by Mark Nobes, chief editor

Despite serious reliability issues and a tendency to rust easily, the Marina was regularly in the top five best-sellers list here in the UK during the 1970s. 

Produced between 1971 and 1980 by Austin-Morris, the first models suffered from terrible suspension problems (which caused massive understeer) that made it almost impossible to drive around sharp bends without driving on the wrong side of the road! This problem was more prominent on models with the larger 1.8l engine. The problem was rectified with the release of the MkII in 1975, mainly by adding anti-roll bars.

Morris was a division of British Leyland and the Marina was sold as the Leyland Marina in Australia and Austin Marina to some other countries. When sales started to flag towards the end of the 1970s, BL decided to give the car a makeover and rename it the Ital in 1980. However, by this time, BL's "Cortina killer" had really outstayed its welcome.

My own experience with the Marina isn't a very fond one. I believe it was 1975 (when we were living in Gloucestershire) that my parents hired one to go on holiday to Scotland, and it broke down before we had even crossed the border. However, this could have been the fault of the hire company, so I can't judge the car on this one experience.

If the comments on Youtube are anything to go by, there are very many people who were very fond of the Marina. I've compiled a video playlist which is titled "the worst car ever made?" for you to make up your own mind. I don't believe it was, which is why I've tried to hand pick a selection of clips that show both the good and bad sides of the car.

Although the standard Marina is nothing special to look at, the Coupe looks rather more desirable, and a dazzling white one is featured in the third video above.

1973 Morris Marina 4 door saloon
Public Domain photo of a 1973 Morris Marina 4 door saloon. This is similar to the model we hired for our holiday, except it was a more exciting blue colour, although that didn't make it any more reliable, of course!

The Marina was designed by Roy Haynes, who had previously worked with Ford. The aim was to produce a modern and stylish family saloon car, and also a coup√© for a younger audience, to try and attract Ford Cortina and Escort buyers.
It became the fourth best-selling car of the 1970s in the UK, and sales reached a peak in 1973, with around 115,000 cars sold. Overall, sales were disappointing compared to the Ford models, with the Cortina and Escort claiming the No.1 and No.2 slots for the decade, respectively. Austin's Mini claimed the third spot.
The Marina was assembled in the UK at the Cowley plant in Oxford. It was also assembled in Zetland, Australia, Panmore, New Zealand, Black Heath in South Africa, Shah Alam in Malaysia and in Malta. 
Body styles included a 4-door saloon, 5-door estate, 2-door coupe, 2-door pick-up and a 2-door van.
The interior stalk controls for the windscreen wipers, washers and lights were taken from the Triumph, and were advanced for their time. 
I just had to poke my camera in... (8514479889)

The brown interior of a 1977 Marina (with orange paintwork)complete with furry dice!

I bet you never thought you'd see a Marin camper van!

1976 Morris Marina estate car in orange

1976 Morris Marina Estate (Public domain image) 

Maooris Marina 1.3 Owner's Workshop Manual
Morris Marina Coupe with alloy wheels

Marina Coupe with new alloy wheels

By John Shepherd from Tooting, London, Great Britain [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Morris Marina Soft Top/Convertible
Cool Marina Convertible. Creative Commons image by Supermac1961

Morris Marina 1.8 TC First iteration of a top o.jpg
"Morris Marina 1.8 TC First iteration of a top o" by Charles01 - My own collection. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

1976 Morris Marina at Bristol Car Show

1976 Morris Marina (with brown vinyl roof) at Bristol Car Show

Morris Ital 1.7 SLX 1983 in Opaline

The Marina was replaced by the Morris Ital in 1980. Here is a 1.7 SLX 1983 in Opaline.