Old dog, new tricks. A special edition to mark the #Morgan
4/4’s 80th birthday. Words James Ball. / #Morgan-4/4
/ Morgan / #1936
A history lesson first: the Morgan 4/4 was introduced in 1936 – 80 years ago – sporting a distinctive flat radiator. Then, in 1955, the sleeker cowl-rad 4/4 arrived on the scene with its eye-catching curved grille and sloping rear end. And ever since then, Morgan has kept effectively the same look and many of the same manufacturing methods.
Don’t be fooled though. Sure, Morgan’s new 80th Anniversary edition here looks as though it’s stepped straight out of 1955, but the 4/4 has evolved over the years. Under those classic looks are some modern mechanics. Yes, there are leaf springs on the back and Morgan’s traditional sliding-pillar suspension on the front (plus liberal use of wood in the body frame), but there’s also a Ford Sigma 1.6 under that long bonnet, hooked up to an MX-5 gearbox. The Ford unit achieves a claimed 44.1mpg and pushes out a humble but usable 110bhp.
So, what’s different here? Well, the 80th Anniversary edition is actually mechanically identical to the standard 4/4, except for a side-exit sports exhaust – a small but very noticeable addition. Although it provides only a very small performance boost, perhaps 1-2bhp over standard, its delightful noisy burble adds plenty of character.
Visually, the 80th has been tweaked with many design elements echoing the earliest 4/4s. The brass centre wheel nuts and grille draw on the early cars, whilst the matt-finish walnut dash and foil detailing add a more modern flair. To drive it’s a solid, direct experience. With no power steering, and next to no suspension travel, the 4/4 forces you to pay attention. Every bump and every corner demands focus and forethought as that side-exit pops away on the overrun and lets out a decent growl when you’re changing up through the gears.
Cornering is equally positive and, with the 4/4 weighing just 795kg, there’s plenty of grip and the feedback through the Moto-Lita gives you confidence turning in. Not only does it drive like a classic car – it even smells like one. The combination of leather, wood and hot metal permeates the cockpit as you peer down the long louvred bonnet.
Has Morgan simply given its 4/4 a spruceup and called it a special edition? Well, yes, in a sense, but having driven the 80th Anniversary from Geneva to Malvern, we’re in a good position to note that it feels a surprisingly different experience from the standard 4/4, thanks to well thought-out design choices – and that throaty side-exit exhaust.
At £39,995, and with the 80 examples already sold, we expect residuals to be strong…
From top. The 80th Anniversary model’s interior looks classic but is a world away from the 1936 4/4’s; brass finishes and logos are unique to this car; it still drives like a Morgan!