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Questionable Authenticity: 1948 Morgan 4/4

1948 Morgan 4-4

They say when something is too good to be true, it probably is. Well looking at this 1948 Morgan 4/4 project, we can’t help but wonder if that is the case here. The seller has listed it as a true Morgan, but can’t provide the VIN or any other signification source of proof. If it turns out to be real, it could prove the old saying wrong, but without the seller providing the VIN it’s a big gamble to take. VIN or not, it looks a bit off to us. Then again we are known to be overly critical. Check it out yourself here on eBay and let us know what you think!

1948 Morgan Interior

We hate being so critical of a seller and a car like this, but given how many replicas that have been built and some of the sellers we have dealt with in the past we prefer to play it safe. For all we know this could be a real Morgan, but without proving it with a correct VIN, we will stick with doubting its authenticity. The lack of information also concerns us. We understand that not all sellers are experienced with writing a full description of their car, but this is one of those cars that having more details would be extremely helpful. Information like how long they’ve owned it, why it was disassembled, and what parts are missing could make the decision to bid an easier one.

1948 Morgan motor

Besides being disassembled, this Morgan is missing its original motor and currently has a Nissan motor installed. The confusing bit of information here is that the seller says the car is registered with a TR-2 motor, which wouldn’t be the correct motor either. This could mean that this car has had a long history of modifications or that it was built from a kit.

1948 Morgan grill

We truly hope that this turns out to be an authentic flat rad Morgan, but without a VIN or some other form of proof we don’t know if we would risk our money on it. Let’s just hope we are being critical and that the seller will provide adequate proof of its authenticity. So given what you can see here, do you believe this is the real deal or is it just a fake?


  1. Scott Allison

    Duct Tape on the Engine!
    I SOOOOOO want this car! LOL!!!

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    • Brian

      Duct tape and fiberglass rosin can fix ANYTHING!!!

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  2. Graham Line

    Kind of appears to be a badly-messed-about-with Morgan that’s been in the hands of people without knowledge or resources.

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    • Graham Line

      Looking at the little bit of front suspension showing seems to suggest sliding pillars, which no kit car fooling around is going to replicate.

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  3. sunbeamdon

    Scott: If you buy it, please have a respectable priest bless it –

    “Bless my ash” seems to be appropriate.

    Ah heck, I couldn’t resist myself – too close to April 15

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  4. fred

    I know nothing about Morgans, but I’m pretty confident that is not a 1948 automobile of any kind. Looks like a kit car to me. Something about the wheels and radiator smack of the 70’s.

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  5. Lane A.

    It looks very much like a ’38 Morgan 2-seater in the local (Charleston, SC) British car club. The wheels, dash, and what there is of the radiator are correct, while the body is a bit different since this is a 4-seater. Remember, Morgans have never gotten away from the separate fender and body style, even to this day. That could well be a ’48.

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  6. paul

    Actually the flat grille looks correct for time period & the rims look correct as well, however the thing is so buggered up with the wrong motor etc that you would really want to check it out before paying any real $’s.

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  7. maserati

    FAKE……………………….better start at $ 700.00 or best offer.

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  8. jesse d

    Id have to agree with most on here. Its looks like a kit car, but i want to go further. If it is indeed a kit car, the people knew what they were doing at the time. Over time, various people most likely got their grungy hands on it and modded where they could. Its only worth the effort if its under a 1000 US. If its authentic, he would have paperwork, and even then not worth much more with whats missing. I would probably pass myself, and I love old classics like that.

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    • Brian

      I was looking at the photo and trying to decide if the tunnel down the middle of the floorpan was VW Beetle with some padding or carpet glued onto it. I just don’t know enough about Morgan to be sure about what those tunneled looked like and how simular they were to VW. It doesn’t appear to have VW floorpans in it unless they are heavily modified…

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  9. That Guy

    A quick look at Google Images was inconclusive. I can’t find anything that seems to match the design of the rear body, but otherwise this car is consistent with what I see in other pictures of Morgans of this vintage. And the method of construction and the level of detailing doesn’t suggest kit car or home-built special to me. I’d put my money on this being the real deal, but even so it’s a gamble.

    I don’t know a whole lot about Morgans but I know this car would have originally had a Standard-Triumph engine, so if matching numbers aren’t a big deal it shouldn’t be terribly hard to find a correct replacement.

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  10. Robert J

    No one would go to these lengths to build a fake Morgan. This is a real car, but as others said it has not been well attended to.

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  11. Gene S

    Without being an expert in Morgan’s, a little research shows that at least the front styling fits a ’48 Morgan. Wouldn’t touch this project unless I had hundreds of hours to put into it…..

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  12. Chris A.

    The pieces look like ’48 period Morgan bits, but that is not to say they all came from the same car. The missing motor and VIN plate raise big time flags as does the condition. It may have been purchased in bad condition and both skill and financial resources to rebuild/restore were absent. Hopefully a Morgan expert is near and can help check this out, certify it as a ’48 Morgan and get it sold. Total restoration is surely needed.

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  13. tom

    It appears to be a true Morgan that has had a hard life. The engine should be a Standard Special engine, I think from before Triumph and Standard had merged. The pre-war cars had Coventry Climax units. It is a consuming project but the hand built nature of Morgans make them restorable without extraordinary skills, and the parts supply network exists to build a good driver. Many early flat-rads were converted to Triumph engines, some by the Works.

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  14. Gary Fogg

    That is an awful lot of money to then have spend even more money to go that slow !

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    • Brian

      Going slow is good for the drivers stuck behind you; they get really upset which gets the heart pumping, good for the cardio!

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  15. Jim-Bob

    I’d say it’s the real deal. The rear suspension has lever action shocks and an underslung rear suspension, a detail no 70’s kit would have had. Plus, the body appears to be sheetmetal tacked over wood, a kit would most likely have a fiberglass tub. As for the Datsun B210 drivetrain (BMC B series clone), it’s likely a massive improvement in the reliability department, if not in the value one. Also, as has been stated before, it has Morgan’s unique front suspension design which likely would have been replaced by a Pinto setup in a kit. It looks like a kit because…well… Morgans have that home built feel to them. They all lack a certain something that production cars usually have, and to their fans that is part of the charm.

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  16. rancho bella

    I’m going for real McCoy. If it were a kit I would be surprise, look at the use of wood behind the engine, in front of the cowl. Flat grill. Yes, incorrect a bunch of parts and cheesy looking finished wood on dash.

    As fixable. But remember, if like driving a car with a steering wheel inches from your face, you’ll be in heaven……maybe sooner than you think…….. :)))))

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    • paul

      Hay part of the charm is the wheel in your face & you are the collapsible column.No need for seat belts as the steering wheel will hold you in.

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  17. sunbeamdon

    rancho – I’m still laughing – maybe a priest’s blessing is not enough??!


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  18. DT

    When they built the kit,they musta had the directions backwards,they put the steering wheel on the wrong side!………
    I say its real,but maybe its older than 1948

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    • DT

      It needs a divine intervention

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    • paul

      revers nagative flipped the pic upside down & backwards

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      • paul

        Joke folks.

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  19. jim s

    the text states hole cut in frame for exhaust. this is going to need a PI and then some by someone who knows a love these. they may be able to make the $s work out. great find

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  20. DRV

    Absolutely a real one. They aren’t worth that much either. I found one 10 years ago in a storage unit that was a delinquent account. It was all original and needed to be prepped to run and presentable. I went to research its value and it was gone when I called him back and went for 2500.00!!

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  21. Bernie H

    Well, this vehicle checks out as a 1954 Morgan that shoulld have had a Standard-Triumph 1991cc 4cyl at 68 HP. This engine is before the TR series, typically used in thw. Triumph-Vangard saloons(sedans to you younger dudes). The body and messed-up grille are correct, the “pressed steel wheels” w/hub caps are 1954 issue. Both engines included are potential boat anchors, so your buying an engineless project. I live north of Detroit, and wouldnt drive over to see it cause its not really worth much, maybe $950, too many missing parts. I’ve owned Brit cars for nearly 60 years, still have 4 now.

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  22. John

    The VIN for this car if it is a Morgan is only four numbers long. A good bit of information on where to look for the VIN on older cars can be found here:
    http://automuseumonline.com/locations-of-vin-plates-and-stamps-on-vintage-vehicles. another good site is: http://www.is-it-a-lemon.com/car_model.htm which states about the Morgan.
    “Morgan made its name with three-wheeled tricycles. It didn’t make its first four-wheeled sports car until 1936. That, the original 4/4, disappeared in favor of the more powerful Vanguard-engined Plus Four in 1950. However, by the mid-50s Morgan perceived a need for a more basic car priced below the Plus Four. Thus the Series II 4/4 was reborn after five years.

    Like all Morgans, it used a simple ladder-frame chassis, sliding-pillar front suspension and ash framing for the traditional-looking steel or light alloy bodies with the new-style cowled waterfall grille seen on the Plus Four from 1954. Up to 1960, power came from the Ford side-valve Anglia 100E engines. From 1960, in SIII form, there were 997cc overhead-valve engines from the 105E Anglia and four speeds at last.

    Series IV cars from 1961 to 1963 were given a bigger 1340cc engine, pushing the top speed above 70 mph (112 kph) and now there were front disc brakes for the first time. In 1963, it was given the latest Cortina engines standard 1498cc and GT form. In 1968, it had the cross flow Kent engine, usually in 95 bhp competition form, which was standardized anyway from 1971. From in1969, a four-seater body – with an ugly pram-like hood — was offered.

    Since the early 80s, various power plants have been available, including the Fiat 1600 twin-cam and 1600 CVH Ford Escort engine. A five-speed gearbox was offered from 1982. The car continues to this day with the Rover twin-cam engine.

    With its rock-hard ride, flexing body and anachronistic looks, the Morgan 4/4 has a unique post-vintage thoroughbred appeal. Hand built very slowly in Morgan’s Malvern factory in Hereford and Worcester County, the 4/4 is still hugely popular — if you want one, you’ll have to join a five-year waiting list.”

    MORGAN 4/4
    1172-1599cc (ford engines)
    36-96 bhp
    75-110 mph (120-177 km/h)
    6,803 up to 1991

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    • Richard V

      Nice history, John – thanks!

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      • John


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  23. paul

    I also think here in the states they were running natural gas ( LP tanks ) for awhile in the 80’s.

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  24. Richard V

    Nice history, John – thanks!

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  25. Chris A.

    The conversion from gasoline powered to propane actually increased the performance. Somewhere along the timeline the Morgan acquired rack and pinion steering which was a good thing as the worm and peg steering at slow speeds was no fun. However they were light and could be made into a winning production racer. Pete Vander Vate won a SCCA championship in one way back in 1964. Toly Arutunoff used to sell them, his book has some great Morgan stories.

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  26. Bill McCoskey Bill Member

    Bernie – you are very correct in your observations, It has to be a later car. As for the VIN, many Morgan cars were sold as kit cars to avoid high tax rates in Europe & Britain. Morgan kits didn’t come with a VIN because if it had a VIN it would be taxed as a vehicle, not as a pile of parts. (Info per Charles Morgan). I was looking to import a 4+4 from Barbados about 20 years ago, it had been shipped as a total kit when new due to the 161% tax rate for complete vehicles. It never had a VIN, and the paperwork used the license plate for identification, as they were permanent. The car is still in Barbados, as it can’t be exported due to a lack of a VIN! The body is typical for a Morgan for 4 people, and while rare, the company made more than a few 4 passenger cars. Since all Morgan cars were/are hand built, a customer could order just about any change they desired.

    The company still builds 10 cars a week, with a 2 week holiday period for employees, resulting in an annual production of 500 cars.

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    • DOP

      Bill – Morgan never sold a kit car. You could order a car without a body, if you wanted a custom coach builder to build a different body for you, but if you ordered a car without a body and a body without a car then there’s no reason to believe that they would fit together as all parts are hand fitted, a bonnet or fender from one car will not fit on another. I have heard of people having cars disassembled to turn into ‘parts’ to for import into a country that wouldn’t allow the whole car (due to safety or emissions regulations in the US, for example) but it doesn’t seem likely that the Morgan factory would have engaged in this.

      Any car would have had a ‘VIN’, or, more accurately, a chassis number, since that’s how the factory tracked them. The chassis number was used as the VIN, at least through the end of the 60’s. The chassis and body could not be kept together through the build process, or even logged in the factory records, without the chassis number.

      It’s possible that the owner doesn’t know where to look for the numbers. I’ve never personally looked for the numbers on a Morgan this old, but the chassis number is stamped, lightly, on a cross member behind the seats. It’s easy to paint over, or have obscured by rust or grime, and it will be gone if that portion of the chassis is replaced.

      In addition, there would have been a body number stamped in the wood on top of one of the rear wheel arches. This could be tracked down in the factory archives to find the original chassis number. It’s not uncommon for the wheel arches to be replaced, however.

      The rear axle generally had a number, but I’m not sure if they did in 1948. The engine and gearbox had numbers too, not much help if they’re gone. Any of those numbers could be tracked to find the chassis number.

      Last hope would be the bonnet – the engine number would have been stamped into each half, so the bonnet could be reunited with the correct car after paint.

      This car looks relatively correct for a Series 1 4-4 four seater.

      Like 1
  27. sunbeamdon

    Do any of our faithful readers know the disposition of this saloon?

    Like 0
  28. Bill McCoskey Bill Member

    In General, the company didn’t sell “kit cars”, but for countries that had excessive import tariffs, they certainly did, I had one such car, it was a ’69, located in Barbados. Barbados has an importation tax of 161 PERCENT for ANY item that is not made in the Caricom region!!! That means a car costing $25,000 would cost $60,250 landed in Barbados. If you visit the new car dealer locations there, they rarely have a new vehicle on display, instead flying it in from Florida once you bought it!

    The ONLY identification number on the vehicle was the engine #, I did check the chassis exactly where you describe, nothing there. The Ministry of Transport there regulated all the cars by number plate (license plate), not the VIN.

    I have been friends with the Morgans for about 30 years, I used to have lunch with Charles when I was in town in the late 1980s into the early 1990s. He and I had once had an interesting debate on the UK government’s offer to expand the company 10 fold, and he asked me for my unbiased thoughts; I agreed that they should not change the production numbers. Period!

    Charles did confirm the car in Barbados would have been in sent in large boxes for assembly there, and he seemed to recall that the car wasn’t even painted, as it would still require final “adjustments” to the body fit, like the bonnet curve. Asked how he could remember that car, he said it was easy – they only sold one car to Barbados.

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  29. p e

    Those saying it is a kit car obviously haven’t had a lot to do with vehicles of this type or period in general and Morgan’s in particular. Looks like a good project for someone if the price was right.

    Like 0

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