Morris Marina

Morris Marina, 70s icon?

The Morris Marina, launched by British Leyland in 1971, was meant to be BL's answer to the Ford Cortina. Leyland had been losing sales to the Cortina in the latter part of the sixties and came up with a new look for the seventies that was meant to appeal young, trendy couples setting up home together.

The Morris Marina was part of an overall grand plan which split the company into two divisions - Morris for conventional cars and Austin for innovative designs. Originally the innovation was based around Alec Issigonis's masterpiece, the Mini and the best selling Austin 1100. However, this reorganisation lead to the disastrous Austin Allegro.

Morris Marina Super De-luxe interior, 1970s

The Morris Marina was available in a range of models to suit varying tastes and pockets, just like the Cortina. In 1971 the customer could choose from 1.3 and 1.8 litre engines and 2-door coupe and 4-door saloon body styles. There were De-luxe and Super De-luxe variants. Super De-luxe gave you these lovely knit backed expanded vinyl seats (left), together with cut pile carpeting and a rev counter. The range was topped by a fast and powerful twin carburettor version available in both body styles. The "TC" had the 1.8 litre engine from the MGB. By all accounts though, it did not have the sports car's handling.

The Morris Marina embodied, to a certain extent, the style of the early seventies. The boxy, minimalist look of cars such as the Ford Cortina Mk 2 had been modified and given a new more colourful, even more fun feel. I love the style of the Marina's front grill, it is so typically seventies. The car suits bold bright colours - reds and oranges - even lime flower green.

Why is it rare now?

Most cars from the 60s and earlier were generally regarded as classics quite quickly. In some cases before they were even ten years old. Cars from the 70s, aside from obvious classics such as MGs, although those with the rubber bumpers faired less well, were preserved. However, bread and butter saloons from the 70s raised eyebrows at classic car clubs. It took some time before the naff image of the decade finally turned into retro chic. This means that some of the ultimate naff classics, such as the Austin Allegro with its quadric steering wheel, were preserved just before it was too late. This left more ordinary cars such as the Morris Marina out in the cold - often quite literally. I would not be surprised, however, for a new retro craze to start for these now rare beasts!

Morris Marina - details

70s style grill on the Morris Marina Super De-Luxe 70s style safety door handle on Morris Marina

Distinctive features on the Morris Marina included this 70s style grill (Super De-luxe only) and these safety door handles. Both added to the modern feel of the car.

Morris Marina prices

These prices are from 1971:

1.3 litre Coupe De-luxe 922.71
1.8 litre Coupe De-luxe 994.51
1.3 litre Saloon De-luxe 961.88
1.8 litre Saloon De-luxe 1033.68
1.8 litre TC Saloon 1177.29

Morris Marina on the web:

  • The Morris Marina and Morris Ital Owners Club
  • The Unofficial Austin-Rover Web Resource

Your comments on the Morris Marina

"i bought a second hand marina from a mate in the 80s it was on the road for approx 5 minuets i drove it round a sharp bend and the steering rack broke and i crashed into a garage wall. the car was a right off the wall did not look to good either. the car cost me 85-00 the wall cost me 25-00 happy days" paul beasley



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