The Plus 8 had always been a very popular model. A large percentage of the exports went to Germany, where Morgan had gained in fame, due to some very favourable publications. The two main dealers in Germany, Flaving in Unna and Merz & Pabst in Stuttgart (both can be found on www.morgan-importeur.de, sold all cars they could get and were later joined by even more dealers.
Early this century it became obvious that the Plus 8 was coming to an end, so work started on a new model. The main issue with Morgan has always been: where to find an engine. Ford has been the main supplier of engines to Morgan since the F-type three-wheeler saw the light, except for a few very brief periods. Therefore, Morgan were quite happy to start work on their new model with yet another Ford engine.
This engine was a novum for Morgan though. While all previous production cars had been fitted with either 2-, 4- or 8-cylinder engines, this engine was a 6-cylinder one! Work started with the 2.7 litre V6 engine, which was then fith to American Ford models. The European version was not available yet. The car shown here is the prototype, parked next to the paint shop in 2002.
Yours truly was taken for a test ride in this -still 2.7 litre- prototype. Yet, a works +8 following us, was not able to keep up the pace. It was clear, therefore, that the car had a lot of potential!
While it was uncertain for some time if the V6 Morgan would see production, the final decision was positive and what a good decision this appeared to be!
During 2004, when the last Plus 8s were built, the new model -which was called Roadster- was introduced to the press and the dealers. It was the first production car that had the side louvres pointing inwards, rather than outwards, as had been the case on all louvred Morgans before it.
In true Morgan tradition even a competition oriented version was offered immediately: the Roadster Lightweight. The picture below right shows one of first Lightweights, almost finished, at The Factory in September 2004. The model was equipped with a roll over bar, just a driver's seat with harness, hard top in body colour, quick release windscreen, to name but a few features. They were built with specifications to comply with the new race series for Roadsters.
An optional extra was Road Pack 2, for those who did wish to take their wife/ girl friend out for an exciting run every now and then! Those cars also had a passenger seat with harness.
The Lightweights came in just one colour scheme: Dark Blue with Silver wings. This was equal to that of the Aero 8 GTN cars.
The Roadster soon became a popular car within the Morgan range. Its performance was at least as good as that of the +8. The 3.0 litre V6 engine gave speedy acceleration, reliability and a lower fuel consumption than its forebear. As a result, Germany again became a good export market for the car.
During 2005 a limited edition version, destined for the North American market only, was introduced. Visible external differences were the raised, flexible, bumpers, the sidelights and the front flashers placed under the bumper. They soon sold out, as the number of new Morgans delivered to the USA and Canada had been very limited in the past few decades.
A new development for 2006 was the 4-seater, which became available both as a 2-litre +4 or a 3-litre Roadster.
Matthew Humphries had re-designed the 4-seater's rear end, which now is swept up. This takes some getting used to, but all in all it's an improvement. Also, he designed a new style hood with a more streamlined appearance than the previous 4-seater hoods. Another novelty for the 4-seater was that the side screen supports were painted in the body colour.
This gave the car more harmonious lines in comparison with the 4-seaters of olde, that still had the side screen supports covered with vinyl.
The Roadster has become a much desired model and rightly so. Former +8 owners, who changed for a Roadster, have only one complaint: the much loved exhaust note has disappeared!