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Project Phoenix 2014 to 2018

May 2018

With other projects needing attention Project Phoenix slowed a bit last year but I have still managed to do a few things. This pic shows current status with floors loosely in place, pedals and brake booster in place and electro-hydraulic steering rack now installed. I will be doing a full write up on the steering rack installation shortly.

June 2016

Its been a very busy two months rebuilding the front end. The track needed to be widened to suit the ‘82 Plus 8 rear end. New 140lb springs were obtained from Mulfab to sit on the recycled Mulfab bearings. New lower brake reaction stays needed to be made. The Plus 8 hubs I had purchase from the factory were not exactly suited to the ‘95 4/4 stub axles (the newer hubs have narrower bearings than the Plus 8 hubs) which meant the callipers did not line up correctly with the rotors. The hubs were machined and the rotor brackets shimmed and all was good.

February/March 2016

The rear end has now been completed.

The springs are current V6 Roadster springs kindly given to me by Morgan Cars Australia.


The LSD axle is from a 1982 Plus 8.

The rear shocks are Koni braced to the original shock bar but widened to suit the chassis.

I fabricated the anti-tramp bars based on some I had made many years ago for my race Morgan.


The brakes are mainly components from the original car but with new springs and other small hardware. Brake shoes re-lined of course.

The brake drums are modified 240Z drums.

The registration plate will be fitted to this car when finished.

January 2016

The Rebuild Begins:

The old unusable chassis has now been cut up and dumped so the new chassis is sitting on the hoist.  The photo is of the chassis transformed to current spec and painted in black. You may wonder why paint over a galvanised chassis? Mainly for aesthetic reasons - the hot dip galvanising did not have a nice smooth finish -but the duplex coating will also increase corrosion protection. Painting over galvanised steel is quite common in industrial applications.

Steps involved:

  1. Removal of the first and second cross members
  2. Welding in of current model first and second cross members, complete with support for gearbox
  3. Cleaning up of chassis ready for priming, including full degreasing and sanding every part with 80grit paper.
  4. Priming with 2 pack epoxy primer then sanding with 320 grit.
  5. Top coating in Satin Black 2 pack enamel.

November 2015

Engine Decision:

With Project Phoenix I have been on quite a learning curve regarding engines. I was hoping to purchase a relatively low mileage written off car with a suitable engine (Mazda 6 / Mazda MPS / Ford Focus ST) but I have discovered that the complexity of the engine management systems in new cars, (being integrated with so many other aspects such as ABS, anti skid, entertainment etc) means that I will not be able to use their original engine management modules in the project car.  Thus, I would have to also purchase a complete aftermarket engine management system as well as the used engine.

I have therefore decided that I will buy a new 2.0 Ecoboost crate engine from Ford USA. You can now buy the compete engine and engine management components for a reasonable price (even with our current exchange rate) which yields a brand new, 250hp engine with a warranty. And it will bolt straight up to my 6 speed Mazda MX5 transmission. Now all I have to do is save my pennies!! In the meantime, I will be progressing with the rolling chassis early in the new year.

Rear Axle:

My plan to rebuild the Salisbury 7HA rear axle from my ‘69 Plus 8 for this project has changed with the opportunity to buy a low mileage complete axle assembly from a 1982 Plus 8. This will give the car a 2” wider track and, just as importantly, a 3.3:1 diff which will suit the Ecoboost engine torque characteristics better than the planned 3.7:1. I still intend to rebuild the older diff at some stage and keep it with my racer.

September 2015

This month I “lucked in” thanks to a phone call from Marlene at Morgan Cars Australia. They had a pair of near new seats and asked if I was interested in them for Project Phoenix. Was I what!! So, a suitable price was agreed and the seats are now in the shed.

Of course, those of you with even a minimal amount of knowledge of rebuilding a Morgan will know this is way out of sequence but you have to strike while the iron is hot and these seats will go with a range of exterior colours.

A friend with a Plus 8 also gave me a pair of sidescreens which is most appreciated. He had earlier given me a set of wings which, with a little panel beating, will suit the car perfectly. Thanks Bob!

September 2014

This month the factory finally sent the promised valences and replacement chassis sections which will allow me to rebuild the car using the inadvertently delivered wide chassis. This pic shows the superform aluminium valences perched on the chassis and the replacement chassis section on the floor next to the chassis.

The new section will allow me to install the Mazda MX5 transmission, much like the current 4 cylinder models. This will need to be grafted into place after removing the current front cross member.

I have also bought a complete set of bearings for the rear diff/axle assembly and for the front hubs. Just waiting on a few bits from Billy Bellinger to proceed with the axle rebuild.

August 2014

This month I managed to secure a very low mileage (<1000km) six speed gearbox from a current model Mazda MX5. The factory uses the 5 speed version on current 4 cylinder cars. Should be nice mated to a good Mazda/Ford engine.


July 2014

This month I received from the factory the Billy Bellinger 3.7 crown wheel and pinion for my early Plus 8 diff which will find a home in Scarlett. I can now commence the rebuild of the diff - a big step towards having a rolling chassis.

May/June 2014

Marking time right now. The factory is coming to the party with new inner guards (valences) and cross members to suit the rebuild. Also in the pipeline is a new 3.7:1 crown wheel and pinion to suit my old Salisbury Plus 8 axle. This will be installed in the new chassis and is a perfect fit.

April 2014 - Surprise, Surprise!

End March saw the first of two surprises when I received a phone call from Morgan Cars Australia to tell me my new chassis had arrived by air at Melbourne airport! Being such a bulky item we were expecting it to come by sea.

After picking the crate up from a Sydney depot, I was looking forward to opening it up as soon as I had the crate back in the shed. Second surprise was when I opened the crate and found not the expected 4/4 chassis but a gleaming Moss box Plus 8 chassis. How to tell? Well the main giveaway is the small cutout in the front crossmember which is all that is needed for the torque tube on the first Plus 8s. Second are the twin exhaust holes in the chassis. Measuring the chassis confirmed it is 2" wider and 2" longer than the 4/4 chassis and the second crossmember is further back.

How did this happen? A simple slip up at the Morgan factory when someone in despatch accidently placed the wrong chassis in the export crate and sent it by air. Not a problem if just down the road from Malvern Link but we are on the other side of the world and just shipping a chassis here is very expensive. To repatriate the incorrect chassis and ship the correct 4/4 chassis would cost several thousand dollars.

How was this resolved? Fortunately I don't yet have a body for the project (the original melted in the fire) so a wider chassis in itself was not a problem and I don't mind the extra footwell space. Discussions with the factory and the ever helpful Marlene and Chris at Morgan Cars Australia resulted in an agreement that I would keep this chassis and the factory will ship some parts to enable me to utilise it for the project. A win-win. More on this next month.

March 2014

No turning back now. A replacement chassis has been ordered from the factory.

We intend keeping this car as a road car so, with a blank canvas, I hope to build the sort of 4 cylinder Morgan a Plus 8 owner would love. Inspired by the factory "Baby Doll" model, I have decided to fit the car with the 6" minilites currently on the Moss Box racer.

Fortunately the stub axles on this 4/4 are identical to the early plus 8 so new studded Plus 8 hubs have been ordered for the front wheels. Expert opinion is that the internals of the rear axle have lost their case hardening due to extreme heat. Fortunately my old Moss box axle assembly is a very good fit (with minor relocation of the spring pads needed) and already has the hubs for the alloy wheels so all I need now is to buy the appropriate crown wheel and pinion which have recently become available.

February 2014  

The car is now stripped back to chassis and front sub frame.

As with all our cars, she now has a name - Scarlett (Scarlett O'Hara: "tomorrow is another day"). No prizes for guessing her likely eventual colour!

I now have an idea of the cost of parts and the only way this project can be feasible is if I repair and fabricate many of the parts needed, including the body. I will also need to be diligent in sourcing parts at the best possible price to contain costs.

The project will be drip fed with funds as it progresses and I estimate it will take 2-4 years to complete.

Scarlett will eventually be fitted with a 2.0 - 2.5 Mazda engine (same as Ford Duratec) or a Ford Ecoboost engine  connected to a 5 or 6 speed MX5 gearbox - same as the current 4 cylinder Morgans.

First step is ordering a new chassis from the factory.

Early in 2013 I prepared a beautiful little 1.8 Zetec powered 1995 Morgan 4/4 in readiness for a 20,000 km trip around Australia by friends of ours. They were part of the Mozzie Tour organised by the Morgan Owners Club of Australia.

The car completed the trip and my friends had great fun. Trip of a lifetime.

In October 2013, tragedy struck when their house and two cars were destroyed by fire.

I have since purchased the burnt out wreck of the 4/4 from the insurance company and I plan to rebuild her on the basis that Morgans should never die. I hope you agree.

On this page I will be informing you of progress.

After the fire

On the trailer

On a trolley in the shed