MMOC National - July2009

Prize 'Most Improved'

Welcome to my Marina Coupe website

This site is a record of my Coupe, what I have done to it and what I am thinking of doing to it.  I have also built up some background research on the Marinas' competition history ands have published some of it for general interest.  It isn't meant to be an exhaustive story of the Morris Marina or an official site of any kind.  I'm always interested in corresponding with other Marina-nauts, so read on and if you want to suggest anything or ask any questions please email me.

The subtitle should be "How to build an eBay special" as you will see I have picked up lots of stuff off including the car!

My history of the car

In early 2003, I decided that I would get involved in the sport classic rallying.  I joined the Historic Rally Car Register  I had followed rallying since the early 1970's, when I was in my teens.  I had been an avid watcher on the box and an occasional visitor to rallies, but due to family ties and being generally broke, had never got involved.  I had been a long time reader of Car & Car Conversions (late 1960's) until it finished recently in 2004.  I had had a Moggy, an MGB and Austin Healey Sprite before I was married and had been hankering after something that I could work on myself.

I didn't know what car I was going to have, but knew that I didn't want an Escort.  Nothing wrong with them, I had a Mk2 Escort as a company car and they were and are still very successful rally cars, but I knew that they weren't for me.  

Obviously a car would be useful, so I set about finding a Marina Coupe.  I thought a Coupe TC would be a good start, an 1800 cc car with better trim and equipment than a basic 1275cc.  I couldn't find the Morris Marina Owners Club on the net and put a call through to the then secretary, but no-one called back, so I figured that I was on my own.

I scouted the usual magazines, but realised that there weren't that many Marina TCs about, so decided that any 1800cc Coupe would do........  Then I found eBay!!! what a revelation!  Always a few Marinas and an occasional Coupe.  I bid on a couple but limited myself to 500 and missed them - time to up the initial budget.  Then in April 2003 I saw this one down in the Plymouth area.

Well OK then!  Looked good, read good and the guy said that it would come with 12 months MOT, so it was worth a bid or two.  I got it for a shade over 700, there were three others after it, so maybe a little over priced.  So a train ride from Bedford to Plymouth and there it was (new MOT and all) and I drove it all the way back in the rain - no reliability problems at all.

Weird journey home, the fuel consumption wasn't great, so I filled up every time I saw a petrol station with LRP petrol.  Every time someone would come up to me and say, "I had one like that" or "my dad had one like that" or "I had one as a company car".  I was chuffed, I liked its' shape and its' style and people responded to it.

As I drove it, I found out why so many people laugh when you say Marina.  It handled like a pig, it was the worst understeering car in existence.  If you pushed on into a corner it understeered, if you backed off in a corner it understeered, if you braked in a corner it understeered.  Now I knew why the club magazine is called "Understeer" - even Marina-ists joke about it.

To get down the road a bit, you had to brake in a straight line, tickle the car through the bends and accelerate on the straight bits, no fun at all; although I understand that this is the basis for the Police and Institute of Advanced Motorists "System" of driving.  Maybe they all learnt to drive in Marinas?  I began to wonder what I had got into.

I couldn't remember ever driving a Marina when they were newish and so had assumed that they handled OK.  It was only later that I remembered learning to drive in a dark blue 1.3 DL Coupe with BSM.  The clutch was really sharp and there was lots of stalling, but I passed.

I got home and put it in the garage, Rosemary (my wife) could barely conceal her feelings about it and put my folly down to a mid-life crisis.  The colour Harvest Gold I don't mind.  It's a standard BL colour from the early 1970's, a chap I worked with had an MGB GT the same colour, the whole BL range used it.  I christened it 'baby poo brown' quite quickly.  I checked her over to see how great was my folly, the good news was that it is solid underneath, the engine seems fine, the brakes are good and there are no nasty noises from the gearbox or axle. 

The two main pictures on this page show the latest incarnation after the bodywork, now resplendent in 2 pack Harvest Gold and 14" Revolution allys - read the "Four Pot Calipers" page for the reason for fitting them (other than that they look v. nice), doesn't she look lovely?

If you want see see more of my Coupe read on here.  For access to the Marina Club public pages visit Morris Marina Owners Club. .  For Marina/Ital technical and general chat visit Ben Clayton's forum Marina Forum.

Resto-Show Stoneleigh October 2008