It doesn't take very long for expats or visitors in the UAE to become rather jaded when it comes to luxury or high-performance cars that are perhaps rather rare in their own countries. Last summer, my father visited for a week or so and, whenever we were out he would shout: "Son, look at that! That's incredible!" - or something along those lines - at which point I tended to yawn and say, "Dad, it's just a Ferrari 458 Italia, you'll get fed up with them soon." For me, that is something of a disappointment, because I still like to get excited about catching even a flashing glimpse of something exotic. It reminds me of why I got into this business in the first place and, since my arrival in Dubai two years ago, I can honestly say that's happened only a couple of times. One was seeing a Ferrari Daytona being driven at night, the other was a Morgan Aero 8 parked up outside a meeting venue. And, if all goes to plan, we could be seeing plenty more of those on our dusty roads.
Morgan Motor Company is one of those incredibly rare firms that has managed to retain its independence while almost every other low-volume car manufacturer has either gone to the wall or been swallowed whole by larger, predatory companies hell-bent on world domination. This year, it's 103 years old and it remains fiercely, doggedly traditional and old fashioned - at least when it comes to appearances. And that continues to be a major draw for motorists with a sense of fun when it comes to choosing their wheels.
You probably already know a thing or two about Morgan. It still builds its sports cars in the Malvern area, near Worcester in the UK, and it still uses ash wood frames in the construction of certain models. During the 1980s, it famously "enjoyed" a customer waiting list that stretched 10 years ahead, but now that's more like a year or two. Morgan recently launched a V-twin-engined, three-wheel car with a design that harks back as far as 1911. The man in charge until recently (he stepped aside as CEO in March this year but is still very much involved with the running of the firm) is Charles Morgan and he's pretty excited about the fact that Al-Futtaim Motors will be representing Morgan here before the year is out.
There will definitely be a showroom opening in Dubai, with perhaps another in Abu Dhabi, and Morgan says that the entire range will be available here. These days, the engines are more than up to the punishment that this climate can throw at the cars, sourced as they are from BMW or Ford (apart from the motorcycle engine of the aptly named 3 Wheeler) and they're built, despite the retro looks, to modern and demanding standards. After all, when a car is sold in the US, then it's a fair bet it should meet the requirements of men and women in white coats anywhere.
The current range is a beguiling mix of old and new. As an entry point, the 4/4 is the world's longest-running production vehicle (it was launched in 1936 and still looks pretty much the same), and there are another four models that share the basic design of the old-timer, including the epic Plus 8, which is the lightest V8-powered car in the world to meet European safety standards (it tips the scales at just 1,100kg). The 3 Wheeler is possibly the coolest and most fun car on sale today (it has a 2.0L engine and weighs half a tonne), while the Aero Supersports and Aero Coupe combine comic-book looks with aerospace technology and rapid performance.
Key to the driver appeal of Morgans is their low weight and, while the on-paper stats might not stack up so well against even the likes of a new Golf GTI, that's missing the point somewhat. Morgans are fun with a capital F and they represent a sensible, long-term purchase because of their incredible residual values. That new Porsche 911 that you're lusting after will likely lose 80 per cent of its value over the next 10 years - not so a Morgan. And anyway, you can't put a price on individuality in this region. Prepare to have your heads turned.
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