Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

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Discussion

Touring442

2,111 posts

173 months

Friday 22nd November 2019
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2xChevrons said:
The problem with the 'Sud from a financial point of view was the same as the one that Rootes had with the Imp - the factory they were built at, by government diktat, was so chaotic that they were never able to build them in the numbers needed to make the project pay. Alfa put a huge amount of design and engineering effort into the 'Sud which resulted in one of the most advanced small family cars in the world which represented a massive leap forward for the class in terms of packaging, refinement, dynamics and handling. Yet the 'Sud was originally pitched and priced as a relatively low-cost and economical family saloon. So they had to build a lot of them at a small profit margin - 175,000/year was the original target, increasing to 300,000/year for the second year of production and the factory had a theoretical capacity of 500,000/year.

As launched the Alfasud wasn't sold on its pedigree or dynamics. It was only sold as a relatively gutless (but very sweet and willing) 1.2-litre engine and quite a sparse interior (just a speedo, no tachometer and just idiot lights for temperature/oil pressure etc.). Alfa were actually quite concerned that the 'Sud would harm their image and so 'Alfasud' was treated as a sort of subrand. Originally, 'Alfa Romeo' only appeared on the grille and boot badges (notably without the 'Milano' script at the bottom of the roundel), the boot and dashboard badges said 'Alfasud' and the engine cam covers were blank.

Demand was never the issue - there were long waiting lists of the Alfasud across Europe. But the factory was blighted by production and labour issues. Only 78,000 'Suds were built in the first year and by 1974 it had reached a new high...of 100,200. At this point Alfa realised that they couldn't make money on the 'Sud as a cheap-and-cheerful family car and so rejigged it as a small sports saloon/proto-hot hatch. What had originally been designed as a cut-price two-door base model was revamped into the sporting Ti, able to be sold for a higher price at lower volumes. The interior gained a tacho and auxiliary instruments. The specifications of the cooking models were improved with larger engines, five-speed gearboxes, better trim and equipment or so on, leading to the Super, the Ti Cloverleaf and the Sprint which could command higher price tags. Eventually the 'Sud was brought fully into the Alfa Romeo fold, with the badges being swapped for 'pukka' Alfa Romeo ones and the cam covers gaining the distinctive Alfa Romeo branding just like the models made in Milan.

Rootes ended up having to do the same thing with the Imp. They couldn't make any money selling basic Hillman versions, so they brought out the luxury and sporting variants like the Singer Chamois and Sunbeam Stilletto.
The Ti was a planned model and arrived in 1973 (74 here).

I did my apprenticeship at an Alfa dealer and had about 10 including one of the original press cars (TAN42M) through to some real rarities including the TiS and TiX. Those were Alfa GB specials, basically old stock tarted up with trim and bits from later models. TAN42M lasted until 1980 and was absolutely rusted out. I bought it for spares for about 30 quid.
Sud motors had black pressed steel cam covers, gaining the alloy scripted ones in the 1980's starting with the twin carburettor engines. They were used to quieten the valve gear.
The Sud did not sell well in Italy. Few in the South could afford it, few in the North would buy anything built by peasants. It relied heavily on export sales. But it mirrored there Alfetta well - body and trim absolute rubbish, mechanically fantastic.

The Alfa Romeo Milano badges were dropped not long after the Sud was launched, never to return. I don't think the Alfetta had them when it arrived in the UK in 1972/3. The 105 cars may have done.

aeropilot

23,811 posts

191 months

Friday 22nd November 2019
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Touring442 said:
The Cavalier was the first car in the cheap saloon bracket to actually drive properly, courtesy of Opel.
yes

Touring442 said:
The Mark 3 was a horrible thing really, a step back from the Mark 2. That heavy back axle, loosely connected to the car with four linkages, none of which prevented it from moving side to side although the solid Estate axle bushes helped a lot. Like the Marina, the Cortina front suspension geometry was a disaster that would result in snap understeer in a sharp corner.
yes

I had one of the last of the facelifted Mk3's, a rare 2-door 2.0GT, built in late '75, and it was 'orrible. Not quite as 'orrible as the Marina TC Coupe I had a few years later, but still woeful, although, the high back sports seats in the 'tina GT were quite nice for the day, and of course the gearbox was lovely. That was about it though laugh

Touring442 said:
The Avenger was built so badly as to be a scandal, with the Linwood versions being unacceptably bad.
They were not well built its true, but the Avenger did have a nice chassis.

Touring442 said:
The smart money in 1975 was on a Datsun Bluebird 160B with a set of decent tyres and a Ziebarting job.
I agree.
One of my close school friends, his Dad had a red one as a company car, very exotic for 1974/5, and I can remember thinking it was like something from space, in terms of the way it felt just as a passenger, and how well made it was compared to the usual British stuff of the day.

s m

20,622 posts

167 months

Friday 22nd November 2019
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Shezbo said:
I just cannot agree, we as a family - had in the late sixties up to the mid seventies - two Marina's - three Cortina's - two Viva's and a Maxi. This was dad, mum and grandad x 2. Post 1978 no - one in the family had a Morris - Austin or Triumph, yet they had been the staple diet of our family 8-10 years earlier?

The Mk111 Cortina was loose on the back end, yes I will give you that (the 1971 version was poor) however, Ford did at least sort the problem so that later 1600 XL and 2000 GXL were good cars.

The Viva's I experienced were OK cars, grandad went from two of these to a Marina - a 1.3 delux. The clutch judder on this car was simply awful and had axle tramp with a 1.3 engine. I remember him swapping it out for a new 1974 (M reg) in beige a 4 door 1.8. Although this car went better, the build quality, was shocking: it went back to Kenning's in Shrewsbury - for a respray as it had so many paint runs, from the factory. Grandad swapped it for a very early Fiesta Mk1 - which was a revelation.....and never had a BL car again.

The Maxi - although still terrible was at least a good design.

The Marina - was a lashed up car, based on Morris Minor under pinning's and tired engines.

It really was Red Robbo's work force, lowest ebb.
Kennings! There’s a blast from the past ( I’m from SY area )

I think with the Marina, like so many cars before and after, the handling depends a lot on the model and age of it you had. Also whether it had the heavier 1.8 engine




Shezbo

433 posts

94 months

Friday 22nd November 2019
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distinctivedesign said:
Viewed in the context of its time, and against its opposition at the same price point (unlike a number of the so-called opposition cars mentioned so far in this thread - most of which were miles dearer), the Marina was not a BAD car. It was, I suppose, competitively mediocre.

It had its strengths - the styling (at launch anyway) was modern and unfussy, and the coupe was a good looker. It tended to rust slightly less than its competitors. Its big strength was always its generous accommodation - in terms of cabin space and for luggage. The estates were genuinely useful and very practical load luggers, and much more accommodating than the competing Viva, Avenger and even Cortina estates.

So, it wasn't a bad car as such. Developed on a shoestring, and with well-proven mechanicals, it actually was amazing that it was as competitive as it was at the time. Think about how much Ford spent on developing the Mk 3 Cortina for a comparison.

Like all BL products, the Marina's biggest problem was that chronic lack of investment meant it ended up not being the "stop gap" car its designers and engineers were briefed to provide. Instead, it soldiered on for nearly 14 years, by which time it was little more than a decrepit curiosity. It was supposed to be replaced in 1973, to coincide with Ford's facelift of the Mk 3 Cortina, instead of which the last Ital's were registered in 1985!
.
I just cannot agree, we as a family - had in the late sixties up to the mid seventies - two Marina's - three Cortina's - two Viva's and a Maxi. This was dad, mum and grandad x 2. Post 1978 no - one in the family had a Morris - Austin or Triumph, yet they had been the staple diet of our family 8-10 years earlier?

The Mk111 Cortina was loose on the back end, yes I will give you that (the 1971 version was poor) however, Ford did at least sort the problem so that later 1600 XL and 2000 GXL were good cars.

The Viva's I experienced were OK cars, grandad went from two of these to a Marina - a 1.3 delux. The clutch judder on this car was simply awful and had axle tramp with a 1.3 engine. I remember him swapping it out for a new 1974 (M reg) in beige a 4 door 1.8. Although this car went better, the build quality, was shocking: it went back to Kenning's in Shrewsbury - for a respray as it had so many paint runs, from the factory. Grandad swapped it for a very early Fiesta Mk1 - which was a revelation.....and never had a BL car again.

The Maxi - although still terrible was at least a good design.

The Marina - was a lashed up car, based on Morris Minor under pinning's and tired engines.

It really was Red Robbo's work force, lowest ebb.





MuscleSedan

1,161 posts

139 months

Friday 22nd November 2019
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Sardonicus said:
Who remembers the balls up with the tailgate not meeting the bodywork (over-sized panel) on the later Marina estate before the Ital revision? whose idea was that one? yikes yes it was a thing at the time and I was only a kid wink
Escort Estates were like that too, quality …



Owned a couple of old Ital's in the past, durable old things that did the job and not unpleasant to drive. Anyone thinking shagged out old Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts were any better is having a laugh. The Japs bought no technical advances to run of the mill stuff, they just built on reliability and threw in a radio and ciggy lighter as standard to wow buyers.. Citroen GS, CX and to a lesser degree Alfa were just light years ahead.

Mr Tidy

13,698 posts

91 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
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Back in 1977 I became the owner of my Dad's 1970 Fiat 125 (sadly because he could no longer drive).

But according to Motor magazine it also did 0-60 in 11.8 seconds, but it had a great twin-cam engine and 4 wheel disc brakes - it just seemed to be so far ahead in tech terms of the BL and Ford offerings of the time!

spaximus

3,770 posts

217 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
The Maxi was mentioned and they were night and day apart from the Marina. It was a genuinely good car and when I worked for Kennings in Rotherham, they had quality issues but not that bad especially after the first years run where the faults were ironed out.

It was another BL first as well in front of all other manufacturers, it was the first car with a 5 speed gearbox and that was so good the internals were used in a new case for the Lotus elan plus 2.

They were very popular with caravan owners as the suspension worked well when hitched up and the 1750 especially was a good torquey engine.

Inside the seats folded down and made a very comfortable double bed sized area.

It is hard to compare with a modern car and peoples memories of things are often not what they should be. All the competitors were flawed and how flawed stood out when Datsum arrived with cars with carpets and radios as standard, that ran perfectly. They rotted out at the first sign of salt but all cars did back then, theirs was just faster at doing so.

BMC/BL had some genuinley good designs which were let down by investment and quality control

Dr Jekyll

21,226 posts

225 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
spaximus said:
BMC/BL had some genuinley good designs which were let down by investment and quality control
+1

Not to mention poor marketing.

The landcrab was good in many ways, exceptionally roomy in the back and surprisingly good on corners. But too big and sluggish for the 'motorway all week, put a couple of kids in the back at weekends' market it should have been aimed at.

The replacement should have been a hatchback put apparently this would have competed with the Maxi.

The Rover SD1 was a potential world beater let down by quality control. They could have moved it upmarket initially, with lower sales but higher margin at least until they got quality sorted out, but this would have competed with Jaguar.

The Stag should have give the Mercedes R107 a fright but again, crap quality.


spaximus

3,770 posts

217 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
Dr Jekyll said:
spaximus said:
BMC/BL had some genuinley good designs which were let down by investment and quality control
+1

Not to mention poor marketing.

The landcrab was good in many ways, exceptionally roomy in the back and surprisingly good on corners. But too big and sluggish for the 'motorway all week, put a couple of kids in the back at weekends' market it should have been aimed at.

The replacement should have been a hatchback put apparently this would have competed with the Maxi.

The Rover SD1 was a potential world beater let down by quality control. They could have moved it upmarket initially, with lower sales but higher margin at least until they got quality sorted out, but this would have competed with Jaguar.

The Stag should have give the Mercedes R107 a fright but again, crap quality.
The Stag was the result of infighting between Rover and Triumph. There was a perfectly good ell proven engine in the rover V8 but he engineers did not want that as theirs was better in every way they said. Except it wasn't and the well known issues of the engine really hurt sales especially in the States.

They drove really well and with a nice engine note but they were badly flawed. Only now are they reliable with the original engine as the faults have been engineered out by specialists.

Yertis

16,064 posts

230 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
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Ironically there seem to be more Stags around now than SLs.

WJNB

2,637 posts

125 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
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Did anyone here work for Nestle in the 1970's?
I lived in fear of being issued with a Marina having seen a colleague lumbered with a horrid bright blue one. As it happens he was somebody who had no interest whatsoever in cars so to him it was merely an appliance.
Never was I so happy to have Avengers/Hunters/Escorts - boggo 1.3's of course.
Weirdly every car came with aftermarket spotlights fitted which should one get broken you could easily indent for a replacement no questions asked. Ahem - I finished up with several new boxed ones when I was made redundant.

2xChevrons

1,264 posts

44 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
spaximus said:
The Stag was the result of infighting between Rover and Triumph. There was a perfectly good ell proven engine in the rover V8 but he engineers did not want that as theirs was better in every way they said. Except it wasn't and the well known issues of the engine really hurt sales especially in the States.

They drove really well and with a nice engine note but they were badly flawed. Only now are they reliable with the original engine as the faults have been engineered out by specialists.
This oft-repeated factoid simply isn't true. Triumph began work on their V8 (and the Stag) a good while before Rover was brought into the Leyland Motors fold, by which time the TV8 was essentially a 'done deal'.

Rover could not have built enough RV8s to supply the expected number of Stag sales (they were caught short in any case by the unexpected success of the Range Rover) and, on paper at least, the TV8 was a much more modern and efficient design than the rather old-fashioned Rover unit. Unfortunately it also had numerous design weaknesses which were quickly exposed by poor manufacturing and maintenance.

The RV8 was never an option for the Stag. It was slated for use in the new range of Triumph sports cars, including the Stag's replacement, so Triumph clearly didn't object to it that strongly.

It was Jaguar which threw up all sorts of supposed technical, practical and financial obstacles to ensure that only Jaguar engines ever went into Jaguars. A petty policy in the short-term, but it probably secured the company's long-term future as it meant that it could be split off as a self-sufficient entity


s m

20,622 posts

167 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
Mr Tidy said:
Back in 1977 I became the owner of my Dad's 1970 Fiat 125 (sadly because he could no longer drive).

But according to Motor magazine it also did 0-60 in 11.8 seconds, but it had a great twin-cam engine and 4 wheel disc brakes - it just seemed to be so far ahead in tech terms of the BL and Ford offerings of the time!

Crikey haven’t seen one of those ( or the sporty 124 ) for a fair while. Lada cribbed most of the car off Fiat but don’t even see any of those these days

I remember those Fiats had discs all round which was a source of wonder to us in our Escorts/Sunbeams etc

They went back to drums on the back iirc for the later Fiat 131 Mirafioris

aeropilot

23,811 posts

191 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
s m said:

Crikey haven’t seen one of those ( or the sporty 124 ) for a fair while. Lada cribbed most of the car off Fiat but don’t even see any of those these days
The Lada was a licence built version of the Fiat 124, not the 125.

It was Polski-Fiat which was a licence built version of the Fiat 125.

Gojira

899 posts

87 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
aeropilot said:
The Lada was a licence built version of the Fiat 124, not the 125.

It was Polski-Fiat which was a licence built version of the Fiat 125.
And the Polski-Fiats made the Marina look good biggrin

My old man had about three of them, followed by a couple of their Polonez hatchbacks yikes

I had to drive them occasionaly from Manchester to Birmingham, and they aer why I tend to fall off my chair laughing when some young whipper-snapper calls anything built this century Worst. Car. Ever. rofl

s m

20,622 posts

167 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
aeropilot said:
The Lada was a licence built version of the Fiat 124, not the 125.

It was Polski-Fiat which was a licence built version of the Fiat 125.
Oh yes, that’s true - I always thought of the 125s as a LWB 124 .....but yes they became those FSOs

Was more into the homegrown stuff like Escorts to be honest. Can remember the odd one or two of us flirting with something Italian - but there were always plenty of Ford spares and upgrades and performance was uppermost in our minds back then
Did like the Alfa 1300GT my friend got but for all the good bits on it etc, a sporty 1300 Escort Mk1 did the same job for less
Would have liked a GTV2000 .....but then it always seemed cheaper to uprate a 2-litre Escort

Mr Tidy

13,698 posts

91 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
aeropilot said:
The Lada was a licence built version of the Fiat 124, not the 125.

It was Polski-Fiat which was a licence built version of the Fiat 125.
That's true, but Fiat only seem to have sold them the pressings for the shells. They all had more basic locally-sourced engines and running gear than what Fiat used, so all they had in common was how they looked - and maybe a propensity to rust!

Sadly I haven't seen any of them around for years - then again I can't remember the last time I saw a Marina either.

spaximus

3,770 posts

217 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
spaximus said:
The Stag was the result of infighting between Rover and Triumph. There was a perfectly good ell proven engine in the rover V8 but he engineers did not want that as theirs was better in every way they said. Except it wasn't and the well known issues of the engine really hurt sales especially in the States.

They drove really well and with a nice engine note but they were badly flawed. Only now are they reliable with the original engine as the faults have been engineered out by specialists.
This oft-repeated factoid simply isn't true. Triumph began work on their V8 (and the Stag) a good while before Rover was brought into the Leyland Motors fold, by which time the TV8 was essentially a 'done deal'.

Rover could not have built enough RV8s to supply the expected number of Stag sales (they were caught short in any case by the unexpected success of the Range Rover) and, on paper at least, the TV8 was a much more modern and efficient design than the rather old-fashioned Rover unit. Unfortunately it also had numerous design weaknesses which were quickly exposed by poor manufacturing and maintenance.

The RV8 was never an option for the Stag. It was slated for use in the new range of Triumph sports cars, including the Stag's replacement, so Triumph clearly didn't object to it that strongly.

It was Jaguar which threw up all sorts of supposed technical, practical and financial obstacles to ensure that only Jaguar engines ever went into Jaguars. A petty policy in the short-term, but it probably secured the company's long-term future as it meant that it could be split off as a self-sufficient entity
When I went on a training course to BL it was being run by one of the design engineers from Triumph and what you say contradicts what he told us.

The Stag was originally designed to use the straight six from the 2500 but they decided against that as the US market wanted a V8, so began the design of their own V8 engine. This was well along the way when, as you say, they bought Rover. They were hastily instructed to build test mules with the Rover Engine which was not without problems.

It all fitted but as the Stag was designed to be higher reving engine, the Rover version would need different gearing for one, plus a new lower inlet manifold as the standard one meant the carbs hit the bonnet.

The big advantage for BL was the rover cost less, was a proven unit and for the US market ticked all the boxes. He told us that there was friction between the Triumph team and the Rover engineers which eventually the Triumph engine was decided upon as it was felt to be a more modern unit, which turned out to be an engine let down in several areas.

If it is wrong then this guy told a convincing story and at the time the Stag was still in production.

anonymous-user

18 months

Sunday 24th November 2019
quotequote all
spaximus said:
2xChevrons said:
spaximus said:
The Stag was the result of infighting between Rover and Triumph. There was a perfectly good ell proven engine in the rover V8 but he engineers did not want that as theirs was better in every way they said. Except it wasn't and the well known issues of the engine really hurt sales especially in the States.

They drove really well and with a nice engine note but they were badly flawed. Only now are they reliable with the original engine as the faults have been engineered out by specialists.
This oft-repeated factoid simply isn't true. Triumph began work on their V8 (and the Stag) a good while before Rover was brought into the Leyland Motors fold, by which time the TV8 was essentially a 'done deal'.

Rover could not have built enough RV8s to supply the expected number of Stag sales (they were caught short in any case by the unexpected success of the Range Rover) and, on paper at least, the TV8 was a much more modern and efficient design than the rather old-fashioned Rover unit. Unfortunately it also had numerous design weaknesses which were quickly exposed by poor manufacturing and maintenance.

The RV8 was never an option for the Stag. It was slated for use in the new range of Triumph sports cars, including the Stag's replacement, so Triumph clearly didn't object to it that strongly.

It was Jaguar which threw up all sorts of supposed technical, practical and financial obstacles to ensure that only Jaguar engines ever went into Jaguars. A petty policy in the short-term, but it probably secured the company's long-term future as it meant that it could be split off as a self-sufficient entity
When I went on a training course to BL it was being run by one of the design engineers from Triumph and what you say contradicts what he told us.

The Stag was originally designed to use the straight six from the 2500 but they decided against that as the US market wanted a V8, so began the design of their own V8 engine. This was well along the way when, as you say, they bought Rover. They were hastily instructed to build test mules with the Rover Engine which was not without problems.

It all fitted but as the Stag was designed to be higher reving engine, the Rover version would need different gearing for one, plus a new lower inlet manifold as the standard one meant the carbs hit the bonnet.

The big advantage for BL was the rover cost less, was a proven unit and for the US market ticked all the boxes. He told us that there was friction between the Triumph team and the Rover engineers which eventually the Triumph engine was decided upon as it was felt to be a more modern unit, which turned out to be an engine let down in several areas.

If it is wrong then this guy told a convincing story and at the time the Stag was still in production.
We have to remember the Stag engine all things being equal was more advanced than the Rover V8 giving the Stag that extra special status it needed in the USA as this new fantastic SL Merc competitor for half the price and if the sand from the foundry had been cleaned out of the waterways in the block before assembly it would of been a big success, it's as simple as that why it had overheating issues.

s m

20,622 posts

167 months

Sunday 24th November 2019
quotequote all
Mr Tidy said:
aeropilot said:
The Lada was a licence built version of the Fiat 124, not the 125.

It was Polski-Fiat which was a licence built version of the Fiat 125.
That's true, but Fiat only seem to have sold them the pressings for the shells. They all had more basic locally-sourced engines and running gear than what Fiat used, so all they had in common was how they looked - and maybe a propensity to rust!

Sadly I haven't seen any of them around for years - then again I can't remember the last time I saw a Marina either.
Here you go!

Road trip to Italy and yours for £7k



https://m.classic-trader.com/uk/cars/listing/fiat/...


Me, I’ll save the cost of the flight, pay an extra grand and have this 1300GT Escort from Essex



Couldn’t see any TCs for sale at the moment