A Morgan like no other
When you think of Morgans you think of ash-crafted cruisers, not fibreglass Mulsanne munchers.
This is the Morgan Plus 4 Plus SLR, a bit of a mouthful, but quite epic. But what is it all about? Well, the Plus 4 Plus was a move by Morgan to try and modernise their styling and bodywork, this resulted in them creating something that looked a little like an Aston Martin DB2. This new bodywork was honed in fibreglass and shed a lot of weight over the standard Plus 4, giving a new, lower kerb weight of 816 kilos. Coupled with the 110 horsepower from the Triumph 2.2 straight four, the car delivered a top speed of 115mph, an increase over the 111mph from the engine donor car, the Triumph TR4A.
Despite its additional sporting potential, the Plus was quite refined and shared a lot of its mechanicals with underpinning +4; notably in the suspension department. Upfront, there were sliding kingpins tilted 17 degrees from the vertical, an advance on the 1910 design. This set up was lubricated manually by grease and by engine oil released by a button under the clutch pedal. The ride came from a very firm coil spring set up and bottoming coils, effectively a second spring inside the mainspring to act as a bump stop, instead of the more conventional rubber pads. The rear had conventional leaf springs with a solid rear axle. During cornering, there was no perceptible body lean, even when pushing hard. Stopping power comes from disc brakes in front, drums in the rear, and a hard pedal pressure with no power assist. So a very engaging drive, aimed at the more enthusiastic driver. Only 26 of these high performing models were built. But then Morgan went a step further. Around that time, a club racer by the name of Neil Dangerfield, legendary name, wanted to go racing and racing hard with the Plus 4.
The Morgan Plus 4 Plus, odd name aside, it's quite nice looking.
Dangerfield had seen some club success racing TR3s and TR4s and was known for his cars driving to the racetrack, racing and driving back, notably when his preparer drove his TR4 to Monza. Dangerfield then put it second on the podium and then the prep guy drove it home. Looking to spice up his Triumphs he turned to two chaps, Chris Spender and Charlie Williams who crafted a slippery body for the cars out of aluminium. You can see where this is going now. These Triumphs would go on to be the prototype for the Morgan SLR.
TR4 SLR, the forebear to the Morgan SLR.
This lead to Sprinzel Lawrence Racing (SLR, makes sense now) slapping a sleeker still, aluminium body on the Plus 4 Pluses. So the recipe is; take one gentleman's tourer, apply a grunty Triumph engine, coat with a slippery body, add an ever slipperier body, go racing. The whole aim of the Plus Four Plus SLR (who names a car after an equation! Honestly! Technically it's just the Morgan SLR) was to have a car as sleek as possible to raise that top speed. And it worked! The SLR clocked a top speed somewhere above 130 miles per hour while hammering it down the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans. Records are sketchy on the number, and the speedo was only clocked to 130 and the needle kept going. To help reach those heady speeds it wasn't just a body kit that hit the Plus 4 Plus, some fettling happened with the engine; twin Weber carburation, modified heads and a new exhaust took the unit to over 150bhp. Stonking!
Only three of these SLR Morgans exist, and all three of them are still racing in the GT and Sports Car Cup circuit. An invitation-only racing series designed to showcase genuine Pre-66 GTs and Pre-63 Sports-Cars of a type that were raced in the World Endurance Championship in the period. Racing over a short calendar each year entrants span from all three SLR Morgans to Jaguar E-Type Lightweights, Ferrari 250 GT Berlinettas, Afla Romeo Giulia TZ2s, competition AC Cobras and more. I've been showcasing many of these entrants over on my Instagram after the 3rd leg of this year's season at Castle Combe for the Autumn Classic.
Number 29 giving a Corvette what for!
The weather at the Autumn Classic was dire! The second day was rained off it got so bad!
Do you want more of my obscure history lessons? What do you think of them? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to check out some of my other stories like the International Scout and this Mercury Comet.