Used buy­ing guide Mor­gan Aero 8, start­ing at £20k

First unwrapped in 2000, the Aero 8 was a mod­ern(ish) take on Mor­gan’s tried-andtested olde-worlde for­mula. As Felix Page shows, pris­tine ex­am­ples can still be found

Autocar - - THIS WEEK -

For all that the new Plus Six does to take Mor­gan be­lat­edly into the 21st cen­tury, with its allinde­pen­dent sus­pen­sion, lightweigh­t alu­minium chas­sis and punchy tur­bocharged straight six, it doesn’t ex­actly ad­vance the Malvern brand’s de­sign lan­guage be­yond, say, 1964.

That’s part of Mor­gan’s charm, of course, and its stead­fast com­mit­ment to tra­di­tion­al­ism is an in­te­gral com­po­nent in its quiet but sus­tained suc­cess. So when the cross-eyed Aero 8 was unwrapped at the 2000 Geneva mo­tor show, all bets were off.

Here was a gen­uine, up-to­date sports car, with a BMW V8 giv­ing it a com­pet­i­tive 4.8sec 0-62mph time and prom­ises of en­gag­ing dy­nam­ics, cour­tesy of new in­board shock ab­sorbers, dou­ble-wish­bone sus­pen­sion and AP Rac­ing per­for­mance brakes. The moderni­sa­tion didn’t stop there, ei­ther: niceties in­clud­ing air con­di­tion­ing, cruise con­trol and a heated wind­screen placed the Aero 8 in an­other realm en­tirely to the brand’s ex­ist­ing mod­els. Mor­gan be­ing Mor­gan, of course, it was all still as­sem­bled around an ash wood frame, and the asym­met­ri­cal metal dash­board would look equally at home in the cock­pit of a 1960s air­liner. If it ain’t broke…

Just over 200 ex­am­ples of this first-gen­er­a­tion car were pro­duced be­tween 2000 and 2004, and they still pop up in the clas­si­fieds pe­ri­od­i­cally. Its Se­ries 2 suc­ces­sor, sub­tly restyled to com­ply with US safety stan­dards and al­low for a roomier cabin, packed a hefty power up­grade but was built for only a year in lim­ited num­bers, so most have been re­tired to pri­vate col­lec­tions.

The clos­est the Aero 8 came to re­ceiv­ing what you might call a facelift was in 2005, when the Se­ries 3 was launched with Mini head­lights in place of the pre­vi­ous New Bee­tle items, giv­ing it a more con­ven­tion­ally styled vis­age with­out com­pro­mis­ing on its retro ap­peal.

Me­chan­i­cals were left largely un­touched un­til the road­ster en­tered its fi­nal form in 2007 with 362bhp from a 4.8-litre V8 that BMW kindly con­tin­ued pro­duc­ing on a lim­ited ba­sis for Mor­gan after re­tir­ing it from its own line-up. An au­to­matic gear­box was also made avail­able for the first time, featuring an op­tional Sport mode and of­fer­ing im­proved straight-line per­for­mance over the six-speed man­ual unit.

Later vari­ants in­clude the ul­tra­ex­clu­sive, boat-tailed Aero­max coupé and its Targa-topped Su­per­sports sib­ling, the tra­di­tion­ally styled Plus 8 and, more re­cently, the Se­ries 5 – a re­vived, sub­tly up­dated ver­sion of the Aero 8, pro­duced from 2016 to 2018.

Hap­pily, be­cause im­prove­ments and tweaks made to the su­per­car over its 18-year life cy­cle were so sub­tle, choos­ing which ver­sion to go for is sim­ply a mat­ter of de­cid­ing your bud­get: prices for early cars be­gin at £40,000 (plus ship­ping costs if you opt to im­port), but you can ex­pect to pay above £120,000 for low-mileage Se­ries 5 cars and spe­cial edi­tions.

❝ The road­ster en­tered its fi­nal form in 2007 with 362bhp from a 4.8-litre V8 ❞

The lim­it­e­drun Aero­max coupé took styling cues from vin­tage Bu­gat­tis and rear lights from the less glam­orous Lan­cia The­sis sa­loon.

Aero bowed out in 2018 with the lim­ited-run GT, priced from £144,000

Later cars got 362bhp from a 4.8-litre BMW V8

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