The Morgan Three-Wheeler is not a car for long journeys. Nor is it a car that was designed for any sort of practicality. In fact, its awkward design doesn’t look like a car capable of surviving on the road.
However, Morgan have maintained their own, independent philosophy with the Three-Wheeler, centred around the driver having a fun, enjoyable experience. Morgan has shunned the modernisation we have come to expect from our cars which instantly sets their products apart from other companies.
There’s no sense of producing anything new or ground-breaking – this is Morgan sticking to their tried and tested formula; nostalgia. And the 3 Wheeler embraces this and a rejection of modern technology more than anything else on the road.
The Morgan Three wheeler – A sports car for Steampunks?
In the Three Wheeler this focussed philosophy is such that basic commodities such as a roof or a door are surplus to requirements. Without the pressure of having to please the majority, the 3 Wheeler can focus on the driving experience. Morgan has only made minor changes for this 21st-century version of the Three-Wheeler. Despite being launched in 2012 you won’t find touchscreens or run flat tyres here.
“A symbol of individuality in an era of mass-production”
The cockpit is an extremely important element of the Three-Wheeler and is central, physically and metaphorically, to Morgan’s design of the car. Its layout is similar to the original car’s design, first released in the 1920s. According to Alan Ball, an iconic World War One pilot and owner of an original Three-Wheeler model nearly 90 years ago, the car provides the closest experience to flying a plane without actually leaving the ground. These references to fighter pilots and planes add to Morgan’s tradition and appeal to car, war and plane connoisseurs.
“The closest experience to flying without leaving the ground”
Alan Ball RAF WW1 Pilot & Morgan owner
But it’s not just in the cockpit where history has been re-invented. References to yester-year run throughout the style and engineering of this car. This is at the heart of Morgan’s philosophy and the historic ideals are what makes the Three-Wheeler such a wonderfully unique and captivating sports car.
The style of the car is certainly more than a nod to its 1920s predecessor, fusing steam-punk and spitfire. This, along with the blistering noise from the engine, will attract plenty of attention from passers-by.
That’s not the end of the attention grabbing nature of the 3 Wheeler either. Anyone bold enough to drive a 3 Wheeler on a cold day will need protection from the elements so a bomber jacket and flying goggles are recommended. This is a car that requires owners to channel their inner fighter-pilot or steam-punk!
The technology of the 3 Wheeler is where the modern elements begin to creep in. Indeed, Morgan wanted the Three-Wheeler to “reimagine the technology that underpins it, updating the model to be relevant for the 21st Century”. The engineering of the car certainly achieves this. The exposed twin cylinder engine is proudly displayed on the front of the car and is flanked by two large headlights. A Mazda gearbox concludes the modernisation plan. Essentially the 3 Wheeler has been made faster, more efficient and gains nothing that distracts from the driving experience.
“The technology and design of the Morgan Three-Wheeler combine to create something wonderfully unique. It really is, by any modern standards, an outrageous car”
Editor – Great British Sports Cars
Driving the 3 Wheeler
What about the all-important driving experience then? This aspect was critical for Morgan to get right. In a nod to the Three-Wheeler’s past, the company claim the new model provides, “unique and celebrated driving experience that made the original an icon”.
You certainly would be hard pushed to find a more unique driving experience… When approaching any speed limit in the Three-Wheeler, whether it’s 20mph in a residential zone, or a motorway at 70mph, the exposed, low slung seat makes it feel far quicker. It is now possible to see where the comparisons between the Three-Wheeler and fighter jet pilots originate from. For instance, reaching 0-60 mph in less than six seconds from a standing start feels ludicrous. Even the relatively low top speed of 115mph must feel crazy (no I didn’t try).
Morgan designed the 3 Wheeler around heightening the driver’s senses. The driver is surrounded with the smells, sights and touch of the car – a building of all senses from inside the car. Exposure to every single element is also standard and with just two tiny windscreens, there’s barely enough to protect you from any rain or debris.
Roaring twin cylinders at the front of the car help with the all-encompassing experience and the “bomb release” starter button ignites a deafening sound from your perch inside the cockpit. As soon as the engine starts, it causes a constant vibration and rattles the car inside and out. Firstly, such an experience adds to the building of the senses from within and out of the car. But it also provides that traditional feel. The rattling, the shaking, the smell of the engine; Morgan wanted the Three-Wheeler to feel like it’s from the 20s, despite being in the 21st century.
Such a design places the driver at the focal point of the engine’s power and pays homage to the odd, but intriguing, style of the Three-Wheeler, which is somewhere between a car and a motorbike.
Although exposed and rattling along with the car’s engine, the cockpit doesn’t compromise the comfortable seating and sleek interior of the car. There’s plenty of space inside the Three-Wheeler and more than enough room for driver and passenger with two spacious seats in the cockpit. However, the upper half of your body will protrude from the cockpit and above the upper parts of the body.
Even the name of the car “The Three-Wheeler” has no element of flash and pomp. It simply says what it is – a car with three wheels. There’s no attempt to be anything else from Morgan. In fact, the car is so simple, there is no need for doors, windows, radios, heating or any modern additions. Such commodities have drawn other manufacturers towards minuscule margins to improve driver experience.
“a rebellion against sanitised, modern motoring”
Morgan on the 3 Wheeler
The driver experiences all they need to from the car itself and the elements it passes through. In this respect, the company achieved its goal of simply updating the technology of the car, without compromising the original, historic elements of the Three-Wheeler.
The Morgan Three-Wheeler is purely a fun, adventurous car which is incredibly unique. In the Morgan Motor Company’s words, it “is a rebellion against sanitised, modern motoring”. The 3 Wheeler could hardly have done anything more to live up to this.
You don’t have to be completing any particular journey to enjoy what the core of the Three-Wheeler really is; a roaring, three-wheeled car with some motorbike elements sewn in between for maximum effect. No glitz, no music, just three wheels, two blistering cylinders and a driver. It’s a timeless, unique and brilliant little car.
I'm fortunate enough to drive classic cars and speak with owners, designers and engineers. This has given me both inspiration and stories to share. I write stories that interest me, from the E-Type replacement that formed the basis of the Aston Martin DB7, to the missing Metro Cooper and the truth behind the Rover 220s nickname. In addition to attending car shows, track days and other informal automotive events for the last 20 years, I have planned & driven various road trips. I once drove to the Nurburgring and back in a day, went karting in Montenegro and also drove through the Florida keys in a Mustang GT. The blog is a passion project so any support is appreciated; whether that is by sharing on social media or buying me a coffee!