Whenever sports cars are discussed, the debate revolves around several trivial things. The type of engine and where it sits, the amount of horsepower, the top speeds you could potentially hit, two versus all-wheel drive, and so on. Something that’s often overlooked, or simply ignored I think, is the amount of fun it provides. Sure, you can have fun in something that can rocket you down the road thanks to 1.000+ horsepower, but you’re so much faster than everything else around you it becomes really dangerous really quick! There is a car however that on paper shouldn’t really work but in real life dolls out insane amounts of fun! The car in question is the Morgan Super 3, a three-wheeled car with over 100 years of heritage and a humble 118 horsepower driving one wheel only.
As most of you will undoubtedly know, Morgan Motor does things a little differently compared to the vast majority of car manufacturers. For part of its collection of sports cars, it still relies on handmade ash-wood frames whereas every other carmaker has long made the switch to steel, aluminium, or even carbon fibre. And the fact Morgan still uses this, albeit in quite a modern way, is what makes the brand so special to many car enthusiasts, myself included. But as technology progresses, Morgan too needs to keep moving forward despite its devotion to wood frame building. And it’s just amazing to know that something like the Morgan Super 3 still exists, given the stringent safety and environmental regulations in play these days. However, it does do in with the ash-wood frame and is powered by an economical three-cylinder Ford engine.
Over a 100 years old
The concept of the Morgan three-wheeler is well over a century old. This year marks the 113th anniversary since the original Runabout was built, as it was called back in the day. This was basically nothing more than a single-seater cyclecar with two wheels up front and one at the back. It didn’t take long though for people to take it racing which lead to the creation of ‘Grand Prix’, ‘Aero’ and ‘Sports’ models. In production for almost three decades, by 1932 Morgan would also build the F-Series three-wheeler alongside the Runabout. This was a slightly larger variant on the same concept, with room for two and a larger engine up front.
About 11 years ago, Morgan revived the three-wheeler concept with a car very true to the original F-Series models. With a body shaped like the fuselage of a 1930s aeroplane, an air-cooled V-twin engine sticking out the front, two large cycle wheels on either side of it, and one hidden wheel under its tail, it ticked all the retro boxes. And the fact you could even style it as a fighter bomber made it all the better! The Morgan three-wheeler’s very good power-to-weight ratio also made for an exciting ride, with zero to 100kph taking around five seconds and a top speed of close to 220kph. If you are brave enough that is, as you’re rather exposed to the elements! Later variants would be down on power, and excitement, however.
The Morgan Super 3
So with all this history behind it, Morgan is still at it with its three-wheeled riot mobile. Even though the previous generation’s production run ended last year, Morgan already announced it was working on a successor. And that successor is the new Morgan Super 3, introduced earlier this year. While seemingly very similar to the cars that came before it, it is basically an entirely new car. It’s a much more modern car than its retro exterior makes you think it is.
Where the Morgan three-wheeler that came before it had a wooden substructure, this Super 3 is designed as a monocoque, a first for the company. This also houses a 1.5-litre eco-boost engine from Ford, which replaces the outboard 2.0-litre S&S V-twin upfront. Neatly tucked away under the front section of the bodywork, this Ford motor makes 118 horsepower which is more than its predecessor ever made. The engine is bolted to a manual five-speed gearbox from a Mazda MX-5. With a slightly higher weight and different set-up overall, The Super 3 is a touch slower though, at least while sprinting from zero to 100kph. This now takes around seven seconds, which still makes it quite quick, and given the low seating position and literal open-top sensations will surely feel much faster than it actually is. The top speed is similar though, at around 220kph.
The exterior is much sleeker than it ever has been, and quite a bit boxier. While it has lost nothing to its spirit it seems, it does look much more modern and sophisticated. The engine is hidden from view as I said, which means you actually have a grill you can see this time. The suspension is moved inward and mounted to the Heartland-strut, a cast iron cross-member named after the Morgan engineer who developed it. The balloon tires up front are new as well, and underneath the rear section is a normal all-weather car tire.
The interior is designed to withstand a proper beating, as you need to step on the seats to get in and out of as there are no doors whatsoever. It’s obviously quite minimalistic on the inside and you need to like your passenger a bit as you’re literally sitting shoulder-to-shoulder. The dash can come in a variety of materials and colours and is fitted with a digital instrument cluster that seems to come out of a modern fighter plane. Two roll hoops behind the seats protect you and your mate in case you roll the Super 3.
Boatloads of fun
The beauty of such a car lies in the fact you can have boatloads of fun with it, at its very limit. It’s not some finely tuned race-car-like hypercar you’re never going to get to the edge, or something that might be fast but does it without any of the fuel-induced thrills this thing can give off (here’s looking at you EVs!). At just 635 kilograms in dry weight, you don’t need much to have a blast. Morgan reckons 118 horsepower is enough, and I think that’s right on the money. Enough power to make your heart skip a beat every now and then as a front wheel lifts up in a corner, but not enough to scare the living crap out of you each and every time you so much as even look at the throttle. Just check out Top Gear’s video on the Super 3 and see how much of a riot it seems to be!
Of course, all this fun comes at a price. A bear-bones Morgan Super 3 starts at GBP 41,995 but that can quickly shoot up thanks to a very impressive options list. Things like exterior luggage racks, camouflage paint jobs, racing roundels, fly screens (money well spent!), a walnut instrument panel and other things can easily add up to a few more grand on top of the base price. But, in all honesty, it’s well worth it in my book as this sure looks like the maddest, most exhilarating thing to drive, ever!
For more information, please visit Morgan-Motor.com