Some may point to Rolls-Royce and Bentley as the embodiment of a quintessentially British motoring marque, but the niche-filling Morgan Motor Company is at least as worthy and has been around since 1910 – making it older than both. In fact, it is older than any other privately owned company in the UK.
From its quirky three-wheelers to the evergreen 4/4, Morgan’s car building techniques have always been focused on traditional construction methods and very periodic updates. Imagine the excitement then, when in 2000 it announced its first new design in 52 years.
The Aero 8 featured a number of Morgan firsts such as an aluminium chassis and BMW power unit, its looks were a fantastic mix of old and new. It was an undeniably handsome thing, if a little bit cross-eyed in Series 1 form.
It may have been a major leap forward for Morgan but the Aero 8 still made do without fussy electronic aids or digital dashboards. Instead it offered a highly customisable form of transport for the sports car enthusiast who craves something a little bit different.
Which Aero 8 to buy?
Aero 8 production can be divided up into five distinct phases, while outwardly most versions look broadly similar, a number of under-the-skin changes have been carried out over the years.
Series 1 cars were introduced in 2000 with a 286bhp 4.4-litre BMW V8, six-speed manual transmission a convertible body shell. Series 2 cars received a more spacious interior and had 325bhp, while more attractive forward-facing headlights were introduced in Series 3 cars. Series 4 cars received an updated 4.8-litre power plant and the option of an automatic transmission.
A limited edition Coupe bodied car, the Aeromax, was introduced in 2008 with a Targa SuperSports model arriving the following year. Mechanically they featured the Series 4 updates and were discontinued in 2015.
The latest Series 5 Aero 8 arrived the same year and this is the model that is still on sale today. The most noticeable difference on this version is the much improved rear-end styling, the chassis, roof and interior is totally new too.
The detail improvements across the various Series’ make the latter cars more polished but the experience in any Aero 8 is similar. A large choice of colours and interior trim finishes mean that no Aero 8 is alike and air-conditioning, an infotainment system and cruise-control add a touch of modernity.
One notable optional extra that is worth looking for is the Performance Pack 1 which among some minor changes features a side exit exhaust system immersing you in a wall of V8 sound. If this sort of car is your thing, then any model should do just fine.
Performance and specs
||4398cc 32 valve DOHC V8
||286bhp @ 5500rpm
||317lb ft @ 3700rpm
Dimensions and weight
• The Aero 8 has proved to be a largely reliable and fuss-free car. Starter-motors can play up, power-steering pumps may sound whiny when cold but there are few major issues to contend with.
• Series 1 cars can suffer from drivetrain shunt which was rectified in post-2004 Series 2 models although owners still complain of some roughness during gear changes.
• The BMW V8 engines, whether the earlier 4.4-litre units or the later 4.8-litre ones are predictably reliable. Minor oil leaks from perished seals can occur but are not a big job to rectify generally.
• An initial 1000 mile running-in service should have been carried out on all cars and the annual 10,000 mile service must be followed to avoid potential issues.
• Series 1 cars can suffer from cracked alloys and all models tend to wear out their bearings and lower ball-joints with regularity.
• Build quality is decent but interiors can get scruffy quickly if not cared for. Check for signs of water ingress around the window seals and make sure that the side windows are functioning correctly as these are known weak points.
2000: Morgan Aero 8 Series 1 launched as a two-seater convertible. 286bhp 4.4-litre BMW V8 and six-speed manual transmission sole drivetrain and transmission options.
2004: Series 2 Aero 8 introduced with increased interior dimensions. Updated 4.4-litre power unit with 325bhp replaces introduced.
2006: Series 3 Aero 8 introduced. Squinty front headlights replaced with a more traditional setup .
2008: Series 4 Aero 8 introduced. 367bhp 4.8-litre BMW V8 replaces older unit. Automatic transmission becomes an option. Coupe version called the Aeromax built in a limited 100 car run.
2009: Targa-roofed derivative called the Aero SuperSports introduced.
2011: Morgan Aero Coupe introduced.
2015: Aero SuperSports and Aeromax cease production. Series 5 Aero 8 introduced featuring revised rear-end styling and new suspension and interior.
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.aero8register.weebly.com – Morgan Aero 8 register
• www.talkmorgan.com – Aero 8 global forum
• www.morgansportscarclub.com – Morgan car club site
• www.morgan-motor.co.uk – Manufacturer’s website
Summary and prices
Thanks to the evolutionary nature of the Aero 8’s development, as well as low production numbers, values for these cars have not dipped hugely. Mileages are usually low, and most cars have been cherished by their owners. Series 1 models start at £40,000 with prices ranging up to around £65,00 for Series 4 cars.
New prices start at £ 81,000 but optional extras can soon push this figure much closer to the £ 100,000 mark and you will see asking prices vary wildly. The now discontinued Aero SuperSports and Aeromax models were up to £128,000 when new and delivery mileage examples still command similar figures today. Availability is limited but there are always a few Aero 8s for sale so don’t hurry the process and get one you are happy with.
Defying direct comparisons thanks to its unique driving experience, the Aero 8 continues to offer the lucky few the opportunity to delve into the Morgan mystique with virtually none of the drawbacks you would expect of a limited production, hand-built machine.