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The Morgan Midsummer Went from Pub to Production in Less Than a Year

by Nik Berg
16 May 2024 3 min read
The Morgan Midsummer Went from Pub to Production in Less Than a Year

Midsummer in the English countryside. The smell of fresh-cut grass hanging in the air and the buzz of pollinators zipping through brightly coloured fields. It’s a time of balmy evenings, chilled cider, and warm conversations at the local pub. It was on just such an occasion that the idea of a collaboration between Morgan, the 115-year-old British sports car maker, and Pininfarina, the nonagenarian Italian design house and coachbuilder, was born.

In all those years Morgan had never looked beyond the picturesque Malvern Hills for inspiration, but with recently installed Italian CEO Massimo Fumarola at the wheel the timing was perfect.

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“Massimo was formerly at Ferrari, and he had a good working relationship with Pininfarina so he arranged a visit,” explains Morgan design boss Jonathan Wells. “The chief design officer at the time was a British guy who lived near Malvern but had never been to the factory. He visited with some of his young design team and we spent the day walking around the factory with my designers and his team. His designers loved to see how my designers interface with the guys in the shop floor. We started talking about what could we do together? How would we approach it? What can we celebrate? And we went out that evening to the pub (to discuss further).”

“They then returned the favour and Massimo and I went over with our designers to Pininfarina. We saw how they practice car design and use digital environments. They operate with mixed reality and for my guys it was amazing to see design best practice.

“I like to think we were both offering each other something throughout the journey. And it really was a collaboration, they came to the project with an eye on where we were going. And we decided in those two visits to work on what we believe is the sweet spot for the traditional open roadster. We wanted to make it all about driving experience which lends itself to a barchetta.”

“Every Morgan has a very cab-rear seating position, you look through the windshield down the bonnet at the louvres and you can see the top of the wheel arches. We wanted to really embellish that driving posture and experience, but, moreover to celebrate coachbuilding. We obviously use a wooden frame today, which dictates the form of the aluminium body panels. But that wood often gets hidden and you don’t see a large element of craftsmanship in the final aesthetic. So a big driver for us was to expose some of these core elements of coachbuilding in the aesthetic as well.”

The new model’s name, Midsummer, comes not just from the time of year best suited to driving a barchetta but also from the nearby Midsummer Hill – used by HFS Morgan in the earliest days of the company to test his vehicles up its steep incline.

It’s an evocative moniker for an evocative Morgan. Pininfarina’s input is subtle, but the more you look the more you see. The swooping fenders are re-profiled to make them appear wider and more purposeful, yet the effect contains no added aggression. There’s a revised grille and a totally new take on the traditional hood louvres. The tail is longer, angled more gently and its surface curved instead of being flat. 

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Of course, the most obvious feature is the beautiful, exposed wood throughout the cockpit. Whereas a traditional ash frame is hidden beneath the aluminium curves, what’s open to the elements is marine-quality teak, made by hand from hundreds of laminate layers by Morgan’s in-house artisans to replicate the prototype parts 3D-printed by the designers.

There’s no weather protection, save for two small aeroscreens, but Pininfarina’s aerodynamicists have carefully managed the airflow to reduce buffeting while also using it to help stick the car to the ground.

Sitting on Morgan’s now tried-and-tested aluminium CX platform – with BMW’s 335bhp, 3.0-litre inline-six and eight-speed automatic from the Plus Six – the Midsummer has been designed to be a real driver’s car, despite the lack manual shifting. Weighing in at just 1000kg and fitted with Nitron adjustable dampers and the lightest wheels Morgan has ever made, sublime handling is promised to the fortunate 50 customers who have put their names down.

With a price north of £200,000 depending on how each Midsummer is specified, it’s Morgan’s most pricey model to date. The barchetta sold out of its 50-unit run immediately, and that customer response will lead the way for further developments, says CEO Fumarola.

“We have lots of projects in the pipeline, a very detailed plan,” he says. “It paves the way for new things as well, for sure. It really represents a moment in time that I think will become clearer over the next five years. You’ll soon see how it all ties in.”

Fumarola says that among those plans he’s open to further collaborations with Pininfarina. In which case, no doubt, they’ll be back to the pub.

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