The first all-new offering from Morgan since 1936, the Aero 8 combined modern mechanicals and advanced construction with traditional looks. Its structure was based on a bonded and riveted aluminum chassis tub, attached to a wood frame for the body. In 2008–09 a hundred of a closed coupé version, the AeroMax, were built, and in 2010 the Aero SuperSports, with lift-off roof sections, replaced the original drophead Aero 8.
When Morgan announced the Aero 8 in 2000, the shock was considerable. The cars of the small family-run British company had been largely unchanged since the 1930s. They had a separate chassis, a body with a wooden frame, and board-hard suspension, independent only at the front.
From three wheels to four
H.F.S. Morgan unveiled his first car in 1910-a three-wheeler with a single rear wheel. “Trikes” were made until 1952, but in 1936 Morgan introduced a four-wheel sports car, the 4/4. The firm is currently run by the grandson of “HFS.”
The Aero 8, developed from a Morgan racing car, changed all that. The aluminum panels on the body were heat-formed rather than painstakingly shaped by hand. But the lightweight aluminum tub was only the start; underneath was supple, racing-type, all-independent suspension with inboard springs and dampers, and the steering was power-assisted.
|Morgan Aero 8, 2001–09
|Aluminum hull; ash body frame
|4,398 cc/4,799 cc, dohc V8
|286–367 bhp at 6,300 rpm (4.8 liter)
|Six-speed manual; optional automatic
|Independent by inboard coil
|150–170 mph (241–274 km/h)
The car also featured electric windows in place of a regular Morgan’s lift-off sliding sidescreens. At launch, the price was twice that of the cheapest traditional models still in production.
The cross-eyed look
The Aero 8 front is dominated by its headlights. The original model, as seen here (fig.4), used Volkswagen “New Beetle” units. However, their inward-pointing position gave the car a cross-eyed look that was widely criticized. From 2006 new headlights from a BMW Mini were used. Another prominent feature, the traditional Morgan radiator grille, is a dummy. Air is fed to the engine through the splitter below the license plate.
The Aero 8 was styled by company managing director Charles Morgan. An updating of traditional Morgan lines, the body features a “splitter” in the front apron-a shaped spoiler that aids stability at speed. The apron also incorporates the air intake for the radiator. At the rear, the opening trunk-a first for Morgan-has a lip forming an aerofoil. The aerodynamics are a considerable improvement on those of earlier Morgans.
- Traditional Morgan logo
- Aero name first used on Morgan three-wheeler
- Front indicators built into lower wing
- Inward pointing headlights
- Towing eye (early cars only)
- Main grille is dummy
- Louvers on hood top
- Internally-adjustable mirror
- 18-in alloy wheels have run-flat tires
- Round rear lights recall those of earlier models
- Hood has heated glass window
- Filler cap same as on traditional Morgans
- Rear light pod has an elegant curve
- Trunk spoiler helps Aero achieve a drag coefficient of 0.39
The well-equipped interior marks a departure from traditional Morgan style. It has an engine-turned aluminum dashboard in place of the wood, leather, or simulated leather that was previously used. A modern echo of past practice is the beautifully crafted wooden dashboard top rail. On all but the last cars the handbrake is fly-off: Pull back and press the top to lock, pull back again and it disengages.
- Steering column and its controls come from the BMW 7-series
- Custom switches add quality feel
- Chrome gear knob is a non-standard feature
- Pouch pocket
- Chrome interior light on the left side of the front seats
- Seats have good side support
Under the hood
The BMW V8 engine is a state-of-the-art, all-aluminum unit with two camshafts per bank of cylinders, and four valves per cylinder. The original 4,398 cc engine develops a power output of 286 bhp, with a maximum torque of 324 lb ft at 3,600 rpm. It gives the Morgan a top speed of over 150 mph (241 km/h), with a 0-60 mph time of under 5 seconds. Power was upgraded to 330 bhp for 2004 and the engine enlarged to 4,799 cc in 2007.
- Battery located under the hood
- The powerful V8 engine is a tight fit within the Aero 8’s aluminum structure
- Wiper motor is exposed to view