When I hear the name Morgan I instinctively think of the ultra cool 3-wheeler with an exposed air-cooled V-twin up front. I rarely remember they have other cars, which is a true shame. Morgan’s other cars are actually pretty spectacular, easily on the same level as the 3-wheeler. But one sticks out ahead of the pack, and that is the Aero 8.
The Aero-8 is the culmination of Morgans 81 years of automotive car building experience, rolled into one gorgeous package. With a history like that, it’s no wonder Morgan is able to build such sophistication into their cars. The Morgan company was the brainchild of HFS Morgan and his three-wheel design that hit the open road in 1909. After the inevitable success of the ultra unique trike, HFS went on to build his first 4-wheeled car in 1936 called the 4-4.
The 4-4 was called so because of its 4-cylinder engine and 4 wheels, instead of Morgan’s typical 3. Miraculously you can still buy the 4-4. It has been in production almost the entire time with only two small hiatus, first due to WWII and the second due to lack of an engine supplier. And for the most part, the nifty little roadster hasn’t changed much, with the exception of it now being displayed as 4/4. That’s a serious run without getting drastically different. And the reason is that Morgan kept the 4/4 while implementing new models that offered more performance.
First was the Plus 4. It was a longer more powerful 4/4. It still used a 4-cylinder engine, but offered upgrades to the chassis and brakes that the 4/4 was yet to see. When things got really interesting was when Morgan brought the Plus 8 to production in 1968. The plus 8 used a similar chassis to the stretched plus 4, but added the crucial element of a 3.5-liter V-8. The new V-8 gave the little Morgan the title of fastest accelerating production car in the UK for a few years in the late 60’s. So it’s safe to say the Plus 8 was the recipe that made grown men giggle. Now Morgan has taken the formula from the Plus 8 and applied it to a retro styled modern roadster.
Enter the Aero 8. The Aero 8 is essential the Plus 8 for a new generation, one that doesn’t know what a ‘lightweight’ roadster really is. So naturally, the Aero 8 is bigger than is predecessor tipping the scales a plump 700lbs heavier than the Plus series. But the Aero is much more modern, getting better… everything. Literally, the brakes are better, suspension, body, even the engine. Especially the engine. Where the Plus 8 was using a GM based Rover V-8, the Aero 8 is using a BMW N62 V-8 that dwarfs the GM in power output. The 4.8 liter V-8 makes the Aero a much better performance car than expected, a pleasant pairing with the stunning exterior styling.
Let’s touch on that exterior for a second. It’s worth noting that the Aero 8 did make an appearance in the early 2000’s, sporting a couple different iterations. With its overly boisterous fenders and cross-eyed headlights, the early Aero had a face only a mother could love. But now they have fixed that. It is still a little cross-eyed, but that’s part of its charm. And before you start ragging on Morgan for using headlights from a MINI, keep in mind the mighty Lamborghini Diablo used headlights from the Nissan 300ZX. That’s way worse than a cheeky British company using an already British themed car’s headlights. Other than that one faux pas, the Aero is a beautiful creation. I mean really, look at it. It’s sleek and classic looking while also reminding you it’s new and edgy. Like a Rolls Royce that decided to lose weight. It also features a soft-top that folds completely out of view, being tucked in nicely by the clamshell trunk.
The Aero 8 isn’t just a tribute car, it’s the next generation of Morgan. With its current lineage who knows, the Aero 8 could be in production 50 years from now. But until then let’s watch it do rad things, like racing a bi-plane for the sake of reasons. This particular bi-plane is actually similar in theory to the Aero 8. They are both based on age-old designs yet they have been updated to compete with modern day performance. A fitting competition, I guess. Either way it’s entertaining, which is what we really care about at the end of the day. Watch, enjoy, repeat.