The engine delivers a glorious throaty roar as I accelerate hard out of a bend and weave through the back roads of the magnificent Scottish Highlands of Perthshire. Nestled low in my two-seater Morgan, roof down, foot punchy on both the accelerator and brake, this is driving at its most thrilling. It seems to be an anachronism—a throwback to when jaunty, British roadsters were the standard for sporty driving—but this British marque, now in its 110th year, is still making cars for a bygone era—at least at first glance.
To the casual observer, the all-new Morgan PlusFour appears largely the same as the model Morgan has made since 1950. Same wheel arches, same sloping running boards, wire wheels (alloy is an option), low-slung doors, and ash-wood-and-leather-filled cabin. A slight nameplate change (it used to be styled Plus4) is the biggest visual giveaway that the latest unveiling is a departure. But underneath it is 97 percent new, a car for the 21st century.
With a bonded aluminium platform and a 255-bhp turbocharged four-cylinder BMW 2.0-litre engine (replacing a Ford beater), it goes from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.8 seconds (with optional automatic transmission). Top speed is 149. The interior has a host of electronics and even air conditioning, although you’ll probably want to keep its manually operated top in the down position. What remains intact are the car’s wood frame and all the fun.
That’s an element that’s been with Morgan since its debut as the three-wheel Runabout in 1910. The company would become the only ever car marque to appear in the window of the London department store Harrods. Today, Morgan manufactures a mere 700 vehicles by hand in their factory in Malvern, England. The PlusFour will start in the neighborhood of $70,000, while a three-wheeler opens at $43,500 (both with long waiting lists). But there are options to rent from a day to a week. Limited editions sell out almost instantly. Get your name down now. It’s worth the wait.