GRR

What is a Morgan SLR?

30th April 2018
Ethan Jupp

Upon your wanderings around the chilly 76MM paddocks (now over a month ago!) you might have happened across a selection of four slight yet slippery little sportscars. 

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One a brushed alloy colour, another a lovely dark green, another in a resplendent red and the fourth in a dark blue. The former three are “SLR” Morgan Plus 4s and the latter is an SLR Triumph TR4. But what is Sprinzel LawrenceTune Racing (SLR)? 

The SLR treatment, as you might have already gathered looking at three Morgans (with fared-in wheels!) and a Triumph wearing very similar skins, is primarily a body transformation. Its origins are as humble as the car’s achievements are impressive but that’s no surprise when talking about feisty early ‘60s sportscars.

In 1960 a club racer by the name of Neil Dangerfield got into racing Triumphs. Good fortune on track in his TR3A spurred him to purchase a brand new TR4. It too did brilliantly, with the car’s preparer drove it to Monza, took second in class and drove it home again! Enter Morgan Maestro Charles Lawrence, who in his search for a bit of investment cash for the advancement of his Morgan racing project, took over preparation of the car. Together with Dangerfield and John Sprinzel, the decision was taken to re-body the TR4 with something lighter and slipperier. The SLR body was born, by the collective pens and panel-beating of Chris Spender and Charlie Williams.

The Triumph SLR was the prototype and the design would be replicated three more times for instalment on Morgan Plus 4 chassis – happily of very similar dimensions to the TR4 and indeed motivated by the same power-plant.

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Though the existing Plus 4 chassis and suspension architecture would go virtually unchanged for the SLR application, the Triumph engines received significant upgrades. Twin Weber carburation, modified heads and a new exhaust took the unit to over 150bhp. The “Morgan and Triumph” SLRs as they were then known, were intended to be built in numbers beyond the three that came to be but if they weren’t a success sales or marketing wise, they were on track. All three saw extensive competition work and did fantastically. Lawrence’s own car, chassis SLR3 (the green car), caused Porsche 904s and other such better-established machinery, considerable bother in period.

Rather appropriate really, as SLR3 once again proved itself a worthy underdog during the inaugural Ronnie Hoare Trophy at 76MM, putting considerable pressure on Vincent Gaye in his howling V12 Ferrari 275 GTB/C. Pressure, that the gorgeous blue Ferrari would succumb to in a spin, allowing the diminutive Morgan to come home second behind the number 98 Porsche 904 of James Cottingham. A proud result with the three other SLRs (yes, the TR4 too!) in tow 50-odd years on from their original conception. 

So, if you were wondering what that rapid little green weapon was slipping and sliding its way up the grid, showing the Ferraris and Porsches what for – now you know. All the result of a club-racer’s project that you might say got a little out of hand. We’re glad it did!

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