When it comes to building traditional sports cars, no other company in the world (that we can name, at least) is steeped in as much tradition and history as Britain’s Morgan Motor Company. Founded in 1910 by Harry Frederick Stanley Morgan, the company’s products look much the same today as they have for the past six decades.
That’s not to say that things haven’t changed over the years. The Morgan Plus 8, a V-8-engined roadster that once served as a halo car for the brand, was discontinued in 2004. It’s back for 2012, this time powered by a 4.8-liter BMW V-8, good for some 370 horsepower. That’s plenty of thrust for a car that weighs just 2,420 pounds.
When Morgan wanted to show the car alongside its new Aero Coupe at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, they didn’t load it into a secure and weather-tight trailer for shipment. Instead, they tossed the keys to motor journalist Chris Harris, who took it from his home in south Wales to Geneva, a mid-winter’s journey of some 730 miles.
In a modern automobile, such a trip would be completed in comfort, with little drama. However, the new Morgan Plus 8 isn’t exactly modern, and the car driven wasn’t even a production model. Like all traditional British roadsters, the Plus 8 leaked water, in quantities that required Harris to seek shelter beneath layers of newspaper.
The windshield de-fogging system proved less-than-capable of keeping the windshield transparent, but that was likely due to the large amounts of standing water encountered. Interior space was somewhat lacking, too, as the Morgan was never designed to transport two passengers, plus luggage and camera gear, for a week on the road.
When the weather broke, Harris proved that the new Plus 8 is indeed a fast car. The next day, with the top stowed and the sun shining, Harris had a chance to display the car’s virtues, which don’t include amenities such as electronic stability control. It’s a handful to drive over rough pavement, too, but none of that matters if you want the ultimate British roadster experience.
It’s not for everyone, but in these days of technology-packed and near-perfect automobiles, it’s refreshing to find a car that’s still so elemental. In fact, if the Morgan Motor Company ever decides to bring the car to the United States, we’d be happy to drive it cross-country for them.