The last surviving independently-owned British car manufacturer is resurrecting its celebrated Three Wheeler more than a century after it first rolled off production lines in Malvern.
The Morgan Motor Company is relaunching a technically advanced version of the classic next year, and has already been swamped with orders and interest from around the world.
The level of enthusiasm has taken the company by surprise, forcing it to double its original targets for production next year from 100 to 200 vehicles.
And it’s not just Morgan that is excited about the launch – the majority of components used to build the car come from a West Midland supply chain, thanks to a collaboration with the Niche Vehicle Network run by Advantage West Midlands.
West Midland firms like Premier Sheet Metal, which makes body parts, chassis firm ABT and Caparo AP Braking have all been involved.
Morgan manufacturing operations director Steve Morris said the new version of the Three Wheeler stemmed from a desire to do something different.
“There was a similar vehicle being made in America and we looked at the opportunity of making this as a project,” he said.
“It was so left-field of what everyone else was doing it just seemed like a great opportunity.
“But what has really exceeded our expectations is just what a pent-up demand for something different there is. Knowing a number of people who have placed orders – these guys have got everything from supercars and Range Rovers to general cars.
“But there isn’t a lot of that sort of product with the pedigree of Morgan.”
The latest three-wheeled model builds on an illustrious tradition at the firm, which made around 30,000 of the vehicles in Malvern between 1909 and 1953.
Many more were also made under licence by Darmont Morgan in France.
The new Three Wheeler, which will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011, will feature the latest “Screaming Eagle” 1800cc engine from Harley Davidson and a Mazda five-speed gearbox.
A sturdy tubular frame and two rollover bars surround the passenger compartment, while an aerodynamic “bullet” hull protects the occupants from the weather.
The driver will sit in a leather padded aircraft-style cockpit.
Morgan expects the vehicle, which has an estimated price tag of £30,000, to achieve 0-60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 115mph.
Mr Morris said Morgan, which has 175 employees, had been expanding steadily over the past decade and the new model would help continue this trend.
“We’ve had gentle organic growth over the last ten years – we built 700 cars last year, 800 this year and are targeting 1,000 next year,” he said.
“We’ve already taken on two new members of staff for the project with, at the moment, certainly another two, three or four planned in total over the coming months.”
Dr Viv Stephens of the Niche Vehicle Network (NVN), which gave a £140,000 grant to the project, said: “We used our network to stage a supplier event at Morgan, which gave our members the ideal platform to demonstrate the expertise they could add in design, development and manufacturing.
“As a result, eight members have become partners or suppliers to Morgan with a further four expected to sign agreements imminently to be involved in the project, which will bring great benefits to the region in terms of jobs created in the supply chain as well as at Morgan.
“Our role at the NVN is to encourage collaborative working to produce innovative and competitive new products, and the Morgan Three Wheeler will be a great example of this which showcases the West Midlands advanced capabilities in niche vehicle design and manufacturing.”