Former F1 champ tells TG about his car history, and why he’ll never own a McLaren F1
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Silence falls over dark and dusty drawing rooms. Purple-faced men in frayed tweed squirm in the plump leather of club chairs. In the distance a gun dog howls, low and mournful… You see, there’s been a change at Morgan.
Part of British topography, Morgan has stuck doggedly to its manufacturing format and, against the odds, enjoyed on-going success. But as the hallowed Rover V8 breaths its last, a Ford-sourced three-litre V6 has taken its place.
A six may be a bit nouveau for the diehard flat-cappers that Morgan’s fortunes depend upon, but the stats speak for themselves. With 223bhp and 206 lb ft of torque in a car that weighs just 940kg, performance is startling. Cars this rudimentary shouldn’t be pulling to 60mph in 4.9 seconds and topping out at 134mph. But, allegedly, they do.
Squeeze inside and Morgan’s purpose is clear. New engine, same car. Tradition is everywhere, from drilled Moto-Lita steering wheel to retro Smiths instruments. Rock-hard seats and floor-hinged pedals keep you bolt upright like a private school teacher with a predilection for discipline. Turn the key and the all-aluminium’Vee’ bursts with purpose. The exhaust hollers under the lightest tap of the pedal and you know, with that mixture of fear and exhilaration, that there’s still an awful lot of grunt under those endless louvres.
Morgan’s engineering remains brutally apparent, however, the chassis transmitting every foible in the road. The wheel snaps and jerks in your hands, wrestling you for autonomy and turning a smoothly taken bend into a triumph.
With a full head of steam you feel less the English gent, more Cruella DeVil, looking out for a Dalmatian puppy to run over. Aiming the vast bonnet vaguely at apexes, the Morgan roars from point to point, seemingly as much in control of the process as you are.
On the long flog, the V6 offers a smooth and easy drive, but the motorway does little to flatten out the Roadster’s brain-bruising ride. The love affair with Morgan will continue, the V6 proving an able replacement for thrusting its cars towards the juddering 21st century horizon. But at £34,992 this, the antithesis of development, costs Boxster money. With that in mind, you’ve got to really want one.