By on February 27, 2011

When I was a budding young copywriter in 1973, older, more settled advertising types smoked a pipe, had two basset hounds at home and came to the office in a British racing green, topless Morgan.  In wintertime, their lips were blue. Our generation was too drunk to even drive a car – even in the more lenient 70s. Now, Morgan, one of the last remaining true British carmakers, is going back to its roots: Three-wheelers.

Morgan’s first car was a three-wheeler, built in 1909. Morgan’s last three-wheeler was built in 1952. It remained popular because with three wheels, it was classified as a motor cycle, which had certain advantages. It avoided the steep post-war tax on cars and could be driven with a motorbike drivers license.

Now, the three-wheeler is coming back, reports Morgan’s hometown paper Worcester News. This coming Tuesday,  the new Morgan 3 Wheeler will be unveiled at the Geneva Auto Salon.

The paper assures us that “The 3 Wheeler is an updated version of the original, which was built in Malvern between 1909 and 1951. The new car retains the classic lines of the iconic original, but allies them to some of the most-up-to-date automotive technology, including a 1,917cc motorcycle engine by American manufacturer S and S, similar to those in the latest Harley-Davidsons, and the five-speed gearbox from the Mazda MX5. “

According to Charles Morgan, the car – if we can call it that – “weighs under 500kg, it can go 0-60 in 4.5 seconds and do 50mpg and because of the size of the fuel tanks, it’s got a range of 400 miles.” (Remember, he’s British, do your own adjustments.)

Production of the 3 Wheeler will start in May. 300 people have already put down deposits for the car, expected to cost about £30,000 ($ 48,000).  All Morgans are assembled by hand. The waiting list for a car is approximately one to two years. Take a number.

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18 Comments on “Morgan Goes Back To Its 3-Wheeled Roots...”

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Would those pass for motorcycles in the US?  Cuz it looks FUN, though I doubt I could fit in it..  I suppose if the Can-Am Spyder is sellable here…

  • avatar

    Interesting detail is that the illustration of the updated car is left hand drive…

  • avatar

    The engine is outside the car?

  • avatar

    That money buys a Caterham Club Sport — a lot more fun.

  • avatar

    Bertel, in the movie “Is Paris Burning” in the opening footage a few minutes in, you see a car going away from the camera down a street. My friend and I always thought it was a three-wheeler, but could never find anything out about what it was. Also, during my two TDY’s to Okinawa 40 years ago when I was in the USAF, I saw several three-wheeled vehicles, the most numerous were Isuzu trucks and a couple of small three-wheeled Mazdas, as I remember, but can’t find info on them, either. Are these familiar to you? As far as a three-wheeled “car” goes, they look inherently unstable in a turn. Are they?

  • avatar

    A product like this from Honda would be interesting and perhaps fitting.

  • avatar

    Or, you could buy the Ace Cycle Car built in Seattle for about the same money but without the wait. They’re built under license from Morgan and they’re considered motorcycles in many states. You may or may not have to wear a helmet and you may or may not be allowed to use HOV lanes. YMMV

    • 0 avatar

      The connection’s even closer than that.  Morgan’s new three-wheeler is essentially a modified Ace.  Morgan liked the Ace so much that they approached Ace about bringing the design in-house as a Morgan, with an agreement that Ace could also continue production, now “under license” from Morgan.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Good  for  Morgan. I enjoy  seeing  them  run in  the vintage races at Limerock.

  • avatar

    I’ve been in touch with the US distributor of Morgan cars about putting TTAC on their press fleet list.

  • avatar

    If I was going to make a three-wheeler with an exposed engine, why stop at a V-twin? Rotac makes radial engines for experimental aircraft, and JRL put one on a motorcycle (though it has only a single speed transmission).
    Wouldn’t this look cool on the front of your three-wheeler?

  • avatar
    Fred Applerot

    Inherently unstable in a turn? Surely not!

    • 0 avatar

      The single wheel on the Morgan is on the back.  The stability tradeoffs are quite different — it’s less likely to roll in a turn, but it might-could oversteer dramatically.

  • avatar

    Morgan has two front wheels and one in the back. Much more stable, but most likely gives incredible oversteer.

  • avatar

    400 miles without stopping in an open-top three-wheeler with that big engine buzzing in front of you the whole way would make for a long day.

    Oh, and here’s a wonderful Henry Manney article from Road & Track on Morgans:

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