Wednesday, March 23, 2011

RETURN TO THE FUTURE: MORGAN 3 WHEELER

Morgan, the venerable bespoke English car maker, has rediscovered its history and joined the trend towards disposable-income 3-wheel road toys.  While Morgan has a long history of using a trio of wheels for their 'cars', having built them from 1911-52, they are a bit late on the current bandwagon, as hyper-sports machinery like the Can-Am Spyder, launched in 2007, or even pseudo-Morgans like the Triking (introduced way back in 1978) have slowly garnered a cult following.
Buying a ThreeWheeler isn't for the sake of eccentricity alone, although a healthy dose of 'fuck it' is required to shell out $40,000 for no rational reason.  The bottom line; a combination of very high power-to-weight ratio, skateboard-low seat position, and a cozy cockpit reminiscent of a WW1 biplane, make driving such a beast raucously fun.  Seriously, madly, addictively fun...and of course dangerous, but we're speaking among motorcyclists here, no?
The inevitable question, 'which engine', is met with...yet another H-D-clone SandS BigTwin motor...albeit, on the Geneva Motor Show example, with new castings which give the engine some distinction from legions of choppers using the same powerplant.  The 1800cc air-cooled pushrod lump puts out 105hp via a Mazda 5-speed gearbox (with belt final drive!), pushing all 500kg (+driver~passenger) to a 0-60mph time of 4.5seconds.  For a car, that's plenty fast, but when its perfectly possible to drag your hand along the ground while accelerating, it feels insanely fast.  And frightening, which is of course part of the charm.
While Morgan hasn't released a 3d computer study of the chassis, its clear they've abandoned their original sliding-pillar suspension (still available on their 'Classic' 4-wheelers), in favor of something much more F1.  Disc brakes of course, and at rear is a proper automotive wheel... a major safety improvement on the original Morgan 'motorcycle' wheel, which can flip the car in a blowout. A fully leather-lined cockpit with full instrumentation, plus roll bars, and a host of paint options (including a faux-Chennault 'Flying Tiger' as seen here) make the new Morgan pretty tempting to the Retro crowd.
Having driven an original Morgan with watercooled Matchless MX100 engine (as below), and a Triking (which used a Moto Guzzi LeMans powerplant, complete with 'motorcycle' gateless shifter), the new Morgan, with double their horsepower, will surely create a legion of rabid followers.  And, given the legal grey area of 3-wheel vehicles - usually classed at motorcycles - Morgan avoids the huge hassle/expense of crash testing, body impact zones, and airbags.  Thus, they are already legal in England, and are coming to the US by the end of 2011.  Can't wait for a test drive.
The original! 1938 Morgan with 1000cc Matchless MX engine...

6 comments:

Mason said...

I love the look of this thing. When the price of a Lotus Elise is topping $50,000, I say this is great.

I just hope that riders don't start assuming this is a car, because that could ruin the fun for the rest of us.

Bryce said...

I love the paint on this one, really different. Didn't Morgan buy out/partner with Ace Cycle cars of Seattle? I heard a rumor about this, and their new model looks a lot like the Ace cycle.

Adrian Manktelow said...

Being interested in both bikes and cars you'd have thought this would be the ideal but somehow I'm unsure of them – I guess it's because they are neither one or t'other.

"although a healthy dose of 'fuck it' is required to shell out $40,000 for no rational reason" – well crafted words indeed Paul!

GP said...

The S&S X wedge is not an H-D clone motor.

Anonymous said...

Trikings have been built since 1978.

3 wheeler manufacturers said...

Amazing facts about the 3 wheelers!