Classics World’s Paul Bussey test drives and reviews the 1990 Morgan Plus 8…
Morgan’s Plus 8 model was in production between 1968 and 2004; longer than any other Morgan, during which time some 6000 examples were built. Construction utilised a Z-section chassis, with steel panels mounted to an ash frame, along with Morgan’s famous sliding pillar front suspension set-up. The car set precedence for all future four-wheel models.
The Plus 8 came about after the supply of Triumph TR engines came to an end and the all-aluminium Buick-derived Rover 3.5-litre V8 engine became available. Plenty of modifications were required in order to shoehorn the V8 into the Morgan’s engine bay. Incidentally, the Plus 8 was the first Morgan to be equipped with an alternator. Over its 36-year production run, the model underwent numerous upgrades to its technical specification and the body got wider too.
The last of the breed featured fuel-injected engines and five-speed transmissions. Plus 8s have also acquitted themselves particularly well in motor sport, giving more conventionally built cars more than a run for their money!
Our test driven Morgan Plus 8 has had three owners from new and covered a relatively low mileage for a 1990 model. Finished in Ford Midnight Blue, the body and paintwork are in very good order, other than the odd very minor blemish. This car benefits from a great many options, such as the stainless steel luggage rack, wind deflectors, stainless steel bonnet stays, stainless bumper tube covers, etc. The brightwork is in excellent condition and the engine and bay are both clean and tidy. It’s actually the engine, or rather its state of tuning, that make this particular Plus 8 stand out from the rest.
It has been fitted with a quad Weber downdraft carburettor set-up, which is going to mean a savage performance, more of which later. The 15 x 6.5-inch alloy wheels are shod with Yokohama 205-60/R15 tyres, with plenty of tread remaining. A pleasing safety feature is the roll over bar, which also aids chassis stiffness and handling.
The interior features grey leather-trimmed seats, which are nicely mellowed and show just the odd scuff mark to the right hand side of the driver’s back rest and a little at its lower extremity in the centre. Similarly, there’s a little wear on the door cards below the door handle. Creature comforts run to a walnut-veneered dashboard, complete with clock.
We start the V8 engine, which settles into a steady tickover, emitting a pleasing burble through the stainless steel, non-standard side-exiting exhausts. Once safely strapped into the very comfortable and firmly padded seat, it’s time to sample the delights of the Plus 8. Engaging gear requires a deft input on the short stubby shifter, which has a very short throw. The clutch pedal is a tad heavy, which is normal on any Plus 8. We accelerate down the road, not quite ready for that sensational burst of power, accompanied by a mellifluous howl from the exhausts.
Any Plus 8 is pretty quick to say the least, but this quad carburettor Rover V8 is in a league of its own, with a huge increase in horsepower and torque over standard specification. Hard acceleration has you slumped back in your seat. Better check the brakes to see if they can cope? No problem at all, retardation is instant and progressive. Couple the blindingly quick acceleration and superb brakes with a delightfully weighted and precise steering, via a chunky leather-trimmed 14-inch steering wheel, and we have a Morgan that would guarantee to intoxicate even the most ardent and seasoned thrill seeker! There’s so much power from the tuned V8 engine. When we really floor the accelerator from a standing start, the car launches forward. We quickly change up into second gear and the car momentarily starts to drift from the massive delivery of torque, so we instantly back off.
However, this Plus 8 remains quite sedate, simply pottering around at urban speed limits, though it won’t be long until you are itching to unleash that fabulous power once again!
This classic Morgan Plus 8 would be ideally suited to a Morgan fancier and a confirmed ‘petrol head’ who yearns to experience the spirit and speed of this mega-tuned example. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted and great care and caution should be exercised when driving on greasy surfaces or wet roads, where over exuberance could well bite back!
There’s a full photographic record of its original build at Malvern and details of plenty of service documentation and new parts fitted at Morgan service dealer Techniques at Stotfold, Bedfordshire. An excellent opportunity to acquire a quick Plus 8 in excellent all-round condition. The UK recently experienced severe winter weather, colloquially referred to as ‘The Beast from the East’.
This Morgan Plus 8 could be deemed, ‘The Beast from Malvern’ in the most positive and endearing way!
Tech Spec (Standard 1990 Plus 8 model)
Torque: 220 lbft@4000rpm
Top Speed: 132mph
0-60mph: 5.2 secs
Gearbox: Five-speed manual