Concepts and prototypes : Morris Marina

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 to become the Marina.

Below are some fascinating pictures that show the cars BLMC turned down – and the proposals by Haynes that won over Harry Webster, George Turnbull and Donald Stokes.


Earliest thoughts


The Italian contributions

This proposal by Michelotti was favoured by Harry Webster who being ex-Triumph could be forgiven for harbouring this view as the Italian styling house had successfully created the Herald, 1300, Toledo, 2000 and Stag. It was eventually turned down because of the fear of it costing too much to build.

This proposal by Michelotti was favoured by Harry Webster who being ex-Triumph could be forgiven for harbouring this view as the Italian styling house had successfully created the Herald, 1300, Toledo, 2000 and Stag. It was eventually turned down because of the fear of it costing too much to build.

Pininfarina put forward this proposal, which was turned down because it was considered too glassy - and therefore would cost too much to build. Harry Webster supposedly said of this, 'it's like sitting in a bloody goldfish bowl'.

Pininfarina put forward this proposal, which was turned down because it was considered too glassy – and therefore would cost too much to build. Harry Webster supposedly said of this, ‘it’s like sitting in a bloody goldfish bowl’.


Marina takes shape…

Haynes championed the cause of the 2-door fastback... judging from this model, it certainly is easy to see its appeal, with its wide Rostyle wheels and clean lines.

Haynes championed the cause of the 2-door fastback… judging from this model, it certainly is easy to see its appeal, with its wide Rostyle wheels and clean lines.

This picture of the saloon also reveals it to be a vastly more appealing car than the Italian proposals. The design would make it into production with remarkably few alterations - there would be quarterlights on the side windows (to reduce costs), the rear screen was given more wrap-around and the rear side windows were given their characteristic kink at the shoulder line (October 1969).

This picture of the saloon also reveals it to be a vastly more appealing car than the Italian proposals. The design would make it into production with remarkably few alterations – there would be quarterlights on the side windows (to reduce costs), the rear screen was given more wrap-around and the rear side windows were given their characteristic kink at the shoulder line (October 1969).

Picture supplied by John Capon


Finishing touches

And a later development of the same car (November 1969). Note that on the far side of the car, the window line is standard Marina, indicating that this car was in fact double sided mock-up for the benefit of back to back comparison.

And a later development of the same car (November 1969). Note that on the far side of the car, the window line is standard Marina, indicating that this car was in fact double sided mock-up for the benefit of back to back comparison.

Picture supplied by John Capon

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007. Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

5 Comments on "Concepts and prototypes : Morris Marina"

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  1. Nate says:

    For some reason the first picture showing the clay model’s front end seems to be very familiar though am unable to put my finger on exactly which car the front end was influenced by.

  2. The Marina prototype designed by Roy Haynes was more like the finished product. My parody stories state that a Portuguese man was working on designing a BMC car to compete with the Seat 124 and the managing director of the company he worked for was sacked by the union for doing naff all other than hold him back.

  3. Spyder says:

    The top coupe pic looks stunning- much better than anything that went into production. Why did BL- like Vauxhall (with the Firenza) not have any confidence in the compact/coupe market. Ford were the only manufacturer who really understood this niche and the image required and exploited it with the Capri. The other car that looks great is the one in the last photo- although it does look a little like a facelift Hillman Hunter. Why did the Marina never get the planned rectangular headlamps and Rostyle wheels. Cost?

  4. Graham says:

    In another of my intended parody stories it’s stated that the Morris Minor had to be axed as soon as the Ford Taunus TC1 and Opel Ascona A started coming off the production line.

  5. Geoff Ellis says:

    My intended parody story revolved around Gerry Anderson becoming Chief Stylist at BLMC but I couldn’t find a publisher as it was too close to the truth. S.I.G.

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