Morgan Aero 8
The Aero 8 was Morgan's first radical new design since the ill-fated Plus Four Plus of 1963. Powered by a 4.4
litre BMW V8 producing 283 bhp at 5500 rpm it has a top restricted speed of around 160 mph. With a six-speed Getrag gearbox, magnesium alloy wheels shod with foam fill run flat tyres complete with pressure
sensors, air conditioning and electric windows it does not quite conform to the comments passed about the first Plus 8
A Major Milestone
That Morgan does not launch new models very often is a bit of an understatement. Updating an existing
model, frequently with an altogether different engine, is much more the Morgan Motor Company's style than a steady flow of brand new cars.
There was a radical change of direction for the company back in 1935, of course, when it took the daring step of introducing a car with four wheels instead of three. Other milestones included the Morgan Plus 4 of
1950 and the glass fibre, coupι-bodied Plus 4 Plus which emerged in 1963. This latter car was a modern concept for its day but under the skin - was just like previous models. There was also the Plus 8 of 1968,
initially with a 3.5-litre Rover V8.
All in all, the Morgan ethos of development, rather than complete redesign, seems to suit the marque's large
band of devotees rather well. They do not want a thoroughly modern-looking motor car
which made the launch of the Morgan Aero 8 in 2001 something of a challenge. If the Aero 8 was to be an all-new car, the
small, British manufacturer had to come up with a fresh, modern design which still retained the essential Morgan character: it could not be a bland, run-of-the-mill sports car. When the Aero 8 arrived, it was
certainly not bland. It hit us all smack in the face.
Courageously designed, with those huge front wings and cross-eyed headlights, the Aero 8 is not a car you
can ignore. You can't fail, in fact, to have an opinion about its controversial looks. Its appearance, as it happens, is quite different in the flesh from its 2-dimensional image in the media. More than most, it is a car
which has to be seen to be appreciated.
As to performance, the Aero 8 is certainly quick. Mated to a 6-speed Getrag gearbox, the BMW V8 offers
286bhp at 5,400rpm meaning the Aero 8 reaches 60mph in under 5 seconds. The handling, meanwhile, is a vast improvement on earlier Morgans with a more comfortable ride and plenty of grip. Despite an
outstandingly stiff chassis, however, the Aero 8 is not a taut, modern, sports car. With an impressively flat torque curve the power is available at low revs, and the car performs best as a fast, large-engined
sophisticate with plenty of old world charm.
At the British Motor Show last month, Morgan was keen to lay two "myths" to rest. First that the cars "are
made of wood" and, secondly, that "you have to wait years to get one". A traditional ash sub-frame still forms part of the car, but in the Aero 8 it is married to an advanced, ultra-stiff, aluminium chassis.
Meanwhile, the notorious waiting times for a new Morgan are now down to a mere 12 months
The Aero 8, including that super-stiff chassis, evolved from a racing prototype, which Classic Driver
contributor Tony Dron raced at at Sebring's FIA GT round in October 1997. According to Dron, "the Morgan was a pleasure to drive. Although that racer and the new Aero 8 are clearly Morgans in their styling, the
driving experience is totally different from, say, the traditional Plus 8 with its flexible chassis. Charles Morgan knew that he would need a new road-going chassis to cope with the engines of the future and that's why he
embarked on the racing programme. Once he was satisfied that he had a brilliant, strong chassis, the next decision was simple: halt the works team and hand the racing over to selected indivual teams.
"Driving the Aero 8, I can feel the legacy of the race car. The shape of the road-going version is a little different and, thanks to very detailed aerodynamic work, it actually has 40 per cent less drag than the racer
we drove at Sebring. In the racer we had a 6.3-litre Chevy engine but the road car's 4.4-litre BMW V8 is just magnificent for that purpose."
The typical Aero 8 owner would seem to be one with an appreciation of both modern and classic machinery and in general owners show huge enthusiasm for this latter-day Morgan. As to whether you want one, it
is going to depend largely on your feelings about the Aero 8's chubby cheeks and cross-eyed looks. It's so eccentrically styled that, for many, the performance is almost secondary.
Dimensions Length : 4120mm/13'2"
Width : 1770mm/4'11"
Height : 1200mm/4'4" (approx)
Chassis 1Atra stifr CAD designed aluminium alloy monocoque tub specially treated and bonded with Gurrit Essex Cement and riveted with Bulhof rivets
Colours Royal Ivory, Corsa Red, Indigo Blue, Black and Connaught Green. Any single or two-tone combination from the ICI Autocolour range is available as an option
Weight Kerb weight, kg (actual dependent on spec.) : 1000
Ground clearance (average) (driver and passenger) : 150mm/6"
Max. total weight including passengers and luggage, kg : 1300
Fuel Fuel Tank Volume litres/gallons : 54.5/12
Fuel Consumption : mpg 1/100km
Urban 15.4 18.4
Extra Urban 31.7 8.9
Combined 22.8 12.4
Wheels 5 spoke 18" OZ magnesium alloy wheels with 9" rims and peg drive centre lock hubs
Steering Turning circle ft/m : 32/10
Turns lock to lock : 3 rack and pinion
Steering column : [collapseable] safety top section with combined steering lock
Transmission Mph/1000 rpm (top kph) 28.44 (45.76)
Final drive BTR Limited
1st gear 4.227:1
2nd gear 2.506:1
3rd gear 1.669:1
4th gear 1.226:1
5th gear 1:1
6th gear .828:1
Suspension Front : Independent - Long transverse Eibach coil springs over Koni shock absorbers.
Rear : Independent long transverse wishbones with cantilever mounted, fully floating inboard Eibach coil springs over Koni shock absorbers.
Toe in : 0-3 mm or 0-30
Anti roll bars : None
Linkages : Rose Jointed suspension
Lubrication : 7 Lubrication points
Engine Configuration : v8
Valve mechanism : 4 cam 32 valve 'Vanos' variable intake timing
Bore x stroke, cc : 82.7 x 92
Engine capacity, cc : 4398
Max output EEC, kw/hp/rpm : 210/286/5400
Max torque EEC, Nm/hp/rrpm : 440/3600
Max torque EEC,lb ft/hp/rppm : 324/3600
Power to weight ratio hp/tonne : 286
Torque to weight ratio, lb ft/tonne : 322
Fuel System : Bosch fuel injection with full engine management
Exhaust system : Stainless steel
Compression ratio : 10.0:1
Brakes Type : AP Racing to Morgan specification
Front : 330mm diam cast iron ventilated
Rear : 306mm diam cast iron ventilated
Callipers front : 4 pot alloy
Callipers rear : 2 pot alloy
Drag co-efficient : 0.39
Operation : Hydraulic, dual circuit with vacum servo assistance
Handbrake : Sports "Fly-off" type
America gives Aero 8 star reception
70 orders confirmed at LA Autoshow
Los Angeles, Jan 05 2004. Legendary British sports car manufacturer the Morgan Motor Company reports a hot response to the launch of its new, American specification Aero 8 at the LA Autoshow.
Doors opened to visitors on Jan 2nd, and the stunning Aero 8 quickly established its 'star' status at the show
big crowds and a constant stream of camera flashlights around the Morgan booth giving the 160 mph star performer a real Hollywood reception. Appropriately, Morgan is no stranger to the world of film its cars have
featured in many top movies, with the latest being a star role in the new Gerard Depardieu movie, San Antonio.
Commenting on the show so far, Sales and Marketing Director Matthew Parkin said:
"The reaction has been really fantastic everyone loves the car's new look and original features, and above
all the way it stands out from the crowd. We've taken around 70 orders for 2004 build already and there are only a total of 100 available for the USA next year."
As well as the hand built, 325 bhp Aero 8 road car, the Morgan booth features a race-going version, kindly loaned by Tom Hollfelder of Tiger Racing, LA.. This car will compete in Fox TV's 2004 Speed World
Championship demonstrating the famous marque's unique racing pedigree and on-going involvement in one of the most exciting arenas of motorsport.
The LA Autoshow runs until January 11th. American fans of driving individualism will have another chance to catch the Aero 8 in April, when the Morgan show calls in at the New York Motor Show.