Its not exactly everyday that one gets the opportunity to spend a weekend driving a brand new Morgan 4/4, so there’s no prizes for correctly guessing what I said when I was offered the chance to do just that. My task? Collect a new Morgan 4/4 from Morgan Cars Ireland and drive to Adare Manor in the west of Ireland to attend the recent inaugural Irish Festival Of Speed. I accepted my task. Lets be honest, it would have been rude not to! Usually when I go to collect a press car for example, its pretty much a case of picking up a set of keys and heading off, but the handover with the Morgan was a pleasantly thorough experience. This was the first time I’ve driven one, so I was eager to make sure I knew what everything was and where it was supposed to go.
If you haven’t heard of Morgan Cars before, they’re an English based firm that have been hand-building bespoke cars for over 100 years. At one time, the waiting list for a new Morgan stretched to over seven years! As I’m shown through the car’s features, its clear to see that there’s still a fabulous attention to detail that you really only get with non-production line manufacturing. Slotting in the dainty little door lock key (different to the ignition key) and popping open the tiny and featherlight door, the smell of the leather from the interior gives you a reassurance that this is a vehicle of high standards. Sitting into the low slung seats makes you feel very insulated in the car. The cabin is small yet not cramped. Everything is at just the perfect reach. My particular steed is powered by a 1.6 Zetec engine which when taking the cars relatively light weight into account should make for some pretty respectable performance not to mention decent fuel economy.
Steering the Morgan down along flowing roads is a real pleasure. The handling is feather light and gives feedback in a way that you can visualize exactly how those slender front tires are connecting with the road surface. There is a small degree of flex through the chassis although its important to remember that this is a vehicle that is partially constructed from wood. But this isn’t a car that you’re really going to be thrashing around the place. More so, its a car that you feel relaxed in, there’s no need to rush – its make you feel very chilled out. Everything about it feels like a driver’s car though. The engine is surprisingly responsive and sounds fantastic while the five speed box is a joy to use – the short and direct throw between gears feels great.
Anywhere over the course of the weekend that I went in the Morgan drew positive attention. My return trip from Adare wouldn’t have been complete without making the now almost obligatory stop in a sleepy town called Moneygall – the ancestral hope of Barak Obama. The quiet and deserted main street, still lined with alternating Irish & US flags, looks just as ‘new’ as it did when it was broadcast around the world earlier this year. Pulling up outside Ollie Hayes’ pub just as he did, I’m surrounded by locals before I’ve even switched the engine off. Everyone wants to know just what it is, and interestingly they all ask what year it is and are rather surprised to learn that its actually a brand new car.
Dropping the Morgan back home and I must admit that I wish the time hadn’t past so quickly. At just over €49,700 this isn’t the cheapest two seater car in the world, but unlike some, this car simply oozes class and style. Granted, this isn’t an out and out sportscar by any means but it is something that will give you all the pleasure and style of a true hand-built bespoke car without any of the reliability worries that would go with owner a vintage car.