1976 Morgan Plus 8Plus 8 Super Sport Lightweight
Year of manufacture1976
- Built to competition specifications for the 1976 24 Hours of Le Mans
- Non-standard ‘Traco’ Oldsmobile 215-cu. in. engine with a Triumph TR8 rally-spec gearbox
- Numerous unique modifications for racing
- Offered from over 30 years of single ownership
- Raced, driven and enjoyed throughout its life
Throughout Morgan’s colourful history, the firm’s cars have contested the 24 Hours of Le Mans on a handful of occasions, and Andy Garlick of the UK-based racing team, Team Normog, sought to try his hand at the event in the 1970s. Noticing a change of rules by the Automobile Club de L’Ouest to make entry easier for production sports cars, Garlick thought Morgan’s Plus Eight could be competitive and ventured to Morgan’s factory at Malvern Link to discuss his ambitious plan with factory representatives, including Peter Morgan himself.
Two cars were agreed to be built but unfortunately, the ACO changed its rules again, rendering the Plus Eight ineligible for Le Mans. However, as of the winter of 1975–1976, the cars were already under production. Garlick and Team Normog decided to forget about the project, but John MacDonald of I. & J. MacDonald, the Morgan dealer of Lanchester, Durham, in the UK stepped in to see the project to fruition, and only one car would be built.
According to Morgan factory records, chassis no. R8112 was completed by the factory on 24 June 1976. Further records show that it may have returned to the factory for further development, leaving again on 2 July 1976. Further factory records show that it was fitted with a non-standard ‘Traco’ Oldsmobile 215-cu. in. V-8 engine and a special gearbox (said to be from a Triumph TR8 prepared for rally use).
Its aluminium bodywork and wings were finished in black paint with the interior trimmed red leather with a red tonneau cover and black convertible top and side screens. The car was also fitted with 15-in. wire wheels with centre-lock hubs shod in Avon tyres, front disc and aluminium rear brake drums and dual circuit non-servo brakes, a roll cage and aluminium floor boards, making for a bespoke, race-ready build. Allegedly, at its time this was the widest Plus Eight ever built and the only one with wire wheels.
First registered in the UK with registration no. OTN 4 on 1 July 1976, John MacDonald used the car himself for about 2,000 miles on the road but unfortunately the engine failed and the block was destroyed, necessitating a replacement. Another Oldsmobile block was sourced but with conventional solid lifters. Later sold to David Johnston after a few competitive outings, Johnston continued to race the car after MacDonald converted the gearbox to a close-ratio five-speed.
Passing through Paul Edwards and Charles Windridge in 1986, the suspension was rebuilt to include negative camber, Panhard rod, adjustable Gas-Spax dampers and anti-brake tramp struts, and Windridge competed with the car in the MSCC Morgan Challenge in 1987 before selling it to John Worrall, a well-known Morgan dealer.
Worrall sold it to the consignor in Sweden that same year. Following an engine rebuild during the winter of 1987–1988, which included fitting a new camshaft, the Morgan’s locking rear differential was replaced with a limited-slip differential and ventilated discs with four piston callipers and the front and new disc brakes at the rear, replacing the original rear drums.
Raced in several events in Sweden, it was predominantly used as a road car there before being placed into storage. It would be a wonderful car for either vintage racing events or simply to drive and enjoy on the open road. Boasting a unique story and specification, it is difficult to imagine a more exciting Morgan for the racing enthusiast.
To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/es19.