Morgan: keeping a classic contemporary
At TSDF 2018, Jonathan Wells will reveal how the iconic Morgan Motor Company achieves a lauded marriage of heritage and modernity…
Picture this: “A handcrafted, authentic and lightweight British sports car that is completely unique and links modern design with traditional coach building.” Well that, according to Morgan Motor Company’s head of design, Jonathan Wells, is what makes a Morgan, a Morgan.
The venerable Malvern Hills-based sports car manufacturer is at the heart of the British classic car scene and has carved a niche by developing a product that has the charm of a 1940s classic, yet an almost unthinkable sports car-like underbody that is capable of blistering speeds.
The Morgan Aero GT Limited Edition
“Our challenge is to walk the line between modern design and our traditional values,” explains Wells, who will be presenting the ‘A Classic Looking Contemporary’ session at The Superyacht Design Forum (SYDF) on Tuesday 26 June. Wells did work experience at Morgan while studying vehicle design at Huddersfield University and joined the firm full-time in 2008.
“When I joined, there were four engineers and two designers and now we have a team of 20 engineers and six designers, so the company has really grown in ambition to apply modern design to a fundamentally classic product,” he says.
The Morgan Aero 8
Morgan's factory in Malvern Hills attracts over 35,000 people every year to see the incredible hand-craftsmanship in the flesh, which is something that Wells says adds significant emotional value and charm to the products. And while Morgan has introduced modern design tools to simulate, shape and form rendered visuals, or produce fixtures, tools and prototypes, it uses the latest technologies to enable the company to continue building by hand.
“We use modern design techniques and modern engines and drive frames, but on top of that we’re coach building; we’re taking a wooden frame and hand sculpting it into shape and panel beating sheet aluminium on top,” Wells explains.
Morgan's factory in Malvern Hills
Wells says that history has a knack of repeating itself in the classic car realm. “We’re looking at the details of 1940s cars – brass tones, coppers and wool weave carpets – and they are very popular again now, so we’re able to repeat our past and make it current.”
As such, 2011 saw the resurgence of the Morgan three-wheeler after an absence of over 50 years, and it has now taken it one step further with the introduction of the Morgan EV3 – an all-electric vehicle that embraces new technology while celebrating traditional British motor manufacturing.
The all-electric Morgan EV3
“The Morgan EV3 was interesting from a design perspective,” continues Wells, who will be presenting the product as a case study at SYDF. “How do you maintain the character of a Morgan, yet introduce massive amounts of aerodynamics and new lightweight materials? How can you redefine the three-wheeler without a conventional combustion engine on the front of the vehicle?” Wells asks.
“What we’ve created is an incredibly fast, all-electric car that is exhilarating to drive. It accelerates faster and is faster than a traditional Morgan. It’s a completely emotive experience, which is important for Morgan because a Morgan is a car for an afternoon experience – we’re not competing with a BMW 3 series.”
Wells will be presenting at The Superyacht Design Forum on Tuesday 26th June. Click here to register.
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