1968 Morgan Plus 8

Courtesy of Bonhams

Searching for new engines in the 1960s, Morgan concluded a deal with Rover for supply of its all-aluminum 3.5-liter V8, thus creating a car — the Plus 8 — that combined vintage charm with Cobra-like grunt.

Morgan’s Plus 4 chassis, strengthened and extended, formed the basis of the new car, while the existing Moss 4-speed gearbox was retained. After a successful debut at the 1968 London Motor Show, production commenced at about 15 cars per month and continues to this day, although they now have BMW power.

While the traditionally styled Morgan’s brick-like aerodynamics restricted top speed to around 125 mph (more than fast enough for most people driving an open car), the Rover V8’s 168 bhp and 210 ft-lb of torque made for supercar performance through the gears. Indeed, in its later 3.9-liter form, the Plus 8 proved quicker by 80 mph than the contemporary Porsche 911 Turbo.

This all-matching-numbers early Morgan Plus 8 is the 22nd example of this landmark V8-engined model to leave the factory.

It was supplied new in February 1969 to the Half Moon Garage in Yorkshire.

Benefiting from a six-year, six-figure, ground-up restoration undertaken in the USA from renowned marque specialist and concours-winner the late Robert Couch, the car must be one of the best of its kind currently available.

Robert Couch is famous as restorer of the historic Morgan TT Replica CAB 652, previously campaigned by Peter Morgan, which in 1980 was overall winner of the prestigious Chinetti Concours at Lime Rock.

Carried on a new chassis, the aluminum body benefits from an all-new timber framework. Restored for Morgan’s 75th anniversary, although it did not make it to the U.K. for the celebrations, this Plus 8 comes with concours awards testifying to the quality of the restoration.

Acquired from the estate of the late Stephen S. Lester, SCV 901G has been stored in a climate-controlled facility as part of an extensive private collection of vehicles where it has been looked upon as a work of art.

The Morgan recently got an update that was done over two years. The work included a brand-new race engine installed by JE Developments, a recognized specialist in the preparation of Rover V8 engines. This engine breathes via SU carburetors to accommodate FIA regulations.

The other race engine built by Robert Couch had on tap a massive 288 bhp and 275 ft-lb of torque (documented) and is included in the sale.

Despite its greatly enhanced performance, this car is said to cope equally easily with town driving or touring, and must be one of the quickest road-going first-generation Plus 8s around.

For a year of its time away, the Morgan was at Richard Thorne’s workshop being fitted with every new FIA update required for historic racing, hillclimbing, and rallying anywhere in the world (Period G1 1966–69, valid to December 31, 2026).

All the work was bespoke in order to avoid drilling the body or dashboard to accommodate cut-off switches. The new FIA roll bars (front and rear) were custom made to ensure a perfect fit, while the side-impact bars were taken down below the door line to make getting in and out as easy as normal.

All this was done at great expense in order to preserve Robert Couch’s original workmanship. Even the spare-wheel cover has no external screws securing it to the rear frame; it simply slides in from underneath, making it easy to remove in order to refit the rear bumper and spare wheel for rally events. The car comes complete with full weather equipment, spare wheel, boot rack and tonneau cover (made to fit the new roll bars).

This well-documented car comes with its original restoration bills and is described as perfect for all uses.

Paul Hardiman

Paul Hardiman - SCM Senior Auction Analyst - %%page%%

Paul is descended from engineers and horse thieves, so he naturally gravitated toward the old-car marketplace and still finds fascination in the simpler things in life: looking for spot-weld dimples under an E-type tail, or counting the head-studs on a supposed Mini-Cooper engine. His motoring heroes are Roger Clark, Burt Levy, Henry Royce and Smokey Yunick — and all he wants for next Christmas is an Alvis Stalwart complete with picnic table in the back and a lake big enough to play in.

Posted in English