Morgan has officially ended production of its steel ladder chassis after 84 years of service, with the last of the line Roadsters succeeded by the new Plus Four earlier this month. The latest four-pot model, which uses BMW's turbocharged B48, is based around the same CX platform as the Plus Six, providing it with significantly better structural rigidity, crash safety and handling. It remains draped in hand-shaped body panels held in place by ash framework, but all the heavy lifting is done by modern architecture.
That's all well and good for the Johnny-come-latelies, but what if you mourn the Morgan of yesteryear? Well, there's no shortage on the used market, with the Roadster in particular having been produced in strong numbers right up till its final days. In fact, Morgan told PH on a recent visit to its Malvern HQ that demand had increased following the announcement of its demise. Evidence, if we needed some, that some people adore the tradition knitted into that retired ladder.
Of course, the Roadster isn't all old. The car gets a modern Ford V6, meaning this 940kg soft-top has the legs to hit 62mph in 4.9 seconds and supplies the Roadster with turnkey reliability, something which couldn't be said for some of the model's forbears. And with such little mass onboard, the car's always had decent road holding - albeit of the old school, somewhat unrefined kind (all part of the 20th century charm).
The same mix of usability and classic charm continues in the cabin, where a Roadster has chairs trimmed in leather bolted directly to the floor. Ahead, more wood appears on the dash, there are Smiths dials (obviously) and a Moto-Lita wood-and-aluminium steering wheel to tie it altogether. Peer underneath and there's a modern stereo system, but it's hidden away so as not to spoil the look, as are the heating controls. The roof mechanism is, um, you, because the rag top needs to be clipped into place. To remove it and tuck it away, you'll need to be good at folding. It's an authentic experience.
Things will be much more functional with the new CX-based successor. The Plus Four is a more polished car that will no doubt be easier to live with, let alone drive. Morgan reckons the Four's use of BMW's elastic 2.0-litre means it will be genuinely engaging at pace on the right road. Which is an exciting prospect to anyone who previously associated Morgan with flat caps and docile trips to watch village cricket.
But that doesn't undo the appeal of a very British two-seater that rattles a bit. Today's Spotted, a very low mileage 2008 Roadster, is just the ticket. It's low mileage and in seemingly brilliant condition, so its next custodian needn't be jealous of those last of the line Roadsters. It suggests the woodwork and steel frame beneath will be in healthy condition; underwritten by the car's fresh MOT certificate. It's being sold at Bell and Colvill, which is actually celebrating its 50th year of business this month. A bit of history, from a bit of history. Lovely.
SPECIFICATIONS | MORGAN ROADSTER
Engine: 2,967, V6
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 226@6,150rpm
Torque (lb ft): 204@4,900rpm
First registered: 2008
Recorded mileage: 9,900
Price new: £34,990 (2004)
Yours for: £41,500