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Morgan to re-issue classic Threewheeler and start production of low-emission LIFECar


November 8, 2010

Morgan Motor Company is re-issuing its iconic Threewheeler automobile

Morgan Motor Company is re-issuing its iconic Threewheeler automobile

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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).

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Somehow between the ultra elegant MG TC and the Mog the first half of last Century in Britain surely produced some wonderful vehicles. A TC won the second Press on Regardless Rally in Northern Michigan. These were absolutely beautiful machines.

But, when talking with the famous suspension designer from Detroit, Bill Allison, who\'s work was known by Sir Clive Moulton, Jay Leno and others versed in the real history of the automobile, Bill warned that no legitimate suspension designer would ever condone a 3 wheeled layout because they are inherently unsafe.

My aesthetic admiration never waned but heed must be paid to engineering intelligence. Bill in his later years perfected the wind engine hitting the theoretical maximum of 59% efficiency and he pointed out that Regan, in demanding Go, consigned the Challenger crew to their fate. Macho just goes so far.

So while I am thrilled aesthetically and would love to see one beautifully chromed as well, any ride would have to be taken with extreme caution.

This is a double edged sword.


Island Architect

\"The wind engine?\" A wind turbine? If three wheels are so bad, how did it beat four wheelers in the 1913 French GP? Obvouisly handling is not that bad if the limitations are taken into account. There is a lot of confusion about three wheelers even by the educated. One wheel in front: Bad. One wheel in back: is actually OK. Four wheels is better overall for maximum handling and designing to conventional vehicle layout and suspension design, but losing one wheel also has some weight and aerodynamic advantages. A modern race car will beat a decent three wheeler, but everyday drivers should be able to push them to reasonable limits ...with two wheels in front. Extreme caution is not required. The recent Top Gear program lambasting a one wheel in front three wheeler design was correct that you could not drive one as most people drive today, but neither can an original Model T. There are several two wheel in front three wheelers on the market today that handle very well.

Mark in MI

My three wheeled Berkley 350cc twin, was, although very spartan in construction, quite stable and handled pretty well, and I remember on an open exhaust, putting the ess aitch one tees up a trilby-wearing Ford driver who had cut me up on the then new M62. Great days! Ian Colley.


It should be mentioned that only brave souls would drive those old Morgans at 100mph. Still they are fun to watch at the vintage races.

Facebook User

@ Bill - Hmmmmm 3 wheelers unstable. Yes and No. Three points of contact on the ground with an even loading are always going to be more stable.

The three wheeler instability is not based upon the principle of three wheels, it\'s the weight location and the HEIGHT of the center of gravity.

The next principle is how hard are you prepared to set it up as being more than less unstable, AND how hard are you prepared to drive it so as to place the vehicle gradually into the instability where it begins tipping over / rolling.

While your point has some merit - 4 wheels cars will become airborn - if you drive them fast enough.... or they will lose traction if you drive them around hard corners fast enough.

If as much weight as possible is centered around the inner triangulation point (COG of the front to rear and the COG of the left to right), and the weight is kept low - they are pretty good, stable and predictable.

Anyway - getting a motorcycle and side car around a corner on 2 wheels - is only a matter of degree - :)

Mr Stiffy

Like a motorcycle, any three wheeler will probably kill the average nitwit consumer, after all, they kill themselves with monotonous regularity in modern autos, which are pretty idiot resistant.that said, three wheelers can be economical, efficient and fun transport, my uncle built one in the thirties from an Indian chief 1200cc motorcycle, with a model t ford front axle and a bucket seat each side of the engine,I remember doing 100mph in the thing as a kid, what a ride! These days I get around on a greenspeed human powered trike, which has great, sharp handling and excellent stability, the thing is, it s the skill of the operator that determines the safety of any vehicle.


I think this is coming back since the EU is introducing US-style CAFE standards for the first time. Now all manufacturers are scrambling for a high mileage model, and low cost model, to ad to their line to bring their average fleet economy up to the standard.

Michael McDonald

I am surprised that \"Island Architect\" has seen fit to trot out the same arcane and misguided nonsense here about the instability of 3wlrs as he did about the Dymaxion.

Despite having the blindingly obvious pointed out to him by myself and several others, both here and in the Dymaxion comments, I fear he is beyond rational argument. His case seems to be based solely on the anecdotal opinion of one man, who was engineering massively heavy (and thirsty) American sedans and limos in the middle of the last century, none of which could have kept pace with a Morgan on a winding road.

I just wish he would stop discouraging others from experiencing the potential benefits and enjoyment available from owning and driving one of a large and rapidly increasing choice of well designed and engineered 3wlrs.


Yeah COG (Center Of Gravity) - draw the lines over the plan view or picture of the car, to make a triangle from the contact points on the ground - and then see where the seats are (inside the triangle) and then work out the height and location of the combined average of the masses, above the ground, and then do the sum of the force vectors at different cornering speeds, to see at what speed on what radius corner/s the moments of inertia drive the inner front wheel into an actual lift or -9.8KN (?) reaction force.

It\'s one thing to have an opinion - it\'s another to have a pencil, paper, a mean disposition and a loud voice.

Actually - this Morgan Contraption, is one of the very few vehicles that I\'d really like to use as a daily commuter.

Mr Stiffy

If I\'m wrong,I\'m sure somebody will correct me.

As I understand it,these cars have an open-differential type drivetrain up front(of course)which means that one wheel revs&spins helplessly upon lifting while the other wheel no longer receives power,decreasing speed as the lifted wheel comes back down.

This self-governing feature,when combined with a separate rear brake,allows for amazing \"flying\" of these vehicles in wheel-to-wheel combat with much faster and more powerful vehicles. Nothing could beat them in the corners.

No wonder they were banned!

Granted,this required a skilled operator but I for one find them fascinating and ingenious when in the hands of such a man. -g

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