‘My grandpa was a brilliant bloke,’ asserted Charles Morgan. ‘He really knew what he was doing with the 3 wheeler and the concept is still valid today.’ It would be easy to scoff at this statement following the 3 Wheeler's launch. Call it sentimental nonsense to suggest that a car conceived a century ago could be relevant today. And yet, and yet...
When Morgan unveiled its new 3 Wheeler at the Geneva motor show in 2011, the crowd really did go mad. Here was a car with character and charm, speed and excitement. And it promised fun, that so-often missing ingredient in the world of modern machinery. We loved its cheeky styling, the over-the-top graphics options, the fighter plane ambience, and so did plenty of others, and Morgan has been struggling to keep up with demand ever since.
But where did it all start? Wanting to build a bespoke car for his own use, company founder Henry Morgan created the first prototype of his iconic Runabout as far back as 1909. This was the first of Morgan’s 3 wheeler designs, which would eventually sprout a long line of quirky designs.
The V-Twin 3 wheelers that spawned from the original Runabout went into production in 1911, starting the trend of extremely long production runs the last machine rolled off the production line in 1939.
The next 3 wheeler was the F-Series. Introduced in 1933 it featured a new pressed steel chassis and Ford 4 cylinder engine, and this model was produced until 1952. From then on the traditional 4/4, +4, +8 style cars and latterly the Aero 8 carried the Morgan flag, until in 2011 – 100 years after the initial V-Twin made its debut – the Morgan 3 Wheeler was launched.
Which Morgan 3 Wheeler to buy?
Although there is only one model, there have been a number of running changes made to the cars to address various issues. If you are looking at one of the earlier 2011-2013 models, then make sure that the most important changes have been retrofitted to your car. One of the main revisions carried out in the beginning of 2014 was the modification of the steering geometry to cure bump steer issues. The modifications can be retrofitted in the form of an extra cost ‘Comfort Pack’. Another useful modification is the ‘Urban Cooling Pack’, which helps to keep the engine operating at the correct temperature in heavy traffic conditions.
There are a lot of customisation options and graphics packs available to you, which means that there are some unusual cars out there. Cars could be bought with a photo build book, bonnet straps and pin up girl graphics, showing just how customisable and unique your 3 Wheeler can be. This does often mean that you will be stuck with the previous owners choice of customisations, although Morgan will carry out modifications at the factory if you really don’t like the current spec.
Special editions such as the Gulf, Superdry and Brooklands models have been produced in limited numbers and these usually command a premium over the standard cars. The only differences between these and the normal models are bespoke trim and paint options, as the underpinnings remain the same throughout.
The car is powered by the S&S-sourced 2.0-litre V-Twin and Mazda MX-5 gearbox, adding unique character and reliability to the package.
Although it has yet to be launched to the public, Morgan has confirmed that it will build an electric version of the 3 Wheeler called the EV3. Based around the same architecture as the regular car, it will feature a small 20kWh battery – designed to keep the weight low – along with a 62bhp electric motor. Weight stays around the 500kg mark, with range expected to be around 150 miles. It’s the company’s first electric car, and is expected to cost around the same as the petrol version.
Performance and specs
Engine 1983cc ohv V-Twin
Power 80bhp @ 5250rpm
Torque 103lb ft @ 3250rpm
Top speed 115mph
0-62mph 6.0 seconds
Fuel consumption 30mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Dimensions and weight
• There have been complaints about chassis flexing and a small number of cases where the actual chassis rails have cracked. 2014MY and on cars have strengthened chassis so if your car is one of the earlier ones, get it checked over.
• The Mazda MX-5 spec gearbox is robust and relatively unstressed in this application so there is not much to worry about in this department
• Early cars suffered from bad bump steer problems, although updates in 2014 cured this problem. These can be retrofitted to older cars at a price.
• Some complaints of overheating in the early cars prompted Morgan to introduce an Urban cooling pack, this can be retrofitted to cars manufactured prior to 2014.
• The S&S V-Twin engine is a low stressed unit and no weak points have been noted in this design as of yet. The only complaints have been the tendency to overheat when left to idle for long periods, and a fix for this has been carried out as mentioned above.
• Parts availability is excellent as the cars are still in production.
2011: After a break of 63 years, production of the new Morgan 3 Wheeler commences, with a long list of customisations available to customers
2012: 100 Gulf edition models built, with unique Gulf-liveried body panels
2013: Brooklands special edition with a limited run of 50 cars introduced
2014: Steering geometry revised to alleviate bump steer, which is also available as aftermarket ‘comfort pack’. Upgraded chassis introduced for improved handling and rigidity, and Urban cooling pack introduced to improve air flow to engine in urban driving conditions. Centre drive unit updated for smoother power delivery, with added sound deadening for bevel box to lower transmission noise. Warranty extended for all new cars
2015: Limited production run of 200 special edition Superdry models introduced
2016: Morgan unveils pre-production EV3 electric model.
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.morgan3wheeler.co.uk – Official website for the Morgan 3 Wheeler
• www.morgan-motor.co.uk – Morgan’s official website
• www.mscc.uk.com – Morgan Sports Car Club, based in the UK
• www.mtwc.co.uk – Morgan Three Wheeler Club
• morganownersclub.co.uk – Morgan Owners Club, and forum
Summary and prices
You’d have to be a very dedicated fan to use the 3 Wheeler as a daily driver, but the lack of creature comforts really adds to the sense of occasion. The seats are surprisingly comfortable, although getting in can be a struggle. Realistically, this car is an unashamed weekend toy, with all the compromises that that moniker brings. During a time when manufacturers are trying to produce cars that are all things to all buyers, the 3 Wheeler is the sort of single minded, hedonistic grin inducer that is in very short supply.
You have the option of buying a new or a nearly new car. A standard model starts at £25,950 before VAT and a long list of options which can add quite a few pounds to the final price. Morgan are also currently selling 200 limited edition Superdry cars, which have some unique styling and trim options in addition to what is available for the standard versions. These start at £28,333.
If you are in the market for a second hand one, then you will struggle to find much for less than £25,000. Some special edition models even sell for more than they did when new. Mileages on most cars rarely clock up more than 2000 miles and they are generally in top condition, having spent most of their lives waiting for a warm weekend. This bodes well for future values holding up well for the next few years.
This Morgan does not try to be the fastest or best handling vehicle on sale, instead it delivers on that elusive driving pleasure that eludes even some of the most expensive super cars out there. For a blast from the past, with a mix of modern day underpinnings and reliability, look no further than the Morgan 3 wheeler.