behind two compact, half-moon-shaped windscreens that admittedly keep the rain out of your face – but only just. Buyers of this machine might want to invest in a good jacket for those winter drives. And a pair of goggles might not go amiss, either.
The car’s available in two distinct versions – a Racing Green model with a soft top and the blue ‘speedster spec’ alternative.
One for the drivers
Jon Wells, Morgan’s head of design, adds: ‘The Plus 8 has always been the driver’s Morgan. It continues to pioneer new technology within the classic Morgan bloodline. Born on the racetrack, and having been no stranger to it ever since, has meant performance pedigree underpins every Plus 8 we make.
‘When combined with an uncompromising attention to craftsmanship, luxury and material choice, there is no more desirable ‘gentleman racer.’
He adds: ‘Each design detail of the Plus 8 50th has been considered to celebrate the Plus 8 and what it has meant to Morgan and its customers over the last 50 years. This famous V8 was a darling of the automotive industry in the 1960s and has today become an unrivalled machine offering raw exhilaration and effortless power delivery.’
The Plus 8 50th Anniversary costs £107,500. Buyers will also get a Christopher Ward C1 Morgan Plus 8 watch, which includes a piece of the original 1968 prototype Plus 8 within its back plate.
‘The ability for our owners to essentially become custodians of a piece of Plus 8 history is a unique opportunity,’ says Wells.
‘Providing a commemorative timepiece seemed fitting for the Plus 8 50th Anniversary. Watches and motorsport have been synonymous with one another long before designs for the original Morgan Plus 8 were drawn up.
‘The 50th Anniversary limited edition does not simply reflect the finite details of the vehicle within its aesthetic, as several details of both the watch and car were designed simultaneously.’