Morgan +4 | Window Shopper

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Classic Motorsports.]

The Morgan +4 is for the minimalists, traditionalists and purists out there, the ones who like their sports cars unencumbered by 16-speaker sound systems, climate-controlled seats and roll-up windows. 

What’s the best thing about owning a +4? “Driving it on a warm, sunny day,” says Larry Eckler. “If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, then nothing will.” He and his wife, Linda, own Morgan Motors of New England as well as Morgan Spares. The two outfits sell new and preowned Morgans, along with parts and accessories for the cars.

Another ownership perk, Larry adds, is the +4’s infinitely approachable demeanor. “You don’t get that ‘You rich bastard’ look. Instead it’s like, ‘Hey, mister, nice old car.’ It brings a smile to everyone.”

Perhaps it conjures up so many grins because it’s one of the original sports cars. When Morgan introduced it in 1950, it was basically an updated take on the prewar 4/4, the manufacturer’s first four-wheeled car. Both machines sported a wooden body frame, tacked-on fenders and flowing running boards, but the +4 added a bit more oomph and interior space to the 4/4’s basic minimalist formula. 

While the Standard Vanguard propelled the first +4 cars, Triumph TR2 engines took over from 1953 to 1962. After that, the updated Triumph TR4 provided power until the end of the model run in 1969.

Well, 1969 wasn’t exactly the end of the +4; it was more like the beginning of a temporary hiatus. After all, once the Morgan Motor Company has a good idea, they tend to stick with it. The model returned in 1985, this time with Fiat and then Rover power, and survived through the end of the millennium. 

Modern times couldn’t keep the +4 away, though, as Morgan brought it back for 2005. It’s still part of the lineup today, only now an inline-four Ford resides under the hood. Note that not all of those post-Space Shuttle +4s were officially imported to the U.S. by Morgan.

The late ’50s through the ’60s is the one everyone thinks of,” Larry explains. What about the four-seat variants? “Fifteen years ago you couldn’t give them away, but now people want to take their grandkids along for the ride.”

Shopping Advice

Larry Eckler, co-owner of Morgan Motors of New England and Morgan Spares, offers some practical Morgan +4 advice. 

If you get a weird color combination, then you gotta find the other guy who likes that color combination if you want to sell. It’s not a cheap car to paint due to all of the seams. To properly paint a Morgan, you need to take it all apart. Green with tan, everybody wants that. Hopefully you like the color when you buy it.

The wood will kind of take a set, and then the bolts will be on their way to being loose. Tightening them makes the car feel better.

I have never seen a car break in half, but I have seen some come close. If a car is constantly left out in the weather, the wood goes away quickly. How the wood ages is really determined by how the car is cared for. With any car from the mid-’80s or later, wood rot is less of a concern. 

If a car’s rotten, there will be rust in the footwells. Look for bubbles in the bottoms of the doors and the bottoms of the rear quarter panels in front of the rear fenders.

We stock almost everything for the car, including all kinds of wood; we can even get a whole new body assembly. The things that you can’t get can usually be rebuilt. You can always rebuild a car.

Adding a couple of fuses into the wiring can be helpful. Adding a fuse to the headlight circuit can save you a lot of grief. An inline fuse works fine, so a $5 fix can save your harness. It takes at least 12 hours to put in a new harness–if the car didn’t catch on fire. 

The +4 is a Triumph underneath, so you can easily install things like electronic ignitions and gear-reduction starters. Greasing is important.

We do a lot of upgrades that make the car more user-friendly, like alloy radiators and better fans.

Clubs are awesome. Morgan clubs tend to attract really down-to-earth people.

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tom austin
tom austin None
11/30/18 2:16 p.m.

Lovely cars. Lovely people.


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