Robin Richards on Morris Marina

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Sir,
(1)—In “Matters of Moment” for May, you refer to BLMC turning their engines from transverse to fore-and-aft. Surely the angle of such a turn is 90 degrees, and not 45 degrees as stated by you? It is a question of East-West changed to North-South and an engine mounted between these two extremes would probably present a lot of problems both for space-utilisation and for transmission-train. Even if one driving wheel was mounted roughly mid-ships, the question of angles for transmission and suspension would probably be beyond even the skill of BLMC. [This was sarcasm, suggesting that BL didn’t know which way to turn.—Ed.]

(2)—In “Marina Matters” you refer to “Peter Browning and his staff” and that they could “turn the Marina into a first-class car”. I hope that your inference is that this would possibly apply if BLMC had retained the services of the admirable Peter Browning and his staff. [Yes.—Ed.] Unfortunately, BLMC found it convenient to dispose of Browning.

(3)—”Marina on the road”. Your comments all seem valid and justified but, having myself road-tested this car prior to its unveiling, you might have mentioned also:

(a) The heated rear window (an optional extra in the Marina although standard equipment on most of its rival cars) is so wired that only the top half of the window is de-misted/de-iced. This is not of much use if you seek to see traffic close behind and it seems to be spoiling “the optional ship for a penny-worth of wire”.

(b) The brake servo assistance (as you rightly say unavailable on all 1.3-litre models) is still only an “optional extra” for all other versions of the Marina, except the “TC” models. It seems incongruous that the purchaser of a 1.8 TC Marina should get this brake servo assistance “thrown-in”, whereas the new owner of the only slightly slower 1.8 versions should not. This is especially absurd when the “TC” owners are likely to be more experienced drivers than those of the equally heavy, but only marginally slower, standard 1.8 models.

(4)—Marina Prices. Clearly you were unaware of the prices of the Marina range (£923—£1,177) when you “went to Press” for your May issue. The simplicity and late 1940’s concept of design had heralded to most of us who had seen the Marina specification before its “release date” that BLMC were about to market a relatively cheap range of motor cars. The sad awakening which followed with their subsequent price list was only aggravated by seeing how many desirable, or almost essential, items are classed as “extras”

Quite how do the French, Italian, Germans and Swedes manage to market cars in UK with almost all such “extras” incorporated, and at competitive prices—in spite of import tariffs in most cases? The answer to this must lie deeply—and I think not discerning people know their “depths”.

Incidentally, if something “New” is offered, folk will queue up for it; even the Marina’s “newness” dates back two decades.

(5)—Marina reaction. After a recent appraisal on radio about the Marina, I answered queries from a main dealer for BLMC cars. I was surprised that he had not even seen a Marina although this meeting was on the date of its public release; surely BLMC Main Agents should know what they have to try to sell before the Press get their angry pens on to it?

I also asked this BLMC Main Dealer whether he had ever driven a Continental Car. His reply was “No, and I don’t want to, either”.

It seems odd to me that BLMC employ main dealers who are so insular. Odd, also, that such main dealers should admit that all publications from the Consumers’ Association are “only fit for the Waste Paper Basket”. Odd, also, that a main dealer for BLMC products should say, as he did, “The Press, Radio, and Television are all bigoted against us.”

The near 20% infiltration of Continental Cars must, surely, have significance.

Robin Richards.
Cranleigh.