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Aussie rules may bar Morgan 3-Wheeler

The Morgan is now back in production.

The brand's Melbourne-based Australian importer is keen to add the new Morgan 3-Wheeler sports car to its stable when it is released in early 2012, but Australia is the only country in the world that demands it pass a crash test.

"The iconic 3-Wheeler is classified as a motorcycle everywhere else," Morgan Cars Australia principal Chris van Wyk said. The Morgan Motor Company, in Malvern Link, is the world's oldest private car maker and the only British family-owned car company in the UK.

Founded by Henry Morgan in 1909, its first product was a 3-Wheeler, an astounding machine that evolved and survived until 1946  and is now back in production, eagerly awaited by the wind-in-hair and bugs-in-teeth enthusiasts.

"The ADR classification is that a three-wheeler with a steering wheel is car-derived, so it's a car. By contrast, a three-wheeled motorbike, or one with a sidecar, is a motorcycle and doesn't need such testing," Mr Van Wyk said.

In a frontal crash, a bike rider will get catapulted over the handlebars. But the driver of a Morgan 3-Wheeler has a steering wheel, dashboard, a sturdy rollcage and wears a seatbelt. Go figure. 

However, Mr Van Wyk isn't daunted. His business came to a halt for four years after a similar ADR ruling on the regular four-wheeled Morgan sports cars. But that has been overcome and three versions of the classic hand-built models are again available in Australia.

So far, 24 have been bought by the Morgan faithful, in almost equal numbers for the 82kW/142Nm 1.6litre 4/4, 106kW/187Nm 2.0litre Plus 4 and the 195kW 3.0litre V6 Roadster. 

Prices range from $68,000 to $137,000. Also scheduled for arrival in Oz next year are an uprated 3.7litre version of the Roadster, the return of the Plus 8 nameplate and the new EvaGT four-seat coupe, a Frazer Nash-BMW 328-inspired beauty which will come in 2013.

And should the 90kW twin-pot 2.0litre zero-to-100km/h in 4.5 seconds (yes!) five-speed (Mazda MX5 gearbox) 3-Wheeler get through, it should cost about $55,000. Change the rules Mr ADR. Life's too short not to have the Morgan 3-Wheeler here.