The swansong of Morgan’s first new design in almost 50 years

Introduced in 2001, the Aero 8 marked the beginning of a new era for Morgan. Not only was it the first new design since 1948, but the Aero 8 was also the company’s first vehicle to use an aluminum chassis and frame instead of its traditional wooden body tun and steel chassis combo. It was kept in production until 2010, when Morgan launched the AeroMax coupe and the SuperSports Targa, and revived in 2015 with mild updates. Come 2018, and the Aero 8 is getting the ax again, but this time around production will end with a more extreme iteration that’s called the Aero GT. The big unveiling took place at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, and only a handful will be built before the Aero 8 goes into the history books for good.

The Aero GT is described as a "gloves off" model, and Morgan says it was developed using the lessons learned from the company’s GT3 racing victories. Yes, it’s Morgan’s most extreme road-going model to date. The Aero GT is far from new though, as it was conceived during the development of the 2015 Morgan Aero 8. Morgan doesn’t say whether it wanted to shelve the project or not at first, but the Aero GT never saw the light of day until now. With production of the Aero 8 slated to come to an end this year, Morgan will close the production line with eight examples of the Aero GT. Let’s see what this new sports car has to offer in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Aero GT.

Morgan Aero GT Exterior

- * Le Mans-inspired features
- * Louvered front fenders
- * Aggressive rear diffuser
- * "GT" badges
- * Carbon-fiber roof
- * Yellow accents
- * Lowered ride height
- * 1960s-style roof scoop

Morgan Aero SuperSports GT3
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The British firm actually redesigned some body panels for this model, which seems heavily based on the race-spec Aero GT3

Unlike other limited-edition models from Morgan, the Aero GT is more than just a regular Aero with mild improvements. The British firm actually redesigned some body panels for this model, which seems heavily based on the race-spec Aero GT3 that Morgan introduced in 2009. The Aero GT is the closest road-legal thing to the Aero GT3 and it only needs a livery to become a full-fledged race car.

Up front, Morgan restyled both the wings and the louvers, giving the car a more aggressive look. The wheelarches are a bit wider and have a sculpted design toward the edges, while the louvers on top are bigger. A big vent was carved into the lower front fenders, like seen on the GT3 race car. New canards were added to the lower bumper, while the front end was lowered closer to the ground. All these changes reduce low pressure on the sides and add frontal downforce.

2019 Morgan Aero GT Exterior
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The GT also has a carbon-fiber hard-top, a unique feature for the Aero lineup and a tribute to 1960s race cars

Around back, the heavily sculpted and gorgeous fenders of the Aero 8 were revised to adopt cooling vents and more aggressive wheelarches. The classic bumper was replaced by the most aggressive diffuser ever seen on a Morgan with four independent wings and a trapezoidal grille in the middle. This element alone reduces air pressure from beneath the vehicle, which increases rear-end downforce.

The GT also has a carbon-fiber hard-top, a unique feature for the Aero lineup. A tribute to 1960s race cars, the carbon roof features a rearward facing vent that reminds me of coupes seen at Le Mans in the same era. It would have been cool for Morgan to offer optional yellow lenses for the headlamps and taillights, just to complete the Le Mans look. The exterior is rounded off by "GT" badges made by a British jeweler and yellow accents on the diffuser and side skirts, as well as a yellow stripe across the engine hood.

Morgan Aero GT Interior

- * Standard cabin overall
- * Painted stitching
- * Painted pinstripe accents
- * Extended wood options
- * Each model is unique

2015 Morgan Aero 8 Interior
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Given that each model will be tailored to each customer, all eight units should be unique inside the cabin

Morgan didn’t have much to say about the interior and, worst of all, did not release any photos of the cabin, but we do know that it’s hand-finished with a series of painted stitching and pinstripe accents and available with an extended choice of wood options. Given that each model will be tailored to each customer, all eight units should be unique inside the cabin.

But beyond these extra niceties, it should remain unchanged compared to the Aero 8. The dashboard will still have the classy design with conventional instrument gauges and several buttons and switches on the center stack, and even the wood trim on the top of the dash and door panels.

The center console is also covered in wood on the standard model and it appears it’s the same in the Aero GT. I was originally hoping that Morgan might opt to replace it with aluminum or even carbon-fiber in order to save weight, but with all those fancy wood options available, customers will be able to see where their hard-earned cash goes into. The sports-spec seats and the door panels are wrapped in fine leather for a premium look.

Morgan Aero GT Drivetrain

- * 4.8-liter V-8 engine
- * 367 horsepower
- * 370 pound-feet of torque
- * Six-speed manual transmission
- * 0 to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds
- * Top speed at 170 mph

2019 Morgan Aero GT
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The drivetrain remains mostly unchanged, as the Aero GT draws its juice from the same 4.8-liter V-8 engine

While the exterior and interior gained some special bits, the drivetrain remains mostly unchanged, as the Aero GT draws its juice from the same 4.8-liter V-8 engine that Morgan has been using in the Aero since day one. The unit in question is actually BMW’s N62 mill, which was introduced in 2001. The final 4.8-liter iteration, called the N62B48, was first launched in 2003 and used in models such as the BMW X5, 5 Series, 6 Series, and the Wiesmann GT MF4. BMW stopped using it in 2010, which makes Morgan the last carmaker to still offer it in its vehicle. This makes the Aero GT the last production car to get its oomph from this unit and extends the engine’s life-cycle to a whopping 15 years.

2019 Morgan Aero GT Exterior
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The naturally aspirated mill produces 367 horsepower and 370 pound-feet of torque

The output of tne V-8 remains unchanged in the Aero GT, with the naturally aspirated mill producing the same 367 horsepower and 370 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 62 mph takes 4.5 seconds, which makes it just as quick as the standard model. Top speed is also identical at 170 mph, as are the fuel economy ratings of 16 mpg city and 32 mpg highway (on the British cycle). The engine mates to the same six-speed manual transmission, also borrowed from BMW, but unlike the Aero 8, there’s no option for an automatic gearbox.

Granted, it’s a bit disappointing that there are no performance gains with the "GT" badge, but it’s understandable that Morgan doesn’t want to alter the engine for a very limited-edition run. Morgan’s latest adjustable suspension gives the Aero GT sporty dynamics, so there is a slight different compared to the Aero 8, especially given the improved aerodynamics.

Morgan Aero GT Prices

2019 Morgan Aero GT Exterior
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No work on pricing yet, but with the Aero 8 priced at more than £100,000, the Aero GT should fetch in excess of £150,000 before options. It doesn’t matter that much anyway, as all eight Aero GT models are already accounted for by existing Morgan customers. Each example will be individually tailored to its owner so we should see a few interesting vehicles leave the factory. Hopefully Morgan will showcase all of them with photos and information.

Morgan Aero GT Competition

David Brown Automotive Speedback GT

2015 David Brown Automotive Speedback GT High Resolution Exterior
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When it comes to modern cars with retro styling and V-8 power, there aren’t many choices to consider. Many automakers stay away from retro styling for performance cars, while others have downsized their engines and use mostly V-6 or four-cylinder powerplants. An exception from this rule is David Brown Automotive, a company founded in 2013 by David Brown, a British businessman that has nothing to do with Sir David Brown, the former owner of Aston Martin. The brand’s first model, the Speedback GT, was developed in a similar way to the Morgan Aero, blending a retro-inspired design with modern underpinnings.

Built on the Jaguar XK’s alloy platform, it takes cues from both the Jaguar XKR and Aston Martin DB5, and it’s fitted with luxury features and a supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8. The mill is rated at 503 ponies and 461 pound-feet of torque and mates to a six-speed automatic transmission, enabling the coupe to hit 62 mph from a standing start in 4.6 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph. The whole car is built by hand while the aluminum panels are hand-rolled on an English wheel, so it’s as authentic as they get.

At the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, DBA also launched a more track-focused version, called the Silverstone Edition. This model has sportier, unique features inside and out and a more powerful version of the supercharged V-8. Output is now rated at 601 horsepower and 565 pound-feet of torque, which decreases the sprint time to 62 mph to only 4.2 seconds. The only drawback here is that the Speedback GT costs a whopping £520,000 before taxes and options, while the Silverstone Edition fetches £620,000.

Read our full story on the 2015 David Brown Automotive Speedback GT.

Conclusion

2019 Morgan Aero GT Exterior
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Needless to say, the Morgan Aero 8 isn’t your typical sports car. The "love it or hate it" design and the very limited production run keep it in a niche of its own, while the expensive sticker turns it into more of an occasional toy than a daily driver. The Aero GT model add a race-inspired twist to all of the above to mark the end of the nameplate. The unique character of this car makes it a bit sad to see it go away, but I must admit that it looks a bit dated now that it’s already 18 years old. At the same time, it’s a bit ironic that Morgan is discontinuing its more recent model, but a new-generation Aero should be just around the corner.

  • Leave it
    • * Already sold out
    • * A bit dated
    • * The end of the Aero model

References

2015 Morgan Aero 8 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2015 Morgan Aero 8.

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Read more Morgan news.

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Read more Geneva Motor Show news.

Press release

The Morgan Motor Company has today revealed its most extreme road-going model to date, the Aero GT. The family owned, British manufacturer officially unveiled the car at the 88th International Geneva Motor Show.

The longest established independent automotive manufacturer, Morgan Motor Company will produce just eight of the special Aero GT variants. All vehicles will be individually built bespoke to each customer. The Aero GT represents the end of Aero 8 production, guaranteeing that every Aero 8 owner will be the custodian of a very significant piece of Morgan history.

All 8 Aero GTs have been allocated through the Morgan Global Retailor network, and will be built with a manual transmission. Powered by the same 367bhp BMW N62 V8 engine used in the Aero 8, the Aero GT will travel from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, reaching a top speed of 170mph. Each Aero GT will be built with Morgan’s latest adjustable suspension.

The Aero GT will be built by the Morgan Special Projects department. Morgan’s approach will see each Aero GT built as an individual bespoke special edition, rather than eight identical examples.

Each customer will have an individual design consultancy with Jon Wells, Morgan’s Head of Design before the car enters production, remaining in build for 8-10 weeks. As with every Morgan, each customer will have the opportunity to follow the build of their vehicle closely and witness their car come to life.

The dramatic evolution of the Aero GT is most striking in its restyled wing impressions and louvres. Their addition serves both functional and aesthetic advantages, and were developed alongside the design of the latest Aero 8 in 2015.

Taking inspiration from the aggressive aerodynamic profiles seen on Morgan’s striking 2009 GT3 race car, similar body form functions were explored during the development of the Aero 8. However, these were not immediately put into production but paved the way for future exploration of what a ‘gloves off’ Aero 8 could look like.

For the final eight Aero 8 vehicles, Morgan’s design department applied knowledge developed throughout the research process of the latest Aero 8 in order to introduce the aerodynamic enhancements as seen on the Aero GT, striking a balance of exhilarating performance along with head-turning aesthetics.

The striking body panels of the Aero GT have been sculpted in such a way to ensure that tension and elegance is expressed in each line. All surfacing of the new panels was proven digitally via Computation Fluid Dynamics simulation prior to full scale validation. Each panel is created using the technologically advanced Superforming process synonymous with modern Morgans, before being hand finished and transformed into Aero GT panels.

The front canard details and wing top louvre vents are proven to reduce low pressure on the sides of the Aero body, making a notable difference in frontal downforce. At the rear, the dramatic diffuser reduces air pressure from beneath the vehicle, increasing rear downforce and reducing the visual weight of the rear-end.

All Aero GT’s have the option of a carbon fibre hard-top. Taking inspiration from 1960s race cars, the hard-top on the Aero GT features a rearward facing roof vent that reflects the rear graphic of the tail-light, while improving the drag coefficient of the vehicle.

Finite enamelled ‘GT’ badges signify the model variant. Each is individually hand made by a British Jeweller.

The interior is hand-finished with a series of painted stitching and pinstripe accents, and an extended choice of wood options.

Steve Morris, Managing Director said: “One of our greatest strengths as a brand is our ability to be responsive and create a hand-built car which is truly bespoke to each customer. The Aero 8 has been a stalwart of Morgan production for almost 20 years, it offers an exceptional driving experience and unrivalled looks, further enhanced in Aero GT guise.

“Every Morgan is built to an exacting specification and is bespoke to each customer; their personality is displayed in every detail. Owners invest a great deal of emotion in choosing and tailoring their own perfect specification, this investment is rewarded at the first drive of their unique and exhilarating vehicle. The Aero GT is the ultimate ensemble of this formula.”

Jon Wells, Head of Design said: “The Aero GT, unlike its predecessors, adopts an unconventionally aggressive aesthetic. However, a purist approach to achieving a design in which ‘form follows function’ has been rigidly adhered to. This is most apparent in the new additions to the body work.

The additional wing top louvres, side impressions and dramatic rear diffuser have all been tested extensively to ensure they work together to reduce drag and increase road holding capability. The merits of these additions were first unearthed during the early development phases of the 2015 Aero 8 whilst we were exploring the requirements of a more aerodynamically efficient Aero. This was a key requirement of the initial Aero 8 brief.

Each new panel has been sculpted by hand, by Morgan master craftsmen. The beauty of working so closely with talented sheet metal workers and coachbuilders is that designers are relatively unrestrained in their ability to challenge the forms and their functions. Unlike many, we can make special limited-edition vehicles that really exercise the imagination of the designer and the ability of the craftsman.

The Aero range has always offered Morgan the platform to explore the boundaries of mechanical and styling design and I am delighted the family has allowed one of our wildest ideas to become a reality.”

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