Tag Archives: Atwell Wilson Museum

Nice Door Handles – Morris Marina ADO 28

With the merger of Jaguar with British Motor Corporation in 1966 the new merger was renamed British Motor Holdings and after a further merger with Leyland commercial vehicles the corporation became known as British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. British Leyland as it was known decided that the Austin and Morris brands should be differentiated in the early 1970’s with Austin vehicles being based around the front wheel drive (FWD) concept pioneered by Ales Issignosis with models like the Mini, 1100 and 1800 series vehicles while Morris vehicles would be more traditional with front engines driving rear axles (RWD) as they had on the Morris Minor and Morris Oxford models.

Morris Marina, Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet

The design of the Marina coded ADO 28 was started by Roy Haynes who’s CV included the design of the popular Mk II Ford Cortina, however a disagreement over a common floor pan to share between models as espoused by Roy led to him quitting and Triumph Designer Harry Webster finishing the job by which time the intended Macpherson strut front suspension had been abandoned in favour of Morris Minor style tortion bars and a new gearbox design was abandoned in favour of an existing item from the Triumph parts bin.

Morris Marina, Atwell Wilson Museum, Calne

All in all the development costs of the conservative RWD concept Marina ended up exceeding those of the more radical FWD Allegro which was developed to be Austin’s competitor in the small family car market. Production facilities at Cowley had to be upgraded which included some comedy as an overpass was built so that the motors could be sent from a plant on the opposite side of a municipal road to the assembly plant, no sooner had the overpass been completed than the municipality offered to sell the road which British Leyland did not think twice to accept.

Morris Marina, Qwara, Malta

On a positive note the AMC Ambassador inspired vertical hinged door handles were a huge hit with Lotus founder Colin Chapman who specified them for use on the Lotus Elite, Eclat and Esprit models, Marina door handles were also adopted by Scimitar for the GTE shooting break while British Leyland used the same handles on the Triumph TR7/TR8, Austin Allegro and they eventually even found their way, finished in matt black, onto the Land Rover Discovery Series I.

Morris Marina, Cotswolds Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

Marina cars were powered by a variety of motors most common of which for the UK market was a 57 hp 4 cylinder A series which did not do much for performance but kept the handling within safer limits than the heavier more powerful motors which promoted lane changing understeer / push which induced the odd brown trousers moment for some Marina pilots.

Morris Marina, Cotswolds Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

The Marinas seen here are in order top to bottom a ’72 Coupé at the Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet, ’74 Twin Carburettor saloon sedan at the Atwell Wilson Museum, a Maltese 1500 saloon / sedan with after market alloy wheels and waist trim in Qwara, a ’79 Estate and ’72 Coupé both at the Cotswolds Classic Car Club meeting held at Frogsmill, Andoversford and below a saloon / sedan with an unusually straight rear bumper seen at last years Classics at the Castle, Sherborne.

Morris Marina, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

Although much derided for almost every detail apart from the door handles the undemanding early 70’s British public lapped up Marina’s painted in tepid colours like Russet Brown, Harvest Gold, and Limeflower Green for the car to peak at second in the sales charts behind the Ford Cortina in 1973 and remain in the top 3 or 4 until 1980. Eventually over 897,000 Marina’s were sold in the UK of which 745 are thought to remain on British roads.

Thanks for joining me on this “Nice Door Handles” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Katie – Morris 8 Series E

In 1935 Morris was keen to regain it’s position as Britains largest motor manufacturer when it launched the Morris 8 in response to the successful Ford Model Y which was first seen in 1932.

Morris 8 Series E, Atwell Wilson Museum, Calne

Four series of Morris 8’s were manufactured Series I from 1935 to ’37, Series II in 1938 and Series E from 1938 to 1948. Unusually the Morris 8 Series E remained in production for military and essential civilian use through out the war with civilian consumer production resumed in 1945.

Morris 8 Series E, Atwell Wilson Museum, Calne

The Series E Morris 8 is easily distinguished from it’s forbears by the semi integrated head lights and it’s absence of running boards.

Morris 8 Series E, Atwell Wilson Museum, Calne

The waterfall styled grill was much in vogue at the time with Hudson in the US and Triumph in the UK being among the more fanciful users of the waterfall styled grills.

Morris 8 Series E, Atwell Wilson Museum, Calne

The 29 horse power 6 volt 4 cylinder motor could propel the Morris 8 Series E to a top speed of 58 mph. The motor would remain in use in Morris Minor cars from 1948 to 1953 and would also find itself being installed in Centurion, Conqueror and Chieftain main battle tanks as an auxiliary motor.

Morris 8 Series E, Atwell Wilson Museum, Calne

Katie as the Morris 8 Series E,seen here at the Atwell Wilson Museum in Calne, is known was purchased new for £120 pounds by Mr And Mrs EA & WG Harris of Laurel Farm Chadstoke Somerset from Stringers Garage in Chard Somerset on the 1st of November 1948 having been built a week earlier on the 25th of October.

The car covered 10,500 miles when it was returned to Strigers in 1952. The car remained in the Stringers show room and was used to train apprentices until 1979 when a Stringers employee purchased the car and put it back on the road. Since then it was repainted from its original black to its present two tone scheme. The car now has over 30,000 miles on the clock and has been on show at the Atwell Wilson Museum since 2000.

Thanks for joining me on this “Katie” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !