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SLIDER: 1964 Morgan SLR

Caught at the HSCC racing at Silverstone in May 2021, this Morgan SLR is unique in several ways. Firstly it is a Sprinzel LawrenceTune Racing version, and secondly it is unpainted – the bodywork is highly polished aluminium.

Chris Lawrence is best known for developing a Morgan that claimed the company’s biggest victory, a class win at Le Mans in a LawrenceTune modified Morgan in 1962. He is also considered the father of the all-aluminium Aero 8. His 1964 Plus 4 SLR project, however, is far less well known. The cars were noted for their new, slippery aluminium body that overcame the brick-like aerodynamics of the standard Morgans.

Lawrence needed a way to finance the project, and a wealthy friend had a Triumph TR4, which he wanted to have bodied in a similar fashion. The very first SLR was thus not a Morgan but a Triumph and the car was marketed as a Triumph or Morgan SLR. However, no further TR4 chassis were clothed in this way.

The SLR name signified Lawrence’s collaboration with John Sprinzel, best known for creating and racing the Speedwell Sprites. Chris Spender drew the rough outlines of the lightweight body., and Charlie Williams of coachbuilder Williams and Pritchard refined them further. The final product looked nothing like any Morgan ever seen before: it looked more like a small Corvette, with curves and sharp lines combined.

Inspired by the Le Mans-winning Morgan Plus 4, the chassis and running gear were based on a standard production model, modified to ‘Super Sport’ specification by LawrenceTune. The ladder-frame chassis was left virtually unchanged and featured Morgan’s typical sliding-pillar front suspension. The Triumph-sourced engine, however, was thoroughly modified with the addition of twin Weber carburettors, a bespoke exhaust header and a modified cylinder head. This raised the power of the 2.1-litre engine to 156 bhp.

Planned for small-scale production, the new SLR was officially introduced at the 1964 Racing Car Show as a ‘Morgan and Triumph SLR.’ In the end only three additional cars were produced: two for customers, and the third Morgan Plus 4 SLR for Lawrence himself. All three cars were extensively raced and in particular the Morgan fared remarkably well in Lawrence’s hands.

The three Morgan Plus 4 SLRs have all survived and have been regularly raced in historic events for many years.

Photo by Peter McFadyen. See his website: http://petermcfadyen.co.uk

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