Morgan Plus 4 | PH Used Buying Guide

In the mood for something sepia-tinted and depreciation resistant?

By Tony Middlehurst / Saturday, December 4, 2021 / Loading comments

Key considerations

  • Available for £35,000
  • 2.0-litre petrol inline four, rear-wheel drive
  • Last of the traditionally chassised Plus 4s
  • More about entertainment than infotainment
  • Don’t expect sophistication
  • Don’t expect depreciation

Search for a used Morgan Plus 4 here


Soichiro Honda once famously remarked that ‘in the future there will be just half a dozen car companies… and Morgan.’

On a purely commercial level the continued existence of Morgan is puzzling. Business guru and troubleshooter Sir John Harvey-Jones made a TV programme about the company in 1990. After viewing the collection of Herefordshire sheds between which Morgans at various stages of construction were being wheeled by pipe-smoking, apron-wearing artisans, an aghast Harvey-Jones declared that the operation was hopelessly outdated and underinvested and predicted that the firm’s long run would come to a spanner-clattering halt in five years unless they doubled production and increased prices toot sweet.

Despite very little heed being paid to Harvey-Jones’s advice at the time, Morgan managed not only to survive but to thrive. In fairness to the late Sir John, the company did eventually accept the wisdom of his words. Outside investment was brought in, production was streamlined, and prices were lifted. Somehow though you suspect that even if none of that had happened the pipe-smokers would still be churning out cars like the 2005-20 Plus 4 that is the subject of this week’s buying guide. That’s the power of emotion when it’s applied to a car.

For those who ‘get it’ and who take the plunge, a Morgan Plus 4 often turns out to be the best car they’ve ever bought. It’s a classic car with most of the drawbacks of classic car ownership removed and with the bonus feature of classic car value retention or even, with the right example, value growth.

When the first Plus 4 came out in 1950 with 68hp from its 2.1 litre Standard Vanguard engine the ‘plus’ bit told you nothing more complicated than the fact that it was the more powerful brother of the 1.1 litre 4/4 which had been around since 1936. The 4s in that name referred to the number of cylinders and the number of wheels it had, the latter being an important marker at a time when Morgan was much better known for its three-wheelers.

The ‘new style’ Plus 4, if we can call it that, was relaunched in 1985 with Rover M16 engines which were replaced in 1992 by the newer T-16. One year after that the chassis was switched to the wider and roomier one used in the 1968-on Plus 8.

In 2000 the Plus 4 was shelved to allow the company to focus on the Aero 8, but it came back in 2005 in the shape of the car we’re looking at here. The new Plus 4 was powered by a 145hp 2.0 Ford Duratec inline four and had a five-speed manual gearbox that was replaced in 2012 by a Mazda MX-5 five-speeder.

There was much excitement in 2014 when the Duratec lump became the GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine. An upgrade with Morgan’s first ever in-house ECU remap took the car from 145hp/140lb ft to 154hp/148lb ft, knocking a couple of tenths off the 0-62 time if you were interested in that sort of thing. That made it the most powerful Plus 4 ever. In the best Morgan style practically nothing else changed, not even the price, which at that time was £36,285.

A 110 Works Edition was released in 2019 to celebrate the company’s 110 years in business. That was a big year for another reason: the arrival of Italian investor Investindustrial, who took a majority shareholding in the company and started turning Harvey-Jones’s 1990 suggestions into reality.

In 2020 there was a run of twenty 70th Anniversary Edition Plus 4s in platinum grey with a gold-painted chassis and wheel spinners. This year (2021) the Plus Four (as it’s now called) has been substantially revised. Actually, that’s incorrect. Although it still looks like something a bloke wearing a leather flying helmet, bomber jacket and white silk scarf might have driven to a grassy Kent airfield during the Battle of Britain it’s effectively a completely new vehicle, sharing just 3 percent of the previous model’s components.

Beneath that wartime bodywork is the all-new CX Generation bonded aluminium platform first seen in 2019 in the Plus Six. The Plus Four’s 255hp/295lb ft BMW 2.0 TwinPower turbo engine came with either 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual gearboxes. The result is an unlikely-sounding performance stat sheet with a top speed of 149mph and a 0-62mph time of 4.8sec.

These are genuine 21st century numbers but if you prefer a less surreal relationship between speed and shape – and a much lower price – then the pre-2020 145/154hp model will be more up your street. The new bonded-chassis BMW-powered Plus Four retails at £65k (manual) or £67.5k (auto). Used Duratecs start at around £35,000. Build dates for that money are going to be a lot nearer to 2005 than to 2020 but on that score you’ll benefit from the everlasting appeal of an unchanging shape and from mileages that reflect the ‘high days and holidays’ use to which the vast majority of Morgans are put. Very few 2005-2020 Plus 4s have done more than 30,000 miles, whatever their age, and most are sitting at under 20,000.

Thirty-five grand for a 2005 Morgan still isn’t exactly chicken feed though. Is it worth the money? Does something as vulgar as money even come into such an emotional purchase? Let’s don our Biggles-style goggles and take a sepia-tinted squint.


Engine: 1,999cc 16v inline four petrol
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): [email protected],000rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],500rpm
0-62mph (secs): 7.5
Top speed (mph): 118
Weight (kg): 927
MPG (official combined): 28.8mpg
CO2 (g/km): 162
Wheels (in): 15
Tyres: 195/60
On sale: 2005 – 2020
Price new: £36,285 (2014)
Price now: from £35,000

Note for reference: car weight and power data are hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it’s wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.


The Plus 4’s 2.0 engine is friendly and tractable from 1,500rpm making it a good everyday unit and the throw of the MX-5 gearbox is quite a bit longer and easier here than it is in, say, a Caterham. It really suits the car. The redline is at just 6,850rpm but revving to kingdom come isn’t what this car is about, and owners totally understand that. A sports exhaust for Bertie Wooster type popping on a gentle overrun was much more on the money. If you must have serious performance Omex Technology in Cheltenham offer throttle-bodied Duratec 25 engines with variable camshaft timing and 190hp on standard cams, or up to 310hp on full race cams.

The standard 2.0 is understressed in the Plus 4 and pretty reliable as a result but cooling problems weren’t unknown on pre-2014 engines. The 2014 upgrade from 145hp to 154hp addressed that. It was accompanied by a general sorting out of the mechanicals and an improvement in refinement that makes these later cars worth buying if you don’t actively want fewer of the old-school rough edges and you can afford the outlay.

Although extra civility has been added to the Morgan experience in recent years the cars are still a long way off S-Classes in terms of their suppression of noise, vibration and harshness. As such you should be aware of things that might come undone over time and also make sure that hoses are in decent nick on older cars, even or perhaps especially on low milers that haven’t had much regular warmth put through them. Many Morgan problems are associated with under-use. On the engine side that can include old-school faults many of us will never have experienced, things like sediment accumulation, dried-out gaskets and the like.

Before 2010, Plus 4 servicing was every 5,000 miles or 12 months. After that the mileage intervals were extended to 10,000 miles. Typically you’ll pay £300-£400 for an annual service. Parts availability is excellent through the dealer network or a scattering of specialists like VSM in Malvern. Insurance costs are pleasantly low. The official combined fuel consumption figure seems quite pessimistic at under 29mpg when you bear in mind that high 30s and low 40s are easily achievable, giving a potential between-fills range of at least 400 miles from the 55-litre tank if you could trust what is anecdotally a fairly random fuel gauge.


We can trace the Plus 4’s underpinnings as a whole back to 1936, which makes it the longest-running production car architecture in motoring history. That means old-school maintenance of the leaf spring rear/sliding pillar front system is still the order of the day, even or especially if you’re not doing many miles and not bothering to adhere to the annual servicing schedule.

A more accurate description of the front end (whose design goes back to 1909!) would be sliding axle because the ‘pillars’ or kingpins are actually fixed and it’s the axles that go up and down. Even hard-chromed kingpins need greasing every 2,000 miles at the outside. Diligent owners of earlier non-chromed pins will do it every 500 miles. Few Morgan kingpins last for more than 20,000 miles however well you look after them.

Both ends of the car have modern telescopic dampers to assist the main suspension components which at the rear are live rear axles and six leaf springs (seven on four-seaters). The bouncy ride is more 20th than 21st century, and not even late 20th century at that. Hit a hefty bump at the wrong speed and your spine will most definitely know about it, but it’s all in keeping with the image of the car. The leafs can sag or crack and the dampers can leak. Leaf springs aren’t very good at preventing axle tramp under hard acceleration, but you can get anti-tramp bars to mitigate against that or you can convert the whole shebang into a full telescopic system.

Ask the average Joe in the PH street to say what’s unique about the traditional (i.e., not the new bonded) Morgan chassis and there’s a good chance they’ll say it’s something to do with wood. Tree-meat is indeed used in the underskin construction, specifically laminated and preservative-dipped ash because it’s lightweight, durable and very flexible. That makes it easy to work with and, Morgan says, adds a degree of vibration damping, but ash is not used for the main chassis. It’s used for the frame on which the aluminium body panels and interior leather components are hung.

The actual chassis is a traditional ladder in a mix of steel and aluminium, mainly steel that has been galvanised since 1995 with stainless steel specified for the bulkhead and valances from 1998. Given that metal recipe and the cossetted life enjoyed by most Morgans, the structural rust that could blight older cars’ footwells and crossmembers shouldn’t be an issue on newer Plus 4s. Even so, a crash can crack any non-monocoque chassis and in the Morgan’s case it’s the points at which the engine is mounted that are most vulnerable to fracture. In this case patch-welding seems like a poor option when new chassis members can be ordered from the factory at reasonable prices.

Although the new bonded-chassis Morgan four-wheelers have power steering, the Plus Four generally doesn’t. It was an option between 2014 and the end of 2016, but then Morgan took it off the options list. Most drivers get on fine with the standard unassisted setup but aftermarket power systems are available if you’re struggling. If the steering seems unduly heavy it will probably be down to worn or insufficiently greased track rod ends. These need to be lubed every 5,000 miles at least. Steering column universal joints also wear. The wood-rimmed Moto-Lita wheels are stunning, but any wheel will pass on authentically violent wartime kickback to your hands when a pothole is encountered. Body control is something other cars have so total concentration is required at all times. It’s all part of the fun.

Look out for any obvious signs of under-use, for example cracking, perishing and/or squared-off tyres, as these can flag up other lurking issues like seizing brake calipers and master cylinder problems. Seems odd to be pointing this out but Morgan brakes have been servo-assisted since the late 1990s. You don’t really want super-grippy or low-profile tyres on a Morgan. Whatever you get at replacement time won’t be expensive because they’re only on 15in stainless wire wheels. Alloys or 16in wheels were expensive options.

At this point we should mention the Plus 4 Supersport, fifty of which were built in 2011. This tribute to Morgan’s racing successes featured a substantial range of performance and aesthetic upgrades including Minilite wheels, a heavily revised dash with stopwatch timing clocks and a ‘banjo’ steering wheel, adjustable shocks, an anti-tramp bar, Panhard rod, limited slip diff, a throttle-bodied variable cam engine putting out 200hp and a lot more. Go to the end of this story and you’ll see a link to one on PH Classifieds. Quite the tool.


As per tradition, you could get the Plus 4 in either two- or four-seat versions. The four-seater had something of the skip about it (dumpster, for US readers) and it looked especially clumsy with the roof up, but none of that really mattered when the sun was out and you were gazing down that long louvred bonnet remembering the good old days, if you were old enough, or wondering what they might have been like if you weren’t.

To the owner of an Audi, Morgan panel gaps will seem horrifically large but as long as they’re even you should have nothing to worry about. No worries about having to replace costly electric windows either as the Plus 4 didn’t have any windows as such. It had removeable sidescreens that weren’t quite as easy to detach and re-attach as those of a Caterham.

What might be a source of worry however is the cutaway doors seeming a little difficult to shut, or the hinge pillar assembly apparently moving along with the door. In either of those scenarios there’s a fair chance that the car you’re looking at has rot in its ash frame. Sorting this out will cost at least £1,500 a side. Crossmembers can go too, as can the rear numberplate mounting sections and the sill boards. In reality these woody issues shouldn’t affect comparatively recent Morgans like the ones we’re talking about here, especially if they’ve been well looked after (as most have), but if you can noticeably press your fingernail into any exposed wood then it’s bad news. You can get a new body tub which comes as a panelled ash frame for around £4,000, but fitting it will obviously rack up a substantial labour charge.

As mentioned earlier, all the body panels have been aluminium for a long time now, but corrosion can still attack lower door edges or sidelight/headlight nacelles, on the front wings where they’re attached to steel support brackets, or anywhere where holes have been punched into the body for fittings.

Morganowners-to-be select their paint colour from an array of painted wings and body panels hanging from the walls of the paint shop. There are 40,000 colours to choose from. When you factor in all your options there are over a trillion combinations, so it has never been hard to create a literally unique Morgan if you were prepared to be sufficiently imaginative in your choices.


Although the Plus 4 did get a wider cockpit in 1993 it can still feel pretty cramped and the ‘legs shot forward under a low steering wheel’ driving position won’t suit everyone. 6ft 3in is usually quoted as the maximum driver height but to be sure and save yourself what might turn out to be a waste of time you should try one out for comfort before you start any used car search. Some dealers, like Melvyn Rutter, offer a hire service that’s handy for this purpose.

Assuming you do fit, the cabin is a nice place to be once you get used to the squeaks, rattles and wobbliness. Some say that the centralised main instrument layout of a Morgan was designed for easy manufacture and nothing more. Whether that’s true or not we don’t know but the design, such as it is, is distinctive even if it’s not massively user-friendly and the controls are well weighted.

Realistically you won’t be having many conversations with Plus 4 passengers at normal speeds. That could be an advantage if you don’t like your passenger. If you’re planning on doing a lot of fast top-down motoring – which is what most owners do because even the later fabric roofs (manually folding, by the way) aren’t particularly waterproof – you may as well eBay any radio that might be fitted. If you do get caught in a shower with the top down, it’s a good idea to hide under a bridge for a bit as water can drip through from the bottom of the dash or get trapped in the dash area and cause expensive damage. The seats look comfy, and you could get them heated but they are a bit lacking in lumbar support. The heater is volcanically hot.

Another thing that might negatively influence your decision to buy a Morgan is the absence of a boot. You’re obliged to put your luggage on a rack, which kind of restricts your options if you’re on a tour and fancy spending a day on the beach. People might look at you in a funny way if you’re basking in your budgie-smugglers with a big leather suitcase parked next to your sun lounger. You can mount a bicycle on the back of a Plus 4 using the same sort of sucker arrangement that some of the luggage racks use. It looks weird but it works.

The navigation system is a map shoved in the door pocket but you do have the facility to charge your phone.


Once upon a time, ready cash was only one element in the exhausting process of getting yourself a new Morgan. The other was yogi-like patience to get to the front of a waiting list that was several years long.

Having to wait all that time certainly added to the mystique of ownership but the thrill was beginning to wear off by the time the Morgan family saw the sense in taking on outside investors. Things have changed since then. The wait for a new Morgan has shortened to between six and twelve months, or no time at all if you like the look of a cancelled order that you might well find sitting in a dealer showroom.

This is meant to be a used Morgan guide, and the good news there is that increased production has obviously increased the number of used cars for sale. The new car flow still isn’t big enough to budge used Morgans out of the low depreciator category, so don’t expect to find any bargains or to intimidate sellers into slashing a few grand off the asking price. What you can expect once you’ve sunk your cash into a Morgan is strong value retention or even growth if you keep the miles down. Then you can work the market to suit you, which in motoring terms is one definition of happy days.

At the time of writing there were 22 Plus 4s (2005-20) available on PH Classifieds. The most affordable was this handsome 13,000-mile 2005 car in Indigo Blue with grey leather at £34,950. For around £1,500 more you snip 7,000 miles and five years off with this red 2010 car with black leather seats. It’s only done 8,000 miles but it’s got 9 service stamps in the book.

Up at the top of the money tree is one of those 2011 Supersports we were talking about earlier. It’s big dough at £54,995 but it’s the second one in the fifty-car run, it has done just 7,000 miles and it has all the evokery (if that’s a word) you could possibly want. If you’re after a post-’14 154hp GDI car, you’ll be swimming in a mid-£40k pool. The cheapest one we found on PH was this 2016 car, again in red. With just 2,500 miles recorded it’s predictably spangly but the painted dash might lose it some marks among fans of wood.

As a final note, for much more specialist knowledge that we’ve got here you could do a lot worse than getting in touch with Allon White, the world’s longest established Morgan dealer situated in Cranfield, Beds. Last year, Allon White’s experienced sales manager Phil Benfield published a buyer’s guide to 1985-2019 Plus 4s. You can get it on Amazon for just over a tenner.

Search for a used Morgan Plus 4 here

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