The four-cylinder Morgans offer a traditionalist twist on open-air thrills – and they represent a great sports car investment if you buy sensibly. DAVID SIMISTER shows you what to look for
Morgan turned to a variety of manufacturers to give the original Plus 4 the oomph to match its charming looks, but here we’ll be focusing on the TR3-engined version, which was introduced in 1953 and used right up until the advent of the TR4 nine years later.
This particular Plus 4 was also the first to abandon a flat radiator grille in favour of a cowl which flowed into the bonnet – a styling feature which continues to be a Morgan hallmark to this day.
Morgan Plus 4 (1953-1962)
Power (bhp@rpm) 105bhp@4650rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 127lb ft@3350rpm
Top speed 100mph
Gearbox 4-speed manual
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
The best places to check for corrosion are the sills, side members and sill boards, particularly important as this particular vintage of Plus 4 predates the debut of Morgan using rustproofing.
Check the chromework too for signs of pitting, because while specialists can restore it to its former glory, it can highlight how well the rest of the car has been looked after.
One of the biggest problems with Morgan’s use of ash frames in its construction is that most of it’s hidden away. A good way to gauge the condition is to check the wooden rockers below each of the doors, and that both of them close properly; one that doesn’t can indicate signs of rot around the door hinge posts.
Thanks to sharing its engine with another 1950s sports car – Triumph’s TR3 – there’s plenty of support and spares available to help tackle any mechanical maladies. However, it is prone to leaking oil around the rear crank seal, so check for oil leaks around the rear of the engine.
More imperative is the Moss gearbox, for which parts are harder to come by. Make sure you’re happy that it’ll happily engage all the gears, and walk away or haggle if it shows any signs of wanting to jump out of gear.
Check the kingpins for signs of excessive play, and that they have been greased regularly. Inspect the leaf suspension at the rear to make sure it is free from cracks or any signs of sagging. Brakes can be prone to seizing on with little used examples. Take a decent test drive to ensure you can live with the Morgan's 'lively' suspension characteristics too.
Give the seats, carpets and trim a thorough check. Haggle accordingly if these are in tatty condition. Checking the hood forcondition, especially if you intend more than summer use. Pay attention to instruments and switchgear as some older components are harder to find and you’ll be into getting parts re-conditioned.
There are plenty of Plus 4s to choose from and if you’re not familiar with older cars you might be better off with the much later Fiat and Rover engined versions made after the model’s 1985 rebirth, which look similar but offer an easier ownership experience.
The older Plus 4, however, is a rugged, depreciation-proof sports car that’s built to last.