Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

Author
Discussion

nordboy

219 posts

14 months

Sunday 31st January
quotequote all
GBO247N, burgundy Marina 1.3, the first car I remember my parents having. They bought it new.

I remember it probably because my dad used to spend nearly every weekend fixing something or filling the rust holes in it.

cpl593h

294 posts

101 months

Sunday 31st January
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Snap! My parents bought a year old burgundy ‘N’ registration 1.3 Marina from a dealer without test driving it because Mum liked the colour despite protestations from my Dad....

They both hated it from the moment they drove away from the dealer....gone within 6 months for a run out mk3 Cortina

Yertis

16,064 posts

230 months

Monday 1st February
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AC43 said:
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.
I desperately wanted a Sprint. But the driving position was weird, and there was no headroom – I had to hunch or tip my head sideways to fit in. I tried several, each time hoping the seating would have miraculously changed, but alas not. Still love them though.

AC43

8,783 posts

172 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
Yertis said:
AC43 said:
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.
I desperately wanted a Sprint. But the driving position was weird, and there was no headroom – I had to hunch or tip my head sideways to fit in. I tried several, each time hoping the seating would have miraculously changed, but alas not. Still love them though.
Ah, yes, the driving position....it helps if you're 5 10 or less. I didn't have an issue with the headroom but the pedals were still very close for me. I remember my right ankle aching on long drives.......

coppice

6,583 posts

108 months

Monday 1st February
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I comforted myself that my Alfasud Tis had an Italian Ape driving position, just like a Ferrari . The five speeds , funky gear lever gaiter and rasping exhaust also helped the illusion .

2xChevrons

1,269 posts

44 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
AC43 said:
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.
yes

As much as I love Minis and consider the original Mk1 a work of deep conceptual genius, the execution slammed hard into the reality of it being produced by BMC in the late 50s.

The 'Sud was one of the most advanced family cars in the world when it was launched and the quality and thought that went into its design and engineering was incredible - easily up there with anything Citroen, Mercedes or Honda had at the time. All encased in a body that was often left outside and unpainted in a Naples summer...

All a very long way from the Marina, of course!

CDP

6,749 posts

218 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
AC43 said:
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.
yes

As much as I love Minis and consider the original Mk1 a work of deep conceptual genius, the execution slammed hard into the reality of it being produced by BMC in the late 50s.

The 'Sud was one of the most advanced family cars in the world when it was launched and the quality and thought that went into its design and engineering was incredible - easily up there with anything Citroen, Mercedes or Honda had at the time. All encased in a body that was often left outside and unpainted in a Naples summer...

All a very long way from the Marina, of course!
The 'Sud was a far more expensive car and in a completely different segment. It was a spots saloon from the ground up from one of (if not the) most historic names in motorsport.

The Mini was a basic economy car and should be compared with the Fiat 500, Ford Anglia, VW Beatle, Vauxhall Viva, Citroen 2CV, Hillman Imp etc.

Having driven a mini quickly I'd hardly describe the steering as lacking in feel. If a Sud was better it would have to be spectacular because there's more accurate feedback on a mini than on an Elise or 7. (Narrower tyres are a big help here).

2xChevrons

1,269 posts

44 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
CDP said:
The 'Sud was a far more expensive car and in a completely different segment. It was a spots saloon from the ground up from one of (if not the) most historic names in motorsport.

The Mini was a basic economy car and should be compared with the Fiat 500, Ford Anglia, VW Beatle, Vauxhall Viva, Citroen 2CV, Hillman Imp etc.

Having driven a mini quickly I'd hardly describe the steering as lacking in feel. If a Sud was better it would have to be spectacular because there's more accurate feedback on a mini than on an Elise or 7. (Narrower tyres are a big help here).
In terms of handling, roadholding and powerplant they are.

The 'Sud wasn't really designed as a sports saloon. It was originally conceived as an advanced 'people's car' to be a step onwards from the mid-size Fiats, built in large volumes and sold at a relatively low price because it was getting politically awkward for the Italian government to own a car firm that only made expensive saloons and sports cars.

The 'Sud was always intended to have an advanced engine and good handling, but it's no more a 'sports saloon' than the original 848cc Mini was, even though both had excellent handling and roadholding. Sporty versions were also always on the cards, but they only came to the fore when it became clear that the factory was incapable of building the boggo 1.2 cooking versions in the quantities needed to be viable.

I'm not knocking the Mini - I have one and I will always rate them (most of them...) very highly. But AC43's absolutely right that there are a lot rough edges and crude corners in the Mini's engineering and construction, and one of the glories of the 'Sud is that it was designed to an extremely high standard throughout.

Cheapness doesn't preclude the right sort of quality. My 2CV was designed earlier than, and sold for less than, the Mini and is far closer to the Alfa in its engineering - an all-alloy engine built to aeronautical grade tolerances, inboard front brakes, a low-mounted steering rack, suspension arms mounted on taper rolling bearings rather than trunnions, interconnected suspension, zero flexible brake lines etc. etc.

Yertis

16,064 posts

230 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
In terms of handling, roadholding and powerplant they are.

The 'Sud wasn't really designed as a sports saloon. It was originally conceived as an advanced 'people's car' to be a step onwards from the mid-size Fiats, built in large volumes and sold at a relatively low price because it was getting politically awkward for the Italian government to own a car firm that only made expensive saloons and sports cars.

The 'Sud was always intended to have an advanced engine and good handling, but it's no more a 'sports saloon' than the original 848cc Mini was, even though both had excellent handling and roadholding. Sporty versions were also always on the cards, but they only came to the fore when it became clear that the factory was incapable of building the boggo 1.2 cooking versions in the quantities needed to be viable.

I'm not knocking the Mini - I have one and I will always rate them (most of them...) very highly. But AC43's absolutely right that there are a lot rough edges and crude corners in the Mini's engineering and construction, and one of the glories of the 'Sud is that it was designed to an extremely high standard throughout.

Cheapness doesn't preclude the right sort of quality. My 2CV was designed earlier than, and sold for less than, the Mini and is far closer to the Alfa in its engineering - an all-alloy engine built to aeronautical grade tolerances, inboard front brakes, a low-mounted steering rack, suspension arms mounted on taper rolling bearings rather than trunnions, interconnected suspension, zero flexible brake lines etc. etc.
The 2CV is a work of art, if you understand art.


AC43

8,783 posts

172 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
CDP said:
2xChevrons said:
AC43 said:
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.
yes

As much as I love Minis and consider the original Mk1 a work of deep conceptual genius, the execution slammed hard into the reality of it being produced by BMC in the late 50s.

The 'Sud was one of the most advanced family cars in the world when it was launched and the quality and thought that went into its design and engineering was incredible - easily up there with anything Citroen, Mercedes or Honda had at the time. All encased in a body that was often left outside and unpainted in a Naples summer...

All a very long way from the Marina, of course!
The 'Sud was a far more expensive car and in a completely different segment. It was a spots saloon from the ground up from one of (if not the) most historic names in motorsport.

The Mini was a basic economy car and should be compared with the Fiat 500, Ford Anglia, VW Beatle, Vauxhall Viva, Citroen 2CV, Hillman Imp etc.

Having driven a mini quickly I'd hardly describe the steering as lacking in feel. If a Sud was better it would have to be spectacular because there's more accurate feedback on a mini than on an Elise or 7. (Narrower tyres are a big help here).
I know Mini's & Sud's were built to a different price point. I was just talking about the ancient drivetrain in the Mini compared to the Sud. If you want to look at the Marina it actually went back in time. The B Series lump was as crudely built as the A Series in the Mini. Fair enough, you got front discs when most Mini's had drums all round. But the Marina had a dreadfully-located live rear axles and lever arm front dampers (!!). Autocar reported that the 1800's at launch were downright dangerous with terminal understeer at ridiculous speeds.

BTW, the Sud's steering WAS much better than a Mini's and remains to this day the best steering I have ever experienced in terms of pure feel. Helped, of course, by clever geometry and low unsprung weight (inboard discs), actual suspension travel and decent damping.

If Issigonis had had his way, the Mini would have something modern and light instead of the A series. And the Marina would have had too. And it wouldn't have had pre-war lever arm dampers!

CDP

6,749 posts

218 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
The 'Sud wasn't really designed as a sports saloon. It was originally conceived as an advanced 'people's car' to be a step onwards from the mid-size Fiats, built in large volumes and sold at a relatively low price
A bit like a 3 Series?

I'm not knocking your argument that the Alfasud was the better car. It's just when you are at that end of the market. The Alfa also appeared 13 years after the mini during which time a lot had been learnt about front wheel drive.

The 2CV was a work of genius but requiring aircraft grade machining to make it work was not good product engineering. Conversely the Ford Cortina from the early 1960s or the Escort were both extremely simple recipes well executed and costed to perfection. (While the mini managed to lose money on every copy).

Bits of the mini are quite crude but in large parts worked well, if you don't mention rust. Knowing where you can safely save money is an extremely important part of developing a car.

2xChevrons

1,269 posts

44 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
CDP said:
A bit like a 3 Series?

I'm not knocking your argument that the Alfasud was the better car. It's just when you are at that end of the market. The Alfa also appeared 13 years after the mini during which time a lot had been learnt about front wheel drive.

The 2CV was a work of genius but requiring aircraft grade machining to make it work was not good product engineering. Conversely the Ford Cortina from the early 1960s or the Escort were both extremely simple recipes well executed and costed to perfection. (While the mini managed to lose money on every copy).

Bits of the mini are quite crude but in large parts worked well, if you don't mention rust. Knowing where you can safely save money is an extremely important part of developing a car.
Agreed, totally. It's why I only describe the Mini's concept as genius, not it's execution. It was a technical dead end and a financial cancer for its maker - which played a big part in BL imposing the crash-development programme which produced the Marina, because they were desperate for a simple, low-cost, easy to make, reliable car with some actual profit margin in it.

Issigonis' never bothered himself with cost control or production engineering. The only minimalism he liked was the aesthetic sort, hence why the Mini is a triumph of functional design to look at and sit in but is a nightmare patchwork quilt from a structural and mechanical point of view, with something like 50% more individual components overall than a (much larger) Cortina.

I'd say that the 2CV was a very intelligent use of high quality and expense where it mattered the most - the unflagging reliability and longevity of the engine is well proven, due to a combination of it being built from very high-grade materials to very close tolerances with very advanced production methods (nitrogen baths to shrink-fit the one-piece conrods, for instance) and then given very, very safe levels of tune which never taxed the actual limits of the engine in terms of physical or thermal loads. That reliability was key to the car's intended purpose and it's huge sales success.

The same could be said for the suspension, with its massive taper roller bearings on each corner (££), welded-construction crescent shaped suspension arms (££), the steering rack built into the front axle tube (££) and so on. But the 2CV also has entirely flat glass, single-skin body panels (also mostly flat), an all-fabric roof and absolutely nothing that's extraneous to the car's most basic function. Not even self-cancelling indicators or a heater blower fan. So the costs incurred in the drivetrain and running gear were clawed back in the chassis and body so, unlike the Mini, Citroen built and sold the 2CV and it's derivatives at a large profit more many years (profits which were mostly blown on the DS, which was truly magnificent from a technical perspective but only ever made the slimmest of profits, and that being nearly at the end of its life).

CDP

6,749 posts

218 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
Agreed, totally. It's why I only describe the Mini's concept as genius, not it's execution. It was a technical dead end and a financial cancer for its maker - which played a big part in BL imposing the crash-development programme which produced the Marina, because they were desperate for a simple, low-cost, easy to make, reliable car with some actual profit margin in it.

Issigonis' never bothered himself with cost control or production engineering. The only minimalism he liked was the aesthetic sort, hence why the Mini is a triumph of functional design to look at and sit in but is a nightmare patchwork quilt from a structural and mechanical point of view, with something like 50% more individual components overall than a (much larger) Cortina.

I'd say that the 2CV was a very intelligent use of high quality and expense where it mattered the most - the unflagging reliability and longevity of the engine is well proven, due to a combination of it being built from very high-grade materials to very close tolerances with very advanced production methods (nitrogen baths to shrink-fit the one-piece conrods, for instance) and then given very, very safe levels of tune which never taxed the actual limits of the engine in terms of physical or thermal loads. That reliability was key to the car's intended purpose and it's huge sales success.

The same could be said for the suspension, with its massive taper roller bearings on each corner (££), welded-construction crescent shaped suspension arms (££), the steering rack built into the front axle tube (££) and so on. But the 2CV also has entirely flat glass, single-skin body panels (also mostly flat), an all-fabric roof and absolutely nothing that's extraneous to the car's most basic function. Not even self-cancelling indicators or a heater blower fan. So the costs incurred in the drivetrain and running gear were clawed back in the chassis and body so, unlike the Mini, Citroen built and sold the 2CV and it's derivatives at a large profit more many years (profits which were mostly blown on the DS, which was truly magnificent from a technical perspective but only ever made the slimmest of profits, and that being nearly at the end of its life).
I think we're in agreement.

Now I need to find a cheap clean 'Sud.


aeropilot

23,861 posts

191 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
AC43 said:
I know Mini's & Sud's were built to a different price point. I was just talking about the ancient drivetrain in the Mini compared to the Sud. If you want to look at the Marina it actually went back in time. The B Series lump was as crudely built as the A Series in the Mini. Fair enough, you got front discs when most Mini's had drums all round. But the Marina had a dreadfully-located live rear axles and lever arm front dampers (!!). Autocar reported that the 1800's at launch were downright dangerous with terminal understeer at ridiculous speeds.
I experienced terminal understeer at walking pace in my 1.8TC, not to mention oversteer at walking pace induced by any mid corner bumps or ruts due to the dreadful rear axle location setup.
Its probably the only car I've owned that actual out loud laughter at its shocking road manners laugh

The problem was the Marina was only supposed to be a stop-gap......but stop gaps in the world of BL were final designs, because the money was spunked down the toilet already somewhere else.

CDP

6,749 posts

218 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
AC43 said:
If Issigonis had had his way, the Mini would have something modern and light instead of the A series. And the Marina would have had too. And it wouldn't have had pre-war lever arm dampers!
There had been a plan for a much upgraded Marina 2 in the mid 70s with completely different suspension. If the original had only lasted 4 years it would have been more fondly remembered. The lever arm dampers were stupid though.

2xChevrons

1,269 posts

44 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
aeropilot said:
I experienced terminal understeer at walking pace in my 1.8TC, not to mention oversteer at walking pace induced by any mid corner bumps or ruts due to the dreadful rear axle location setup.
Its probably the only car I've owned that actual out loud laughter at its shocking road manners laugh

The problem was the Marina was only supposed to be a stop-gap......but stop gaps in the world of BL were final designs, because the money was spunked down the toilet already somewhere else.
That was exactly my experience of driving an early TC Coupe too - hit a bump in a corner at the right/wrong time and you could get the bizarre feeling of a car oversteering while also scrubbing it's front wheels.

It was actual fun because it was so dynamically inept. It certainly required no small amount of driving skills to control while also trying to use the (pretty decent) performance from the engine. But there's a difference between finding something fun while borrowing a car for a day and putting up with it as a daily driver or when you've just handed over several thousand of your hard-earned and fast-inflating 1972 pounds to find that your bright orange coupe with red grille trim and a fruity exhaust can't really go round corners.

I'd love to see a proper automotive analysis of what exactly they messed up with the suspension on the Marina. I know that they very quickly had to change the upright and the trunnion to alter the lower end geometry, that later Mk1s had different damper arms to improve the caster angle and that the Mk2 and Mk3 Marinas and the Ital all had various improvements to the geometry and spring/damper/anti-roll rates to eke out more improvement.

But the thing is that conceptually the Marina front end is entirely 'known' and BMC had previously made the Riley One Point Five/Wolseley 1500 with the same basic setup which handle very sweetly even with the B-Series squatting on top. So it's clearly possible. Even if torsion bars and lever-arm dampers were utterly archaic on a car if the Marina's type by 1970 they could have done so much better.

Of course the real mind-blower is that there are no major interchangeable parts between the Minor and the Marina, or even the Riley/Wolseley and the Marina. BL went to all the effort and cost of designing and tooling up for a brand new suspension system using 1930s technology when it would have cost virtually nothing extra to use something more modern - it may have saved them something in reduced production costs. I suspect there must have been a sort of tunnel vision, where they initially decided on using the Minor suspension as a cost saving and then, 'death by a thousand cuts' style, by the time they'd tweaked and adapted it with a new ball-type top mount here, a stronger upright screw thread here, a different trunnion angle here, a different damper unit fitting there it had become bespoke.

aeropilot

23,861 posts

191 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
Of course the real mind-blower is that there are no major interchangeable parts between the Minor and the Marina, or even the Riley/Wolseley and the Marina. BL went to all the effort and cost of designing and tooling up for a brand new suspension system using 1930s technology when it would have cost virtually nothing extra to use something more modern - it may have saved them something in reduced production costs. I suspect there must have been a sort of tunnel vision, where they initially decided on using the Minor suspension as a cost saving and then, 'death by a thousand cuts' style, by the time they'd tweaked and adapted it with a new ball-type top mount here, a stronger upright screw thread here, a different trunnion angle here, a different damper unit fitting there it had become bespoke.
The BL catastophe in a nutshell.

If you think about it, it took barely 10-15 years for the British car and motorcycle industry to go from almost world leading, to laughing stock to almost non-existant.


CDP

6,749 posts

218 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
aeropilot said:
2xChevrons said:
Of course the real mind-blower is that there are no major interchangeable parts between the Minor and the Marina, or even the Riley/Wolseley and the Marina. BL went to all the effort and cost of designing and tooling up for a brand new suspension system using 1930s technology when it would have cost virtually nothing extra to use something more modern - it may have saved them something in reduced production costs. I suspect there must have been a sort of tunnel vision, where they initially decided on using the Minor suspension as a cost saving and then, 'death by a thousand cuts' style, by the time they'd tweaked and adapted it with a new ball-type top mount here, a stronger upright screw thread here, a different trunnion angle here, a different damper unit fitting there it had become bespoke.
The BL catastophe in a nutshell.

If you think about it, it took barely 10-15 years for the British car and motorcycle industry to go from almost world leading, to laughing stock to almost non-existant.
I blame make do and mend from the second world war.

It brought about an attitude of trying to hack old bits and pieces together as a first response rather than considering the pros and cons.


2xChevrons

1,269 posts

44 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
CDP said:
aeropilot said:
2xChevrons said:
Of course the real mind-blower is that there are no major interchangeable parts between the Minor and the Marina, or even the Riley/Wolseley and the Marina. BL went to all the effort and cost of designing and tooling up for a brand new suspension system using 1930s technology when it would have cost virtually nothing extra to use something more modern - it may have saved them something in reduced production costs. I suspect there must have been a sort of tunnel vision, where they initially decided on using the Minor suspension as a cost saving and then, 'death by a thousand cuts' style, by the time they'd tweaked and adapted it with a new ball-type top mount here, a stronger upright screw thread here, a different trunnion angle here, a different damper unit fitting there it had become bespoke.
The BL catastophe in a nutshell.

If you think about it, it took barely 10-15 years for the British car and motorcycle industry to go from almost world leading, to laughing stock to almost non-existant.
I blame make do and mend from the second world war.

It brought about an attitude of trying to hack old bits and pieces together as a first response rather than considering the pros and cons.
That's definitely a big part of it in the short term. But while it took only 10 years for the British car industry to go from 'proud global force' to 'bankrupt wreck' there were loads of systemic long-term issues in the industry going back to at least 1929, if not 1918. It's just that when the industry finally collapsed under the weight of those problems as the economic system weakened in the late 60s/early 70s the end was very fast and very complete.

Then there were the broader issues which affected all British manufacturing which had been amassing for nearly 150 years - repeated underinvestment, a chronic lack of capital, too many players in each sector robbing each other of viable market share, inadequate technical education, outdated and decentralised plant, outdated, inadequate or non-existant testing and development facilities, the squandering of the vast amount of Marshall Aid we received post-war, myopic and under-educated management, under-skilled workers, a history of mutually antagonistic labour relations, an over-dependence on closed and captive markets which were disappearing and a cultural attitude that encourages swashbuckling, enterprising, brave get-rich-quick schemes rather than steady, cautious long-term nurturing and growth.

Charlie Croker mk2

239 posts

64 months

Monday 1st February
quotequote all
In 1970 my Dad bought a new Morris 1800s ( XBU82H ) with the 95bhp traverse B series twin carb engine . When I passed my test in 1972 I was allowed to drive said car provided I was home by 10pm . With a 17 year old at the wheel it went through 5 star petrol at a alarming rate but the car and I survived and it taught me loads about ride and handling . Its now 1973 and Dad read in the Daily mail that there was going to be a oil crisis and he thought get something light and economical so he bought a Marina 1.8TC in hearing aid beige ( sandglow ) with a brown vinyl roof ! ( NBU 207L ) . Take it for a drive son ! Same 95BHP engine but kangarooing through the back wheels , live rear on Leaf springs and those Morris minor derived trunnions Even the wipers were on the wrong way round set up for LHD . You know how Nader said about the Corvair "unsafe at any speed" well he had not driven a marina . Dad bought fancy Dunlop SP tyres and a set of town and country tyres for winter in an attempt to keep it on the road but even back then it was a huge disappointment after the landcrab and it was actually worse on fuel a tank of 5 star disappeared in a run from Manchester to London . He part exchanged it after 18 months . I saw it the next week in the same BL dealers scrap yard with the 2 nearside doors severely mangled from impacting a lampost whilst sideways !