PH fleet: Morgan Plus 8
The all-new Morgan Plus 8 debuts officially at Geneva but Harris has already got one for an express PH fleet tenure
The Plus 8 is effectively an Aero 8 chassis, the one that also underpins the gorgeous Aeromax and the Supersports, with classic Morgan Plus 8 styling.
Best of both
This new car takes the aluminium underpinnings of the Aero platform, the later 4.8-litre BMW V8 and bolts on a new body. I don't think I'm being unkind in suggesting that this car presents a face, a set of proportions and a general style that many people would have preferred to that first Aero 8. It takes the petite charm of the original Plus 8, which died in 2003, and adds a heap of track width and general menace. It looks five times tougher in the raw. I love it.
Talking of the factory if you don't want to drop a load of money on a car that still uses wood to support its bodywork do not under any circumstances visit Malvern Link. The place is completely compelling, in its own peculiar way just as atmospheric and enthralling as those better known pilgrimage sites in Maranello and Zuffenhausen. I'm not sure there are many other production lines that can genuinely call themselves 'gravity-fed'.
Morgan will be asking £80,000 for the Plus 8 - that's strong money and I won't suggest that in pure objective terms it deserves the same page space as a new 911. But I will suggest that anyone who wants to approach this car in such bleak, unemotional terms probably doesn't get it anyway.
I've just driven home in it, roof down, in glorious sunshine and five degrees ambient temperature. The exhaust noise is addictive, the cabin is tight and, for a prototype, carefully finished - of course a GT3 would have dusted it, but for sense of occasion and making other people smile, I'm not sure many cars could have matched it.
But with that exhaust noise and the sunlight twinking on the three weeny wipers and the heater warming your kneecaps, you just don't care. This might just be the coolest car in the UK, and I'm loving it.
Car: 2012 Morgan Plus 8
Run by: Chris Harris
On fleet since: January 2012
List price new: c. £80,000
Last month at a glance: Invited by Charles Morgan to have it for a month - offer accepted
I took a German exchange student to visit the Morgan factory a couple of years ago to show him proper craftsmen at work. He laughed derisively and said 'this is f-cking st' whilst watching the guys there hand rolling the body panels for the ash framed 8. Comparisons to similarly priced machinery from the land that brought you that sort of attitude are simply stupid.
My dad and I went on a tour of the place donkey's years ago and saw a weird cross eyed grey thing poking out of a small unit. When we went over to investigate we were polite told that this was the prototype department, then given a few details about the not yet released Aero 8. Try getting that at Zuffenhausen or Maranello!