Morgan moving to aluminum chassis but keeping wood body framing

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Fret not, fans of the Morgan Motor Company. Although the British car company has announced a switch from steel to aluminum chassis for 2020, there still will be a layer of ash wood beneath the bodywork.

Like many early automakers, Morgan used wood for its vehicle frames. In fact, it wasn’t until 1936 that Morgan introduced a steel chassis, and its first four-wheeled car. But while steel replaced wood for the frame, ash still was used for the framework to which the body panels were attached.

Aluminum frame (lower left) replaces steel in newest Morgans

That won’t change, a Morgan spokesman said, even in 2020 when Morgan’s new CX-platform will underpin vehicles with an aluminum rather than steel chassis. 

Also coming in 2020 will be a manual transmission for the CX-based vehicles. The platform was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show this year beneath the Morgan Plus Six.

New as well is a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine.

 “Designed in house by Morgan, the CX-Generation platform is twice as rigid as the previous aluminum chassis used by the company, which underpinned the Aero 8 and second-generation Plus 8 models,” the company said in its announcement. “Thanks to a focus on reducing weight, it tips the scales at just 97kg, contributing to the Plus Six’s mere 1,075kg dry weight.”

Morgan switched to steel frames for vehicles such as this 1936 model

“The CX-Generation aluminum platform represents a significant undertaking for a small company like Morgan,” added Steve Morris, Morgan chief executive. “We recognize a need for a more resolved core product that fits in with our customer’s growing needs, as well as future legislative requirements. 

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“The advanced engineering encompassed within the new platform is a vital underpinning for the next generation of Morgan sports cars, and further demonstrates the exciting blend of craftsmanship and technology that makes Morgan cars unique.

“In addition to new models planned for 2020, the year will also bring about opportunity for us to mark the significance of the outgoing traditional steel chassis and its contribution to the marque. Used in Morgan’s core models since 1936, the traditional steel chassis has been an integral part of the Morgan story and we look forward to giving it a fitting send off.”

Morgan was founded in 1910 by Henry Morgan and produced around 850 cars per year, all of them hand assembled. Pre-war Morgans are best-known for the sporty 3-wheeled cyclecars that are collector’s items today. 

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I went through the Morgan factory while l was living in England.
    Top Gear once said that Morgan is now the largest British owned vehicle manufacturer.
    From my experience that day, l reckon Morgan cars would cost about half what they do if their workers didn’t stop work and have a chat with any passing tourist who wandered into their workspace.
    I couldn’t believe l was just allowed to go pretty much where l liked unaccompanied – though that was about fifteen years ago. I’m sure it’s different now.
    I didn’t see the small sign forbidding photography till l was on my way out.
    I’d been openly taking shots of everything. Nobody said a thing.

  2. But Mr. Graham! Morgan is the epitome of British old world craftsmanship, and I suspect that, unlike the rest of the assembly line, bean counter run automobile manufacturers- manufacturers, not craftsfolk- that their production schedule is dictated by customer order, not frantic dealerships or "combines" ever needing more.
    The idea that customer, or potential customer, or wannabe customer interaction diminishes the bottom line seems counter to what every niche market creator of any product knows at heart- if they love you, they will come. Morgan needs not a massive ad budget nor internet presence; they possess a cachet and history that sells everything they make, often before those things are built. Any Morgan is much more a statement than profit generator and revenue source. How many vehicle manufacturers sell every unit, every year- and have waiting lists? Old school real ‘swhat Morgan IS.
    I am violently green with envy that you had an unguided and free-range tour of the Morgan facility. I’m a car guy from the age when I could discern taillight patterns to identify cars for my Dad’s amusement, and I gotta tell ya, a Morgan with 4 wheels is one of the highest of aspirational cars I dream about.

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