By on March 5, 2019

Image: Morgan Motor Company

We’re a long way from the days when the United Kingdom not only hosted a slew of independent automakers, it owned some of them. For decades, brands fell away as most of the remaining automakers found new parents living on the wrong side of the English Channel. Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Mini, Lotus, and now Morgan.

Known for its famed 3-Wheeler and persistence in retaining wood construction elements and running boards, the 110-year-old automaker just handed a majority stake to an Italian investment firm. The sound you hear might be Union Jacks being lowered in Malvern Link.

According to The Guardian, the new owner is Investindustrial, which holds stakes in both Aston Martin and Ducati. The deal’s price was not disclosed, though the Morgan family will retain a minority stake in the company that bears their name. As well, managers and workers will keep a piece of the brand.

Associated most closely with its iconic Plus 4 model (itself a modified 4/4, a car first offered in 1936), Morgan hand-builds about 700-850 vehicles each year. Offering a range of bespoke classics like the 3-Wheeler, Plus 4, and Plus 8 (now Roadster), Morgan builds heritage into each of its vehicles. It still uses a development of its original 1909 sliding pillar suspension system on older models.

Image: Morgan Motor Company

The acquisition is expected to be completed in April. As one would expect, Morgan didn’t exactly spread doom and gloom in its official announcement. Wealthy foreign owners have done wonders for the stability of other British marques.

“As part of the transaction, and as a sign of its long-term faith in the company and the wider British automotive sector, Investindustrial will support Morgan to accelerate new product development, after the launch today of the new Plus Six at the Geneva motor show, the first to adopt the company’s new CX-Generation architecture, increase global distribution and broaden customers’ experience with unique events, enabling Morgan to fulfil its global potential as an iconic maker of hand-built British sports cars,” the automaker said on its website.

“Morgan will continue to focus on its niche classic segment within the automotive sector, with bespoke manufacturing, hand-built products, and the use of ash remaining central to its strategy. Investindustrial will work closely with current management and the wider Morgan family to make sure that future development of the business will be respectful of and remain true to the company’s unique heritage.”

The automaker touted its new parent’s experience in the auto sector as a reason for its (and its fans’) confidence.

Image: Morgan

Jill Price, granddaughter of company founder Henry “Harry” Morgan and the longest-serving family director, stated, “Having very carefully considered all options for the future success of Morgan, the family concluded that this new ownership structure and Investindustrial, have the pedigree and resources to secure the long-term future of Morgan.”

“It was important for the family to retain a shareholding,” she said, “and we are delighted that our loyal management team and workforce will now also have a share in the business going forward.”

Steve Morris, Morgan’s CEO, called the company’s future “bright,” adding that Investindustrial’s presence will help the automaker develop its “global potential.”

As mentioned, the Plus Six (seen above) debuted in Geneva this week, boasting a 3.0-liter twin-turbo BMW inline-six and eight-speed automatic. With a dry weight of less than 2,400 pounds, the Plus Six should attain a top speed of 166 mph. A removable hardtop is available.

The British auto industry finds itself in another state of flux, with a no-deal Brexit looming on the horizon and market forces leading to job cuts in the country. Last month, Honda announced the impending closure of its sole UK assembly plant. If Italian ownership safeguards Morgan’s future (note: it was already profitable), Brits might chalk up the takeover as a good thing, but there’s no consoling those who long for the days when Churchill wasn’t yet PM and the sun never set on the British Empire.

[Images: Morgan Motor Company]

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13 Comments on “In Another Blow to National Pride, Britain’s Morgan Motor Company Bought by Italian Firm...”

  • avatar

    On the face of it hooking up with an EU based company seems illogical and Morgan, at least publicly are profitable. Perhaps the underlying economics for a bespoke car company cannot be sustained.
    Let’s see what a year or two does to the company. If it’s just using their fiscal strength to bolster Morgan’s existence but input over engineering or design might be fraught.

  • avatar

    Ha!! They should henceforth only sell them in Euros.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Well doesn’t a Brit still own TVR? I think someone bought it back from the Russian investor.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    What a sad day as one of the last and longest privately held auto manufacturers finally sold out. Will it be a good thing for Morgan? Who knows. I am always bummed when a boutique maker of anything sells out, especially to private equity, as profit trumps everything including heritage in most instances.

    Morgan has had a back log for product for decades, and I am certain they are profitable. Enough for private equity remains to be seen however. Perhaps the new firm will help them with technology that they desperately need to continue building cars that keep the ‘Morgan’ but also adhere to various world-wide safety, emissions, & construction standards. For example, the Plus 8 ceased sales in the U.S after 2003 because of crash test requirements. The U.S. wanted/required they be able to wreck 5 of them to ensure they pass safety muster. They don’t or didn’t have 5 extra to wad up for no reason.

  • avatar

    I am a Morgan fan. Its probably the only company with products in its price class that I would be seriously interested in should I become wealthy (like if I won the lottery, etc). Keep your Ferrari and such, I’ll take something that will stand out proudly no matter where I drive it. The 3 Wheeler in particular would be an awesome Sunday cruiser. Leather driving gloves required.

  • avatar

    At least it is better fate than being dead like Oakland or Oldsmobile.

  • avatar

    Morgan were always a niche manufacturer.

    The mainstream car industry died with Rover.
    Though it could be argued that the remains of what was BL – Jaguar, Land Rover, MINI, even MG, are doing better than the indigenous industry ever did. Under foreign ownership.

    And that seems to be the thing about British companies, a huge amount of engineering talent (most F1 teams are based in the UK) but poor management who are only interested in short term profit and lining their own pockets. Foreign ownership and long term investments seem to reap benefits.

  • avatar

    This isn’t as perverse as Jeep passing through the hands of the French and the Germans and currently being in the hands of the Italians.

    If people care about Morgans and such, then they shouldn’t tolerate bureaucrats dictating all aspects of the design of mass market cars. We’ll be infinitely better off when the people who wish to mandate banality in all facets of our lives aren’t themselves allowed special exemptions.

  • avatar

    Good on you for mentioning weight, and this is an excellent example why: the Plus Six weighs less than 2/3 of the new Zupr4 with likely the same engine. Until aerodynamics kick in (well above freeway speeds), it’ll be a lot faster.

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