This is a story about passion. Let me be clear: The passion here is a friend’s special interest in a special automobile called the Morgan Aero SuperSports.
Morgan is a modern sports car with the look of an automobile from a bygone era. Morgan fans are folks hooked on the romance of driving, preferably with the top down in the fresh air of verdant hills in the English countryside and looking like they drove in from the previous century. Morgan lovers are often called cult followers for the fact of their strong attraction to a car that is not only unique but uniquely hard to get.
Morgan manufacturing is a cottage industry. Lest you think that Morgans are made in charming little houses, Morgan’s Malvern Link factory in England, with its 180 employees, isn’t far from that image. From its sole manufacturing facility, Morgan produced 400 cars in 1990, 500 in 2000, and 1000 in 2011. To say that production is limited is an understatement of fact.
My friend with the Morgan passion, in fact, owns a Morgan. His passion palliated upon acquiring a Morgan Roadster (see Photo #4), in British racing green, of course, which comes with a genuine leather strap that keeps the bonnet closed. Charming! On warm, sunny summer days, he and his lady drive the green hills of Pennsylvania with the top down, returning in time for high tea late afternoon.
Morgan made good in serving a growing fascination with fast, exotic cars. More than a decade ago, Morgan introduced the Aero 8, a ragtop powered with 272 horsepower from a BMW 4.4 liter V8 engine. (See Photo #3.) Styling entered the domain of the extraordinary, if not a little odd in the area of the headlamps. From all accounts, it gripped Morgan aficionados with more speed and more of what Morgan lovers love Morgans for: the passion.
In 2008, Morgan began production of the AeroMax, the coupe (hardtop) version of the Aero 8 (see Photo #2). A boat tail added to the racy design, adding passion to the already huge enthusiasm of Morgan fans. The factory made only 100, however. They sold out before production began.
In 2009, Morgan introduced the targa version of the AeroMax coupe, the Aero SuperSports (see Photo #1), in the concept car display area at Pebble Beach Concours. It was an immediate smash, with its removable aluminum panel adding flash and fresh air to the coupe styling. Even Jay Leno sported a pleased perception at Concours. In 2010, Morgan started production of the Aero SuperSports, again making only 100 of them that year.
Morgan would make another 100 Aero SuperSports in 2011. But, a little known fact was that Morgan receives permission from U.S. regulators to sell only a certain number of Aero SuperSports in the U.S. For the year 2010, that allotment numbered a mere 33. Morgan assigned chassis numbers to those 33 to-be-built cars, but did not sell them all in 2010. Morgan had at least one chassis number to which they had not yet built a car.
Enter my friend, the one with the Morgan passion, who made deep inquiries about acquiring an Aero SuperSports for himself, while settling on sacrificing his beloved Roadster in trade. Morgan managers said they could build him an Aero SuperSports with that un-used chassis number and ship it as one of their 100 allotments for 2011 while maintaining compliance with U.S. regulatory permits.
It was not to be. Morgan lawyers decided that they had not only a limited number of chassis numbers they could sell in the U.S. but also a calendar window in which to sell them. They would not risk sending another car to America, even if it were labeled as a 2011. U.S. bureaucrats have expired Morgan’s 2011 window and find it a fantasy to consider an extension or reform ridiculous restrictions on what we can buy in America.
The awful fact is that Morgan is no longer able to sell cars in the U.S. at all, although it sells to almost every other country in the world. The Aero SuperSports we see on the road or are up for sale now are the 33 that were allowed special entry into the country last year. The notable exception to the shut-out is Morgan’s unique 3-wheel automobile, which can be purchased here because the government regards it as a motorcycle, not a car. U.S. government restrictions have become an insurmountable problem for Morgan.
So, my friend’s passion for the Morgan Aero SuperSports has been stunted by federal regulators right here at home. Leave it to our own government to take the life out of what we live for. Leave it to government to take the passion out of America’s romance with cars.