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Project Marina

Once again, I aim to surprise and delight with my car choice. No doubt this will be a fan favourite… or not. This is probably one of the most divisive “Marmite” cars I’ve owned since Number 5.

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Its been about 14 years since I last owned my old Marina, and there isn’t a day that’s gone by where I haven’t wished I could drive it again. There is something about that first car, it just sticks with you.

A lot of people don’t get it, but it seems to mainly be the ones that have never driven, let alone owned a Marina that have the opinion that they are rubbish and only worth scrap value. Thankfully these opinions are slowly starting to dissipate (despite the horrific damage Top Gear did to the car and clubs image and reputation) and people are now realising that they are a great entry into classic British ownership. Once given the rather dubious title of being the most scrapped car in Britain, prices are on the rise as good cars are becoming hard to come by.

The sedans are nice cars, but for me, nothing compares to the Coupe. Once you look beyond the slightly awkward design of the doors (the same as the sedan doors, meaning they are shorter than they should be, resulting in a really long rear quarter window) the design is quite sleek.

I’ve always longed for a Coupe, and recently I had made it known in the old car circles I’m in that I was looking for one. The world is a strange place though and a month or two later, within minutes of a Coupe being listed on Facebook Marketplace, I was alerted by a fellow Oldschool Forum member to take a look. Within that hour I had been in touch with the seller and agreed to purchase the car.

As it turns out, the car was quite popular, with the seller having at least 15 different people contact him that day. Most were trying to buy parts off it, but what it came down to was that I was the first to contact him, and after a discussion with him, he was satisfied that I was going to restore the car back to roadworthy condition.

The car belonged to the sellers father, who passed away about 6 years ago. He had owned the car since 15th October 1979 (as noted in the owners manual and confirmed by the son). It was the first car his mother and father bought together, and when she passed away many years ago he held onto it for sentimental reasons. Unfortunately, it started to get a bit shabby, so he took it off the road to start a sort of light restoration. It got as far as the photo above, and that was it.

The father and son got the car started a couple of years before the father passed, but it hasn’t been driven or on the road for years (about 25). The Father re-registered it in 1995 in Alexandra, and then drove it to Queen Charlotte Sound when he moved; A trip of about 800km. Apparently, it was quite shabby then and a bit questionable that it should be driven that far, but the father just chose to send it, as you did back then. It lived there for a few years and the Son took ownership when his father passed on. The Son didn’t have the time, money or skills to restore the car himself, so it sat around, spending time in various garages, and even a woolshed for a few years.

The time came though that the Son decided that he was doing the car no favours by holding onto it, and it needed to go to someone that could stop it rotting away and do something good with it. His family ideally wanted to see it back up and running, and that’s where I come into it.

My plan for the car is to have it running, driving and on the road for British Car Day 2022. That gives me about a year to get it ready. It may not be the prettiest, as its unlikely I’ll be able to do all the panel and paint before then, but it’ll be there, and that’s better than not. In previous years there has only ever been one Marina at the show, usually an Orange MK2 wagon, although this year it was a red MK2 sedan. I want to bolster that a bit, just like I did with the SD1s. I’m always rooting for the underdog.

Long term I’d like the car to be a very nice example of a Marina. Not mint, and not a garage queen, but a good honest car. A classic car I can use in all weather without being scared of getting it dirty.

I’ve been asked a couple of times how long the car will stay (as I obviously have a reputation for not holding onto cars long). I don’t know the answer to that, but so far I’m happy and excited about the car and project. I like owning it, working on it, and cant wait to drive it. Hopefully, that bodes well for hanging around long term.

Well, here, have some photos of a sweet machine.

And some inspiration for the future