Many years ago, about 14 years or so, I bought a car off a friend so I could learn to drive and get myself to work. It cost me $400 with reg and wof, and was awesome.
That car was a 1976 Morris Marina 1.8 SUPER. It was green (“Spanish Olive”), and it was damn near immaculate at the time. The only issue was that it drank about as much oil as it did petrol and the second gear synchro was slow.
I thrashed that for a while, but eventually the Japanese bug bit and I sold it when I picked up a dirt cheap N/A BFMR Familia. I sold it to a young kid who wanted it to learn in like I did, but it was soon sold again and as far as I know its been sitting in a barn since. Rego on hold, but probably a pile of dust.
Being the complete sicko that I am, despite owning many cars, and bringing a few other classic Brits back from the dead, I’ve always pined for another Marina. Hell, my Wife tried to buy my old Marina back a few years ago, but that fell on its face for various reasons.
I figured if I can’t get the old green machine back, the next best thing would be to keep an eye out for the ultimate version, the coupe.
Coupes are rare. Well, Marinas, in general, are rare thanks to the (misguided) unpopularity of them, but coupes are just something you never see. Before I went and looked at a wrecked Twin Carb (TC) coupe in a field over Xmas, I hadn’t seen one in person.
The coupe in the field I ended up passing on because of its location (middle of nowhere; expensive to get a truck to pick it up), and the fact someone had pinched the plates and tags from it (probably to rebirth another Marina that had a dead rego) and it couldn’t legally be put on the road again. If it’s still available I might end up buying it for parts, we’ll see.
Anyway, back to the story at hand. The other day I had a PM from a fellow Old School forum member that knew I was looking for a coupe, letting me know there was one just listed on Facebook Marketplace. Sure enough, there it was.
That’s the one and only photo on the listing (and it’s not a TC), but that didn’t matter to me. I got in touch with the seller and within an hour of being listed, we had agreed to a sale and it was mine.
The next day seller sent me more photos showing the current condition.
The worst bit (that the seller knows of), the rust in the sill
And the AUS spec OHC 1750cc E-Series single carb power house.
As the story goes, the sellers dad has had the car for years, and the father and son started to restore the car to former glory. Unfortunately, the father passed away and the car has been in limbo since.
The seller was happy to hear that I intend on returning the car to the road and undertaking a restoration of sorts. It may not go back to completely original, but I’m not going to chop it up and hot rod it.
I have no doubt the car will be a hell of a lot of work and a lot of money. The first job is to even get it here, as it’s currently across the Cook Strait in Blenheim and I’m in Wellington. Not far as the crow flies, but a large body of water that can only be crossed by plane or boat blocks it. A truck is arranged to pick it up at the end of next week, and then I’ll get to see what the heck I’ve got myself into.
This particular car is a little interesting just in the fact that’s its an NZ Built, Aus spec car, meaning it gets the E-Series Over Head Cam engine, instead of the A or B series pushrod engines the UK cars have, but also has various bits of local content such as brakes, suspension and interior. Decoding the VIN it appears to be a Deluxe spec, with the 4 speed manual.
The plan is to sell the TVR to make space and money, get the Marina going and stopping, and then cut out the rust. New sill panels are available off Trademe, so will replace the whole sill, and cut out any other rust I find. Once its solid, going and stopping, then its just a case of taking it for a WOF inspection to see where I’m at. What happens after that depends if I can get hold of the TC in the field.
Oh, did I mention the rego is on hold? Well, it is, and its been off the road for almost 25 years. This will be the oldest save of any I’ve had before.
The cool thing is that the rego is super optimistic…
Yeah, its a “Sports Car”, just like the TVR. I dont think anyone has called a Marina that before.
I’ve started collecting things that might be important, such as an original BLMC workshop manual, in original Marina branded binder
Ideally, I’d love to get this on the road, tidy up the interior, repaint the exterior (original paint, which I think is Bold As Brass yellow, or a different colour…?) and then rebuild and fit the twin carb engine from the field car to it.
I need to have the car in my hot little hands first and see what it needs and what it’s missing. I could be over my head in rust issues yet, who knows. We’ll see soon enough.