Psst: Want to Buy a Morgan 3 Wheeler?

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
psst want to buy a morgan 3 wheeler

Is it possible to be a car enthusiast and not have at least a little bit of affection for Morgan? Call them anachronistic or replicas of themselves, but I don’t think you can like cars and not at least smile a little bit when you see a Morgan. If the Morgan in question has less than four wheels, that smile likely becomes a wide grin. Maybe it’s the influence of steampunks or hipsters, two subcultures that profess a love for old tech as they search for authenticity (or status markers), or maybe it’s because everyone who drives one says that it’s more enjoyable than most things that don’t require nudity, but Morgan has put their three-wheeler back into production. As you would expect with hand built cars, Morgans are always in short supply. They have waiting lists and the 3 Wheeler is only now arriving at Morgan dealers, but if you act quickly you might be able to have one in your driveway before your neighbor gets his Toyobaru Hachi Roku, and from the looks of it, unlike the FR-S/BRZ there are no concerns about ADM.

As if the 3 Wheeler did not draw enough attention when driven, you can order it with a variety of fighter plane inspired graphics, though, thankfully, this one doesn’t have the offered fake bullet holes.

Technically speaking, they haven’t put the vintage Morgan three wheeler back into production. The new Morgan 3 Wheeler (that’s apparently the official nomenclature) is not exactly based on the vintage products that left Morgan’s Malvern works. Actually it’s based on a modern tube frame design by Ace Cycle Car of Seattle, which had been making three wheeler replicas under license from Morgan. Ace was so successful that Morgan bought them out and moved production to the UK, where the three wheeler is currently assembled, using Morgan’s traditional hand-formed bodywork that hangs metal panels on an ash wood frame. Contrary to automotive urban legend, Morgans have always been made with a chassis made of steel, it’s their bodies that have wood framing, like cars did before the Budd body company developed the all-steel car body almost a hundred years ago (I believe that Dodge Brothers introduced the first all-steel bodies and it was Hudson’s Essex brand that later introduced the first fully enclosed all steel bodies).

Instead of the JA Prestwich or Matchless engines fitted to vintage 3 Wheelers, the new 3 Wheeler has an 1800cc S&S V-twin more commonly found in custom Harley Davidsons and as with many modern Harleys it has a belt drive to the single back wheel. In between is a 5-speed transmission sourced from Mazda’s Miata MX-5. Quaife Engineering supplies a custom rack & pinion unit for the steering and the bevel drive that connects the inline driveshaft with the belt drive. Based on the local Morgan dealer’s first demo unit, fit and finish appears to be very good, even if those of the hand beaten body panels that are intended to be removable seem a bit fiddly. Though there’s a nicely upholstered console sitting over that transmission, you’d better be on very good terms with any passengers. The cockpit is cozy, very cozy. Degree of difficulty for ingress and egress might exceed that of even the Lotus Elise, and if you’re used to driving Vipers and Cobras you might know how to avoid burns from the exposed exhaust system.

Under the skin, the new Morgan 3 Wheeler is actually quite modern, well, except for those kingpins.

Not available: cupholders, radio, or air conditioning. Why should they offer A/C when you can’t get a heater? The navigation system is a map, well, if you can find someplace to stash it, since there isn’t a glove box or, apparently, any other interior storage. The S&S motor is air-cooled, so that chrome radiator shell is a prop and under the front cowling there is some minimal storage. You might look into installing a continental kit, since there’s no spare tire either, though twin sidemounts might make more sense – just make sure that those twins are fraternal and not identical. The automotive style rear tire is mounted on an alloy rim and the much larger diameter motorcycle style front tires have period correct wire spoke motorcycle wheels. Maximum driving fun perhaps, a practical daily driver perhaps not.

No, not that kind of three wheeler.

Intrigued by the notion of a three wheeled vehicle whose widely praised *handling seems to be at odds with trikes’ inherent instability when cornering, I’ve been trying to wangle a TTAC test drive for Jack Baruth. JB knows a lot more about understeer and oversteer than I ever will know and undoubtedly has cornered hard enough to lift an inside front wheel in a four-wheeled vehicle, let alone one with only three.

As a result of those test drive inquiries, somehow I got put on the mailing list for Morgan West, the company’s dealer in Southern California (caveat: their website autostarts with the Ventures’ surf classic instrumental Walk, Don’t Run – it’s a great tune but it seems at odds with Morgan’s veddy proper British image even if the dealership isn’t far from the beach in Santa Monica). Today I received the following email from Dennis Glavis at Morgan West. Since there’s a waiting list for new Morgans my guess is that someone canceled their order and a M3W has become available. I believe the email was intended for an inquiring customer, but I don’t think they’ll mind me telling you that if you act quickly you can have your veddy own three wheeled Mog. Perhaps surprisingly for a car in short supply, or perhaps an indication of Morgan’s old fashioned way of doing business, the car appears to be priced at MSRP:

This 3 Wheeler is now completed at the Morgan Factory and is immediately avaIable for purchase. Upon payment to MorganWest it will be shipped here for delivery. Please let me know if you would like it and I cna give you wiring instructions or accept a check and forward payment immediately to the MMC.


US model


Color: Sport Sand

Interior in Dark Tan, standard leather

Dark Tan dash leather

Black exhaust heat shields

Black exhuast system

Black number logo

Shark logo

Tonneau cover in Fawn (light tan) mohair

List price, fob Malvern, UK

$46,825.63 at current exchange rate

Gosh, Morgan is old school even about pricing. When was the last time you saw a car price that referenced FOB?

If you want a M3W but you don’t want one with Supermarine Spitfire / P51 Mustang style shark’s teeth nose art and are willing to wait for the craftsmen and artisans at the Malvern works to hand build one for you, a full 3 Wheeler sales brochure (PDF) can be downloaded here and the Morgan website has a 3 Wheeler configurator here. They may still build cars in Malvern the old-fashioned way, but I notice that Morgan, in the au courant style of many other carmakers today, now offers a Bespoke option, though as minimalist as the 3 Wheeler is, “bespoke” in this case is limited to your choice of custom exterior paint colors as well as 18 interior leather colors instead of just black and beige. While personalization programs have proliferated to the point where you can now order a “custom” Fiat 500, upon reflecting how Morgan has always built cars, my guess is that they’ve probably always been willing to provide customers with whatever livery and interior materials they’ve desired. With a waiting list and their construction methods, it wouldn’t be far from truth to say that every Morgan is bespoke.

The 2012 Morgan 3 Wheeler pictured here is not the one for sale at Morgan West. It belongs to the local Detroit Morgan dealer, Auto Europe and it was photographed at the 2012 Concours of America at St. John’s. Before that concours, Auto Europa had graciously given me access to the car while it was being prepped (though, sadly, I didn’t get to drive it). At the concours next to the 2012 M3W was its grandfather, a 1934 Super Sport model. If you note, while the new model does use modern coilover shock/spring units, it retains the original 3 Wheeler’s archaic traditional kingpin steering, as all Morgans (except for the newest Aero models, I believe) do.

If you’d like to see these three wheelers in three dimensions, stereo versions compatible with most 3D formats are available at Cars In Depth.

*Perhaps Shaikh Jalal Ahmad can clue us in, but my guess is that those exceptionally wide control arms up front, with their proximal points close to the car’s midline, have something to do with the M3W’s ability to go around corners without flopping over. That front suspension and motorcycle style front tires allow for a lot of body roll and camber change before you start losing tire contact with the road.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, it’s not a plot to get you to buy yet another new television set. Besides, all of the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

Join the conversation
2 of 18 comments
  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Oct 10, 2012

    In domestic automobile sales, the seller (usually the dealer) delivers the vehicle to the buyer at the dealership. This is in accordance with UCC 2-309 ("the place for delivery of goods is the seller’s place of business"). The FOB term is one where the seller delivers to a common carrier and sends (by mail or through banking channels) the documents (e.g., bill of lading) to the buyer. When the Seller has delivered to the carrier, the risk of loss passes to the buyer. So the buyer has to insure the goods while in transit. The reason why you don't see FOB (or similar terms, FAS CIF) in automobile purchases, is that they are not relevant.

  • Jdmcomp Jdmcomp on Oct 10, 2012

    Actually, I think Morgan 3 wheelers were made in a variety of configs including 4 seats and water cooled engines. However, the JAP V twin is the traditional image. And of course all of you miss the point, I want one I want one I want one I want one. So who cares if it is "right" I want one.

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.