This Morgan Plus 4 is a little different than most, it’s been fitted with a full performance conversion by Lawrence Tune, a company founded by Morgan racing legend Chris Lawrence.
It was perhaps Chris Lawrence more than any other who put Morgan on the map as an out-and-out racing machine, in 1959 he drove his performance tuned Morgan Plus 4 to 19 wins from 22 races, taking the National Championship for Production Sports Cars in the process.
Chris founded Lawrence Tune in October of the same year to meet demand for performance parts from other Morgan owners. In 1961 he supplied Morgan with a batch of specially tuned Triumph TR engines for the limited edition “Super Sports” model – the tuning these engines received included a gas-flowed cylinder head, raised compression ratio, special camshaft, twin Weber carburettors, and a four-branch exhaust manifold.
These performance modifications increased horsepower to 115 hp (Triumph TR3 engine) or 125 hp (Triumph TR4 engine), but in full race-specification that latter engine could be dialed up to 150 hp.
It was in 1962 that Lawrence Tune scored their most memorable victory – a GT2 class win at the Le Mans 24 Hours with company founder than Chris Lawrence and co-driver Richard Shepherd-Barron behind the wheel.
Original Lawrence Tune Morgans are now highly sought after by both collectors and vintage racing enthusiasts, and we only very rarely see them come up for open auction.
The 1959 Morgan Plus 4 Lawrence Tune Special Shown Here
The Morgan you see here is a Lawrence Tune Special, a fact hinted at by the roll bar, wider tires, lowered and suspension. But it’s not till you open the bonnet and see the twin Weber carburetors with their gleaming velocity stacks, and the Lawrence Tune logo on the rocker cover that you realize exactly what you’re looking at – a Morgan unicorn.
This car was delivered new in 1959 to Worldwide Motors Inc of Los Angeles, California with wire wheels and a Moss gearbox. Its early life is largely a mystery, and it’s not known exactly when it was sent off to Lawrence Tune for its high-performance conversion.
In 1988 it popped back up onto the radar when it was acquired in Belgium by Philippe Bernard, who proceeded to spend £24,000 on servicing and upgrades with Melvyn Rutter, Brands Hatch Morgans, Racetorations, Legion, and Harpers. Philippe kept the car from 1988 till 2005 perhaps an indication of how much he loved it.
The car is producing 120 hp in its current trim (dyno sheet confirmed), more than enough for spritely performance given the low kerb weight of 838 kgs (1,848 lbs), and more horsepower is possible with further engine development work. The car is fitted with a close-ratio gearbox and a roll-cage, and it comes with a hardtop (in white) and a spare set of 74-spoke competition wheels.
The car is now due to be sold at the Goodwood Festival of Speed sale with an estimated value of between £55,000 and £65,000. It’s ready to resume its competition career in the hands of the right owner-driver – if you’d like to register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.
Images courtesy of Bonhams