1978 Morris Marina Mk2 1.8HL.

When my first Hillman Hunter was written off I knew that it would take some time to deal with the insurance and then rebuild the car into whatever body I might find. In the meantime I needed a car.

Just around the corner from my house there was a Morris Marina sitting on the side of the road. I had noted it for some weeks as I could see that it was an "HL". This meant that it had what was basically a complete MGB engine, including sport camshaft, twin SU carb setup and that lovely sounding LCB exhaust manifold and twin header. The rest was unknown to me having never owned or even driven one, although I was aware that Marinas had received a lot of bad press back in the day.

I tracked down the owner. Turned out the car would not start, but it had a recently overhauled BW65 auto, plus live plates. The owner was also in need of a washing machine, and as I had a few of those we did a swap. Great so far. I have no photos of the car as it was not really a car that I wanted - simply one I needed as a stop-gap measure. It did however look like this one, albeit red with a beige vinyl roof and about 50 years more use.

There were a number of minor issues with the car. A wire off the starter, dead fuel pump and water pump. I dealt to all that and it ran in a usable fashion - so I used it. We made some long distance trips and found the cloth seats to be a sheer delight. The handling was a bit ponderous and the auto seemed prone to lugging in a higher gear than would be used to best effect. I was heavily involved in rebuilding our crashed Hillman Hunter at the time so I ignored the less than desirable traits and simply ran it for the time we needed it. Once Hunter No.2 was complete it became the vehicle of choice and the Marina was parked up. I figured it was worth nothing as far as resale value might go, especially as the vinyl roof was peeling off to reveal quite a bit of rust, but I had a feeling that I may be able to utilise the running gear.

I decided to keep it for the time being.

For several reasons I decided I needed a Marina Estate. I figured I could buy a tired one and repower it with the running gear from this car. Also the nature of my work had changed and I no longer needed my CF Bedford van, but a wagon would still cope with carrying large objects. Like me.

I found a later model Marina Mk3 Estate quite quickly, bought it and began to tidy it all up. At this point the red car got scrapped and the engine got a freshen up before resuming duties in the Estate.

My Marina career was underway...