Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

Morris Marina - was it really that bad?

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Discussion

CDP

6,746 posts

218 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
I think this paints BL in an unfair light.

The Nomad existed because BL Australia didn't get the Maxi, which was also a five-door car with the 1.5-litre E-Series engine. Australia also had the Morris 1500, which was a standard ADO16 with the E-Series drivetrain. The car and the engine was already locally-built, and there was no point in either setting up Maxi production in Australia or shipping Maxis halfway round the world.

The 1500/Nomad existed due to the specific requirements of the Australian market, where cars generally had bigger engines for their size in Europe - hence why Australia had the Morris Major/Austin Lancer (a restyled Minor with a B-Series engine), the Austin Freeway (a Farina-B with a unique 2.4-litre six-cylinder B-Series). the local version of the Marina with the 2.6-litre E-Series and the P76 with the bespoke 4.4-litre Rover V8. A car the size of the ADO16 needed an engine larger than the 1275cc A-Series, hence the E-Series was crammed into the front. By the same token, the Maxi with the 1.5 engine would have been under-engined for a car of its size in Australia, hence the Nomad.

The Innocenti may have looked more modern than the Mini but it was, in many ways, a step backwards. It had less interior space than the Mini and was, at best, a 2+2 rather than the Mini's party piece of being a full four-seater in a 10-foot long car. Being based on the Mini floorpan, subframes and drivetrains it was - with the exception of a front-mounted electric radiator fan - no technical improvement on the Mini in terms of performance, comfort, refinement or handling. At the time the Innocenti was being designed BL were already well into a number of its own Mini-replacement projects which would be entirely new products, not a reskin of the original. And the Mk3 Mini was selling very well (peak production in 1971) and - for the first time in the model's life - making a profit. They had no need for a stopgap replacement that was more expensive to build and sell, offered little over the original and had quite a few disadvantages. Then, of course, BLMC collapsed, the government came to the rescue and put a freeze on all existing development projects. It also led to the 'fire sale' of assets, including most of BL's overseas operations which included Innocenti. When the Mini-replacement project was restarted, it lasted until 1977 until it started virtually from scratch with different parameters and resulted in the Metro. Had BL known in 1973 that the 'new Mini' wouldn't hit production for another seven years and the old Mini's sales would dip below the 200k mark for the first time in 1962, maybe they would have looked at the Innocenti more closely. But at the time it would have been a pointlessly expensive re-bodying of a car that had its own in-house all-new replacement waiting in the wings.
They could have built RHD Innocentis in Italy and shipped them here or even just the bodyshell parts needed. A lot of the European cars were pretty rubbish for interior space too.

British Leyland was to car manufacturing what British Rail was to railways, despite many talented people within. A tombstone.

It might have kept customers off the foreign competition.

P5BNij

8,460 posts

70 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
P5BNij said:
Did the BMC VDPs receive the same treatment as the Jag XJ / Daimler VDPs, ie: were they sent off to VDP in London for extra coats of paint and fitment of the posh bits, or did it all happen inhouse at Longbridge?
They were 'proper' VdP products - the bodyshell and the built-up subframes were shipped from Longbridge to VdP at Kingsbury, the body was put on the line and it was painted, trimmed and finished before the subframes were installed and the final mechanical bits hooked up. The paint was applied by hand, the coach lines were put on by hand, the pompous front grille was assembled and polished by hand, the Connolly leather seats were upholstered by hand, the wood-veneer dashboard was built and fitted by hand, as were the picnic tables and door cappings.

The BMC VdPs were, in bodywork terms, something rather special and certainly a long way from the Ghia-badged Fords which were just the name of a coachbuilder on a Dagenham-built car that was just the poshest trim level. Which is what VdP became for Austin-Rover after Kingsbury was shut in 1979, when the Metro/Maestro/Montego VdPs were just built on the line at Longbridge. As were the VdP Rover SD1s.

The Allegro-based VdP 1.5 and 1.7 were built slightly differently - they were assembled at Longbridge as driveable but 'naked' bare shells painted in black undercoat and with the fascia and major controls already fitted (I belive the fascia was crafted at Kingsbury and sent up to Longbridge for fitting), then driven to Kingsbury where they were painted, trimmed and finished. This was the same for the Jaguar/Daimler models - the way to spot a genuine XJ12/Daimler Double Six VdP is that it has black inner wings in the boot and engine bay.
Thanks - it all sounds very labour intensive wink



Pit Pony

4,191 posts

85 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
All this talk of the Allegro Vandom plas.

In 1975, my Grandad retired, and pxd a fully functioning low mileage Wolsey 3 litre for a retirement present to himself.
A career in Horticulture, and Park management, didn't give him an insight into buying a car, and when the power steering on the Wolsey started leaking, he was persuaded by the dealer that it was time for something more modern and reliable.
My own memories as a 9 year old of the Wolsey are vague, but i do remember my gran polishing it every week in the garage. I also recall, they hardly ever used it. If they could walk or get the bus, then the car would stay in the garage.
Anyway he obviously ended up with a 1500 Allegro Vandom Plas. His private reg transferred, picknick tables in the back, green leather seats. In creamy beige. When he died some 25 years later it had done 36k and my uncle scrapped it. Because tt.

My memories of travelling in it as a 13 year old was that my head touched the roof in the back, and my Grandad should have bought an auto, because he only ever used 3rd. Ever.
In my 20s I went to visit him and he took me to the pub in the next village. I was very scared. He actually was the worst driver ever.
According to my other uncle, the twin carb 1500 was actually quite a quick car for its time, but then he actually bought a city rover in his retirement so you have to question his credentials.
My father had owned one BLMC product a 1959 mini in 1959 and since has owned or choose as company cars the cortina, serrira, mundano, and focus. I think 3 of each. Says "Issigonis was a fraud" so drives Ford.

LuS1fer

37,497 posts

209 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
My own view of both Wolseley and Vanden Plas is that they failed because nobody could say or spell them... wink

A Woolly Femdom-Flask was a missed marketing opportunity rofl

Sticks.

6,734 posts

215 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
LuS1fer said:
My own view of both Wolseley and Vanden Plas is that they failed because nobody could say or spell them... wink

A Woolly Femdom-Flask was a missed marketing opportunity rofl
Maybe they should have followed Ford and used porno mags as their inspiration. smile

AC43

8,770 posts

172 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
Sticks. said:
LuS1fer said:
My own view of both Wolseley and Vanden Plas is that they failed because nobody could say or spell them... wink

A Woolly Femdom-Flask was a missed marketing opportunity rofl
Maybe they should have followed Ford and used porno mags as their inspiration. smile
To be fair you could buy a Mini Mayfair back in the day. And, more recently, a MINI Park Lane.

MXRod

1,925 posts

111 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
a8hex said:
coppice said:
Back then , my first daily driver was a Riley1300- which sort of epitomised the Hyacinth Bucket mindset of BL planners . It was an Austin 1300 at heart , but with an upwardly mobile grille, a Tudorbethan dash and a detuned Cooper S engine. So many mixed messages - a whole thesis worth.
biglaugh My Aunt had a VDP one, so lovely fold down tables in the back to eat your dinner from.
I had a Riley 1300 from new , I seem to remember it was sold cheap as the Riley brand was being dropped , remember the Riley Elf ? It was disputed by some when I said it had a Cooper S engine , but It definitely had a 9 stud head , unique to the Cooper . A real Mini BTW .
It was quite nippy I believe having the same under pinning’s as the Austin 1300 GT . I can even remember the reg CYT220H


Sticks.

6,734 posts

215 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
AC43 said:
To be fair you could buy a Mini Mayfair back in the day. And, more recently, a MINI Park Lane.
I shall bow to your superior knowledge bowtie

smile

a8hex

5,419 posts

187 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
AC43 said:
To be fair you could buy a Mini Mayfair back in the day. And, more recently, a MINI Park Lane.
Yeah, but you could rent Escorts

2xChevrons

1,266 posts

44 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
MXRod said:
I had a Riley 1300 from new , I seem to remember it was sold cheap as the Riley brand was being dropped , remember the Riley Elf ? It was disputed by some when I said it had a Cooper S engine , but It definitely had a 9 stud head , unique to the Cooper .
Predictably, BMC managed to really cock up the introduction of the 1275cc A-Series engine, introducing the 1300 MG, Riley, Wolseley and VP models several months before they'd actually started production of the 'regular' 1275cc engine to go in them.

So for a few months Cooper-spec ('12G') engines were used, distinguished by 9-stud heads, forged rockers, EN40 crankshaft with smaller big end bearing journals and valve chest plates in the block.

In November 1967 BMC finally caught up with itself and introduced the '12H' 1275cc engine, with solid block walls (no tappet chest covers), EN16 crankshaft and a 'large valve 11-stud head.

But in the crossover period there was a real unholy mish-mash of engines being put out - some cars had the EN40 crank with the smaller big ends sat in the solid-wall block under the 11-stud head. Others had the EN16 crank under the 9-stud head, and there are similar inconsistencies with finding blocks with and without tappet chest plates with EN16 and EN40 cranks and 9- and 11-stud heads.

Just utter chaos, like when (at the same time period) they had to begin making the MkII Mini before the design office had actually finalised the designs of the new rear lamps and front grille, let alone before the parts were actually available! So cars were coming out of Longbridge and heading straight to storage at disused airfields around the Midlands until they could be united with their lamps and grilles at a later date.

coppice

6,581 posts

108 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
But did they have Hooker Headers ? .

dandarez

11,912 posts

247 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
Had a Marina 1.8 as a stop gap car (about 5 months, then sold) in the late 70s, but then had a lot of different cars for short periods. Usually when main car(s) was/were up on ramps, stripped, rebuilding whatever. Bagged at an auction, cheap.
Was it any good? Well, it was like so much back then. Loads of 'em about. For me it got me to work for a short while, then flogged for more in same auction.

Motor mag had a free guide to Tuned Cars in a March 73 issue.
Still have it among my piles and piles (ditto) of car mags in the garage. Here you are. The Marina was among their lists!




2xChevrons

1,266 posts

44 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
dandarez said:
Had a Marina 1.8 as a stop gap car (about 5 months, then sold) in the late 70s, but then had a lot of different cars for short periods. Usually when main car(s) was/were up on ramps, stripped, rebuilding whatever. Bagged at an auction, cheap.
Was it any good? Well, it was like so much back then. Loads of 'em about. For me it got me to work for a short while, then flogged for more in same auction.

Motor mag had a free guide to Tuned Cars in a March 73 issue.
Still have it among my piles and piles (ditto) of car mags in the garage. Here you are. The Marina was among their lists!
Interesting that this is yet another source that says what a significant improvement telescopic dampers and some revised spring rates provided for the Marina's road manners. Those that have driven the few surviving Marinas with the BL Special Tuning kit which swaps the lever arm dampers at the front for telescopics and fits mounting brackets in the rear wheel arches so the rear dampers sit vertically rather than angled into floorpan above the differential say that it makes a huge improvement to the car's ride and handling. BL would belatedly put telescopic dampers on the front of the last Itals.

Pit Pony

4,191 posts

85 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
Sticks. said:
AC43 said:
To be fair you could buy a Mini Mayfair back in the day. And, more recently, a MINI Park Lane.
I shall bow to your superior knowledge bowtie

smile
From about 1983, they did more special editions than they did standard cars. The red hot, and the back of Euston station, the sky,

Pit Pony

4,191 posts

85 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
Sticks. said:
AC43 said:
To be fair you could buy a Mini Mayfair back in the day. And, more recently, a MINI Park Lane.
I shall bow to your superior knowledge bowtie

smile
From about 1983, they did more special editions than they did standard cars. The red hot, and the back of Euston station, the sky,

AC43

8,770 posts

172 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
a8hex said:
AC43 said:
To be fair you could buy a Mini Mayfair back in the day. And, more recently, a MINI Park Lane.
Yeah, but you could rent Escorts
Boom Tsh :-)

M4cruiser

2,367 posts

114 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
AC43 said:
a8hex said:
coppice said:
Back then , my first daily driver was a Riley1300- which sort of epitomised the Hyacinth Bucket mindset of BL planners . It was an Austin 1300 at heart , but with an upwardly mobile grille, a Tudorbethan dash and a detuned Cooper S engine. So many mixed messages - a whole thesis worth.
biglaugh My Aunt had a VDP one, so lovely fold down tables in the back to eat your dinner from.
So much badge engineering - at various times you could buy one badged as an Austin, an MG, a VDP, a Riley and, IIRC, a Wolesley.
... and maybe we've forgotten how small they were - even a modern Picanto/i10 squares up to it ...


Touring442

2,112 posts

173 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
Predictably, BMC managed to really cock up the introduction of the 1275cc A-Series engine, introducing the 1300 MG, Riley, Wolseley and VP models several months before they'd actually started production of the 'regular' 1275cc engine to go in them.

So for a few months Cooper-spec ('12G') engines were used, distinguished by 9-stud heads, forged rockers, EN40 crankshaft with smaller big end bearing journals and valve chest plates in the block.

In November 1967 BMC finally caught up with itself and introduced the '12H' 1275cc engine, with solid block walls (no tappet chest covers), EN16 crankshaft and a 'large valve 11-stud head.

But in the crossover period there was a real unholy mish-mash of engines being put out - some cars had the EN40 crank with the smaller big ends sat in the solid-wall block under the 11-stud head. Others had the EN16 crank under the 9-stud head, and there are similar inconsistencies with finding blocks with and without tappet chest plates with EN16 and EN40 cranks and 9- and 11-stud heads.

Just utter chaos, like when (at the same time period) they had to begin making the MkII Mini before the design office had actually finalised the designs of the new rear lamps and front grille, let alone before the parts were actually available! So cars were coming out of Longbridge and heading straight to storage at disused airfields around the Midlands until they could be united with their lamps and grilles at a later date.
Sort of. The 1275 option in the 'better' 1100's arrived in mid '65 with a detuned S engine with a single SU carb and a Midget cylinder head and 8.8 compression to give 58 bhp. These were/are very rare and were probably built to use up some expensive engine parts.
Only Glass's Guide listed these cars and BMC didn't officially launch the 1275 option until the following year. From autumn 1966 it used a transverse version of the solid wall Midget 1275 block, an EN16 crank (maybe the EN16T tuftrided crank) with Midget rods, cast pistons, 8.8 compression and pressed steel rockers and 9 head studs in the smaller valve Midget head. When the 1300 proper arrived in late 1967 it had that engine but with its own con rods with the heavy balance weights.
The early MG1300 and Riley Kestrel used the same single carburettor unit as the basic cars but the Mark II MG1300 (now two door only) and Riley 1300 (formerly the Kestrel) used the 70 bhp twin carb unit with the 11 stud head, 9.75 compression, EN16T crank, tubular manifold and close ratio gearbox. This unit went into the 1300GT. Meanwhile, the Wolseley 1300 and VdP used a 65 bhp twin carb unit. This was nothing more than the standard 1300 engine with a pair of SU carbs - 9 stud head, standard gearbox and 9:1 compression.

I chopped up a rotten D plate VdP 1100 '1275' (with the stylised 1275 boot badge) 30+ years ago and there were no S bits in the engine. The reg was DOP420D, a Brum registration. This was the 12G engine.

MXRod

1,925 posts

111 months

Tuesday 9th February
quotequote all
Touring442 said:
Sort of. The 1275 option in the 'better' 1100's arrived in mid '65 with a detuned S engine with a single SU carb and a Midget cylinder head and 8.8 compression to give 58 bhp. These were/are very rare and were probably built to use up some expensive engine parts.
Only Glass's Guide listed these cars and BMC didn't officially launch the 1275 option until the following year. From autumn 1966 it used a transverse version of the solid wall Midget 1275 block, an EN16 crank (maybe the EN16T tuftrided crank) with Midget rods, cast pistons, 8.8 compression and pressed steel rockers and 9 head studs in the smaller valve Midget head. When the 1300 proper arrived in late 1967 it had that engine but with its own con rods with the heavy balance weights.
The early MG1300 and Riley Kestrel used the same single carburettor unit as the basic cars but the Mark II MG1300 (now two door only) and Riley 1300 (formerly the Kestrel) used the 70 bhp twin carb unit with the 11 stud head, 9.75 compression, EN16T crank, tubular manifold and close ratio gearbox. This unit went into the 1300GT. Meanwhile, the Wolseley 1300 and VdP used a 65 bhp twin carb unit. This was nothing more than the standard 1300 engine with a pair of SU carbs - 9 stud head, standard gearbox and 9:1 compression.

I chopped up a rotten D plate VdP 1100 '1275' (with the stylised 1275 boot badge) 30+ years ago and there were no S bits in the engine. The reg was DOP420D, a Brum registration. This was the 12G engine.
I may have got the head configuration mixed up ,but my Kestral definitely had twin SUs ,when I bought it I was told it was a "run out " model ,I seem to remember paying around £750 for it ,ah those were the days

TwigtheWonderkid

35,173 posts

114 months

Tuesday 9th February
quotequote all
In terms of BHP, what was the difference between the twin SU 1275cc engine in say an Austin 1300GT, and the 1275cc twin SU engine in a Cooper S?
And what went into the Mini 1275GT?