For the first time since World War II the Morgan factory is closed, lying dormant until the UK's lockdown period lifts. But the Malvern-based manufacturer has confirmed that it managed to complete the build of four Plus 4 70th Anniversary models before restrictions kicked in this week. The cars are part of Morgan's last batch of 4s, representing the end of the line for its ladder chassis base. The CX architecture that succeeds it is, of course, already in full swing; so much so that these final Plus 4s were being built side-by-side with their successor, the CX-based Plus Four. Morgan told PH that despite the new car's arrival, it's had no trouble allocating all 20 of the run-out machines.
That's no surprise, really, because a ladder chassis has been part of the Morgan story for 84 years and this 'later' version is now 70 years old. Its replacement is technically better in every way, but there's obvious appeal in owning a piece - the very final piece - of the original Morgan story. Assuming Morgan didn't manage to squeeze each of the completed cars out of the door before restrictions took hold, it's safe to say there are four very frustrated, soon-to-be owners wishing their cars were sat in the garage for them to drool over in these hard times.
Once freedom returns, each of the 20 owners will be given a car that's turned up suitably for an end of the line special. Morgan's skilled workforce is to provide each Plus 4 70th Anniversary a unique finish, with its bodywork - hand shaped and fitted to ash framework like always - painted in Platinum Metallic paint, a nod to 70 years being a platinum anniversary. Inside, there's bespoke embroidery on the headrests, a Ravenwood veneer dash and dark grey box weave carpets, as well as a Mota-Lita steering wheel. The spec's higher, too, with heated seats and footwell lighting as part of the standard armoury.
Morgan's motorsport specialists, Aero Racing, have tweaked the 2.0-litre under the bonnet to now produce 183hp, up from 157hp, shortening the car's 0-62mph time to under seven seconds. Adding to that is an elevated soundtrack, provided by a standard-fit Aero Racing exhaust with a ceramic black tail pipe. Suffice it to say, the 20 waiting buyers - who'll each pay £60,995 for their new cars - have plenty to look forward to in April, May or perhaps June. Just whenever this all blows over.
Thankfully for Morgan, the recent reveal of its Plus Four has been met with no shortage of excitement, so it ought to hit the ground running when business opens up again. The progress made on that CX chassis was clear on our very first go in the larger, BMW B58-powered Plus Six last year. But Morgan told PH during our recent factory visit that the four-cylinder B48-powered Plus Four may hold added driver appeal thanks to its lighter weight. We can't wait to put that to the test as soon as we can.