The drophead top doesn't compress very well, and in the "down" position often gives the appearance of a car packing a mattress

HF. S. Morgan couldn't have guessed back in 1910 that the DNA of his first trike would form the basis of generations of Morgan sports cars. Or that the appeal would extend from pre-WWI owners to more worldly men and women nearly a century later.

More sophisticated enthusiasts might call H. F. S. the first automotive masochist but to most, the whole Morgan concept is a joyous mystery. As Cecil Clutton once wrote about the three-wheeler, "Morgan addicts claim it's the safest thing on wheels: lesser mortals just think the addicts are very brave."

Porsche owners are very similar in their dedication (although their kidneys can't take the ride qualities of a Morgan) and so are MG, Triumph, and other single marque devotees.


In 1936, after 25 years of contrarianism, Morgan moved into the four-wheel market, dominated up until then by MG and Singer. Three-wheeled competitor BSA made the move a few years earlier, but its feeble Scout was unsuccessful. Morgan's competition record, traditional sports car styling, and competitive price led to on-going success-although some might argue the price advantage has been left behind.

Morgan made four-cylinder Ford-powered three-wheelers for five years after WWII, but the stark, V-twin Super Sports was gone the way of the Supermarine Spitfire. Morgan's focus shifted to four wheelers exclusively when the 1,267-cc Standard-powered, four-cylinder, 4/4 was replaced by the Plus 4.

The Morgan Plus 4 appeared at the 1950 Earls Court Show and the first Plus 4 models were sold in 1951. They were fitted with a four-cylinder, 68-hp, 2,088-cc Vanguard engine, which provided 70% more power than the 4/4's sidevalve four-cylinder. The Vanguard engine was eventually phased out in 1958 in favor of the Triumph TR3 unit.

Optional on all other Plus 4s from 1953-1955 was the more robust engine from the Triumph TR2. It provided an additional 22 hp, before it was eventually replaced by the 100-hp TR3 unit.

SCM Analysis


Number Produced:est. 433 (all with Vanguard engines)
Original List Price:$2,650
Tune Up Cost:$350
Distributor Caps:$40
Chassis Number Location:Stamped in right cross-member near gearbox
Engine Number Location:Left side of block
Club Info:Morgan Sports Car Club
Investment Grade:B

This maroon Morgan Plus 4 drophead coupe sold for $21,715, including buyer’s premium, at the Bonhams auction on November 15, 2006 in Harrogate, England.

It was described as fitted with its original black leather interior, with its British registration reinstated; the presence of October 2007 MoT papers assured roadability.


One of only 433 dropheads built from 1950 to 1969 (the last Plus 4 DHC built was in January, 1969), this is allegedly one of just 26 built with dual rear spares. That makes it one of the rarest Morgan body styles, a drophead with the updated 1954 “fencer’s mask” grille, but the “toast-rack” rear.

Chassis #3178 last sold in February 2001, via Bonhams & Brooks, for $12,566 as a ’55 model. At that time it was described as a sound example that had sold at a “bargain” $8,000-$10,000 below market value.

In the Bonhams catalog, the original owner is recorded as a Dr. Allan of Bridgenorth, Shropshire. (Or is that Dr. Allen of Stourbridge as noted in the earlier catalog?) Somewhere along the line it was reportedly restored to a high standard.

When sold in 2001 the DHC had belonged to a French photographic historian for the past quarter of a century. Brought back to England, it was slightly refurbished and repainted.


Finding an original Morgan is a bit like finding an original race car. Owners through the decades were more concerned with using their sports cars than pampering them. That hasn’t affected prices a great deal, as new Morgan owners tend to look for cars to use as well, rather than trailer queens.

The original Standard Vanguard engine has been upgraded to what’s described as a 2.2-liter motor that was incorrectly noted in the sales catalog as Triumph TR2 unit. But previous documentation revealed the motor had been changed in the past to 2,138-cc Triumph TR4 specs, a common upgrade in keeping with the factory progression. In any event, the lump under the hood is the one you want to have.

The drophead coupe sports a fixed A-post windscreen, taller suicide doors, and added interior walnut trim. The coupe also features detachable side windows and a top that folds neatly into the bodywork. Heavier and described as more comfortable than the two- or four-seater roadster (which wouldn’t be hard) the DHC is respected for its styling, not its performance.

Even more wood goes into a DHC than a roadster, so as long as wood worm, rot, etc. haven’t feasted on the body framework, there’s enough leeway to refurbish the interior and not lose money when it becomes time to move on. As a caveat, however, some sources reckon about seven years is the limit for a wood frame if the car is used daily and parked outside.


Drophead coupe styling is very subjective. Although much admired and often rare, it is not necessarily what potential enthusiasts lust after in a sports car. A roadster top folds down (or falls apart) into nothing, whereas the formal drophead top includes a heavy internal frame and an inner liner. It doesn’t compress very well and in the “down” position often gives the appearance of a car packing a mattress. (Lack of interest in this writer’s Allard DHC, currently offered for sale, confirms the lukewarm appeal.) Where are the folding windscreen, the cut-down doors, the panache that comes automatically with a roadster?

The pre-auction estimate had been calculated at roughly $23,000-$27,500, higher than the sale price. The estimate was fair in my opinion, which makes this 1954 Morgan Plus 4 Drophead Coupe a very good buy. U.S. asking prices for a very presentable, solid #2 Plus 4 Mog tend to be set at an artificial $5,000-$10,000 more. Those that actually sell normally fall in the $25,000-range. Recent auction sales also reflect this fact. There are exceptions, of course-concours examples, Le Mans models, and Super Sports.
Morgan owners are the Hare Krishna of car enthusiasts. This totally dedicated group has a very different view of what both a three-wheeled and four-wheeled automobile is all about. It’s a cult steeped in tradition with a wardrobe blend of Sherlock Holmes, Billy Bishop, and Andy Capp.

Morgans, like T-Series MGs and even Porsche 911s, are widely available and the market is slightly soft. Despite that fact, a Morgan is an exceptional automobile for any collector’s garage-whether a present cult member or a future one.

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