Tag Archives: Scimitar

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 !


Move Over Henry Let Rover Take Over – Reliant Scimitar GTE V8

The Reliant Scimitar GTE can trace it’s origins back to two vehicles, the chassis is a direct descendent of Reliant Sabre and the fibre glass body which is a direct descendent Ogle SX250 a privately commissioned prototype coupe built on a Daimler SP250 chassis.

Reliant Scimitar GTE V8, Castle Combe C&SCAD

The Ogle SX250 design, which was offered to and turned down by Sir Williams Lyons who owned Daimler, was purchased by Reliant and with a few modifications required to fit the Reliant Sabre 6 chassis became the Reliant Scimitar GT SE4, production models were powered by a variety Ford engines in straight 6 and V6 configurations.

Reliant Scimitar GTE V8, Castle Combe C&SCAD

In 1968 Tom Karen, who had completed the design of the Ogle SX250 after originator David Ogle had been killed on his way to the Brands Hatch racing circuit, and Peter Bailey worked on the design of the Reliant Scimitar GTE.

Reliant Scimitar GTE V8, Castle Combe C&SCAD

With the addition of a rising waist line the GTE was a development of the 1966 Ogle Triplex Scimitar GTS concept car which had featured 43 square feet of safety glass, a vehicle eventually purchased by Prince Phillip.

Reliant Scimitar GTE V8, Castle Combe C&SCAD

Like the preceding Reliant Scimtar GT SE4 Ford engines were used to power the GTE SE5 production models though only the 2994 / 182.7 cui Essex V6. Interestingly the aforementioned Peter Bailey acquired the prototype GTE and had a 4735 cc/ 289 cui Ford V8 fitted which gave the prototype a top speed of 150 mph.

Reliant Scimitar GTE V8, Castle Combe C&SCAD

Somewhere along the way this Scimitar GTE has acquired a 3528 cc / 215.9 cui V8 engine which the engine size and badges suggest is an all alluminium Rover Buick derived unit which could have been sourced from any number of vehicles ranging from MGB V8, Rover 3.5 Coupe, Rover SDI, Triumph TR8 or conceivably even a Land or Range Rover.

My thanks to Dave Poole of sporting-reliants.com whose excellent website covers the Reliant story in fascinating illustrated detail.

Thanks for dropping in on this Ogle designed edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Ferrari Friday. Don’t forget to come back now !