Relive the Genesis of the Morgan V8 Sports Car With This 1968 Morgan Plus 8

Car Culture 1 March 7, 2018 by

Sadly Morgan is marking an end to an era with two special edition cars at the Geneva Motor Show. This is the last year we will see a V8 under the bonnet of any of the iconic British roadsters. To celebrate, in this week’s Want we’re taking a look at the genesis of the Plus 8 Roadster.

Starting in 1932 all Morgan models used various four pots to power them along. As a quintessential British roadster, this worked just fine. However, in 1968, Peter Morgan wanted more from his cars.

This is where the Plus 8 comes in.

To fit the newly acquired 3.5-liter Rover V8, Morgan set out to modify the Plus 4’s chassis in 1967. By the time the 1968 Earls Court Motor Show came around, Morgan was ready to show off its latest masterpiece.

With 160hp the new Plus 8 was incredibly quick for the time. It hit 60 mph in just 6.7 seconds and flat out would reach 120 mph. While today this isn’t terribly impressive, 50 years ago it was rocket ship territory.

Rather embarrassingly, this also beat out the premier British sports car of the day — the Jaguar E-Type. With a 0-60 time of over seven-seconds, the E-Type was no match for the roadster from Worcestershire. Other cars fell victim to its quickness as well. For the latter part of the 1960s and the start of the ’70s the Plus 8 was the fastest accelerating British car on the market.

The advantages of the Plus 8 didn’t stop there. The Plus 8 price was also significantly cheaper than the E-Type. At just £1,500 it beat out the rather expensive Jag’s price tag of £2,200.

However, unlike the Jaguar sports cars, the Plus 8 didn’t really advance with the times. The Plus 8 stayed roughly the same from 1968 through 2004. The only major revision coming in 1976 with a slight increase in dimensions to fit a new five-speed gearbox.

Once the Rover V8 stopped production in 2004, the Plus 8 also saw its demise — at least for a time. In 2012 though the Plus 8 came roaring back to life with a 4.8-liter BMW V8.

Unfortunately, now in 2018, we’re at the end of the Plus 8’s lifespan once again.

This example we found through Bonhams captures the essence of the original V8 car. Delivered new in 1969 to Half Moon Garage in Yorkshire, it is the 22nd Plus 8 made.

Over the years the car did see some wear and tear. But in the late 1970s it underwent a six-figure restoration by famed Morgan restorer Robert Couch.

This restoration made the Plus 8 a Concours-quality vehicle. Throughout its life, it’s won several prestigious awards from various Concours around the US, including the overall winner at the 1980 Chinetti Concours at Lime Rock.

Recently, the Plus 8 underwent some more changes to turn it into an FIA-compliant historic racer.

The biggest change by far is with the engine. While it still maintains a Rover V8 under the hood, it’s now a full-on race engine from J E Developments. With new internals and carb, it now produces 288hp and 275lbft of torque.

Other improvements help to keep the driver safe, including a roll bar and side impact bars. However, special care was taken to ensure no unnecessary modifications were done, preserving the essence of the Plus 8.

This pristine example will head to the auction block through Bonhams at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting on March 18. The current estimate puts the car at $80,000 – $100,000. This is a far cry more than the average value set by Hagerty at $40,000. But with all the modifications and Concours trophies, it’s more than worth it.

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