The Morris Marina, introduced in April 1971, was mechanically very simple, powered initially by the venerable 1.3 A Series and 1.8 B series engines, with a 4 speed gearbox, rear wheel drive and a live rear axle.
This simplicity was at odds with other front-wheel-drive Leyland products of the time, but it meant that the Marina could compete in the conservative fleet market dominated by the likes of the Ford’s Escort & Cortina, Vauxhall’s Viva and Hillman’s Avenger and Hunter.
They were turbulent times at Leyland and money was tight so there were some compromises to be made, not least in the simple suspension set up that was based on the ancient Morris Minor and endowed the very early cars with woeful understeer, particularly in more powerful twin carb 1800 format. This was later improved, though the Marina could never be described as a sharp handler.
Ironically funds also didn’t stretch to stretching the doors on the 2 door coupé version. The original aim was for it to compete with the sporty Ford Capri but those saloon front doors just didn’t really cut it.
The Marina has since become much maligned and the butt of many lazy jokes, but the truth is that it wasn’t a bad car, just a bit too staid in both styling and execution, and it’s easy to forget that it was the third best selling car in the UK in the seventies.
The mouse mat is based on a contemporary press ad and while it could be argued that the original wording might be pushing it a bit, the sporty 1800TC Coupé featured has definitely earned a certain retro cool now.
Read the story of the Morris Marina here on the excellent aronline website.