1971-1980 MORRIS MARINA
Good-looking, reliable and simple to work on
Marinas have really hit the rarity button thanks to a combination of rust and a historic lack of desirability. Nicely styled – the Coupé looks especially good – British Leyland’s first major launch relied on tried-and-trusted components, which translated into relative reliability and good spares availability today. There was (once) a wide selection of models to choose from, from the humble 1.3 to the perky 1.8TC, with an MGB-spec B-series engine under the bonnet. We shouldn’t forget the highly practical estate, either, though it appears that most people have…
The fact that the Morris Marina Club and Ital Register calls its magazine Understeer does tend to suggest that the handling of early 1.8s was notoriously iffy, but it is possible to tame it today.
The Marina may not have blown the Ford Cortina away, but the car marketed as having ‘beauty with brains behind it’, sold well and was gradually improved, culminating in the Ital in 1980.
The sills rot at both ends and the carnage tends to spread to the floorpan, wheelarches, front wings and A-posts. Check the door bottoms, too.
Gear linkages can wear, likewise their mountings, together with the anti-roll bar bushes (where fitted), propshaft universal joints, clutch slave cylinder seals and gearbox synchromeshes.
A- and B-Series engines suffer from worn valve guides and piston rings. The later O-Series used in some later cars needs cambelt changes every 40,000 miles or so.