Morgan Plus 8.
More thoughts on choosing a great classic, from Tom in the USA
It's Called Eclat, My Boy... ECLAT!!*
*French for: glamor (of an event); commotion; all around great fuss!
You've just received the invitation.
You and the little woman are beyond ecstatic. After all these years out here reading about the Martha Stewarts, the Martha Grahams, the Baldwins, the Hiltons, the Schmiltons, the Pollocks, the Schmollocks, the Whozits and the Whatzits of the Hamptons; all those poseurs, artists, actors and statesmen -- the living, breathing descendants of all that Gatsby business-- of which you are both sick and envious... AFTER ALL THOSE YEARS...!!
Yet here it is, right in front of you: The invitation to the Wedding of The Year AND IT HAS YOUR NAME ON IT! A late June extravaganza the dimensions of which you can hardly imagine.
OK... The Plan.
While you wife is thinking of the proper gift and just the right dress, you are dealing on much, MUCH higher plane: The Grand Entry! LA GRANDE ENTREE!!
You know that the evening reception will doubtless be the gathering place of some of the most remarkable machinery known to man. (This is the Hamptons, man!) The Bentleys; the Astons - both DB and Vantage; that Mercedes Behemoth that you weren't even sure was on these shores yet; those Italian jobs that make you think there really is an Italian Space Program; the fab Porsche GT2, right out of Le Mans. They'll be there! And you know it!
You begin to sweat.
What chance do you have, you ask. What the &^%$#@! could I show up with that could even make a dent of an impression? The wife's Camry? Forget about it. My Subaru WRX? Oh, common'... Dime-a-dozen Soccer Mom stuff...
You may laugh at the first solution, but I've witnessed this with my very own eyes.
Because... I was there!
A gorgeous, sultry evening in the uppity horse country of Buck's Country, Pennsylvania... The cars are arriving for the evening's festivities... One Ferrari after another (-- in the era when the 328 was King --); the Porsches; and, of course, the Rolls carrying Daddy's precious cargo: The Bride to Be... The Woman of the Hour... or so she thought...
And then, from out of the night, a bright, yellow, Beetle convertible comes into the floodlights. Wide whitewalls, two smiling bridesmaids within and it was all but over for Miss Virgin White-Lace. It stole the show! All heads turn, point, and smile!
I swear, I could have read the Ferrari owners' minds!
'...25 times cheaper than mine and no one gave me those looks!'
...and the bride!
'Well, crap!...' she surely was thinking, giving ol' Dad the Death Stare for not thinking of this.
And poor dad! His expensive Rolls entry -- his one and only daughter's Grand Moment -- crushed by Two Chicks and a Bug!!
Ah. but it was the second car, immediately behind -- the raison d'etre of my article today -- that really knocked them off the porch.
From out of the shadows it emerged. A milky, off-white apparition that truly could have had Gatsby's ghost aboard (the ultimate invitee!) thus stopping everyone in their tracks. It spoke History for sure, but that sound was definitely late 20th Century. That long-hooded, low-to-the-ground chassis; the goggled driver with head cocked to the left as he feathered on the power through the last left turn of the long driveway, looking more like the pilot of a Sopwith Camel of WWI vintage than anything from our era...
This was drama at its best, my boy! To hell with the wedding!!
Everyone unfroze just enough to move and, forgetting what they were there for, came off the porch -- zombie-like -- for a closer view. Deer caught in a timeless headlight of a first-class act! A welcome I hadn't seen since the newsreel clips of Lindbergh's arrival in Paris! Even dad! ...The groom! They all veered in for a closer look!
Last in line -- but there nonetheless -- were the Ferrari owners. Even they had to concede, chagrined as they were, that they saw more Ferraris in the course of a month than one of these.
It seemed that only the bride was pissed beyond recompense. Her Day of Glory! Squashed beyond hope by this outrageous anachronism... this... this... Morgan +8 Roadster!!
Days of Glory
If you haven't guessed, t'was I, the very one writing this now, who ruined that poor girl's wedding... But Oh! ...For the joy of it!
And what a lesson for those fools in the overly expensive hardware it was! They had no chance against this car -- eight times cheaper than their own -- to out dazzle the Young Maidens or outclass the Old Money. Good God it was fun!
Of the many cars I've owned, there was nothing, repeat: NOTHING, like the Mog for making a statement anywhere, anytime and with any car in attendance.
And the drive?
I know the Countach moniker (Holy Crap! In the original Piedmontese dialect) is reserved for the wild Lamborghini of the early 70's. But that was for the looks of the thing, sitting there, unbelievably, on the podium at the Geneva Auto Show. Yet that very same phrase adequately describes the wild, Toady-Goes-To-Market, Bugs-In-Your-Mouth, Scarf-a-flying sensation in a Plus 8, at speed, on a winding country road.
Almost as much fun as ruining that poor girl's wedding is the sight of my passengers' white knuckles from the corner of my eye as I gear down for the next heart-stopping curve. Oh, for the joy of it!
The joke always was that the steering wheel was initially useless in navigating a turn in this low-tech (no-tech?), wooden-framed anomaly from Middle England; that you first had to steer the ass-end around the tight bend by punching the throttle and only then could you fine-tune the results with that round thing in front of your chest. Then you exhale the heady breath of survival !! -- of actually coming out of the turn alive! And yet you smile. (Your passenger has by this time reacquainted himself with the faith of his fathers.) This is the true automotive experience!
Compare your ride with that Carerra immediately behind you! That bored, overweight guy on the cellphone making that very same turn one-handed as his wife applies lipstick at the apex of the turn -- and it doesn't even smudge!
Porsche hasn't made a true, everyday sports car since the early 70's.**(See below) Since then they've been trying to be everything to everyone. A Lexus, MG, Mercedes, a sitting room, and a sports car. Sorry guys, it doesn't work that way. Every pound added to air-condition your wife's ankles -- no matter how much horsepower you add to compensate -- never does compensate. (My '75 +8 Morgan was under 1900 lbs. The Carrera: over 3000. Oink.) Only this ghastly age could create that car and that couple. Too bad. The Porsche of Legend is now history.
Ah, but the Mog, my friend... this is for real men from the romantic age. (And you'll have the palm blisters to prove your manhood. Power steering!? Ha!) As one laudatory magazine article put it, 'One of the few things they haven't ruined yet!' A tiny company that hand-makes only a few per year ( -- waiting lists have stretched as long as 12 years -- ), the Morgan Story is worth a book... of which there are many.
It is such an inspired breed of motoring that it has recently inspired a wild work of fiction. If you are any kind of racing fan, the following fanciful version of Morgan Motor works taking on the Big Boys at the Monaco Grand Prix (Formula One) will only whet your appetite for more on this anachronism from England's Malvern Hills. By all means, check this one out: http://www.xlibris.com and Search for "Miracle at Monaco". Absolutely wild!!
As for the car and your upcoming wedding gala in Bridgehampton, Ascot or wherever... You'd better hurry! With the recent death of the second scion of the company, the third -- grandson of the founder and now President -- has decided to do something that neither of his predecessors thought... well, very dignified: To streamline production and go for the Pounds i.e., The Bucks! (...Here it comes... the encroachment of 'Detroit-Think' and those wonderful folks who gave us the Exploding Pinto, the Food-For-One-Trip Edsel, and the Mexican-Jumping SUV.)
Handmade anything form Morgan may soon be a distant dream, but what is not in doubt is the demise of the fabulous Plus 8, scheduled to end its production this year.
Now, as a collector, I can't be too sad about this... And as a potential buyer, neither should you. You know, if there are too many Testa Rosas around...
But still, a world without the Plus 8...
Take advantage of this article! Get one NOW before the price of these beauties goes interstellar. And then you, too, can have the Ultimate Power: The ability to ruin every #$%^#! event on the Town & Country Social Calendar! -- Just by showing up!
** Porsche tried to address its "weight problem" in 1989 with the release of the 'Club Sport', a lighter version of the ungainly products from which they just couldn't seem to wean their comfort-loving but critically important American buyers. But, alas, it was a futile attempt to revive interest in the bare bones, halcyon spirit of yesteryear. Their American cousins had gone soft and far too tame for a real track car. Steve McQueen, alas, was dead. They were more interested in having a popcorn maker in the glove box and watching good ol' Steve on the Big Screen than imitating him on the back roads.
One would have to go back another 15 years, to 1973, when the Porsche RS first came to these shores. And man, it was worth the wait. This was and is the Gold Standard for the 911-- everything Ferdinand Porsche dreamed of and more. Americans, it seemed, before the Great Gas Crunch of that year, were different, too -- more adventurous... expansive, even. With gas under 50 cents a gallon they could afford the extra hardware: A real road machine in the garage, just for those special days... They seemed more connected to the 'spirit' of the thing, more deferential to the sporting life. Watkins Glen was still host to Formula One.
Even though the RS has returned several times beginning in the early 90's -- and in the body of the 993, it was quite a scooter -- they all fall short of the elan that characterized the original. Compare 2800 lbs. for the 993 vs. 2100 for the original RS. More gadgetry only serves to detract from what God intended when he let us build these things.
So, if you absolutely insist on a real Porsche and have an extra 70+ grand hanging about... contact me! firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Time: The Boy Calms Down (Somewhat) And his 3rd car was..
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