Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

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Discussion

aeropilot

24,190 posts

192 months

Tuesday 2nd February
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
The 1.8s had bespoke ratios and an enlarged-diamter input shaft with more splines to try and take the torque.
Which clearly failed miserably.......or mine had the wrong gearbox(es) scratchchin

AC43

8,903 posts

173 months

Tuesday 2nd February
quotequote all
Touring442 said:
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.
Mark 3's and 4's both looked a lot slicker and had much more showroom appeal. But drive them with any enthusiasm and you'd soon be on the ragged edge.

Dynamically, compared to Alfettas they were woeful. st dampers, rubbish suspension travel, wallowy handling, the rear axle alterrnately twisting itself in knots and trying to smash its way through the boot floor. And axle tramp. LOADS of axle tramp.

The engines were quiet. I'll give you that. Er....that's about it though.

I had a Spider, based on ancient 60's underpinnings. Complete with live axle. Limited but waaayyy better.


2xChevrons

1,329 posts

45 months

Tuesday 2nd February
quotequote all
aeropilot said:
2xChevrons said:
The 1.8s had bespoke ratios and an enlarged-diamter input shaft with more splines to try and take the torque.
Which clearly failed miserably.......or mine had the wrong gearbox(es) scratchchin
Nope, yours was almost certainly fine. Just a bit of utterly lame engineering due to a chaotic company with no resources trying to get a gearbox to do a wildly different job that it was intended to. 1.8TC Marinas absolutely devoured gearboxes. The one I drove - with less than 30,000 miles on it from new and in lovely condition otherwise - would insantly pop out of gear if you gave it more than about half throttle at low/mid rpm just because it couldn't take the wallop of torque that a 1.8 B-Series on twin carbs can churn out. Remember that gearbox was an evolution of the one introduced for the Standard Pennant (948cc, 37hp) which in turn was a close relation to the one designed for the Standard Eight (803cc, 26hp).

In general, BMC was a case of decent engineering crippled by bad management and Triumph was a case of shoddy engineering with just-about-adequate management. Sticking the two together basically combined all the worst bits of each, so you end up with the Marina which was a shoddily-designed car badly implemented.

aeropilot

24,190 posts

192 months

Tuesday 2nd February
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
aeropilot said:
2xChevrons said:
The 1.8s had bespoke ratios and an enlarged-diamter input shaft with more splines to try and take the torque.
Which clearly failed miserably.......or mine had the wrong gearbox(es) scratchchin
Nope, yours was almost certainly fine. Just a bit of utterly lame engineering due to a chaotic company with no resources trying to get a gearbox to do a wildly different job that it was intended to. 1.8TC Marinas absolutely devoured gearboxes. The one I drove - with less than 30,000 miles on it from new and in lovely condition otherwise - would insantly pop out of gear if you gave it more than about half throttle at low/mid rpm just because it couldn't take the wallop of torque that a 1.8 B-Series on twin carbs can churn out. Remember that gearbox was an evolution of the one introduced for the Standard Pennant (948cc, 37hp) which in turn was a close relation to the one designed for the Standard Eight (803cc, 26hp).
yikes

banghead

kimducati

200 posts

129 months

Tuesday 2nd February
quotequote all
AC43 said:
Mark 3's and 4's both looked a lot slicker and had much more showroom appeal. But drive them with any enthusiasm and you'd soon be on the ragged edge.

Dynamically, compared to Alfettas they were woeful. st dampers, rubbish suspension travel, wallowy handling, the rear axle alterrnately twisting itself in knots and trying to smash its way through the boot floor. And axle tramp. LOADS of axle tramp.

The engines were quiet. I'll give you that. Er....that's about it though.

I had a Spider, based on ancient 60's underpinnings. Complete with live axle. Limited but waaayyy better.
Only until the camshaft wore out due to the oilways being too small / silted up.
Nowadays there'd be lawyers crawling all over a design flaw like this, but back then it was "Oh they all do that, Sir."
Kim

AC43

8,903 posts

173 months

Tuesday 2nd February
quotequote all
kimducati said:
AC43 said:
Mark 3's and 4's both looked a lot slicker and had much more showroom appeal. But drive them with any enthusiasm and you'd soon be on the ragged edge.

Dynamically, compared to Alfettas they were woeful. st dampers, rubbish suspension travel, wallowy handling, the rear axle alterrnately twisting itself in knots and trying to smash its way through the boot floor. And axle tramp. LOADS of axle tramp.

The engines were quiet. I'll give you that. Er....that's about it though.

I had a Spider, based on ancient 60's underpinnings. Complete with live axle. Limited but waaayyy better.
Only until the camshaft wore out due to the oilways being too small / silted up.
Nowadays there'd be lawyers crawling all over a design flaw like this, but back then it was "Oh they all do that, Sir."
Kim
LOL. Yes, the clack clack clacking was all around.....




Touring442

2,168 posts

174 months

Tuesday 2nd February
quotequote all
The Ford Chorus. That and the starter churning on a cold wet morning. In the Marina's favour, they were quick to start.

The Alfetta wasn't a bad handling car but I never thought they were quite as good as the Opel Ascona/Manta/Cavalier. That was possibly the last proper handling saloon GM Europe ever made before all that FWD crap.

LuS1fer

37,586 posts

210 months

Tuesday 2nd February
quotequote all
Touring442 said:
The Alfetta wasn't a bad handling car but I never thought they were quite as good as the Opel Ascona/Manta/Cavalier. That was possibly the last proper handling saloon GM Europe ever made before all that FWD crap.
I had a 1978 Alfetta 2000. Renowned for variable quality dampers, a very crunchy second gear and, because the rear discs were inboard and hard to get to, lousy rear brakes and handbrake, due to seizing etc.
In fairness, compared to a Cortina, great car and the metal was vastly superior to soluble Alfasuds ( of which I had two) and probably the Cortina too.o

However, I had a Cavalier Mk II 1.6 as a loan car - fwd - and it was much faster and better handling than my Alfetta along a twisty country road and much better than the rwd Mk I my sister owned.

AMGSee55

399 posts

67 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
Touring442 said:
The Ford Chorus. That and the starter churning on a cold wet morning. In the Marina's favour, they were quick to start.

The Alfetta wasn't a bad handling car but I never thought they were quite as good as the Opel Ascona/Manta/Cavalier. That was possibly the last proper handling saloon GM Europe ever made before all that FWD crap.
The Mk1 Asconas et al had a Panhard rod to locate the rear end laterally IIRC. Eliminated the disconcerting shimmy you felt with equivalent Fords when the body started moving out of synch with the axle.

Sahjahd

323 posts

10 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
My TC Marina wasn't the most stable, or rust free car that I have owned, but it was cheap, never let me down, and could outpace my colleague's, BMW 2002 ti, in a straight line.

daqinggregg

355 posts

94 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
Growing up, my father always had Fords, although not really a petrol head, (bar his claim, to have done over the ton on the North Circular, riding a Vincent Black Shadow) feigned an interest in motor sport to please a little DG. In return I had to feign an interest in ornithology. Now to be fair, you can choose a nice sunny day for a spot bird watching, the RAC rally on the other hand, waits for no man. Exchanging a nice hide and the song of the Marsh Warbler, father would take little DG to many a freezing forest, to listen to the music of twin cams and BDA’s.

In the early 70’s we had a Cortina 2000 GT, father was the sales director for a large plastic molding company. Many of the contracts he worked on would be years in the making. One of the largest, was supply most of the plastic injection moldings for BL products a large order to land. However, there was a problem, to use the visitor car park, required the ownership of a BL product, the other car park was a very long walk from the purchasing office.

Therefore, we had to choose a new company car, the choice was a Marina 1.8 TC or a Dolomite 1850. He drove both, I can’t recall his exact words, but the were not complimentary, in the end he decided on the Dolomite, he hated it!. Now if his employers had stumped up he cash for a Dolomite Sprint, I think his view would have been very different.
.
He did manage to make the front page of the local rag (The Clitheroe Advertiser) ”Man 59 Clocked at 97 mph on the Clitheroe Bypass” shortly after he passed away. Roll forward a few years and little DG now has a driving licence, and has bought a Dolly Sprint, I wish I could have told him how good it was!

coppice

6,626 posts

109 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
Sahjahd said:
My TC Marina wasn't the most stable, or rust free car that I have owned, but it was cheap, never let me down, and could outpace my colleague's, BMW 2002 ti, in a straight line.


Did the BMW have a loose plug lead ? The TC Marina was brisk but 60 was in 12 ish , at least 2 seconds slower than the BMW. The Marina was a ghastly car , and the more power it had , the worse it was to drive . The little 1.3 coupeI was far nicer to drive than the noisy, chronically understeering , appalling riding TC

aeropilot

24,190 posts

192 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
coppice said:
Sahjahd said:
My TC Marina wasn't the most stable, or rust free car that I have owned, but it was cheap, never let me down, and could outpace my colleague's, BMW 2002 ti, in a straight line.


Did the BMW have a loose plug lead ?
hehe

My old 1.8TC could just about keep pace with a Mexico......as the Mex with only its 1600 Xflow would be off down the road, while the TC was still feathering its throttle to stop the back axle hopping up and down.......

AC43

8,903 posts

173 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
LuS1fer said:
Touring442 said:
The Alfetta wasn't a bad handling car but I never thought they were quite as good as the Opel Ascona/Manta/Cavalier. That was possibly the last proper handling saloon GM Europe ever made before all that FWD crap.
I had a 1978 Alfetta 2000. Renowned for variable quality dampers, a very crunchy second gear and, because the rear discs were inboard and hard to get to, lousy rear brakes and handbrake, due to seizing etc.
In fairness, compared to a Cortina, great car and the metal was vastly superior to soluble Alfasuds ( of which I had two) and probably the Cortina too.o

However, I had a Cavalier Mk II 1.6 as a loan car - fwd - and it was much faster and better handling than my Alfetta along a twisty country road and much better than the rwd Mk I my sister owned.
Ah yes I'd forgotten about those variable dampers. I drove a GT1.8 with brilliant dampers then a much newer Guilietta which was way too soft.

What those Alfetta-chassis'd cars did brilliantly (dampers notwithstanding) was fast sweepers. The harder you pushed in the loud pedal, the more they dug in. Go into a slower corner, though, on a neutral throttle and they felt underwhelming and understeer-y.

I'd agree on the FWD Cavalier though, or at least the Mk II. I had one as a company car for a while. I was based in London but seconded onto a job in Brum. Every 2nd or 3rd weekend I headed home to Scotland in it. Up the M6/A74 to Moffat than across county up the A701 through the Devil's Beeftub and on up to Edinburgh. It was surprisingly good up that road. None of my mates believed me at the time but it did the job pretty well. Way better than the contemporary Sierra would have done which was still lumbered with Cortina engines and a very half hearted rear suspension set up. The next game changer in that Class was the Mondeo when Ford FINALLY dug deep to produce something genuinely decent.


tr7v8

6,584 posts

193 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
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.
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?
Box in the Marina is a late Triumph 4 cylinder box so Toledo/Dolomite (not sprint) They were that great in 1300s I rebuilt quite a few. But yes in the 1800 they suffered as did the back axle (also a Triumph style). The brakes weren't great either.
I worked for the AA at the time & the patrols hated the Marina van. Not helped by the first ones coming with drum brakes. Which disappeared when towing a reasonable sized car off the motorway. Even the disc versions weren't great.

aeropilot

24,190 posts

192 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
tr7v8 said:
I worked for the AA at the time & the patrols hated the Marina van.
Ha ha........a good mate of mine back in the early 80's was an AA Patrolman, and had to same view laugh

My Dad was a Police Dog Handler through the 60's into the early 80's, and the Met Police replaced the old Moggy Minor vans they had for dog patrol vans with the Marina van around 1973/4 and other than having more room, they were universally hated by all.....and they kept them right into the mid 80's when my old man retired. He was so annoyed that they replaced the crappy vans with estate cars a few years after he retired!!!


MuscleSedan

1,167 posts

140 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
tr7v8 said:
I worked for the AA at the time & the patrols hated the Marina van. Not helped by the first ones coming with drum brakes. Which disappeared when towing a reasonable sized car off the motorway. Even the disc versions weren't great.
Fear not .... the Maestro vans were on the horizon rotate

TarquinMX5

691 posts

45 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
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.
That's as maybe but part from that they had some strong points, colour ranges for instance smile

I once had a short drive in new Marina; it was awful. I was also recently offered a trip (my first time in a Minor), as a passenger, in a recently newly, and very expensively, restored Minor. It was unbelieveably noisy and I wondered what was wrong with it; nothing, just general wind noise around the door frame at 35 - 45mph. What's the appeal?
(I think the new term is that I recently 'passengered' in a Minor)

LuS1fer

37,586 posts

210 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
A Minor was luxury compared to a Mini. I had a 1979 Mini 1000 and drove it from West Wales to Cardiff.
I don't think my hearing came back for a few days.

In contrast, my first car, an Austin A40 Farina was reasonable and I covered 30000 miles in 2 years. Rust aside, the only issues I had on that, my first car, was a bad earth on the fuel pump and leaking slave cylinders on the drum brakes.

I also did Cardiff to Chester in a Mk I Cortina 1200 and that was fine too.

wag2

129 posts

196 months

Wednesday 3rd February
quotequote all
I remember my diabolical company marina estate. Collapsed driving seat. I still suffer back pain.

Working in Glasgow I had a girlfriend near Worksop. One cold wet Friday night I took the A68 from M6 to Leeds. I got behind a BMW who showed me the corners. That was living dangerously.