Don’t let’s waste too much time over it, because I dealt with Morris Marina disappointments last May. But, as explained elsewhere, I have been re-sampling the controversial Marina since its front suspension was altered to obviate excessive (some went so far as to say dangerous) understeer, causing pre-July cars to be called in.
The cure has been reasonably effective, although the light steering still has pronounced initial understeer characteristics. The suspension copes well with smooth roads but control diminishes over rougher surfaces. I changed from an Austin Maxi to this Morris Marina in heavy rain and, having to cope with London’s forever-rush-hour traffic, the Triplex hot-line demisting back window was never more essential — it works quickly if only over the upper half of the glass.
On this should be made quite clear from the start. The Maxi was infinitely more enjoyable to drive fast than the Marina. The work done by Sir Alec Issigonis and Lex Moutlon has by no means been wasted and for maximum cornering power and safety the “conventional simplified” car offers no comparison. As ordinary transport the Marina is a nice little car, but not for rallying or quick road work. This second one I drove possessed the same features I outlined in the previous Marina test report, and retained the “spring-loaded” heater volume lever which meant that one had to adjust it too frequently. I drove more than 280 miles before the fuel gauge suggested some more petrol; the engine may be antiquated but it has a negligible fuel and oil thirst. The test car was a 1.8 coupé and only on opening its bonnet did I realise it had but one SU—it was not a TC as I had assumed. I had noted previously that when wound up the acceleration wasn’t at all bad, which proves something or other. (You can also tell a 1.8 from a 1.8 TC by the rather crude wheel trims which conceal the wheel nuts on the single carburettor job.) The actual petrol thirst represented 33.8 m.p.g., oil about 2,800 m.p.p. (the Group 1 Maxi did 28.5 m.p.h.) and the accessibility of dip-stick and Lucas battery couldn’t be bettered.
The lines of the Haynes-styled body are nice, but rather slab-like from the rear and after the convenience of the five-door Maxi the Marina’s two doors and low roof were rather frustrating. The bad idling and jerky throttle-opening of the TC were absent, however, and absolutely the only thing that fell off this smart and useful Morris in more than 1,400 miles was a “keep” for the cubby-hole lid, which is lockable but a beast to open, as it has a press-button but no handle.
Marina has improved and this Dunlop SP68-shod coupé served me as faithfully as many other Morrises have served so many other people down the years. The coupé version sells for a modest £952.—W.B.