Automatic gearboxes, once a curiosity for its owners, are becoming more common, while the need for more electronics and computing in the engines it buys in is seeing the company try to hire electronics engineers.
Large parts of the cars are still wooden, from the dashboards that are made from a single piece of wood, to the frames of the cars that sit on blended aluminium bases. Each one takes between 13 and 22 days of continuous man hours, which means in reality between five and 10 weeks from a customer’s order to delivery — with an average waiting time of about six months.
Many customers come to see their cars being produced at the factory, and since repurchasing the site during the year — it had been sold and leased back 11 years earlier to pay for the launch of the Aero car — Morgan has opened a museum and visitor centre at the factory.
Riley and Morris have been working over the past two years to diversify its revenues and appeal to new customers. It has launched a parts business, allowing owners of older vehicle to have their cars fully refitted, that accounts for about 10% of revenues.
The group has also moved into offering leased cars and pay-monthly PCP offers, the payment means that dominates car purchases in Britain and makes vehicles more affordable to customers who cannot pay up front with cash. Morgan is exploring short-term rentals that will allow motorists to hire a vehicle for a weekend away, or a wedding, and has teamed up with several luxury hotels to offer its vehicles to residents.
"There is no better way of driving sales than putting bums on seats," says Riley.
Aside from its engines and some of the parts, almost everything on or in the car comes from inside the factory — something that will partly insulate the company after Britain leaves the EU, even though it still buys engines in euros.
About a third of its sales are in Europe, with another third at home and the final third in the rest of the world. It sells cars in 26 countries, but costs continue to constrain the company’s ability to expand.
But its size, while a weakness in investment, also offers nimbleness that allows it to pivot quickly if it needs to.
"We are extremely adaptable," says Riley. "If in 100 years everything is electric, Morgan will still be there."