Morris Marina/Ital (ADO28)
Replacing the much-loved Minor was never going to be easy, and British Leyland decided that the best thing to do was to create a new Cortina rival in its wake. After years of building front-wheel drive Issigonis-designed cars, the Marina seemed a step backwards, but was actually what the market wanted.
It was a strictly conventional machine, with much of its running gear Minor-, Triumph and MG-based, proving tat there were some clever parts-bin engineers at BL in the late 1960s. But despite the vogueish styling, its mechanical package was elderly for the era.
Saloon, coupé and estate were available, with engines in 1275cc A-Series or 1798cc B-Series forms, the latter unit from the MGB (which in coupe form actually outperformed the corporation’s sports car). That should have made the cars quite sporty, but handling and steering where not as good as they should have been. 1978 saw the arrival of the new overhead cam O-Series in 1.7-litre form, but it was no material improvement over the old B. Gradually improved until it was replaced by the Ital in 1980.
Reviews, blogs and news stories
Unashamedly created as Cowley’s Cortina, the Marina was to lead Morris – and more importantly, British Leyland – into a new decade of Ford bashing … However, it missed the bus in terms of size and engine range, and because there was no budget to replace it, the Marina remained in production for far too […]
Safety first: A close look at the Safety Research Vehicles (SRVs) produced by British Leyland in the 1970s reveals some very prescient ideas. There were, of course, a few blind alleys, too. Following Ralph Nader’s 1965 report Unsafe At Any Speed, which highlighted the poor handling and/or crash-resistance of numerous cars sold in the US, the […]
Ian Elliott In the recent thread about 2.0-litre Itals/Marinas, the subject of V8-engined Marinas was raised. If I have rambled about this in any previous AROnline submission, I apologise, but here goes: stuffing V8s into small, unsuspecting family cars is a long-practiced amusement of the hot-rodding fraternity and the more unlikely the starting point, the […]
There are lies and there are damned lies… Okay, so the products of BMC>Rover have not always been built or designed as well as they could have been, but let’s not forget that, despite upper management ineptitude and Government meddling, the workers who actually built the cars still actively cared about the product. Here then […]
Keith Adams Reading through my back issues of CAR Magazine to research a feature about the Jaguar X300, I unearthed a brilliant piece that I’d forgotten all about. Back in 1994, TV journalist Michael Kirsch had trekked into the war zone of Bosnia-Herzegovina to extricate three locals who’d saved his life a year previously and […]
When the Morris Ital roared onto our screens at its June 1980 launch, BL put out this terrific advert to celebrate the fact. OK, so we now know that it was little more than a warmed-over Marina, powered by the upcoming Metro’s A-Plus engine, and styled by Harris Mann, but with the Ital Design connection in its production engineering was so exciting from a marketing sense, that the marketing department leaped on it with relish…
Back in the late 1960s, when the influence of ex-Ford man, Roy Haynes, started to take hold, some very interesting design projects started to emerge from the Pressed Steel Fisher design studios in Cowley. The ADO68 was one such platform-sharing product. Devised at the Pressed Steel Fisher styling studios in Cowley by Roy Haynes, this […]
Outwardly, it looked like an Ital with a nicer-looking front bumper, but underneath, it sported a new chassis. The Huandu was built in Western China and proved fairly ubiquitous in its own part of the country… The following account was written for this site by Erik van Ingen Schenau, of the China Motor Vehicle Documentation […]
Mike Humble The Ital ran from 1980 to 1984 in saloon, estate and light commercial form. This is a Longbridge built SLX model. If there was ever a car in the Austin Morris line-up that epitomised everything that was crumbling around them, perhaps the Marina and Ital fits admirably. The Ital whined onto the scene […]
With the number of BMC>MGR cars on our roads diminishing rapidly, we take stock of the successive companies’ 10 most popular cars during the post-war years. Some of these numbers are going to shock you, simply because the cars are so rare on the road now. In fact, even the latest car on this list is now proving to be a rather unusual spot.
Now widely seen as a joke car by the general public, who misunderstood the market it was aimed at, the Morris Marina sold well in comparison with its British Leyland stablemates. How successful was it, though, and how did it match up to expectations and its main competition? Ian Nicholls reveals all. The car that could be king […]
Beauty with brains behind it… The Morris Marina was to be the bright white Knight of the recently created British Leyland Motor Corporation when it hit the market in 1971 – this advert did a great job of making it seem sexy enough to entice Britain’s hard-working sales reps. Would you think any manufacturer would […]
Keith Adams Never, ever underestimate the ability for our classic car market to turn up some amazing barn find cars. We recently told you about a Rover 200 with 12 miles on the clock which was up for sale and this Morris Ital will seem positively mileagey in comparison, having covered 300 miles – but, for those who […]
We take another lighthearted look at some of the cars which will be forever remembered for all the wrong reasons. Mike Humble takes another journey back in time and recalls the car which should have put him off BL related products for life, but instead, got him hooked…. The Morris Marina and Ital. Practical classic, […]
In this gallery, we take a look at some of the names used to sell various versions of the Morris Marina in overseas markets, plus one that didn’t quite make it… Of course, as those of you who have visited the BMC 1100/1300 page in this gallery will already know, the Marina featured here was […]
The O-Series was designed to act as the company’s mid-range engine mainstay for the late 1970s and beyond. If at first you don’t succeed… The formation of Austin-Morris from the ashes of BMC in 1969 allowed BLMC’s product planners to focus on the demands of the middle market, without worrying too much about the more […]
The B-Series engine started out as a humble 1.2-litre unit that powered the Austin A40 Devon. Over time, it was developed – and developed – and developed. Middle-market mainstay After the end of World War II, Austin and Morris continued to rely on pre-war engines for their mid-range family cars. Out of the two companies, […]
In 1967, Joe Edwards of BMH managed to secure the services of Roy Haynes from Ford as a stylist at the new BMH/Pressed Steel styling studios at Cowley in Oxford. Haynes had previously successfully styled the Ford Cortina MkII and he applied the style of this design to his new project, ADO28 – what was […]
The Morris Marina was conceived in a hurry, but designers consoled themselves in the fact that it was only going to last five or six years… Here we reveal pictures of the ADO77, and discuss why it never came into fruition. Missing Marina THE trouble with developing and launching a car in a hurry is […]
During the development of the Marina, it was decided that the Cowley plant in Oxford needed an overhaul – the result was that the production line was completely gutted, giving the plant the capability of producing some 5000 cars per week. These photographs were taken to demonstrate just how much of Cowley was all-new, and […]