It was developed in-house from the ground up in just five years and when it entered production late last year it was the largest project undertaken by Morgan in more than 90 years of sportscar manufacture and the first completely new Morgan car for more than 60: the Aero 8. A gross weight of around 1000kgs and the 4.4-litre BMW V8 engine give the aluminium two-seater one of the best power-to weight ratios of any production sports car.
The Aero 8 project began with the works GT2 racer, designed and raced on the GT championship circuit during the late 1990's. The GT2's all aluminium chassis is closely related to the production Aero 8 - developed jointly by Morgan, Alcan Aluminium and Birmingham University in the UK and tested using the facilities of BMW, the chassis utilises the latest bonded aluminium technology to deliver high torsional rigidity, strength and durability. Morgan is the first European vehicle manufacturer to use this technology in a production, though GM and Ford are experimenting with the material in prototypes in the US. Interestingly, Alcan is conducting an ongoing long-term trial of its adhesive-bonding systems in South Eastern Australia - the joint samples are attached to the underside and top of a large freight truck and trailer in constant use and exposed to a range of severe conditions.
The engine features VANOS variable inlet valve timing and generates 286bhp delivering acceleration from 0-100kph in less than 5 seconds. Stable cornering and road holding ability are the result of the Morgan designed suspension system, a low centre of gravity, race-bred braking system and an aerodynamic shape combined with the rigid aluminium alloy monocoque tub. Morgan design team technical chief Chris Lawrence, in describing the chassis and suspension development notes that: "We are not, and never were, in the business of developing the drivetrain. We bought the best drivetrain you can get, the BMW 4.4-litre V8. What we were in the business of, and what we have achieved is the building of the chassis that allows you to use that engine's performance to the very best effect, and which BMW in particular are very impressed by." Positioning the cylinder heads out under the front wings is one of the innovative solutions to problems in incorporating the large square V8 engine into the Aero 8's long tapering bonnet and classic shape. The long transverse wishbone system is also unconventionally arranged at the front to fit around the engine, resulting in a small turning circle even with 9" wide tyres.
Priced at $228,000 plus on-road costs, the Morgan Aero8 made its Australian debut at the Melbourne Motor Show in March and is distributed by Morgan Cars Australia, phone
03 9593 6588 or visit the distributors web site on www.morgancars.com.au.
The manufacturer's internet site is at www.morgan-motor.co.uk.