- 1 of the 6 cars made
- Rare lightweight Speedster specification
- Over £5000 worth of extras including six-speed automatic gearbox
- Only one owner and 3500 miles from new
- Still in showroom condition
Ever since the motor-car was invented there has been a desire to go faster. Bigger engines have their place, but so, too, does weight-saving, and one day the owner of a Model T Ford woke up and realised they could make it go a lot faster simply by stripping it of all its bodywork. This was the speedster tradition born, and a love for the sort of car which consists of a capable engine, two seats, and not much else.
Colin Chapman may have coined the phrase ‘Add lightness’, but the Morgan Motor Co. had always been putting it into practice. Throughout the 1920s, its three-wheeled, V-twin cyclecars were highly competitive at Brooklands and in hill-climbs, matching much larger cars for speed but costing only a fraction of the price. As we all know, Morgan had a winning formula, and its present range of traditionally-styled three- and four-wheeler models are still popular today precisely because they owe so much to their forebears of the 1920s and 1950s.
As much as we may think of Morgans as old-fashioned, the company has no shortage of fresh ideas and embraces modern technology, as the Plus 8 Speedster proves. When the Plus 8 was resurrected in 2012, it was fitted with BMW’s 4.8-litre V8, which gives visceral performance (150mph is plenty) and modern-day reliability. Morgan had never made a Speedster before but it surprised everyone in 2014 by unveiling one, originally intended as a limited-edition. With no roof, side windows or bumpers, and only a low Perspex aero-style windscreen, it’s 100kg lighter than the standard Plus 8 and looks like it’s heading to a race meeting.
Sadly, it was to be both the Plus 8’s zenith and swansong. After BMW announced it was discontinuing its V8, Plus 8 production ended in 2018. This Speedster is one of the last of the line and, having only ever been used sparingly, it still appears showroom-fresh. Whether you’ve owned Morgans before or you’ve always promised yourself one, we’re sure you’ll not find one as thrilling and soul-stirring as this.
The History and Paperwork
- Originally sold through London Morgan in July 2018 to its first owner, who has retained it to this day
- Suppled new in Pastel Green with Black upholstery
- Sold with its V5 and original owner’s wallet, containing the owner’s manual and Alpine radio manual, plus a copy of the Morgan Exploration photo book by Neil A. Miller
- All-original, nearly-new condition
- Diamond-quilted leather seats
- Equipped with a heater and an Alpine radio-CD player
If we look at some of the other speedster’s which have been made throughout history, you could be forgiven for thinking that Morgan must have sacrificed all comfort in the pursuit of lightness, acceleration and speed. Many speedsters disregard comfort completely, and we still love them for it because they’re enormous fun. However, Morgan is not just a car-brand, it exists to uphold British tradition and prestige, and to that end it simply wouldn’t do to reduce it to something merely functional, just as it wouldn’t do to furnish Buckingham Palace with Ikea furniture.
Therefore, we have no pelvis-bruising bucket seats, but some snug and reasonably comfortable items beautifully upholstered in diamond-quilted leather, with the Morgan badge embroidered into the headrests. The cockpit is tight but not cramped, with plenty of legroom and elbowroom, and perhaps the greatest surprise of all is that, unlike most other classic sports-cars, you don’t have to be a contortionist to get yourself in and out.
There are even two concessions to luxury: there’s a heater, which you’ll probably be very grateful for in the colder months, and an Alpine radio-CD player so you can choose your tunes. Morgan was thoughtful enough to conceal the radio some way under the dash, so as not to compromise the old-fashioned feel of the interior.
If you were wanting a detailed summary of the condition, there’s not much to be said. It’s a five-year-old car which has only covered 3500 miles, so everything is still pretty much as it left the showroom. We’ve scanned the seats, carpets, doors, centre console and dash, and cannot find a thing to fault. Suffice it to say, you don’t get a boot…
- Pastel Green paint inspired by the ex-Tommy Wisdom/Stirling Moss Jaguar C-type
- Specified with numerous extra-cost options including 18-inch steel-look alloy wheels, side-exit exhausts and leather bonnet strap
- Immaculate condition all over
Morgans appeal to those with traditional tastes, and this particular one appears to have been tailor-made for them. For one thing, it’s painted British racing green, and anyone who thinks British racing green refers only to dark hues can think again; Morgan’s Pastel Green is modelled on the paint worn by Jaguar C-type chassis XKC005, which was the first disc-braked car to win a race – the 1952 Reims 12 Hours, driven by Stirling Moss – so there’s a nice bit of pub trivia for you.
The shallow Perspex windscreen imitates the shape of the famous Brooklands aero screens of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s (again, see XKC005). The traditional styling cues extend to the various extra-cost optional extras. The Speedster came with steel wheels as standard, but 18-inch alloys designed to resemble steels were a Speedster-only option costing £1920. The side-exit exhausts added £1680 to the overall price, and the leather bonnet strap £156. It’s a semi-bespoke car, and the chances of coming across a similar one are extremely slim.
And the condition? As we said, it’s virtually brand-new. Over its five-year life, the chrome trim has mellowed a little and acquired a very light patina, but the paint is near-perfect. We spotted one minor paint blemish in the rear number plate recess, but you can imagine how closely we had to look to notice that. As for the wheels, they’ve obviously never encountered a kerb or a pothole – they’re immaculate.
Bidders will be pleased to note that the Speedster is sold with a tonneau cover for the cockpit.
- BMW V8 producing 362bhp
- Fitted with optional £3000 six-speed automatic gearbox
- MoT with no advisories until July 2023
Morgans of the past had their own charm. They were quick and they did everything a sports-car should have done, but they weren’t sophisticated. BMW, on the other hand, has always been at the vanguard of automotive technology. If you could incorporate the precision engineering of Munich without losing the hand-made character of Malvern, you’d have what could only amount to motoring perfection. Well, it’s no longer a question of what could be; the BMW-engined Morgan Plus 8 is a wonderful reality.
This car starts on the button and idles beautifully – it’s obviously in very good health, and the clean MoT certificate suggests we can same for all the mechanical systems. While we didn’t get to take the car out on the road, we will happily refer bidders to Henry Catchpole’s road test for Evo, which praised the Speedster’s keen handling and visceral feel.
We might just say a word about the gearbox. A manual was standard, but the six-speed automatic with which this car is equipped was a fairly popular optional extra, which seems surprising for a sports-car, over which drivers typically prefer to wield full control. Is it any less of a sports-car for it? In a word, we’d say not. If you find some good Morgan country (i.e. twisting country A-roads) and adopt a suitably enthusiastic driving style, you’ll be busy enough with the braking, steering and acceleration not to mind the absence of manual gear-changing, especially since the seating position will give the impression that you’re skimming across the Tarmac. This is just as much a sports-car as any other Morgan but, with the automatic, it’ll be that much friendlier in urban traffic.
English tradition and German technology could produce some interesting combinations. Vaughan Williams meets Kraftwerk? No, thanks… In the Plus 8, though, they could scarcely make for more natural or agreeable bedfellows. If you want classic sports-car looks with fast and efficient modern engineering, say no more – this is as good as it gets.
You may think it better to buy a brand-new Morgan, but you’ll not find one like this. Malvern no longer offers a V8 or a Speedster, nor can you buy a new one in Pastel Green or with the handsome faux steel wheels. Besides, having been cherished from new and only ever driven sparingly, you’d never guess that this one hasn’t been driven straight off the showroom floor.
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