eBay Find of the Week : Morris Ital time-capsule for sale

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Morris Ital with 300 miles on eBay
Morris Ital with 300 miles on eBay

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 feel the need for a new example of Harris Mann’s facelifted Marina, this eBay car just has to be right up your street.

According to the eBay description, the car, an Ital 1.3HL was supplied new by Wadham Stringer (Devizes) Ltd KAM 229X was bought by a local man as a surprise present for his wife to replace her ageing Morris Minor. It was registered on 1 August 1981 (for X-registration day) and she remains the only registered keeper today.

He thought that his wife would be delighted. Sadly, though, she most certainly was not. Not wanting to seem too ungrateful she agreed to drive the car for a while – just to see if she could get used to it after so many years in her beloved Minor. It was not to be the case and, after travelling a little over 100 miles she had to confess to her husband that it was really not the car for her, much preferring the Minor it was supposed to replace.  Somewhat dejected and, perhaps, just a little out of spite her husband said ‘fine, then it can just stay in the garage until the Minor falls apart’.

And that’s what happened, with the car barely used since then. Some old MoTs are present with the car, in 1987 the mileage was 193, in 1988 223, in 1990 224 and in 91 266. The last time the car was taxed was November 1992 and, by this time the standoff over whether the car should be used or not was wearing thin…

Question is, what will the car go for? As we closed this piece, it had sailed through the £4000 barrier with over six days left to run – so will we be writing ‘the most expensive Ital in the world’ story this time next week?

Let’s wait and see.

 

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up 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 Classics 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 unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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81 Comments

  1. Its been a long time since I saw an Ital- the design has really aged well- at least styling-wise. They did a really good job refreshing the ancient Marina, and it looks particularly good in Silver.

    I can’t believe I just wrote in praise of a Morris Ital. Must get my medication changed…

  2. The ad. says it’s an auto when you can clearly see three pedals and a gear stick.

    This should go in a museum because I sure as hell wouldn’t get one ounce of pleasure owning or driving it. They weren’t that good new!

    It is interesting but only because it’s so rare and should share floor space with the Rover 2000 SD1.

  3. @ Delorean Acct

    Right at the end of the advert the seller states they accidentally ticked the automatic box and the car is definitely a manual

    What a cracking find!

  4. Oh, it may only be an Ital but I love this car!! I’d buy it if I had lots of surplus cash – it’s virtually new and the appeal would lie in the car’s simplicity & nostalgia value.

    Looks surprisingly good!!

    Recently saw a local newspaper article entitled “Most expensive Marina ever”. It described a very early model, still on its original tyres having only covered around 5K miles. The price? £7500

  5. Just checked out the eBay ad for this car- they recommend getting the original fitment tyres professionally checked- I think that is poor advice- they should be changed for new ones as there is no way that 30 year old rubber would be safe for use- even if the car has been stored in ideal conditions.

    I’ve got it on my watch list- will be interesting to see what it fetches up- I’d bet about £8000 (bet nobody thought that an Ital would actually appreciate in value!)

  6. Bloomin eck! That’s a corker…have to say though, they do keep well if looked after, my 60,000 miler was in great condition when i had it. Oh if I only had the £5-6k this will end up selling at!

  7. Oh Rovamota.. our little ray of sunshine.

    I have to kind of agree, I too start to snooze at wordy and often overkilled adverts for cars with Ebay being a pime example.

    That said, It looks stunning for is after all, the last whimpers of true British Leyland based cars and should most certainly be placed in a museum.

    Even though my own Ital which started its life as a 1.3 HL estate but became a 1.7 was a truly nasty car, time heals old wounds, and I think its bloody marvelous to see one in such good order.

    Leave the original tyres on it, no manner of quality fresh rubber is going to improve the dismal handling! High speed cornering always felt like a rear wheel blow out in any other car anyway!

  8. I’ve got to ask, when I read the advert the sellers made a claim that the Morris Marina single-handedly saved British Leyland (or words to that effect) perhaps I’ve got the wrong end of the stick but how the heck to they work that out??

  9. Looking at all the pictures on the ad and I again think how BL>MGRover were masters at achieving “a lot, with not a lot of financial resource”.
    Ok, it was ultimately still a Marina and yes it was mechanically ancient. However, there were some useful improvements and to the less well informed punter it was probably often enough to make them trade their Marina for an Ital as opposed to a Cortina.

  10. Wow, how do you find them, its brand new, hope it go to good home! The handling was not much good, we had a 1.7HL in the Metpol, good work horse. A work colleague had a 2lt HLS estate, it went well and had a Rev counter!. Regards Mark

  11. Makes you wonder how the Marina/Ital would have fared if they’d given it McPherson Struts and a torsion beam from the outset? Probably wouldn’t have been all that more expensive to build and potentially increased sales from having half-way decent handling would have financed it.

  12. The irony with the Ital’s handling is that BL could have improved it so simply and inexpensively.
    The facelifted cars had telescopic front dampers- something after market suppliers had been offering for years, why did it take the maker so long to adopt them?
    And why oh why, didn’t the saloon have the same rear springs as the estate?

  13. Cattermoles in Ipswich have a Leeds registered Skoda Felicia 1.3 LX in there with a genuine 128 miles on. It is NOT for sale by the way

  14. #15 Yes, that’s probably correct.

    I looked at a Sierra 4×4 Ghia Estate the other week, listed at £1650. I don’t think it sold, so it went to auction.
    A car dealer clearly bought it and now has it up for £2995 !

  15. Horrible car new,but now i cant help but have a liking for it,especially seeing the advert for it on you tube-how pathetic it looks overtaking a merc!

  16. Silver paint, some chrome embelishment and a half leather* interior?

    BL really could predict the young executive market, if only 30 years early!

  17. “I think that is poor advice- they should be changed for new ones as there is no way that 30 year old rubber would be safe for use- even if the car has been stored in ideal conditions.”

    While i agree with you, i’ve known people that have driven around on tyres just as ancient until the tread wore out without any problems. So they ‘may’ well be fine, although there is no way of knowing either way.

  18. @18, that Merc was probably a 240D with a load of paving slabs in the boot, which was so slow & gutless, a snail could overtake them :). By the way, bus manufacturers are making vinyl trim sound posh by calling it e-leather.

  19. A few weeks ago I spotted on Ebay for sale a Rover p6 with a genuine triplex glass roof! like a real verion of the corgi toy model but this one had a long story to it. Built in 1963 assembled by an ex-rover engineer from the 1970’s to 84 on his own time with collection of parts and with its own 63 registration number and a new V5 for use.

    Can’t remember what the price it sold or full story but it needed restoring,rust bubbles around the glass edges of the roof is there anything about Rover or others helping triplex experiment with big glass areas I know a leyland princess was made as a candidate to promote this glass.

    Oh and the newist Morris Ital I have seen.

  20. Dont think this will fetch any where near that old Mini made 🙂
    Similarities though, what on earth do you with it now? If you put anymore miles on it it will devalu. So as it says its only futre is as a static exibit

  21. I think that the only one to emerge from this story with their credibility and integrity intact is the woman who originally refused to drive it!

    Yes, it’s an interesting find, but these cars really were so bl**dy awful, on so many levels, that it really does need to be put back in the barn from whence it came….

  22. Oh dear, what a joke!The price is up to £4500 and the winner(!) will need locking up for everyone’s safety. Rubbish new and rubbish now!

  23. @MartyB what colour is it? I viewed a green one a few years ago in Leeds but missed out by a few hundred, think was a green MK1 Felicia and was truly “As new” Regretted ever since

  24. I dont know what all the fuss is about, my 82 Ital was a hoot? once you knew the limits I could throw it about and it was nippy as hell. I miss it to this day. Though my 5,000miler mint miniMetro has filled the gap a little.

  25. @ Rovamota

    I couldn’t agree more; way too much BS which, from a car salesman, usually means that all is not what it seems. How on earth can a gearbox seize after 300 miles when the car has supposedly been perfectly stored and regularly started?

    I’m so so relieved the ‘box has been filled with fresh gear oil “bought by us direct from Castrol”!! Oh, do me a favour, Arfur.

    Plus, even he tacitly admits the car has had far more than the 1 claimed owner. Hmmm…

    Like Chris Baglin (#1), I have a soft spot for the Ital, too though; it went some way to proving that you can, in fact, polish a turd.

  26. Despite all the adverse comments directed towards ITAL’s, this one looks really nice and it’s good to see it in mint condition. Must be nostalgia kicking in – makes me feel that the ITAL wasn’t such a bad car?

  27. If BL hadn’t made the decision to rename the Marina, the Ital would have been a forgotten footnote in its history. Instead, the company opened itself up for ridicule by pretending it was something new and gave newspaper columnists and stand-up comedians plenty of material. Sadly, such turd-polishing was BL and its successors’ stock in trade: Princess>Ambassador; Austin Mini-Metro>Metro>Rover Metro>Rover 100; Rover 200>25; Rover 400>45. Having said all that, I’d love that car!

  28. Looks good in Silver with the painted roof.
    The ones I used to see used to either be beige or yellow with the vinyl roof.

    Should be put into a museum, too good to drive in that condition. And tell the classic-scene naysayers to shut it! (and for the love of BL don’t let TopGear buy it…!)

    Almost looks Alfetta-like in that colour…

  29. Will M’s pic of the Alfetta is exactly like one a former work colleague of mine had as his company car in the late 70s/early 80s. I dont recall ever seeing an ITAL in silver but do remember them in a colour BL called Opaline Green.

  30. A museum would be the best place for it. Preferably displayed so that everyone can see the 1940s suspension on a car built in the 80s and the useless radio angles towards the passenger. Must rank as one of the worst design decisions ever.

    I have no love of either the Marina or Ital – my late father hacked around in one for far too long (it was cheap and were were poor) and whilst it was basic transport for a family of 5, it was dreadful to drive with a wickedly sharp clutch, notchy gearbox (which was miles better in the Dolomite it was designed for) and laughably low handling limits in the dry (never mind the wet).

    The Ital really was an extreme case of turd polishing, it looked ok fron the outside and even went pretty well in a straight line if you had the 2.0 but it was so bad in just about every other area that a museum is both the best and safest place for it.

    The only thing I can say in the Ital’s favour is that at least it was easy to fix when it went wrong and in that respect (and only that respect) it was better than many modern cars. 🙂

    It was cheap

  31. Love the term “Polished Turd”
    unfortunately, some of the products of BL/AR of this time including the Ital were more like polished diarrhea!

  32. I think it would be cool driving around in this,and as i have a drive in my mint 1973 SDL coupe every now and again why not? on the other and it does also make me sad at the malaise that set in at BL,this car was embarassing next to a kaddett fwd or MK3 escort,in fact this was the default car for dole investigators and other civil servants,it could be worse,an ambassador!

  33. Locked in a garage, the best place for it! To be fair, I always thought the Ital facelift quite effective, but then the Marina was the only normal looking car Austin Morris produced in a generation…

  34. @28- Magnus, I’m alarmed that you thought I have a soft spot for the Ital, I only meant to convey that I thought the restyle (and the styling generally) was good and had aged well.

    I really don’t want one, no matter how cheap or how pristine!!!

  35. Whilst the Ital doesn’t meet the approval of many, it could be thought of as ‘the car that saved BL’. At a time when Solihull and it’s SD1 was killing the company with poor sales and huge warranty costs, the Ital sold in good enough volumes to justify a night shift. And best of all – it was profitable. It gave us enough money (just) to stay in business and get Maestro and then Montego in to production. Without the four years Ital gave us, the company may well have collapsed in 81/82.

  36. £4000 doesn’t seem too bad, when there are idiots out there who pay £40000 for MK1 & MK2 Ford Escorts, which were legendary rotboxes.

  37. Makes you wonder how much a technologically equivalent car in pristine condition would fetch, eg an FSO?

  38. Check out this little eBay beauty for ‘value for money’-http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1950S-JB-MORRIS-ICE-CREAM-VAN-/140754066013?_trksid=p3984.m185&_trkparms=algo%3DPI.WATCH%26itu%3DUA%26otn%3D5%26po%3DLCA%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D8582771540252427363.

    A snip at £10,00. And as you can see from the pictures- the woodwork has been done. Possibly using an old wooden fruit crate as a donor…

  39. Mostly an FYI.

    1 day 5 hours – left to go from 25 May, 201219:09:13 BST
    Bid showing at £5,050 with reserve not met.

    I am a bit surprised it has reached this amount for an Ital but I can understand it for the rarity value.

  40. Wonder what the hell the reserve price is? I mean, its only scarce because the Ital was not loved enough in the first place to warrant preservation, unlike the Morris Minor it was loosely based on.

  41. There’s no doubt about it – this Ital looks pretty good today, no longer viewed against the rivals of the time. However, go back to 1980 and Ital vs Mk2 Escort, maybe, but Ital vs Mk3 Escort, oh dear!

  42. If I was the seller I’d offer it to the highest bidder, as he’s obviously been over optimistic about the price and it will save him the embarrasment of relisting it.

  43. Does anyone know if it made the reserve and what it went for? Been away for a couple of days and missed the deadline.

  44. @51- David Dawson, The Mk3 Escort was rather over-rated in my humble opinion. I bought one after the premature demise of my FSO Polonez- it was an improvement on that, but it was no driver’s car. Mine had the dreaded 1.3 CVH, which did not bring tidings of great joy. And the handling and roadholding was not great- especially if a gust of wind caught it, or you had to drive through standing water.

    I once drove it over the old Severn Bridge on a windy day, driving onto the bridge at 70mph, but I had to limp off at 15, because it was literally was being blown out of its lane (I thought I’d had a blowout but I hadn’t). Then there was the endearing Ford distributor- great fun overtaking other vehicles on the motorway, then having the engine cut out at random moments, causing me to have to fight my way back to the hard shoulder against the traffic with rapidly diminishing momentum…

    I was not sorry when a MacPherson strut bust its way through the rusty top mountain, necessitating a replacement car (Fiat Tipo 1.8ie- fast but inept).

    I have driven an early XR3, carb version. Not great, and a bit of an embarrasment, but it went fairly well, and was nice and torquey.

  45. Who has that sort of money to blow on a crappy car like an Ital – wait a minute J. Clarkson he gets paid loads and Top Gear budget. This could be the next car for ‘Star in a not very reasonably priced car’, but only after the Stig has tested it first. At the end of the series comes the piano!

  46. Well it’s been relisted, but I still think he should have sold it to the highest bidder last time as it wasn’t a bad price and way over what most of us would be prepared to pay.

  47. Wow what a lot of negativity among the comments above! I sense that some may not have read the advert in full either, yes it’s wordy and the Doc is famed for these types of ads but it is informative if nothing else. I don’t claim to be a lover of Itals but the amount of vitriol poured on this car is astonishing for a BL lovers’ forum.

    I saw this car when I picked up may latest purchase recently from the man himself and whilst it still had the box out for repair and wasn’t valeted, it did indeed look like a brand new car, really astonishingly tight and crisp.

    Something like this is worth what anyone will pay for it. 5 grand too much? i don’t know, I watch the Antiques Roadshow and reel at the values placed on the most hideous of items that I would chuck straight in the bin – horse for courses.

    Lighten up.

  48. Oh, and enough with the Top Gear / Marina references – that pony has been done to death now – we get it!!!!

  49. “I was not sorry when a MacPherson strut bust its way through the rusty top mountain, necessitating a replacement car (Fiat Tipo 1.8ie- fast but inept).”

    Chris, I’m really curious about this inept Tipo! It was one of Fiat’s best – the 1.8 twin-cam, nice efficient fuel injection (I had a Tempra 1.8 i.e. with the digi dash, and a Tipo 1.4 DGT), great chassis, reasonably solid interior, good body and even half-decent driving position. I could understand an old Tipo giving trouble, and my Tempra had a rotten subframe at 10 years old, but inept isn’t something I’ve heard aimed at the Tipo before!

  50. The tipo was a very good car with massive room-would fit five full size adults no problem,the sedicivalvole won universal praise for its brilliant handling and trounced every car in its class in that department,the diesels where fine even if they threw thier serpentine drivebelt every now and again.I rate them better than the bravo/brava that replaced it.

  51. @62 Richard and 63. Francis,

    Perhaps ‘inept’ was putting it too strongly- the Tipo did indeed have much going for it- I was referring mostly to the chassis. The 1.8i.e. ‘Gran Turismo’ was clearly marketed as a ‘warm hatch’ (albeit no doubt without referance to that particular term), but the problem was that with that engine, it was overpowered for the chassis, which appeared not to have been modified at all from the base 1.4 model.

    The engine had torque in spades, and could rev for Italy (indeed, on several occasions when overtaking I’d over-rev it, so linear was the torque curve, and so badly illuminated was the poor digital dash…) That, married to a typical Fiat short-legged gearbox,and excellent traction, made for vivid accelleration- indeed I surprised many a driver of sportier car, such as a Pug 205GTi by being able to keep up with them when pedalling hard. And it was roomy, had a good driving position (by Italian standards), and a solid body. I liked the styling, too, looking like a much sharper dressed Golf Mk2, as well as a ‘butched up’ Uno.

    Problem was, that the brakes were on the small size, and not really up to the job of stopping this top-heavy car. The wheels were similarly undersized, and there was way too much body roll and understeer. Had I wanted to lower the suspension and upgrade the chassis I think it would have made an excellent hot-hatch, but really, Fiat ought to have done that as part of the package (remember, this was a ‘Gran Turismo’). And the seats could have been much better. Essentially then, this was a model with identity issues, it didn’t know whether it was a luxury (by 1991 standards) model, or a sports model, and ended up being neither- a frustrating ‘curate’s egg’. I did at least fit decent Pirelli rubber.

    The electrics gave problems- as you’d expect! Also,I had a tendency to accidentally roll the headlamp switch to the ‘off’ position when hurriedly dipping the beam when surprised by oncoming traffic on Cotswold back roads (which have a tendency to ‘hide’ signs of oncoming vehicles until you get to a bend…), and water in the electrics would sometimes cause the full beam to cut out also. A can of WD40 was always tucked into the door bin.

    The death knell was the dreaded Head Gasket Failure of Doom. It was replaced by a very lacklustre Audi A4, and I swapped the Fiat for a nearly new Blaupunkt 10 disc CD player out of an Alfa 164. Both me and my mechanic, with whom I did the swap, thought we’d each got the better deal!

    I think if my Tipo had been powered by the 1.4 or 1.6 rather than the 1.8i.e. then the issues with the handling, and the masquerading as a hot (or warm) hatch would have been much less of an issue. I did have fun in it on occasions, and I missed it when I bought that bloody Audi, which might have been better built, but had none of the good points of the Tipo.

  52. The GTV had a Tipo chassis and was a great handling car. Went, cornered and stopped brilliantly.

    Let down by Italian electrics (the fusebox looked like it had fire damage, the wipers were sentient and the headlights had to be rewired) and the stiff suspension ate bushes.

  53. @64 the 2.0L sedicivalvole was really something else,the astra GTE16v was unbelievably fast but suffered plough on understeer badly,the fiat really had a great chassis in this guise.

  54. @66 – Agreed – had one on loan when an Alfa specialist decided to dent the roof of my 145 whilst it was on their ramp (the mind boggles) – cracking drive – really gutsy engine, and handling on a par with the Alfa (understandable – same chassis). Only things that let it down were the lego dashboard, and frigidaire styling – funky illuminated function stalks though (had the same in the Alfa, sans lighting…..)

  55. @66 Francis- I’m very prepared to accept that the Sedi was a vastly superior machine to mine- it had the handling mine ought to have had, plus more power…

    @67 Simon, I’m not surprised at your comments about an Alfa specialist- from first hand experience, they tend to put one vehicle on the ramp at the close of business, then drive another car underneath. It is possible that yours got inadvertently got squashed the following morning.

    I witnessed what could have been a very nasty accident one morning when I dropped my Fiat off at a Fiat/Alfa specialist. They were towing dead vehicles (stowed as above) outside to clear some space upon opening for business by attatching a rope from the front of one to the rear of another, with the towed vehicle being steered through the open driver’s door by a mechanic walking alongside. On this occasion the towed vehicle was a heavy 164, and the towing vehicle ran out of torque, so moved closer and took a ‘running jump’. The 164 took off backwards at some velocity, and the alarmed mechanic who was trying to steer it had to jump backwards as the door of the 164 was ripped off its hinges as it was caught by the edge of the door portal- the mechanic escaped what would have certainly been at least two broken legs!

  56. Finally getting round to James @comment 26, yes the Felicia is the very same car you are on about. Light green, originally registered to Mrs Keith, who never drove it, bearing in mind old man keith had a Rover 800 he left the keys in, and it got nicked off the driveway…I think she had a bit of Hiacynth Bucket syndrome.

  57. My names Ray Brewer, and I won this Morris Ital on EBay. It’s absolutely minted, it’s just like brand new. I do have a few cars in my collection, but this has to be the best one I’ve purchased up to date. I’m planning on taking the car to some car shows next year and hopefully she’ll win some prizes. It’s unbelievable the condition it’s in&yes it does only have 300 miles on the clock.

  58. @71 Ray Brewer,

    Nice to hear it’s gone to a good home. Although I wouldn’t consider myself an Ital fan (although I think the restyle was generally very good), from curiosity value alone I’d certainly like to see this (and similar) on the road and at shows. There is something very pleasing about ordinary humdrum ‘classics’ as distinct from it’s more exotic brethren.

  59. @71,Do you have any other BL cars in your collection? and i hope you enjoy this car,regardless of what you paid im sure the pleasure you get from owning this talking point from the past is priceless.

    My 71k(not 73 as stated previously) Marina is a minter too,only requiring engine detailing-new airbox perhaps and period engine bay sticker renewal.Although i still think it was a terrible car i find it endearing now and enjoy the odd dry weather spins-people come upto you and have a chat and i like the old stories-“my granddad had one of these,i used to pop the rust bubbles on the wheel arches when we went for sunday tea”and so on!

  60. I remember driving an Ital that belonged to a friend in the mid eighties . It wasn’t particularly nice to drive and the handling was pretty vague. In the seventies I drove an L reg Marina van 1300 7cwt . This handled much better than the saloon with light steering and was surprisingly quick when it didn’t have too much loaded in the back .

  61. Good grief, for the most part what a collection of whiny, unfunny and thoroughly miserable little turds commenting!

    The Marina and Ital weren’t great cars, but were adequate.

    And while the handling wasn’t particularly good it wasn’t particularly that bad either, not a lot worse than other 70s / late 70s cars, and on equal footing with others.

    So perpetuate all the recycled “I had one of those and they were this that and the other” type pub stories all you like.

    I actually drove several variants of Marinas and Itals and trust me, they were no where as near as bad as some of you imagine (I say imagine as some of the stories clearly don’t come from reality, and it’s highly comical that some of you are still picking apart a long dead company and one of its cars, you must feel very superior.)

  62. 76 and 77 . Am I right in supposing you will have some more useful thoughts to promulgate in due course, Paul Pig ? We shall wait with bated breath . By the way, is the delay between the post about which you complain and your profound thoughts on it indicative of the speed with which your brain works ?

  63. Have recently come across 2 cars in father in laws barns.one in fantastic condition and one in need of some restoration. Looking to sell them. any ideas of how to go about it would be appreciated …………

  64. At the time my parents owned a yellow Morris Ital 1.3 L estate, several of my friends who lived in Reading owned orange Morris Ital estate cars which had grey hubcaps with chrome nuts on and a 1.7 engine.

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