Morgan loses a wheel
The specialist carmaker is set for a new raid on Australia, writes Paul Pottinger
AS CAR companies compete to downsize engines, niche maker Morgan has gone one further by reducing the number of wheels.
The Threewheeler, the model on which the company was founded in 1909, will make a comeback next year after making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show.
Billed as a weekend fun car, the Threewheeler is powered by a 1.8-litre Harley-Davidson Screaming Eagle V-twin engine. Power goes to the single rear wheel through a Mazdasourced five-speed manual transmission.
Morgan predicts that the car will complete the 0-160km/h sprint in 4.5 seconds and max out at about 180km/h.
It has an aircraft-style cockpit, complete with a bomb-release starter button.
Morgan Australia’s Chris Van Wyk says: ‘‘We first have to achieve Australian compliance to determine if it can be sold here.’’
This hinges largely on its weight rather than its lack of a fourth wheel.
In Australia such vehicles must ‘‘weigh 450kg and at the moment we have not received an official weight’’.
Something of a minor flood of new Morgans is on the way. The company’s local operation has resolved a three-year tussle with Australian design rules to once more allow the supply of the Classic Morgan range.
Van Wyk says existing orders, some dating from 2006, have now received priority in the Morgan production queue.
‘‘Seven cars will be produced for Australia before the end of this year, and due to the strength of the Australian dollar, prices have been cut by $20,000 compared with 2006.’’
The local line-up of Ford enginepowered Classic Morgans is: the Roadster Sport 3.0 V6 165kW at $132,910; Roadster 3.0 V6 165 kW ($122,900); Plus 4 2.0 Inline 4 106 kW ($89,910); and 4/4 Sport 1.6 Inline 4 82 kW ($78,500).
Though the $ 375,000 Aero SuperSports with its 4.8-litre BMW V8 remains the flagship, five local orders have been made for the SuperSport Junior, a $7260 2m pedal car for kids.
The 101-year-old carmaker this year will produce a record 800 cars at its Worcestershire factory.
The next new model, due in 2012, is the EvaGT four-seater coupe, powered by BMW’s 3.0-litre twin scroll turbo inline six.
Old is new again: the Morgan Threewheeler, first seen a century ago, will get a new lease of life.