In Another Blow to National Pride, Britain's Morgan Motor Company Bought by Italian Firm

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
in another blow to national pride britains morgan motor company bought by italian

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.

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.

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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  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Mar 06, 2019

    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.

  • Gedrven Gedrven on Mar 06, 2019

    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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