Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

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Discussion

Thebaggers

148 posts

98 months

Monday 1st February
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My dad had 2 in the 70s / early 80s. I remember that it was dangerous to wear shorts and sit in the white estate one he had as that had horrid brown leatherette seats that would stick to your legs like molten plastic and inflict hideous injuries, even in a Scottish summer.

Both were the 1.8 b series engines and I dont think they broke down too much.

cptsideways

13,220 posts

217 months

Monday 1st February
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I had s citroen GS at the same time these were new. Difference was like comparing a horse cart to something NASA had made.

They were dreadful

CDP

6,800 posts

219 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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Thebaggers said:
My dad had 2 in the 70s / early 80s. I remember that it was dangerous to wear shorts and sit in the white estate one he had as that had horrid brown leatherette seats that would stick to your legs like molten plastic and inflict hideous injuries, even in a Scottish summer.

Both were the 1.8 b series engines and I dont think they broke down too much.
Our Beatle had similar volcanic seats.

coppice

6,626 posts

109 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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Must have been a Hard Day's Night driving it - did you call for Help ?

aeropilot

24,181 posts

192 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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coppice said:
Must have been a Hard Day's Night driving it - did you call for Help ?
rofl

LuS1fer

37,583 posts

210 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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CDP said:
Our Beatle had similar volcanic seats.
Well baby you can drive my car, it would please, please me, woah yeah

Touring442

2,168 posts

174 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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2xChevrons said:
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.
BLMC/BMC/Nuffield invested as much if not more money into cars than Ford of Britain ever did. The Mini, 1100, Rover 2000, Stag all cost a fortune to design, develop and build. The multi million quid Cofton Hacklett factory to make the all new yet outdated E Series engine and box for just one car, the Maxi. The Mark 1 Escort from start to finish cost bugger all by comparison to the Maxi.

The trigger point was when Austin and Morris became BMC. Both companies were profitable and quite different but like the BLMC merger in 1968, the old 'bigger is better' falsehood won the day. The whole Issigonis thing with hydrolastic etc was a technical dead end. As soon as he arrived back at BMC in 1956, there ensued a decade or more of pissing money against the wall making ugly cars nobody wanted.

CDP

6,800 posts

219 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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Touring442 said:
BLMC/BMC/Nuffield invested as much if not more money into cars than Ford of Britain ever did. The Mini, 1100, Rover 2000, Stag all cost a fortune to design, develop and build. The multi million quid Cofton Hacklett factory to make the all new yet outdated E Series engine and box for just one car, the Maxi. The Mark 1 Escort from start to finish cost bugger all by comparison to the Maxi.

The trigger point was when Austin and Morris became BMC. Both companies were profitable and quite different but like the BLMC merger in 1968, the old 'bigger is better' falsehood won the day. The whole Issigonis thing with hydrolastic etc was a technical dead end. As soon as he arrived back at BMC in 1956, there ensued a decade or more of pissing money against the wall making ugly cars nobody wanted.
Even worse, when BMC inevitably got into trouble the government persuaded the profitable Leyland Group to merge with them as BMC were too big to fail. Much like Lloyds with HBOS it didn't do the trick and all had to be nationalised.

If BMC had been allowed to go bust or nationalised (same thing?) Leyland and others could have picked over the good bits (Pressed Steel, Jaguar, MG). Instead they ended up killing Leyland too.

The MK1 Escort was a Ford Anglia in a new suit.



Superleg48

1,302 posts

98 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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I had a Marina 1800. I changed the gearbox once in the car park at college. Kept jumping out of 4th gear. Also had different coloured front doors, due to me having to change them because the original doors wouldn’t lock and it was cheaper and easier to grab a couple of doors from the scrappy with a key to match than mess about changing the locks etc.

I also had a beige Ital with a flapping vinyl roof.

Yes, they were really that bad.

williamp

17,643 posts

238 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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Superleg48 said:
I had a Marina 1800. I changed the gearbox once in the car park at college. Kept jumping out of 4th gear. Also had different coloured front doors, due to me having to change them because the original doors wouldn’t lock and it was cheaper and easier to grab a couple of doors from the scrappy with a key to match than mess about changing the locks etc.

I also had a beige Ital with a flapping vinyl roof.

Yes, they were really that bad.
Easy and quick to maintain would be a bonus to some. And its not really their fault you didnt match the doors...
paperbag

aeropilot

24,181 posts

192 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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CDP said:
The MK1 Escort was a Ford Anglia in a new suit.
Much closer to being a Cortina Mk.2 that was shrunk in the wash to Anglia dimensions.


Mark A S

1,498 posts

153 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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Many years ago on the Industrial estate where I was working, one chap had a blue Morris Marina, any chance he would get he’d say how wonderful it was and that what he REALLY wanted was a convertible.
One of the lads who worked next door to him got a bit fed up with his endless obsessions and offered to turn his beloved Marina into convertible for him for £200.

Turns out he just took a disc cutter to the roof, took the money and presented it to the proud owner. The first speed bump he drove over, it bent so much the prop shaft popped out!

We all agreed then, that the Marina was a terrible car, this one in particular wink

2xChevrons

1,327 posts

45 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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CDP said:
Even worse, when BMC inevitably got into trouble the government persuaded the profitable Leyland Group to merge with them as BMC were too big to fail. Much like Lloyds with HBOS it didn't do the trick and all had to be nationalised.

If BMC had been allowed to go bust or nationalised (same thing?) Leyland and others could have picked over the good bits (Pressed Steel, Jaguar, MG). Instead they ended up killing Leyland too.

The MK1 Escort was a Ford Anglia in a new suit.
It wasn't quite that simple - the Wilson government wanted to be proactive in the shaping of the British industrial economy (as did all 1945-1979 governments to a greater or lesser degree) so they certainly saw a merger of BMH and Leyland to create a 'British general motors' as a good goal to work towards but they were very sceptical about the ability of Leyland to carry it off. Leyland was much smaller than BMH, was not short of its own deep-rooted systemic issues and while it was 'profitable' its revenue, profit and capitalisation was barely enough to sustain its own long-term future, let alone provide life support to BMH. The government's initial preference was the nationalisation of both BMH and Leyland with the government becoming both owner and administrator to provide both the money required to patch things up and the clout to knock heads together where required.

Donald Stokes - arch salesman that he was - convinced the government that Leyland had the clout to take on BMH as a private venture, and that despite its smaller size Leyland could impose its management on BMH in terms of both people and methods and show them how it was done. Stokes talked a good game and, outside the Ministry of Technology and the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation, there was diminishing enthusiasm for nationalisating the entire industry, which would be both very expensive and very controversial. Some very promising documents passed from Leyland to the IRC, showing that Leyland was in rude financial health and had lots of impressive-sounding plans for how to fix BMH's problems, sealed the deal.

These very quickly turned out to be somewhat 'creative', and once in residence it quickly became clear that BMH's issues were far worse than anyone had known. Compounded by lots of other factors, BLMC collapsed in on itself in the aftermath of the 1973 Oil Crisis and the 3-Day Week and had to be de-facto nationalised (the government became the largest shareholder, but not the only shareholder - something which caused a lot of other headaches down the line).

AMGSee55

399 posts

67 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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aeropilot said:
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
Second that - My grandmother and an old school friend both owned 1800 saloons, hers from new (an M-reg), his a '78 model bought second hand in the mid-80s. I used to repair them both periodically and hence drive them and the overriding memory is they were pleasant enough, IF you pottered around gently. Any attempt to press on was a miserable experience, but in their defence, if you accepted them as 'Uncle Arthur' cars they were fine - the torquey B-Series suited them well in this respect. They were never going to compete with say a contemporary BMW or Alfa, but then they would have been about two-thirds the price.

Timberwolf

5,202 posts

183 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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BLMC's problem with product development was to spend vast amounts of money and time fiddling about and changing things, and yet still deliver something with obvious cheapening and areas of insufficient development to customers. Ford's approach was to take proven mechanicals, update any bits that were unpleasantly long in the tooth and throw money at sheet metal to give the cars showroom appeal. BMC/BL might have spent the same overall, but they'd go through most of it twiddling about with some new variant of Hydragas, designing a universal heater assembly that didn't fit anything, vacillating between two completely different marketing segments and then finally sticking the car in showrooms with the 1100 doors and at least one area of bodywork clearly meant for a car of a different size entirely.

Even the Marina, a car deliberately intended to emulate Ford's fleet-friendly approach of chucking together a basic RWD chassis from the parts bin and making it look nice on the outside, went over time and budget as BL started intending to build a MkII Cortina analogue, panicked at the increased size of the MkIII Cortina, then decided to shrink back down to a more Escort-sized car again. The net result being the "intentionally simple" car cost as much to engineer as the "intentionally advanced" Allegro, and yet still arrived on the market in need of desperate patches for spring rates and handling.

Edited by Timberwolf on Tuesday 2nd February 14:13

aeropilot

24,181 posts

192 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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AMGSee55 said:
if you accepted them as 'Uncle Arthur' cars they were fine - the torquey B-Series suited them well in this respect.
The problem with the TC versions, is that they were not really marketed as Uncle Arthur cars, more as a competitor to the Cortina GXL/GT, Hunter GLS etc, and they were woeful in comparison.
They should have at least added the o/d gearbox from the MGB as well as the engine, to cope with the torque, rather than leaving the bog standard weedy gearbox from the 1300 in it, which I think came from the Moggy Minor anyway?
I only had my 1.8TC about 8/9 months, but it consumed 2 gearboxes in that time.......
Hateful POS..... laugh

Touring442

2,168 posts

174 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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The Mark III Cortina was exactly the same length as the Mark II. Slightly wider and lower, it just looked bigger.

They weren't that great either although much better than a Marina. Quite smooth and pleasant to drive in comparison. Early ones were diabolically badly made and Ford suffered a huge strike at Dagenham in late 1970 which caused major delays - but enough time to sort out the worst of the quality problems. Ford learned from the 1970 strike (9 weeks?) and designed the Mark IV to be the same as the German Taunus so that the German, Spanish and Belgian plants could be relied upon to churn out a few thousand RHD Fords when a GB plant went on strike.

BMC was still saveable by 1968 with a bit of cost cutting and product rationalisation. Joe Edwards was a fantastic production man and knew what had to be done, but refused to work under Stokes.

AMGSee55

399 posts

67 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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aeropilot said:
AMGSee55 said:
if you accepted them as 'Uncle Arthur' cars they were fine - the torquey B-Series suited them well in this respect.
The problem with the TC versions, is that they were not really marketed as Uncle Arthur cars, more as a competitor to the Cortina GXL/GT, Hunter GLS etc, and they were woeful in comparison.
They should have at least added the o/d gearbox from the MGB as well as the engine, to cope with the torque, rather than leaving the bog standard weedy gearbox from the 1300 in it, which I think came from the Moggy Minor anyway?
I only had my 1.8TC about 8/9 months, but it consumed 2 gearboxes in that time.......
Hateful POS..... laugh
Fair comment - they were by no means the foundation of a sporting saloon! I wasn't aware of the gearbox problem with the TC, but I guess that's more evidence of penny-pinching as you say. I'm not defending them unduly - my experience of driving them was mainly limited to pedestrian test drives on the back of repair work. Had I owned one for any length of time, I expect I would have come to the same conclusion as you biggrin

Superleg48

1,302 posts

98 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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williamp said:
Easy and quick to maintain would be a bonus to some. And its not really their fault you didnt match the doors...
paperbag
Never said it was the car’s fault. Just adding some anecdotal experiences. Still very bad though. That was the answer to the question....IMO.

2xChevrons

1,327 posts

45 months

Tuesday 2nd February
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aeropilot said:
They should have at least added the o/d gearbox from the MGB as well as the engine, to cope with the torque, rather than leaving the bog standard weedy gearbox from the 1300 in it, which I think came from the Moggy Minor anyway?
The Marina used the single-rail version of the 'small' Triumph gearbox as used in the Dolomite, Toledo, Spitfire, Herald etc. But - like the front suspension stupidity - it wasn't a straightforward re-use of existing bits. The 1.3 Marinas used the same ratios and cogs as the Triumph 1500, but with new (and different) shafts and bearings and slightly different casings. The 1.8s had bespoke ratios and an enlarged-diamter input shaft with more splines to try and take the torque. And, while Triumph was building its gearboxes in Coventry, they set up an entirely new shop to produce the Marina version at Longbridge, which then had to be sent to Cowley for assembly. So, again, they might as well have designed and built a new gearbox that was actually up to the job for the effort and cost it took to slightly modify the crappy old Triumph unit to be barely adequate.

As I've said before, the Marina is often derided as a restyled Morris Minor, but that's being decidedly unfair to the Moggy Thou. The Marina would almost certainly have been a better car if it actually had been a Minor with new bodywork on top.