THE very last British sports car maker is in the throes of being sold — to an Italian venture capital company.

Reports from London and Geneva say a firm called InvestIndustrial will take a majority stake for an undisclosed amount.

The Morgan family, which has owned the company for 110 years, will retain a minority shareholding, with the management team and staff also keeping a share of the business.

The announcement came as the company unveiled its latest Morgan Plus Six at the Geneva motor show.

british - Morgan roadster 2 - Morgan passes baton (to the Italians)

Morgan enjoys cult status among sports car collectors and more than 30,000 visitors make the trip to its Malvern production plant each year.

The brand also has a devoted following, with some 50 clubs around the world.

Morgans are the only modern cars that still use a frame of ash wood.

While the bodywork is made in Malvern, Morgan engines are made further afield.

It has just released its Plus Six, with a BMW Turbo six-cylinder inline engine at Geneva.

In the past, Morgan had waiting lists for its hand-built cars that sometimes extended to several years, and even today the cars are produced at a rate of only 850 a year.

Jill Price, grand daughter of the founder Henry Morgan and longest serving Morgan family director, said the new ownership structure and InvestIndustrial ensured the long-term future of Morgan.

“It was important for the family to retain a shareholding,” she said.

“We are delighted that our loyal management team and workforce will now also have a share in the business going forward.”

InvestIndustrial already has a stake in Aston Martin and was instrumental in appointing former Nissan executive Andy Palmer to lead the company in 2014.

It was for six years also an investor in Ducati.

InvestIndustrial chairman, Andrea Bonomi,  said he saw significant potential for Morgan to develop internationally while retaining its hand-built heritage.

“We share with the Morgan family the belief that British engineering and brands are unique and have an important place in the world,” he said.

InvestIndustrial said it would accelerate Morgan’s new product development and increase its global distribution and marketing.

Morgan Motor Co has 190 employees.

Last year it had an operating profit of £3.2 million ($6 million).

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.