British Leyland had decided to continue using the Morris name for their more standard range of vehicles and use the Austin name for the new innovative designs. From around 1968 there were great plans for the Marina Coupe, however due to poor project and cost management, things didn’t quite go to plan.
Originally the 2-door Marina was to be pitched as a premium sports coupe to potentially compete with Ford’s Capri by appealing to the younger buyer. However, ever increasing costs for British Leyland meant rushed compromises had to be made in order to reach production deadlines. The Marina was finally launched as a more economy coupe than originally intended and was in fact cheaper to buy than the less exotic looking saloon version with identical mechanics.
Despite the mechanical misgivings the Marina Coupe was successful and tended to get buy on its good looks. Today the Marina Coupe is a rare sight and still tends to own an alluring persona giving it a certain appeal of its own.
Fewer than 800 Morris Marina’s survive in the UK currently; even less coupes so finding a decent one will be an arduous task indeed. Now we all know British build quality way back in the seventies was not what it should have been so rust will always be an issue when it comes to a Morris Marina. This was partially due to poor weather sealing allowing water to get in everywhere. I know it’s a cliché but take a magnet with you and a soft cloth, as nice shiny body work can hide a multitude of sins, not only rust but filler hiding rust and dodgy welding, always be on your guard with an old car.
The Morris Marina ended up using many parts from its predecessor including the A-Series engine which was a bit old fashioned then. It’s a tough enough unit, although it has its work cut out with the heavy Marina. Look for signs of oil being burnt and listen for nasty noises from within, although you should also expect some tappet and timing chain chatter. It’s an A-series, they all do that.
Gear boxes don’t last that long. Sure signs of wear are noisy gear changes and clutch judder can mean worn gearbox mountings. Make sure you get as much history as you can with the car of your choice. This will go some way in to satisfying you that the Marina has been looked after.