Morgan Super 3 is more fun than you've ever had on three wheels. Two front, one in the rear adds up to a good time on any continent.
Brakes and steering are both manual, the five-speed transmission is from a Miata and is manual, the feeling is completely analog, just like the old days.
Prices start at under $54,000 before destination, etc.
You don’t so much drive a Morgan Super 3 as you become a part of it. There you are, perched atop a single, skinny, mid-mounted rear wheel, behind two even skinnier front wheels, and somewhere aft of a naturally aspirated Ford three-cylinder engine from the UK-market Fiesta ST.
You, head poking up into the airflow, protected by a full-face motorcycle helmet with the visor flipped down, are merely another part number in this whole, glorious, mechanical cacophony.
It’s both lovely and only somewhat terrifying at the same time.
Morgan Motor Company has been making delightfully communicative sports cars for 114 years. The company started when H.F.S. Morgan built his first three-wheeler—not terribly unlike this one—in 1909. Morgan Motor Company has been making three, and four-wheeled fun-based automobiles ever since.
There are advantages to the three-wheeled approach to automotive design. Not only does it cost less and is naturally more sporting, but you skirt most of those troublesome crash tests, so it’s much easier to homologate for US sales.
Homologation has plagued Morgan in the US since the first dealers were established here in 1951, resulting in one point where US-spec Morgans suffered the indignity of running on propane to meet our government’s stringent emissions requirements.
Right now the Super 3 is the only Morgan sold here, though they hope to have the new, four-wheeled, Plus Fours authorized for sale in America within the next month or two.
Now it’s three wheels that do the trick, meaning the Morgan Super 3 is technically a motorcycle, hence the helmet.
Regardless, driving this is unlike driving anything else on wheels, no matter how many.
First, look at what you have to do just to get in: You flip your right leg over the sidewall, don’t put it on the seat, put it on the crossmember forward of the seat, place your buttocks on the top of the seat back, flip your left leg into the footwell, slide down. Kerfloop, you’re in. Believe it or not this is easier than it was in the previous Morgan 3-Wheeler.
Then realize you forgot—again—to take the key out of your pocket. Struggle halfway back up, get the key, slide back down, and try and put the key in the slot under the steering column. Adjust the steering wheel and the pedal box until both meet your measurements. Then try and get the seat belt to engage.
Slide halfway over to center, click buckle, slide back, pull seat belt tight. Twist key, flip up cover for start button, hit button once, wait till lights come on, hit it again and, ka-frap! The engine starts.
No one, except maybe a British automotive engineer, is ever going to be able to steal this car, or power trike. So there’s another advantage.
The third comes as soon as you put it in gear and drive away: This is a remarkably communicative experience. You’re not driving a car and you’re not riding a motorcycle, you’re somewhere in the Twilight Zone of automotive engineering, and it’s a uniquely entertaining place to be.
The Ford three-cylinder makes 118 eager horsepower with 111 lb-ft of torque, more than enough to launch the 1400-pound Super 3 off the line and out of a corner. The Mazda-Miata five-speed manual feels short, precise, and engaging.
The torque easily spins the single rear tire in first and second gears without you really trying. The steering is direct like you’ve never felt before.
So, is it the best-handling thing you’ve ever driven? No, it’s its own creature. The front suspension is upper and lower A-arms with pull-rod coilovers holding it off the ground. The rear is a swing-arm, like a motorcycle. The front wheels look like they have no camber at all, which maybe they can get away with because the car weighs only 1400 pounds.
The steering and brakes are manual—there’s no boost to help you, but also no boost to interfere with the experience. It feels like an open-wheel formula car of some sort, but it doesn’t grip like one. Those front tires are skinnier than skim milk: 130/90R20 Avon Speedmaster MKIIIs in front, a single 195/65R15 Avon WS7 in the rear.
You’d think it would slide all over the place but apart from getting rubber in first and second, the tires kept the car in line the whole time I had it. That included a spirited run up Angeles Crest Highway to the Good Vibrations Breakfast Club. I pushed it hard enough, but never got it to slide around.
It was a sub-freezing day, at least in the shadows, and I didn’t want to be found in a canyon 5000 years from now like that guy Ötzi, the glacier mummy found at the bottom of the Austrian Alps. Maybe I should have pushed harder, just to see what it would do, but it was still a thoroughly alluring experience without sliding around.
Was it fun? Yes. Was it as much fun as it looks like it should be? It was fun.
And it drew a crowd. Everywhere I went people loved it. Right out of the parking lot a distinguished gentleman in an Alpina BMW 7-Series pulled up, smiling and nodding. Youth slowed traffic on the freeway to take cell phone photos. People in suburbia yelled, “What is that?” Everybody liked it.
Will you like it? It costs $54,000 before tax and destination. People have paid a lot more to get less attention. And it is fun, about as much fun as you have on a motorcycle, but not a sport bike—more like a classic British bike, captivating and exemplary.
A jolly good time. Should you buy one? Yes, of course you should. It’ll fit into your garage perfectly—in that space between the Thruxton, the Ariel Square Four, and the Healey.
Three wheels good? Or not? Let us know in the comments below.