Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

Author
Discussion

daimlerv8

2,591 posts

43 months

Wednesday 25th December 2019
quotequote all
There has been mention of the Daimler V8 engine on this thread,so please allow me to wander a little further.....

The Jaguar XK unit was designed by Wally Hassan in the early/mid 1940's,Hassan and Lyons shared night time fire watching duties on the Browns Lane factory roof and pondered the way that SS Cars would go post war.

Lyons told Hassan to design an engine to take his cars into the second half of the 20th century,so a 6 cylinder twin overhead cam design was drawn up.Bearing mind that the current tax regime regarding engines favoured a long stroke narrow bore engine,the XK design was very good.Hassan was good enough to ensure that by varying the piston hieght and crank throw several capacity versions could be built.

Ten years later,Edward Turner was MD of Daimler,he'd got there via other BSA Group companies,earlier in his career he was involved with the Ariel 'square four' m/c engine,a move to Triumph saw him design the Speed Twin engine.
At Daimler,the 2.5 V8 uses the same cylinder head/bore layout as the Triumph 650 engine....to the point that pistons and valves are interchangeable between engines,but not valve springs! This was where Daimler ran low on cash and the 4.5 unit is pretty much a photocopier enlargement of the smaller unit,only mutual bits being the distributor(Lucas,also used by R-R for their V8) spark plug tubes and HT lead clips.Every other item is just a bit bigger....

Fast forward to 1961,Lyons could not build Mk2 saloons fast enough,so went next door and bought the Daimler factory to allow him to expand.

Stratstone's were a Daimler franchise holder and asked for a 'small' Daimler to replace the out of production Conquest.
Lyonn's,who hated the Germans with a vengence,told Stratstone that he could have a small Daimler if he would drop his VW franchise in favour of a Jaguar one.....hence the 2.5 V8 being fitted to the Mk2 Saloon.

As written above,the Daimler V8 engines were far better than the XK,but needed hand assembly,no valve stem oil seal,the engine builder had a box full of valves and a pile of cylinder heads and matched them up....took Russ Carpenter in preservation years to modify and supply a valve stem seal...

This along with the need to cast two different sizes of block/crank/head terminated the Daimler V8,along with Lyons prefering the 'look' of the twincam straight 6....

Touring442

2,009 posts

172 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
quotequote all
Not just that, but Jaguar were also well into the V12 design and it was hoped that V6/V8 versions would also replace the XK.


lowdrag

11,171 posts

176 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
quotequote all
The end of the Daimler 2.5 V8 was quite amusing. Walter Heynes wanted to defend his XK engine, so one day his son Jonathan was detailed to take out a V8 Daimler saloon and drive it from Coventry to Stratford - in second gear.. The engine survived the trip and the return so Walter Heynes told Jonathan to do it again - in first gear!. The engine failed this time, and didn't last long in production.

daveclem

1 posts

2 months

Saturday 30th January
quotequote all
I bought a Marina in 1985 from a mate of mine who had just 'upgraded' to an Alfa Sud. It was a metallic green 1.3 and I paid him £30 for it. What a bargain, I had the car for about 2 years and it only cost me a few quid each time for a new MOT, bit if welding on the sills and a new handbrake cable the first time and a new truneon the next. I sold the car on to another mate of mine for the same amount £30, he had it for a couple of years also without any mechanical hassle and ended up selling to a mate of his again for £30. I remember that it was very comfortable and always started first time rain or shine, the thing was almost indestructable. The bloke who I bought it from only had the Sud for a couple of months and it rotted away and failed MOT never to pass another one and was scrapped, in fact he asked me if he could buy the Marina back. I have many fond memories of that car.

neutral 3

5,154 posts

133 months

Saturday 30th January
quotequote all
A pal called Vince and I, took his Dads N reg, Marina TC Coupe, for a summers eve hoon, along Waltham Way, in Chingford, towards Waltham Abbey, one balmy summers eve, in 1977.
His Dads TC, was that gorgeous Purple colour.
Memories of it are that it went well, it felt quick and Vince attempts @ hand brake turns, will never be forgotten, lol.
I recall him saying that his Dad was thinking of selling it. I mentioned it to my Mum, who’s once immaculate Tawny J reg, Capri 3000E, was by then looking tired.

Vintagejock

39 posts

43 months

Saturday 30th January
quotequote all
A long time ago I was involved in repossession. We were told to retrieve a g reg maestro that the customer was keen to hang on to. He had been told that it wouldn't pass the mot ( it was 2 1/2 years old) without significant welding. Lessons at BL were never learned.

aeropilot

23,486 posts

190 months

Saturday 30th January
quotequote all
neutral 3 said:
A pal called Vince and I, took his Dads N reg, Marina TC Coupe, for a summers eve hoon, along Waltham Way, in Chingford, towards Waltham Abbey, one balmy summers eve, in 1977.
His Dads TC, was that gorgeous Purple colour.
Sounds like it was the same colour as my old TC Coupe (JBW 146N) smile

CDP

6,621 posts

217 months

Saturday 30th January
quotequote all
Vintagejock said:
A long time ago I was involved in repossession. We were told to retrieve a g reg maestro that the customer was keen to hang on to. He had been told that it wouldn't pass the mot ( it was 2 1/2 years old) without significant welding. Lessons at BL were never learned.
"he had been told"

So we're assuming his account was true and if so that the person who told him was telling the truth.

As somebody involved in repossessions would you say all your "clients" were totally honest?


DBSV8

5,304 posts

201 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
Flying Phil said:
Further to my post 14th Nov (and the digression into Daimler V8 drag racing) I found the picture of my Marina TC at the Pod....
I posted this on another forum , but apt on here

Racing Marina in NZ





Vintagejock

39 posts

43 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
CDP said:
Vintagejock said:
A long time ago I was involved in repossession. We were told to retrieve a g reg maestro that the customer was keen to hang on to. He had been told that it wouldn't pass the mot ( it was 2 1/2 years old) without significant welding. Lessons at BL were never learned.
"he had been told"

So we're assuming his account was true and if so that the person who told him was telling the truth.

As somebody involved in repossessions would you say all your "clients" were totally honest?
He had an rac engineers report which he had submitted to the finance house. To complicate matters what he thought was a finance deal turned out to be a lease. I believed him at the time including his intention to cut my winch rope with a bread knife to prevent me from loading it.

Murph7355

28,418 posts

219 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
DBSV8 said:
I posted this on another forum , but apt on here

Racing Marina in NZ ...
Looks like they cornered the world supply of fibre glass in that race series - is that an Alfa Sprint to the right?

My dad bought a Marina TC when my sister was born. My mum's one stipulation was no green cars....cue one dark green Marina smile Seem to recall he quite liked it, though not as much as his Hunter.

I had an Alfa Sprint for a year or so. Think I owned the only Alfa in history whose body was rust free but one of the rods was through the block smile (Lovely little cars generally).

AC43

8,633 posts

171 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
Touring442 said:
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.
A lot of stuff there that I didn't know.

Anyway, as I've posted before I got my first taste of Suds shortly after having passed my test in 81.

I learnt to drive in a Triumph Dolomite and briefly had a go in a Marina (it was a loaner as my dad's car was off the road). I also got to sample various other somewhat antiquated British RWD cars of the time - a Capri 1.3 a Mk 2 Cortina, a Mk 3 Cortina and so on.

Franky, to drive, the Sud felt like it was from another century not just from another decade. Let's not forget that cash-strapped BL had based the Marina on the underpinnings of the ancient Morris Minor. I suppose if you just compared to other, basic RWD cars it was much of a muchness. They all drove pretty much the same. I'm thinking Viva/Chevette, Avenger/Sunbeam, Cortina, (rwd) Escort, Capri, etc etc

At least Fiat put twin cams in relatively affordable 125's, 131's and 132's. But the recipe was pretty much the same.

To me, the interesting cars which pushed the boundaries for relatively affordable family transport at the time (I'm thinking 70's and 80's) came from the likes of Alfa & Lancia in Italy. Peugeot were doing some quirky and interesting stuff as, sometimes, were Renault. Citroen came out with a whole range of interesting curates eggs - one part advanced engineering, one part ancient powerplant).

Anyway I guess the Marina was OK for a simple, mainstream car developed on a shoestring. And sounded nice in TC format. But there were loads of better, more interesting choices out there for petrolheads.

All my mates (bar the plonker who bought the 1.3 Capri) went Italian. A whole range of Sud-based, Alfetta-based and Beta-based cars. Yeah the interiors were a bit shonky at times but the engines/brakes/steering/suspension were brilliant compared to the average at the time.

coppice

6,529 posts

107 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
Murph7355 said:
Looks like they cornered the world supply of fibre glass in that race series - is that an Alfa Sprint to the right?

My dad bought a Marina TC when my sister was born. My mum's one stipulation was no green cars....cue one dark green Marina smile Seem to recall he quite liked it, though not as much as his Hunter.

I had an Alfa Sprint for a year or so. Think I owned the only Alfa in history whose body was rust free but one of the rods was through the block smile (Lovely little cars generally).
No , my Sud Ti didn't rust either . It had very little in common with the utterly dreadful Marina as it had five speeds, all round discs , sublime steering , terrific road holding , comfy seats , a great ride and a rev happy , rasping flat four .

Flying Phil

1,225 posts

108 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
My Marina TC was followed by a Chevette and then an Alfasud.....but I couldn't afford the Ti.
I did return to Alfa 30 years later with a 156 then three resto Sprints.

AC43

8,633 posts

171 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
coppice said:
Murph7355 said:
Looks like they cornered the world supply of fibre glass in that race series - is that an Alfa Sprint to the right?

My dad bought a Marina TC when my sister was born. My mum's one stipulation was no green cars....cue one dark green Marina smile Seem to recall he quite liked it, though not as much as his Hunter.

I had an Alfa Sprint for a year or so. Think I owned the only Alfa in history whose body was rust free but one of the rods was through the block smile (Lovely little cars generally).
No , my Sud Ti didn't rust either . It had very little in common with the utterly dreadful Marina as it had five speeds, all round discs , sublime steering , terrific road holding , comfy seats , a great ride and a rev happy , rasping flat four .
What was really interesting was taking them to bits. I had a couple of Mini's and the engineering was so crude in comparison. to the Sud. Great big lumps of crudely-cast pig iron in the Mini iron vs beautiful alloys castings in the Sud. Siamesed inlet & exhaust ports in the Mini and another lump of roughly-cast iron for the manifold vs a beautiful 4-into-2-into1 manifold on the Sud. A single SU on the Mini vs Twin Dellorto's or Webers on the Sud mounted, bike-like, on incredibly short inlet manifolds. I remember the local Mini specialist marvelling at the top-spec ball races on the steering rack which, along with the (revolutionary) low-mounted rack, gave such amazing steering feel. The inboard front discs, the clever rear axle, the rear discs etc etc etc.

Before getting into Sud, I briefly went down the road of trying to make the Mini work a bit better. I skimmed, balanced and ported the head. Fitted double valve springs and a Cooper dizzy & fast road cam. Stuck a Dellorto car on a swan neck manifold and added a long centre branch manifold, a Janspeed centre section and a Cooper back box. Stuck some discs on the front, added some Spax dampers, dropped the steering rack, added a rev counter and fitted the alloy gear change casing to help stop the engine shunt.

At the end, was it any good? Well, it was good for a Mini but it was hardly a grand tourer.

My next car was a Sprint and that took me all over the place in comfort at speed. The best thing was I didn't have to do anything to it. It came with all the fancy parts fitted, out of the box. Instead of spending hours on my back in the garage trying to improve BL engineering I could just get out on the road and use it. Which, in my case anyway, was the point of having a car in the first place.

I drove from Scotland to Italy and back twice in a Sprint in 83 and 84 as well as numberous long trips round the Scottish Highlands and Borders.

Thhey were a revelation at the time.

CDP

6,621 posts

217 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
Vintagejock said:
He had an rac engineers report which he had submitted to the finance house.
Fair enough.

Vintagejock said:
. I believed him at the time including his intention to cut my winch rope with a bread knife to prevent me from loading it.
eekeekeek

Though if he was mad enough to want to do this I'm sure he could get any engineer's report he wanted written. These cars had 6 year anticorrosion warranties by this point.

MoggieMinor

418 posts

108 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
The Marina wasn't a bad motor at all. Simple and reliable, given some decent maintenance.. Sadly once a car gets to the cheap banger stage of life maintenance gets limited to the absolute minimum required for an MOT.. Remember the regular sight of Marinas stranded with collapsed front suspension which hadn't seen a grease gun in years?


rallycross

11,086 posts

200 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
MoggieMinor said:
The Marina wasn't a bad motor at all. Simple and reliable, given some decent maintenance.. Sadly once a car gets to the cheap banger stage of life maintenance gets limited to the absolute minimum required for an MOT..

I used to sell these (used examples of Marina and Ital), which meant I had to drive them sometimes (and fix them).
From everything I can remember about them, they were utter crap especially when compared to the alternatives.

aeropilot

23,486 posts

190 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
MoggieMinor said:
The Marina wasn't a bad motor at all.

rofl




Blackpuddin

11,589 posts

168 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
Mate and I used to tool round the town in his Marina 1.8 TC, we were definitely cruising not bruising, but I have good memories of it.