England-based Morgan Motor Co. explored a little-known corner of its heritage by building a Plus Four that's ready for an off-road adventure. Built in strictly limited numbers, the CX-T has been secretly in the works for several years.
"The Morgan design team has been conceptualizing modern-day trialing vehicles for many years. Around 18 months ago, our investors and CEO, Steve Morris, were in the studio and remarked how incredible it would be to bring one of these drawings to life," said Jonathan Wells, the head of the company's design department, in a statement.
Lifted and spliced with rally genes, the end result is unlike anything Morgan has built in recent memory. While the company notes it has a well-documented history of competing in all-terrain endurance trials, most of the CX-T's predecessors are several decades old, so Rally Raid UK (an expert in building cars for the Dakar Rally) stepped in to help bridge the gap. Durability assessments of the aluminum-intensive platform, the drivetrain, and the suspension system were notably performed before the off-roader received the proverbial green light for production.
The visual modifications made to the CX-T are diverse and too numerous to fully list. It still looks like a Morgan, there's no mistaking it for a Jeep Wrangler or a Ford Bronco, but it sits higher than normal and it wears mud flaps, an external roll cage, storage bags on either side of the hood, and extra lights above the windshield. It's even cooler-looking out back, where Morgan replaced the rear panel with a rack that holds a pair of Pelican waterproof cases, an aluminum toolbox, fuel cans, and a pair of spare tires. If you were to build an overlanding vehicle in the 1940s, this is very likely what it would look like (with the notable exception of the four LED rear lights).
Inside, there's space for two passengers on leather-upholstered sport seats. Morgan hopes future CX-T owners will spend a significant amount of time behind the wheel, so it went to great lengths to make the cabin more practical than the standard Plus Four's. There's a track in the dashboard that can be used to install an adjustable smartphone cradle, a map light, a pencil and notebook holder, and an insulated cooler bag in the passenger-side footwell.
Morgan didn't settle for simply lacing up its roadster in a pair of hiking boots. While designers were channeling the spirit of past off-roaders, engineers were busy developing a new suspension system that can tame the trail.
Wishbones from the Plus Six were installed to widen the track and increase the Plus Four's suspension travel, a modification which required redesigning the wheel wells. Rally Raid UK also fitted EXE-TC coilovers with internal bump stops that were tuned specifically for Morgan's unexpected off-roader and reshaped the exhaust system to increase the departure angle. Take a peek underneath the car (easy; it has over nine inches of ground clearance) and you'll notice it gained a five-piece underbody protection system to minimize damage from obstacles in the trail.
It doesn't sound like Morgan made major modifications to the Plus Four's engine, meaning power comes from a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine sourced from the BMW parts bin and tuned to deliver 258 horsepower and either 258 or 295 pound-feet of torque depending on the transmission selected. It spins the rear wheels — you're out of luck if you want a Plus Four with four-wheel-drive — but what's different here is that the driveline features an electronic differential that also carries a BMW parts number. It's been tested and calibrated specifically for the CX-T, and it offers the driver three modes named Road, All-Terrain, and All-Terrain Extreme, respectively. Each mode alters the degree of differential lock applied: it's fully open in Road, about 45% locked in All-Terrain, and fully locked in All-Terrain Extreme. The final drive ratio was also shortened to cope with the much bigger tires.
Morgan will build eight units of the CX-T and pricing starts at £170,000 (around $236,000 at the current conversion rate) before local taxes and various options enter the equation. Buyers will be invited to work directly with members of Morgan's in-house design team to customize their car. Every example will be hand-built in Malvern, England, alongside the standard Plus Four and shipped to Rally Raid UK's headquarters for final preparation and setup.
The CX-T is the second special project announced by Morgan in 2021. The first was the 4.8-liter V8-powered Plus 8 GTR, a track-bred model ingeniously created using a batch of unused parts and detailed in February 2021.