When Morgan first introduced the simple steel ladder frame 83 years ago on the 4/4 and other models in the firm’s four wheeled range, the British sports car maker had no idea that these humble underpinnings would not only last so long, but also help build and cement the unique history and identity that has come to define countless Morgan Motor Company products. But following a recent shakeup in Morgan’s management structure, the company has revealed that it is ending production of this iconic underpinning next year in order to accelerate the introduction of its next generation CX platform.
This means that the current generation 4/4, Plus 4, and even the Roadster model will all end production, with the trio being the last representatives of the old way. The new CX platform was introduced on the Plus Six earlier this year, and Morgan plans to replace all three models with “a range of models” that will make varied use of the new CX architecture. For those that need a refresher, the CX platform’s claim to fame is in some of the lightweight construction techniques used, with more aluminum as well as bonded surfaces making up a good portion of its layout. This allows CX to not only be much lighter than the old ladder frame, but it also allows Morgan to add more advanced technologies to models that are bestowed with this particular layout.
“We recognize a need for a more resolved core product that meets both our customers’ needs and future legislative requirements,” said Morgan CEO Steve Morris. “The advanced engineering of the new platform is a vital underpinning for the next generation of Morgan sports cars.”
This switch in chassis technology is part of a broader suite of changes that followed the purchase of Morgan by the Italian private equity firm Investindustrial which is also a major stakeholder in fellow British car manufacturer Aston Martin. In the case of Morgan though, the company’s founding family still have a minority stake in the company, though it is not as influential as it once was prior to the purchase by Investindustrial. In addition to the expanded use of the new platform, Morgan is also opening an all new engineering and development center (dubbed M-DEC) on anew site that is not too far away from the firm’s Pickersleigh Road facilities.
“We need space to work on new projects,” said chief designer Jon Wells. “It has to be away from the suppliers and visitors who visit us nearly every day,” added Morris. “So we’ve made it close, but separate.”
For the moment, Morgan is keeping a very tight veil of secrecy on what it exactly has planned for its new models, though they will most likely maintain the classic look that has defined many Morgan models based on past newer models that the firm has developed over the years especially the Aero as well as the Plus Six. Look for more information to be revealed next March at the Geneva Motor Show with Morgan traditionally making an appearance every year at the event. What is known is that one of them will be an offering that would slot below the £77,995 Plus Six. It would be powered by a four cylinder engine, and while the supplier is still unknown, we suspect that Morgan could either continue its long running association with Ford, or expand its connection with BMW and possibly use the German firm’s 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine. Transmission choices are also unknown at this stage of the game, but with the Plus 4 and the 4/4 retaining a manual only layout during their time in production, we suspect that the new model will follow suit.
Fans of the outgoing ladder chassis will still have some time to revel in its charms, with Morgan revealing that it is not immediately abandoning the layout, with next year marking the 70th anniversary of the Plus 4. While U.S. regulations limit Morgan sales here to the 3-Wheeler and modified versions of the Plus 4 and the Roadster, the Plus 4 in its true form is the company’s biggest seller in Europe. Accordingly, Morgan is reportedly planning a limited production special edition of the Plus 4 to help celebrate this key milestone.
“We’ll take the opportunity to mark the significance of the outgoing traditional steel chassis and its contribution to the marque,” said Morris. “It has been an integral part of the Morgan story and we look forward to celebrating its significance during the year.”
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.