British automaker Morgan has just unveiled its newest model, the Plus 8 GTR. The most powerful Morgan of all time, it combines the company’s traditional construction techniques with a BMW-derived V8 engine and modern components. It’s not Morgan’s first special edition launch this year as the Plus Four CX-T debuted with a hardened rally car setup in October. The Plus 8 GTR is a little different, however, as it is a special edition of a model that Morgan doesn’t even make anymore.
The original series of the Plus 8 lasted until 2004, then the car was briefly revived between 2012 and 2018 before it was finally killed off. Or everyone thought. In a strange turn of events, there happened to be some life left on this veteran model, and the result is the ultra-limited edition GTR. It’s both a first and a last for the company that marks the end of Morgan’s V8 era in a bittersweet way. Here are eight quick facts that break down what you need to know about this latest creation from Malvern, England’s finest creation.
8th It was teased months ago
Although the finished GTR has only just been officially revealed, Morgan showed a teaser in February 2021 suggesting that a revival of the Plus 8 was underway. At the time, the company was too busy bringing out the Three Wheeler to reveal many of the details, but they did reveal the basic design and some of the backstories.
The sketch clearly showed a tougher Plus 8 than a normal model, with a solid hardtop roof and retro five-spoke wheels. A rear diffuser and ventilation opening in the hard top reinforced the impression that this was going to be a racing-inspired model.
7th Inspired by Morgan’s racing cars of the 90s
Morgan later made it clear that the GTR was actually inspired by Morgan’s racing cars from the 1990s. The Plus 8 took part in GT races in the 1990s and served as a test environment for new technologies that would eventually find their way into production cars.
A particularly notable Plus 8 racing car was nicknamed “Big Blue” and is the inspiration for the first customer GTR. Big Blue unveiled the first Morgan glued aluminum chassis at a time when the company was still using wooden chassis with designs that went back four decades.
6th Only 9 units are made
Anyone looking to get their hands on this newest and greatest Morgan will be disappointed as only nine units are built and all have been sold. Each owner has had the opportunity to work with the company’s design team to design their car so that it is completely bespoke.
This means that the chances are good that the later cars will end up looking significantly different from the first customer car we see here. Morgan hasn’t released details on who ordered these special editions, but they said five were sold to export markets and four remain domestically in the UK.
5 Powered by a BMW X5 engine
The main reason the Plus 8 GTR is special is because it’s the most powerful series Morgan ever. However, the source of this power is somewhat unusual: the car uses a BMW N62 V8 from the second generation SUV X5. This generation of the X5 was only produced between 2006 and 2013 and the engine was removed from the BMW range shortly afterwards.
For some reason, Morgan decided this long-dead 4.8-liter engine was the right one, and all nine cars will be fitted with it. It is likely that the N62 was previously used by Morgan in their Aero Super Sports model, so they already have experience with it. But it still seems strange that they didn’t opt ââfor a modern BMW power unit for the GTR.
4th It makes 375 hp
Whatever their reasons for choosing, Morgan made sure the V8’s performance was improved before it was used in the GTR. The engine and exhaust have been upgraded to 375 hp by Morgan, 20 hp more than the original X5 4.8iS output.
It’s a notable improvement over the previously most powerful Morgan, the 362bhp “normal” Plus 8. It is likely to remain the most powerful Morgan for the foreseeable future, for reasons we’ll get into later.
3 Conceived by chance
Fans of the brand might be a little confused as to why the Plus 8 GTR exists in the first place. After all, the Plus 8 went out of production in 2018 with no hint of a return. Well, Morgan never had any intention of bringing the car back and it was pure accident that the GTR happened in the first place.
It turns out that someone at Morgan’s factory found nine old Plus 8 chassis lying around in the warehouse and instead of scrapping them, a decision was made to overhaul and upgrade them. Morgan says the idea was to make its V8 car line a “swan song” and that’s how the Plus 8 GTR was born.
2 It borrows BMW’s iconic Yas Marina Blue paint job
If the color looks familiar on that first customer GTR, it’s because it is. You see, the engine isn’t the only thing Morgan borrowed from BMW. The bright blue paint is actually Yas Marina Blue, a color that was first known on the F80 M3 and F82 M4.
The color caused a lot of hype when Bimmer was first launched in 2014 and was inspired by the Formula 1 track of the same name in the United Arab Emirates. So it seems very fitting that the first of these racing-inspired Morgan specials is covered in a racing-inspired paint.
1 It’s the last V8-powered Morgan ever
While the release of the GTR is great news in some ways, it’s also a sad reminder that a beloved era of sports cars is coming to an end. The car is the last of Morgan’s line of V8-powered models thanks to increasing emissions restrictions and a changing consumer market.
It pays a fitting tribute to Morgan’s long history with eight-cylinder cars and, sadly, mirrors the situation of many smaller automakers around the world. With the transition to electrical power accelerating every year, it remains to be seen how smaller companies like Morgan will find their place in this new market. But for now, let’s bask in the glory of these old school performance cars, classic British design with a roaring V8 under the hood.
From vintage cars to the latest classics, all these sports cars have one thing in common: their heyday is long gone.
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