Morgan to re-issue classic Threewheeler and start production of low-emission LIFECar
By Ben Coxworth
November 8, 2010
Of all the quirky old British cars, perhaps none has more of a cult following than the Morgan Threewheeler. About 30,000 of the autos were manufactured at Morgan’s plant in Malvern, England between 1909 and 1953, with a number of others being produced under license by Darmont Morgan in France. The Threewheeler was no slouch in the performance department – it could maintain an average speed of 100 mph (161 km/h) on the race track, and one of the vehicles won the 1913 French Grand Prix. Now the Morgan Motor Company is re-releasing the car with its original looks and today’s technology.
The 2011 Morgan Threewheeler will be powered by a Harley Davidson “Screaming Eagle” 1800 cc engine, linked up to a Mazda 5-speed gearbox – probably the only time you’ll ever see those two components together. It will have an aluminum body, an exposed tubular chassis, retro touches such as a leather-upholstered dash and side panels (plus seats), and a “bomb release”-style start button.
Estimates on the car’s performance include a top speed of 115 mph (185 km/h), acceleration time of 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.5 seconds, with 100 bhp at the wheel.
There are no figures being released for fuel economy just yet, although the company states that the car’s sub-500 lb (227 kg) weight and aerodynamics should provide “the ultimate in performance and fuel economy.” The original Threewheelers got around 50mpg (4.7L/100km), which was pretty good at the time.
When it comes to price, it appears to be an “If you have to ask, then you can’t afford it” situation. Given that all of Morgan’s automobiles are made by hand, they likely won’t exactly be giving the things away.
And now for something completely different... sort of
Back in 2007, we looked at the prototype hydrogen fuel cell LIFECar Morgan was in the process of developing, with the assistance of several research institutes and organizations. Now being presented as the LIFECar2, there are plans afoot to actually take the car to commercial production.
The biggest change in the current design is the abandoning of the fuel cell in favor of a more practical series hybrid engine. It will reportedly have a range of 1,000 miles/1,609 km (15 miles/24 km in EV mode), an acceleration time of 0-60 in 7 seconds, and a weight of under 800 kilograms (1,764 lbs). If you want one, be prepared to part with about £40,000 (US$64,572 at time of publishing).