The Morgan Plus 4 110 Works Edition is not perfect – that’s why it's brilliant
Alex Goy is a freelance motoring journalist who writes for the likes of Motor1, Carfection, CNET and DriveTribe.
Nothing can ever be truly perfect. No matter where you are, what situation you’re in, how much money you have, there’ll always be something slightly off. Once you’ve realised that life’s imperfections are what make it, the sooner you’ll be able to appreciate them. A slightly wonky picture, an upside-down book on a shelf, a mis-aligned sticker on an Airfix kit… they create personality and feel. Everything in a perfectly uniform row may look smart, but it’s a sign that said row is never touched.
It’s much the same with hand built cars. If every stitch is perfect, everything perfectly lined up, and all perfectly perfect, then why have hands build them in first place? Leave it to a robot and be done with it. There’s always something wrong somewhere, even if you have to look for it.
Morgan has been building its cars by hand for over a century. Its factory is a flurry of activity from open to close. There’s a 3D printer, but that doesn’t make things that go on cars. There are exacting standards, of course, and they’re always met. It’s just that when a whole car comes together the result feels hand made.
The Plus 4 110 Works Edition is the firm’s latest special edition take on its evergreen Plus 4, a car that’s been in production (with some gaps) since 1950. Built to celebrate the firm’s 110th year, it’s a collaboration between all of its departments. Both of the available colourways (green and silver) come with a satin finish bonnet and rear, the interior and exterior come with 110 badging, its 2.0-litre Ford motor has been breathed on to produce 180bhp, you get an air ram in the bonnet, and some jazzy race inspired wheels. It looks pretty cool. And you would hope so for £65,000.
It’s small, and because its steering wheel is quite large, hard to get in to whether its fabric roof is up or down. There’s little by way of infotainment to get to grips with once your arse is neatly nestled in its comfy seats – the focus here is on driving like it’s 1953.
Twist its key (how very twee) and the four pot burbles into life. AR Motorsports has tweaked the motor and exhaust, making the motor sound pleasingly lumpy. Thanks to a Mazda-sourced five-speed manual, it’s easy to find first and get on your way.
The throttle response is instant, and every prod creates a wonderful farty burble form the rear end. It’s light – 927kgs dry – so progress is fairly brisk. Morgan reckons 0-62mph takes 7.5 seconds and you’ll crack on to 118mph with enough space. Not fast, but quick enough.
Its ride is pretty harsh. You’ll find yourself jarred quite easily by rough roads, even small bumps upset it. If that isn’t quite enough, it also reveals any squeaks and rattles in the cabin. It’s hand built, so there are a few.
Narrow gaps aren’t a problem for it, because it’s about the size of a shoe. Though rear visibility can be a bit tricky with the hood up. Luckily, as you’re sat pretty much on the rear wheel you just have to stick your face out the window to see where the rear wheel is. That said, the rear is a steep, long shelf so reversing needs to be done with caution. Seeing out the front is easy, as you can use the front wheel arches as a guide to where it is.
At idle its engine sounds lumpy, but at speed… hoo boy it’s fun. It farts and pops its way along. Its steering, not offering stellar amounts of feedback, is heavy and direct. You heft the car from corner to corner, bouncing along as you go. It is the definition of old school. And it’s grin-inducing. The power is useable, the car feels planted. You never get the impression that it’ll step out on you, but instead that with careful driving you can go faster and faster around each bend.
With the roof down, the noise and the short distance between your anus and the floor means any speed feels like a 1,000,000mph. It simply begs to be driven. The gearbox, smooth gearshift, and rev-happy motor are an addictive combo. Its ride my be tough around town, but on the right country road it’s bang on.
No screens to distract you, no modern frippery in the way, it’s as pure a driving experience as you can get before jumping in to an old racer and heading out for laps at the Goodwood Revival.
The noises, bumps, lumps, and… imperfections add up to make a beguiling experience. You’d go faster in an MX-5, be more comfortable in a Boxster, but then you’d be just like everyone else.
Is it a daily? For most, probably not. Is it the most accomplished Morgan in the line up? No, that’s the Plus Six. But it’s the four-wheeled Morgan I’d go for.
The Morgan Plus 4 110 Works Edition is not a perfect car. Far from it. But that’s what makes it brilliant.