Contemporaries and Peers 4: Pluses and Minuses; Four and Against: Colin Chapman /Lotus vs Morgan


The Contemporaries Series has been written to achieve the following objectives

  • To compare and contrast the designs, products and achievements of Colin Chapman/Lotus with their, rivals, contemporaries, peers and competitors
  • To benchmark achievement by a series of consistent criteria
  • To extract from the comparisons an objective assessment
  • To counterpoise some specific models against each other
  • To examine the nature, culture and economic viability of the British specialist sports car market.

The British specialist car market has been extremely vulnerable to economic downturn and its history is littered with casualties .Those that have survived are worthy of examination.

Please note the editors have striven to achieve objectivity and consistency of comparison throughout however it will be appreciated with many conflicting sources, references and specifications this is not an easy task and some inaccuracies may occur. We are happy to correct these presented with reliable alternatives,


Both marques shared these in common:

Note that several sources have been drawn upon for specifications.  For general consistency the editors use Taylor, The Lotus Book .In this article other additional/ complementary sources are used and stated where appropriate.  

CC/Lotus Morgan
First Car 1948 c1910
Sports cars Yes Yes
Sports R-c Yes No
FI Yes No
Single seat Yes No
Le Mans Yes Yes
Prod ‘Cars Yes Yes
Co-prod’ Yes No
Consultancy Yes Not known
Utility Vech’ Not known Not known
Indianapolis’ Yes No
Patents Yes Yes* *Morgan various
Ind Design Yes Not known
Export Yes Yes
British Prod Base Yes Yes
Rela Small Scale Yes* Yes *From early set up until 1960′s
Existence’13 Yes Yes
Essentially Family owned Yes* Yes * Essential from set up until 1960′s
Used Mainstream Munuf ‘Parts Yes Yes
Own Engine Yes No
Sustain Fuel Economy Yes Yes
Diversified Range Yes Yes
Gone up Market Yes Yes
Niche Market Yes Yes
Impact World Change Yes Yes
Iconic Design Yes Yes
Long Prod’ Life Yes* Yes * With considered argument

Morgan have held patents on their front suspension, “Z” section chassis rails and more recently on the Aero.

Brief Company Histories and Design Methodologies


Denis May stated in Automobile quarterly:

“Morgan recoils from doctrines fashioned by the changing hour”

Morgan is a unique English marque some consider it an anachronism even an enigma but this article will attempt a more insightful analysis.

The company was founded c 1910 by Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan; “HFS” His father was PHG Morgan.

“HFS” is believed to have studied first at Stone House, Broadstairs followed by Marlborough College with technical education at Crystal Palace Engineering College. He was employed as an apprentice at the Great Western Railway Co; Swindon then set up his own garage business in Malvern Link. The original capital required to set up Morgan Motor Co. came from the personal portfolio of George Morgan Its believed that “HFS” father helped with a loan of £3,000, Its thought the first premises were at the Worcester Road Works,

This allowed the business to be established providing the funds for buildings, tools, materials etc. . . . .The garage included the operation of:

  • An agency for Wolseley and Darracq
  • Operating a bus service in a 10hp Wolseley
  • Car hire.

Between 1908 and 1909 it’s believed that “HFS” experimented with the construction of a cycle car possibly assisted by Stephenson-Peach. Some sources suggest that Morgan appeared at the 1910 Olympia Motor Cycle Show.

We don’t know if “HFS” had a deliberate design philosophy or he simply designed pragmatically for an anticipated market and customer profile, and or the local terrain. [Objectively we ought to appreciate that we are talking about almost 100 years ago and practical considerations were possibly greater as was reputation] We should perhaps credit “HFS” with some market research that led him to believe there was road tax advantage for owners if they owned a vehicle of a certain specification. Of course we must recognize from the outset that “HFS” might have had reservations about engine power and that a light weight chassis would help compensate.

The outcome was that the three wheelers enjoyed a high power to weight ratio. This vested the machines with performance and economy.

It may be entirely consistent that “HFS” designed the three wheels with quality engineering and simplicity to keep down costs, provide a competitive product that was easy to repair. All of these qualities are important if we relate them to the economic depression of the 1920’s and 1930’s. We ought to appreciate that “HFS” might have been consciously attempting to attract the family motorist unable to afford an Austin Seven.

The Morgan three wheeler formula also stacked up because a range of proprietary engines were used. These included JAP, Matchless, Blackburn and Anzani. The reliability and performance of this essential component would have been known to prospective purchasers adding confidence.

It’s also worth noting that “HFS” patented his front “sliding pillar” suspension. This was not totally original

The Morgan had potential for racing and this was quickly recognized, further more “HFS” drove competitively himself generating useful publicity. Before the First World War Morgan may have competed at Brooklands. Around this time the cheapest Morgan cost approximately 85 guinees compared to a “Bullnose” Morris Oxford at £175.Production was well established and some sources suggest around a 1000 units per annum was achieved.

“From the crudest form of cycle car the Morgan three wheeler emerged as an accelerative sports tricycle”

During the First World War government contract work was undertaken. Its suggested by the end of 1919 Morgan had established a new factory at Pickersleigh Road. During the 1920’s production increased and some cars were made under license in France. The model range catered for a large section of the public and included the Standard, Family, Grand Prix, Aero and Super Aero sport to which there was a choice of engines. As we have noted Morgan provided economy in road tax and running costs. Some students will collate the 1920’s with “Metroland” and the better off families who could afford to buy their own home might also desire an affordable car. The Post War boom ended with the Great Depression and changes to taxation classes in 1935. Many British car manufacturers suffered but his era witnessed the birth of the Austin Seven

The appeal of the three wheeler Morgan’s is reinforced through their price. In 1934 for example these applied:-

  • Sports 2 Seater , sv, water cooled             £110
  • Super Sport , ohv water cooled                 £135
  • Family model, sv, water cooled                 £105

It’s worth noting that Morgan production in 1934 equaled 659, but only 137 in 1936.

1935 saw the introduction of the first four wheel car the 4-4.

Morgan cars competed successfully in many events including rallies, marque and trials.

During the Second World War [1939- 1945] they undertook government contract work again.

To understand post war history for both marques Morgan and Lotus subscribers might like to read A&R articles on Lotus Design decades. This will put the manufacturing scene into social and economic context.

The essence of Post War economics was “Export or Die” Morgan would make its contribution but first it would have to establish dealerships. Also emerging was significant competition from other manufacturers and the impressive Jaguar XK 120, the Triumph TR” and later MG.A [see below]

The Morgan 4/4 was quite a practical purchase through the 1950’s and it was generally observed:-

“Would prove attractive both to speed and performance”

The Series II Four-Four c 1966-1960 offered the Ford 100E engine , retailed at £638 including tax and according to Autocar had the following performance:-

  • Maximum speed 75mph
  • 0-50mph-18 seconds
  • 0-60mph-29.4 seconds

“HFS” ran the company until 1959; when Peter Morgan took over and remained until 2003.We have noted that Post War export was an economic necessity. Morgan sold cars to Australia and also enjoyed a considerable market in America, however the early 1960’s witnessed a collapse of the aircraft industry in California and with it disposable income.Luxuary imported cars including MG and Triumph suffered.

Peter Morgan inherited many issues requiring resolution. He was special person possessing both an idealism combined with pragmatism and a good business sense. To avoid over dependency he set up agencies in Europe which included Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Austria, Germany and Belgium.

Morgan remained in competition and enjoyed considerable success and international publicity in the early 1960’s with the Lawrence tune Plus Four Super sport which won its class at Le Mans in 1962. Many consider that it was significantly lighter and more accelerative than either the TR2 or Austin Healey 1000. Many authors record that resulting from this Morgan was treated with respect and admiration.

We have noted that Morgan supply led in relation to engines. When the Triumph engine was no longer available they had to cast round and traditional pragmatism played a major role. They turned to the aluminum V8 of 3.5 L produced in Britain [believed to be of Buick origin] and this was developed into the Plus 8.This was launched in 1968. It has been suggested that this model “in fact the most profitable car Morgan ever made”

From this period on Morgan have used a wide selection of engines from various manufacturers. Currently the BMW –V8 is the mainstay of the higher end.

During the 1980’s there was minor recession but Morgan had established markets in Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Spain ,Luxembourg ,Japan and the Channel Isles. The home market during this period is believed to be approximately 66%.

In 1989 is believed that 420 cars were produced

The 1990’s were a period of export and prosperity. In 1999, 580 cars are thought to have been produced.

More recent senior staff have included Alan Garnett, Steve Morris, Tim Whitworth and the current family member Charles Morgan. Matthew Humphries has contributed on design.

In 2003 production is quoted as 496 in some reference works.

Wood has suggested that in 2004 sales breakdown comprised:-

  • 50%    UK
  • 15%    Germany
  • 15%    USA
  • 20%    Rest of the world

C 2007 Morgan employed 163 people approximately and produced 640 cars.

Below we set out some of Morgan trends for the future.

Morgan is thought of as the longest running independent motor manufacturer in the UK.


It’s not considered necessary here to recall Chapman / Lotus history in great detail. Much can be discovered by the comparison of commonality given above and in -depth analysis can be found in A&R articles:-

  • Lotus Design Decades
  • 20c Motoring Icons

For this article’s objective Chapman/Lotus history [non chronological] might be summarized as:-

  • Chapman’s history and development witnesses some extreme polarization of success and fortune in both commerce and competition. Chapman is said to have been eulogized and demonized in equal measure
  • Chapman delivered a succession of  FI cars and won 7 World Constructors Championships .Following  an interruption after his death Lotus is again currently in the forefront of FI which have been complemented  with equally distinctive high performance road cars notably the Elite,Elan,Esprit etc.
  • Lotus cars successfully competed at nearly every branch and level of motorsport and introduced some of the greatest British drivers to FI
  • Chapman’s designs were invariably innovative , ground breaking and iconic
  • Chapman placed importance on research & development and consultancy that sometimes carried the organization and possibly subsidized it.This principle has continued to the present day.
  • Chapman is renowned for his collaboration with the likes of Ford [cars and engines- Cortina, Twin Cam and Cosworth DFV ], and Vauxhall [ Talbot Sunbeam Lotus / Carlton Omega]
  • Chapman for all his flaws developed talent and developed human potential
  • Chapman had a reputation as a ruthless entrepreneur and through DeLorean was found guilty of fraud
  • Since his death in 1982 Lotus has suffered multiple changes in ownership, financial difficulties but despite this has still produced the award winning Elise that almost twenty years after its introduction still achieves plaudits and remains incontestable in its class;  and with build quality issues in the main resolved.
  • Chapman with his colleagues and engineers contributed much to post war Britain’s reputation as the leader in International motor sport.
  • The Chapman design methodology continued in the Elise is innovation, experimentation, performance through light weight / high power to weight ratios, sheer unalloyed driving pleasure and satisfaction.

Business Philosophy

Laban expresses the Morgan approach: –

“Morgan‘s way is still to build a smaller number of cars with guaranteed sales and to build them with low capital investment, high “craft” content, and maximum flexibility”

It ought to be appreciated that Morgan possesses:

  • Privileged almost unique capital foundation avoiding loans and interest; possibly also avoiding share holders and divisions over policy and profitability[ very recent question on this subject]
  • Possible independent income streams non motor related acting as hedge
  • Enviable reputation, perception and sporting association, possibly allied with  little requirement to advertise
  • Demand / waiting time working both for manufacturer and customer i.e.: –
  • Exclusivity
  • High second hand values
  • Little or no depreciation
  • Low running costs
  • Replacement orders and client continuity
  • High resale value possibly encouraging reordering
  • Low plant overheads and no requirement to relocate to expensive site or new higher labour costs
  • World wide demand acting as hedge against individual national economic crisis
  • High levels of customer satisfaction, allied to long production runs and parts availability
  • More recently acquired “green credential” opened up new market niche clientele successfully bridging over some environmental negativity of sports car i.e. “ethical ownership”
  • Because of lower numbers of ownership possibly permits very high customer attention and service
  • Greater likelihood that Morgan second car
  • Niche clientele desiring a “classic” car with advantages of modern technological under pinning

The conventional economic wisdom of mass production requires high volume, high investment to achieve low cost and hence large sales. Linked to such processes are a tendency towards obsolescence, change and frequent retooling. This strategy can only be successful if the product is correct and that the competition is weak.

Conversely Morgan has followed a more sustainable production methodology even if it were not called this for most of the marques life. Adaptability, flexibility and pragmatism have been the central plank of Morgan philosophy .These practices have much to commend them but are not easily replicated. It seems an attractive formula and one that several manufactures have attempted to varying degrees but not to same success.


The Morgan family suggest the reasons for the marques longevity are:-

  1. Family business, continuity and involvement
  2. Taking a long term view and a reasonable return
  3. Refused outside investment
  4. Not expanded too quickly , minimizing adjustment and contraction
  5. Family financed
  6. Single minded product value
  7. Not made engines  bought in source of core strength
  8. Development costs spread
  9. Policy of evolution
  10. In 93 years of existence there has been 71 years of profit and only 20 of loss.

Motoring journalists have summarized the Morgan magic as:-

  • Styling
  • Eager performance
  • Superb spares
  • Individual feel
  • Easily upgraded
  • Good investment

To which we might add the powerful synthesis of successful evolution and fault elimination harnessed to customer orientation and satisfaction. Many owners will be repeat or multiple of the marque.

Haynes commented succinctly in “Guide to Used sports Cars2 that the 4/4 Series I &II was a:-

“A good, cheap, economical sports car “

And about the Plus 4:-

“As far as reliability is concerned the Morgan has been about for so long that all the faults have been sorted out, and the car is a regular winner in marque sports car races.”

And added that:-

“When the Plus 4 was introduced with the TR2 engine. It was the cheapest 100mph car on the road, selling for £969. The fully substantiated the Malvern Firms claim “fastest at the price”

The Morgan package is undeniably attractive and perhaps deserves the sustainable cachet. However their formula for success is not universally applicable or adoptable although there are principles to understand. Morgan have been able to maintain in existence through a mix of good fortune and sensible management .Other substantial factors are:-

  • Privileged almost unique capital base/ family ownership
  • Fashion , coming and goings and an ability to ride a recent  wave of green thinking
  • Competition and alternatives in the market place. Morgan hold a unique place
  • The margins, volumes on which they are been able to operate.

We are fortunate that the better publications relating to Morgan give important cost breakdowns that reinforce circumstance. This is not so much the case with Lotus.

Morgan explains the burden of legislation and how this has to be absorbed into much smaller production .They also quote the following breakdown, which is revealing with regard to product competiveness, profitability and volume.

Morgan give the figures on a 4/4 costing £25,000 that tax is £3723 and then the following deductions are made:

  • Dealers premium
  • Shipping
  • Marketing
  • Development
  • Chassis
  • Engine /gearbox
  • Tyres
  • Labour

All of which apply on production of around 500 vehicles.

The editor’s quote these figures as they believe objective analysis cannot be achieved with out these insights, and that prospective engineer, entrepreneurs ought not to underestimate costs and that business plans need to be brutally realistic.

It works for Morgan perhaps because:-

“Morgan makes a special kind of car for a special kind of customer and makes cars in their own traditional way while using what ever benefits of modern  machinery and modern methods that they deem appropriate- but by no means all of them………

From the beginning the Morgan design philosophy was largely defined by local geography which but an emphasis on light weight and flexibility…. simplicity and lightness allow for a relatively simple build process producing a car with excellent performance for its engine size and power.

Colin Chapman

Possible the quotation that most encapsulates Chapman design methodology is by Rudd:-

“The most elegant and effective and traditional Lotus solution is the one with the least parts effectively deployed”

This was design mantra that permeated his road and competition cars. It brought him international success through British Club Racing to Indianapolis, Le Mans and seven FI Constructors championships.

The philosophy of Chapman relating to manufacturing cars is complex. He started in a humble fashion with limited resources but considerable ambition and the application of innovation to overcome limited resources.

Success led to him offering services and with the Lotus MK.VI low scale production. The Mk.VI sold approximately one hundred cars in the early mid 1950’s which the editors believe established Chapman both competitively and commercially. These “kits” were for the enthusiast and club racer. At the same time Chapman was developing the aerodynamic racers which were far more expensive, sophisticated with racing engines.

It’s not known categorically if Chapman built cars just to support racing but they did provide finance. To this ends he designed cars for particular racing classes. Overlapping were the road cars like the Elan, Europa. Some of the cars were over ambitious and lacking development and quality control. [This was probably a function of the idealist/ engineering integrity specification overcoming available budget and volume – of course some would argue a proper business plan would have revealed this.

Chapman enjoyed considerable success with collaboration with other manufacturers namely Ford and Talbot.

In the 1970’s he could see that taste , times and expectation was changing and along with VAT the market for the enthusiast kit car such as the Seven was barely viable. He hived it off.

Chapman tried to take the Lotus brand up market through the 1970’s and 80’s but this was not an entire success partly because the product was not the most competitive but perhaps more so the world economy and crisis associated with oil. However the Esprit became iconic as a result of its appearance in James Bond.

Chapman was willing to diversify and this can be seen in theory to be desirable but in practice it was not a commercial success e.g. Furniture, boats and micro lights.

Chapman was implicated in De Lorean.Against the background of other events we might understand the temptation and feelings of injustice but these are not an excuse.

More recently with stability from Proton Lotus has found international success with the Elise [and this is perhaps it’s true to the Chapman methodology and a car suitable for the enthusiast pure driving experience] and improved build quality, reliability etc. Lotus is doing well again in FI

It ought to be appreciated that virtually all Chapman’s designs are essentially green because of their superior mechanical efficiency ensured through low weight and aerodynamics.

Chapman extracted considerable income from consultancy and this applies up to the present time.

Profitability Spreadsheet

Company financial information and production figures for Morgan has been extracted from references and in particular: –

  • Scarlett
  • Laban
  • Morgan & Bowden
  • Wood
Morgan Accounts
Year Profit :£ Deficit :£ Revenue Production
1912 1,314
1913 4,707
1914 10,450
1923 40,841
1925 26,721
1930 499
1937 2,377
1945 10,292
1946 2,000
1949 1,551
1950 618
1952 2,683
1953 543
Morgan Accounts
Year Profit :£ Deficit :£ Revenue Production
1912 1,314
1913 4,707
1914 10,450
1923 40,841
1925 26,721
1930 499
1937 2,377
1945 10,292
1946 2,000
1949 1,551
1950 618
1952 2,683
1953 543
1989 420
“1990′s” Average 1.m
1999 580
2002-2006 1.8m
2003 496
2007 27m [UK]


For Lotus there are few direct references to annual returns however the Lotus Book by William Taylor gives useful information on production numbers and Nye supplements this with some accounts. Financial information for Lotus is not readily available although the A&R have traced some, this will be the basis for an extended article. For our purposed here it will be sufficient to quote Nye.

We understand the following figures applied for Lotus:-

  • 1959               Loss    £29,062
  • 1964               Profit   £113,000       [nb Elan production 1195]
  • 1965                                                   [nb 2505 cars including 986 Lotus Cortina’s]
  • 1966               £251,000 on turn over of £2,156,000
  • 1968               At Hethel Lotus Group profitability  had increased by 11.5 to 16.5 %                                   and  production 1968/69 is suggested at 4506
  • 1970               Profitability dropped to 6.5%
  • 1980               365 cars built  and around this period at it lowest ebb Lotus was                               valued at  only £3m

 Lawrence has stated:-

“At the end of 1963 Lotus …… a total of 1, 1195 Lotus cars of all types were made. On top of that were 567 Lotus Cortina’s .The turnover was £1,573,000…. and  generated a pretax profit of £113,000.The financial figures to not take into account the money generated by Team Lotus , which was paid into the account of Team Lotus Overseas.

Using just one example of race winnings [which is not entirely reliable or representative] we can note that the winnings from the 1966 Indianapolis was $ 77,000 approximately.

Definition of Sustainability in context of Motor Car

There are perhaps many criteria, the editors suggest some of the following might be included: –

  • Localized production, distribution and labour supply to minimize energy
  • Minimum of materials used in finished product
  • Use or replaceable materials
  • Minimum energy used in conversion of raw material to product
  • Long life- function of: design, serviceability, maintainability, relevance, demand, adaptability and spares holding
  • Avoidance of toxic materials especially chemicals
  • Non exploitive labour practice
  • Minimum of machine / automated assembly
  • Minimum of waste
  • Minimum of intense high-risk capital investment accompanied by low debt and interest payments. General contribution to low inflation  [economic reference that depletion of resources impacts on demand and tends to increase price]
  • Risk minimization or avoidance i.e. function of management practice and conduct
  • Individual car processing low running costs as function of: – points above plus low weight, aerodynamics contributing to low fuel consumption and minimum damage to environment in use including emissions
  • As above applied to plant and premises
  • Promoting sense of history, identity, and continuity

ERV: Environmental Rating for Vehicles


On the ERV listing the following scores applied:

Marque Model EVR Score
Smart For Two 61hp 60
Morgan Four/Four 1800 24
Bentley Arnage 2

What contributed to the Morgan 4/4 respectable score was: –

  • Low weight [see below- low fuel consumption
  • Materials used in construction
  • Efficient engines
  • Long life span
  • Manufacturing systems
  • Low volume durable cars
  • Local employment
  • Locational advantages

The following generalized performance figures for Morgan are useful[ sadly at the present time we don’t hold the same comparative data for Lotus but every effort will be made to source].However its well documented that Lotus had considerable success at Le Mans in the Thermal Efficiency Class

Year Model Engine CC Overall mpg Unlaiden Weight lbs.
1936 Four/Four Climax 1122 35 182
1938 Four/Four Climax 1122 35 1642
1956 4/4 SII Ford 1172 36 1568
1951 Plus Four Vanguard 2088 24 1904
1954 Plus Four TR2 1991 30 1876
1968 Plus 8 Rover 3528 18 1979
1978 Plus 8 Rover 3528 20 2128

During the 1980’s for example construction constituted:-

  • Chassis                     Parkerfield &Thompson [ Wolverhampton]
  • Wings and cowls     Eva Bros.’

Body formers were made of green seasoned and laminated ash. This provided for a strong, easily worked material that produced a .light car.Holm suggests that the body comprised 72 pieces in the two seater and 116 in the four seater. Steel or aluminum bodies being available in various gauges.


Weight is a particular good measure of assessing fuel efficiency. Unfortunately we don’t have comparable cd information for both marques to make reliable and consistent comparisons.

The respective weights provide interesting comparisons; particularly when the same engine / gearbox and rear axle might have been used in both marques.

Year Marque Model Weight lbs/ cwt
1948 Lotus Trials Car 1092 lbs
1951 Lotus Mk.III 815 lbs
1952 Lotus Mk.VI 952 lbs
1957 Lotus Seven 924-980
1968 Lotus Seven 1210-1258
1954 Lotus Mk.VIII 1148
1956 Lotus Eleven 1019
1957 Lotus Elite 1484
1962 Lotus Type 23 884
1962 Lotus Elan 1210-1250
1962 Lotus Cortina 1822
1966 Lotus Europa 1350-
1967 Lotus Elan +2 1180-1970
1969 Lotus Seven S iV 1276-1310
1974 Lotus Elite 2240-2550
1975 Lotus Elcat 2450
1976 Lotus Esprit 2218
1982 Lotus Excel 2507
1989 Lotus Elan 2198
1989 Lotus Carlton 3641
1996 Lotus Elise 1518
1946 Morgan Four/Four 14.5 cwt
1946 Morgan Four/Four Coupe 15.5 cwt
1949 Morgan Four/Four 14 cwt
1951 Morgan Plus Four 16 cwt
1951 Morgan Plus Four [laden] 19.5 cwt
1954 Morgan Plus Four 16 cwt
1958 Morgan Plus Four 16.75 cwt
c1965 Morgan Plus Four 1850 lbs
c1965 Morgan Plus4Plus 1875 lbs
c1965 Morgan Four/Four 1460 lbs
c1965 Morgan Super Sport 1680 lbs
1968 Morgan Plus 8 1979 lbs
c1988 Morgan Plus 8 2022 lbs
1991 Morgan Plus 8 2059 lbs
c2001 Morgan Aero 8 2502 lbs

Lotus Elite/ Morgan Plus 4 Plus Compared and Contrasted

A specification for these cars was taken from: –

  • Elite -Motor Sports Car Road Tests [Second series 1965] For
  • Morgan Plus 4 Plus-Morgan Sales Brochure [A&R collection]

The Lotus Elite

The Elite was launched at the 1957 Earls Court Motor Show. It was in production in various forms between 1957-1963.

It must be considered one of the most ambitious radical, sophisticated and technologically advanced cars on the immediate post war period. Its primary source of innovation was the stressed skin fiberglass monocoque chassis [body integral to chassis] for which Chapman took a patent [see A&R articles Lotus Type 25 and Design Patents]. Maximar then Bristol Areoplane constructed these bodies. The rest of the specification was totally complementary and integrated within a strict design control.

The Elite was equipped with a light Coventry Climax FEW engine. In various degrees of tune it produced 75-105 bhp. Front suspension was by wishbone and rear Chapman strut. The weight comparisons of the cars appear in the tabulation.

It’s reputed that the Elite possessed an extraordinary cd of 0 .29.  With all these factors taken together its not surprising that the Elite archived the highest placing in the 1959 Le Mans Thermal Efficiency Class.

It has been estimated that 1030 Elites were produced.

The Morgan Plus 4 Plus

This car ought to be seen in the context of the 1950’s and 1960’s [see A&R articles the Design Decades] and also the history and development of Morgan and its products.

The decades after the war witnessed economic boom higher living standards, greater disposable income, a youth market and an increasing scientific application to design. In the early mid 1960’s intense competition from Japan of high quality, specification and price impacted on the market especially for cars and motorcycles in Britain. Britain own manufacturers like MG. Triumph and Roots were upgrading their product range responding to fashion and the acknowledge advantage associated with an enclosed aerodynamic body package.

Morgan in many circles was considered old fashioned and the motoring press in comparison with other manufactures considered it archaic.

It’s very probable that to address this negative perception that Morgan commissioned the Plus 4 Plus. Other practical considerations may have been weather /climate in the primary purchasing countries and the improved performance available in a closed car.

The Plus 4 Plus was commissioned in 1962. The body design and construction was contracted to Edwards Brothers [Staffs] EB were specialists in the field and who had marketed their own bodies for Ford Specials. John Edwards undertook the styling/ design.

The design brief instructed that: –

  • There be the minimum of alterations to the chassis to accept the body
  • That the overall shape reflect traditional Morgan lines
  • That the marque radiator be retained.

These were not unreasonable and sensible requirements. They were aimed at practicality and hence to cost. They possibly aspired to some modernity with a sense of continuity and recognition.

John Edwards had several sources of inspiration by 1962 not least the M.G.A and Lotus Elite discussed below.

The chassis provided was powered by the Triumph TR 4 series .The body was first built in aluminum from which moulds were taken.

It has been suggested the car was completed in March 1963 at a cost of £3,000. The Plus 4 Plus was then launched at the October London Motor Show. It was offered at £1275 and therefore considerably cheaper than the Elite [see price tabulation]

Only twenty-six Plus 4 Plus were sold but not at a loss.

A comparison of these two cars would reveal that the Elite was: –

  • An extremely advanced specification design and construction
  • It possessed a homogeneity and consistent design methodology through out
  • It possessed a purity of design derived from its scientific conceptual principles
  • Its design origins are almost ten years prior to the Plus 4 Plus
  • It was a risky gamble for a small company. Purchasing decisions are often as conservative as taste. The Elite was really in advance of its time.
  • The Elite suffered several shortcomings possible because of its rushed and under funded development.
  • It was not an entire commercial success and several authors have commented that each car sold at a loss.

The Plus 4 Plus was: –

    • At the time the most expensive car Morgan had ever produced.

Both cars: –

    • Two seater sports cars of light compact design
    • Both bodies were made of fibre glass  [but diametrically opposed structural concepts]
    • Its claimed suffered noise in the cockpit associated with the fibre glass bodies.[the editors not privileged to have driven either car are unable to comment from experience]
    • Were reasonably expensive for the time and the probable clients [see A&R articles on Design Decades and social History –Price relativity. In period both cars represented about 30% of a new house price.
    • Neither manufacturer really suffered from these low volume cars.


Consideration of the M.G. A [1500] is worth feeding into the equation. It was launched in 1955, [Coupe in 1956] with the 1498 cc B engine from the Magnette saloon. With various engines and state of tune between 68-72 bhp was possible. Suspension was independent coil spring with wishbones and a rigid rear axle. Steering was rack and pinion. The MG.A is believed to have been sold for £844 and offered an overall mpg of 27, with an unlaiden weight of 1,904 lbs.

The lines of the car might have been heavily influenced by Syd Evener’s /George Phillips 1951 M.G. Le Mans entry. By most the M.G.A was considered an immediate success and production of 101,801 has been quoted of all types.

The A&R is able to provide fuller technical specification on these models to request. It’s also recommended that the respective sales brochures be consulted [see illustrations]

Product Prices

Year Marque Model Price Notes
1937 Morgan 2 seat 4/4 £210
1946 Morgan 2 seat 4/4 £355 pt £100
Morgan D’headcoupe £395 pt£110
Sept.1950 Morgan Plus-Four £652 inc-p’tax Two-seater
1951 Morgan Plus 4 Coupe £565 pt£315
May.1954 Morgan Plus-Four £830 inc-p’tax
1954 Morgan Plus-Four £585 inc £830 TR2 engine
1955 Morgan 2 seat 4/4 £450 pt£188 100E engine
Sept.1956 Morgan 4/4 Series II £475 pt£239 !00E engine
Apr-57 Morgan 4/4 Series II £778 inc-p’tax
Jan.1958 Morgan Plus-Four £1018 inc-p’tax TR3 engin2
1958 Morgan Plus-Four £677 pt£340 Wire wheels
c 1960-1961 Morgan 4/4 Series 3 £738 inc-p’tax Ford 105E
1962 Morgan 4/4 SeriesIV £530 pt£200 Ford 109E
Oct .1963 Morgan Plus 4 Plus £1275 inc-p’tax
May.1964 Morgan Plus-Four £816 inc-p’tax TR4/4A
May.1964 Morgan 4/4Series V £659 inc-p’tax Ford 116E
May.1964 Morgan Plus-Four £1118 inc-p’tax SS
Sept.1968 Morgan Plus 8 £1487 inc-p’tax
1973 Morgan Plus 8 £1966
Aug.1975 Morgan Plus 8 £3375 inc-p’tax
Nov.1983 Morgan Four Four £8766 inc-p’tax Fiat engine
Nov.1983 Morgan Four Four £8569 inc-p’tax Ford CVH
Nov.1983 Morgan Plus 8 £11651 inc-p’tax
Sept.1986 Morgan Plus-Four £11082 inc-p’tax Fiat engine
1987 Morgan Plus 8 £15436 inc-p’tax
c1968 Morgan Four Four £988 inc-p’tax Ford Kent
Aug.1990 Morgan Plus-Four £17,037 inc-p’tax Rover M16
1991 Morgan Plus 8 £17950 £4898
Feb.1992 Morgan Four Four £17452 inc-p’tax EFI [Ford]
Feb.1992 Morgan Plus 8 £25814 inc-p’tax
Oct.1993 Morgan Plus-Four £19152 inc-p’tax Rover T16
May.1998 Morgan Plus 8 £32489 inc-p’tax 4.6
Mar-04 Morgan Aero 8 £55500 inc-p’tax
2004 Morgan Four Four £24193 inc-p’tax Ford Zetec
2008 Morgan V6 Roadster £31850 £5573
Dec.2010 Morgan 4/4Aero Race £39,005 Full race
2011 Morgan Four Four £29760 inc-p’tax
2013 Morgan 3 Wheeler £25000 Sport
2013 Morgan Aero Super £126900 4.8 V8
2013 Morgan 4-Apr £31500
2013 Morgan Plus-Four £35400
2013 Morgan Roadster £51000
2013 Morgan Plus 8 £85200
c1952 Lotus Mk.VI £400-500 Estimated / specification
Lotus Eleven £872 £1308 inc pt Ford 1172 sv
Lotus Eleven S2 £1690 pt£811 Le Mans
Lotus Eleven S2 £1490 Nett Club
1959/60 Lotus Seven S  1 £892 Eng’£356 Chassis£499
1959 Lotus Seven S  1 £1036 “F”
1959 Lotus Seven S  1 £1546 “C”
1959 Lotus Seven S  1 £536 Kit form Eng’options
1960 Lotus Seven S 2 £587 Kit form
1961 Lotus Seven S 2 £499 Kit form
1962 Lotus Seven S 2 £868
1962 Lotus Super Seven £681 pt£350 inc cr gears
1962 Lotus Super Seven £599 Kit form without cr
1965 Lotus Super Seven £645 Kit form without extra
1965 Lotus Super Seven £695 pt£173
c 1968 Lotus Seven S 3 £775 Kit form
c 1968 Lotus Seven S 3 £1250 Kit form SS Twin cam
1969 Lotus Seven S 3 £1600 SS
c1970 Lotus Seven S 4 £895 Kit form
c1970 Lotus Seven S 4 £1245 Kit form Twin cam
c1970 Lotus Seven S 4 £1265 Kit form Holbay
c1973 Lotus Seven S IV £1487
1963 Lotus Elite £1451 Kit form Special Equip
c 1963 Lotus Elite £1966 inc-p’tax
1965 Lotus Elan £1187 £249
c1973 Lotus Elan Sprint £2436
1971 Lotus Europa £1595 Kit form Twin cam
1971 Lotus Europa £1715 Twin cam
c1973 Lotus Europa Spec £2436
1983 Lotus Esprit S3 £15380
1997 Lotus Elise £20950 1.8i
2013 Lotus Elise £29050 1.6
2013 Lotus Elise £37205 1.8S
2013 Lotus Evora £53080 3.5 V6
2013 Lotus Evora £62290 3.5 V6S

Projected Futures

Morgan: –

Morgan philosophy is to meet customer expectation. Their products will continue with traditional looks, character and humanity without the drawbacks.

More recently Matthew Humphries has undertaken some design work for Morgan.

Charles Morgan has stated’-

“It has to be pretty special, beyond quintessential, above iconic, more than just a brand .It has to have something essential about it tat will go beyond fulfilling people’s expectations. The design has to be right, the engineering has to be right”

Of interest too is the Morgan observation and conduct that relates to the product: –

“Cars customers want rather than designer or engineers think they want”

Into the 21 c the range has included:-

  • Aero 8 [ introduced 2000]
  • AeroMax Coupe
  • Aero Super Sport [ bonded aluminum chassis]
  • Aero Plus 8
  • Life Car
  • Three wheeler from 2011

Into the new millennium Morgan employ a workforce of around of 150 – 170 of which 125 are craftsmen and women.

It has been noted that Morgan have competed and done well at Le Mans .This has continued through 2013 and no doubt will assist sales.


Recently the future of Lotus has been cast into doubt. There have been concerns about its financial viability, possible sale and relocation. Lotus has been owned by Proton since 1996. Proton suggest that the future is secure but we are not privy to long term strategic plans or perhaps the vagaries of world economics and motor car demand.

Recent senior staff have included A.Farikullah and S.Z.Abidin.

Lotus has enjoyed considerable success and international acclaim with the Elise.

In 2002 Lotus were granted The Queens Award for Enterprise. In 2010 five new proposed models were introduced at the Paris Motor Show. These were to be released over a five year period. This seemed too many somewhat over ambitious.

The recent range has included the Elise, Exige, and Evora.

The editors feel that the dilemma that surrounds Lotus is focused on its role. Lotus Consulting possible contribute deign to most of the cars in production today but these are invisible and my necessity secret .Its possibly also the greater source of income. The Lotus production models possible playing a promotional role and show case for the consultancy wing. Their economics partly assisted by shared components or related economies of scale. In absolute accountancy/ economic terms they may not be fully viable. Lotus as such cannot cross subsidize as larger manufacturers might across their range that might include commercial vehicles etc.

Lotus possibly also suffers from placement in the hierarchy of brands. Chapman realized that the economics of the enthusiast sports car was barely viable. He intentionally took the range up market. However in the process reputations, quality, resale value, perception and value for money become critical. No longer in a defined niche competition with the major manufacturers is not easy. Not just Lotus but other British specialist sports cars manufacturers find themselves between a rock and a hard place unable to go back or climb out. Their reputations increasingly becoming regressive and the once predominant purchasing category older and not being seen as so cool as by the younger audience. FI has the means to keep the brand in the forefront of prospective purchasers but this really requires success and is expensive so much so that only the mass producers can afford the cost and potential loss. Chapman achieved miracles with relatively low budgets but he was increasingly aware of the need for ever increasing spend and investment in R&D

It’s to be hoped that Lotus can succeed in the current generation of FI and that this might translate into a wider purchasing appeal in the emerging markets of the East and South America etc.

The Proposed CCM&EC

The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

Consistent with the application of benchmarking is a series of exhibitions based on the display and evaluation of Colin Chapman/ Lotus and their main competitors. This might take the form of contrasting marque histories, competition, and design construction and assembly methods. Noting how history and changing assessments and perceptions impact on marketing etc.

Cars and design objects can be placed in juxtaposition for maximum interpretation value. In addition test runs and other photo opportunities can be exploited.

Merchandising opportunities are extensive.

Cooperation with marque owner clubs and manufacturers museums could be sought.

This provides some exciting opportunities because of the extreme contrasts not least visual in many cases. In addition it allows the proposed museum to examine an important and continuing manufacturing activity so desperately needed which embraces a British success and continuity.

An exhibition and interpretation of this nature also permits vivid graphic and practical demonstrations of sustainability in the more considered holistic context.


It’s worth noting that Morgan has a museum and visitor center at their premises. This applies also too many of the largest quality manufacturers willing to invest, promote their brand, its identity and historical reputation.

Using the comparative analysis that the A&R adopts it’s hoped that the merit of Colin Chapman and Lotus are seen as equally worthy of a museum. As such the investment is intended to:-

  • Promote Car sales and engineering
  • Contribute to national economy through tourism
  • Support and integrate with local economy to support enriched tourism within the experience economy
  • Contribute to the development and education of engineers and entrepreneurs
  • Reduce welfare by increasing education and self-sufficiency and skills
  • Promote the wider cultural dimension of design through engineering

The editors are developing a series of comparative articles that will evaluate Lotus against:-

  • TVR
  • Ginetta
  • Gilbern
  • Elva
  • Chevron
  • Bond
  • Reliant
  • Turner
  • Marcos

Please let us know if you would like other marques to be included and any preference in sequence.




Morgan 100 Years. Charles Morgan and G.H.Bowden.Michael O’Mara Books.2008

ISBN: 9781843172673

Morgan 4/4.Michael Palmer.Crowood Press.2011.

ISBN: 9781847972880

Morgan –First and Last of the Real Sports Cars…Laban.Virgin.2000.


Morgan Plus 8.M.Scarlett.Haynes.2009.



ISBN: 1859608817

Morgan Sports Cars. The Heritage Years 1954-1960.Alderson, Chapman. Atkins. Plus Four Books

Morgan Maverick.Lawrence.D.Loverage Publications.

Morgan Sweep the Board.Alderston&Rushton.Gentry.1978

Original Morgan.Worrall&Turner.Bay View.1992

The Four Wheel Morgan [Vol.II] K.Hill MRP.1980

The Morgan -75 Years on the Road.K.Hill.Blandford.1984

Morgan the Last Survivor. C.Harvey.Oxford 1987


Morgan’s to 1997.R.Bell.MRP.1997

Theme Lotus. Doug Nye.MRP.1986.

ISBN: 0947981098

Morgan at Le Mans.D.Dowse.Temple Press

Morgan Cars 1936-1960. Brooklands

Motor Sports Car Road Tests. Temple Press.1965

The Lotus Book .W.Taylor.Coterie Press.1999.

High Performance Cars.Autosport. [Morgan with a difference –John Bolster- TOK 258]

Motor Sports Car Road Tests second Series. Temple Press.1965

Guide to Used Sports Cars Vol’s I &II .J.H.Haynes.Haynes.c 1965

Lotus –The Legend. David Hodges.Parragon1998.

ISBN: 0752520741

Italics A&R library

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