If Morgan’s recent run of nine GTR specials felt like a wild and wholly unprecedented move, then that’s because history hasn’t remembered the car you see here with sufficient fondness. A number of parallels run between the Aero 8 GTN and Malvern’s most recent V8 special, not least in the pair’s shared sense of sheer madness. The Aero 8 GTN isn’t quite as rare, mind, with a princely 11 of them populating the planet. Practically mass production, huh?
Produced in 2004, the GTN applied a new blue and silver colour scheme – Mauritius Blue and Titan Silver, for those with a persuasion towards PTS pedantry – to the oddly melted face of the Aero 8. We ought to start with the styling, really, because it hijacked a few too many headlines when the Aero launched in the early Noughties. After years of wanting Morgan to move with the times and give us something modern, we all recoiled upon seeing what that actually looked like. The various AeroMax and Aero Supersports iterations that followed massively improved aesthetic matters, although, to our eyes at least, the Aero 8 hasn’t ever truly grown into its face, which resembles a sort of Bo’ Selecta! caricature of all the usual Morgan emblems.
But it’s what lies behind the mask that we’re enthralled by. The GTN wasn’t merely an excitable day for Morgan’s glorious paint and trim department, but a flight of fancy for the engineers in the building that runs parallel. Rather than a stock 4.4-litre BMW V8, like you’ll find in other eight-cylinder Mogs of the era, the GTN got a 4.6-litre Alpina unit producing a mite over 330hp while hooked up to a six-speed manual transmission and a bespoke exhaust system. Centre-lock Oz wheels came shrouded in Yokahama Advan AO48 semi-slick tyres.
Enough, all told, for a mightily impressive lap of the Top Gear test track, the contemporary Stig whipping it round quicker than an Exige or Ferrari 575, as you can see here [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZ3YggFKoYg], that uprated powertrain in full, scintillating battle cry. Who knew a Morgan could be driven so deftly around a track? Well, until Gambon, at least…
The carbon fibre hard-top is removable, shrouding a traditional soft-top below, while carbon adorns the dashboard too. It feels like a Morgan designed and made for people who aren’t usually on board with the idea of them. Perhaps reflective of those suspicions, all GTNs were pieced together in a cluster separate from the rest of the Malvern manufacturing flow, much like its modern-day forebear – the Plus 8 GTR – has been.
If you narrowly missed the cut for one of those, there’s a heck of a lot of its spirit bubbling through a car almost 20 years its senior, here wearing just a whisker over 17,000 expertly serviced miles. Its funky semi-slick tyres have since long gone, but unless you’re genuinely planning on taking it on track, we suspect a bit of extra tread is more than wise if you’re to utilise a decently sized portion of its Alpina-sourced power in our haphazard climate. Without making an extremely scarce car somewhat scarcer, anyhow...
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