1981 Morris 1700 Estate (Marina Mk3)

Also known as a Marina Mk3, this was the first Marina I actually wanted. I bought it for $600 in 1995. It was in quite a bad state, having been a builders hack for many years. It had a very tired 1750 motor which would have once been fitted to an Australian assembled Marina, instead of its proper UK 1700. However, I did not know much about these things, and I had the motor I wanted to fit anyway. It was from a Marina 1.8HL which I was currently wrecking, and I had decided that an estate would be ideal for my work.

The 1800 motor fitted to the HL models was a complete MGB unit, with twin SU carbs, proper exhaust manifold, even the MGB camshaft. It was because of this that I had acquired the donor car, and as its body was beyond repair, this would be the answer. I spent many hours searching for missing bits for the estate - like all the plastic bumper ends, and in so doing found there were plenty of wreckers yards with Marinas.

The motor was treated to new bearings, and bored to suit pistons from a Mk3 Zephyr. These gave it a final capacity of 1903cc, and a compression ratio of near 11.5:1, so it should produce a few extra horses. Cylinder head was just given a valve grind, and all the other bits tidied up - as you do. I also fitted the Borg Warner 65 auto from the donor car, as it had been rebuilt at some expense by the previous owners.

As can be the way with things, the car surpassed my wildest expectations. It turned out to be the most versatile and reliable car I had ever owned. It performed exceptionally, carried loads of stuff, and I developed a huge respect for it. Between that and the dreadful reputation that Marinas had, I managed to collect about 15 more of them for b-all!

The estate lived outside, was used for work every day, and used for recreation every weekend. We travelled the length of the country, and it became not only an advertisement for my business, it also became known throughout NZ as the Marina that defied the reputation.

The estate has now covered 350,000 Km. Since its initial rebuild by me, only two major items have caused it to be off the road. An o ring broke in the transmission - which required the whole thing to be taken out and stripped. A frost plug literally fell out of the back of the block, and as it is sandwiched between the engine and backplate, the whole engine and transmission had to be removed. Lucky I can do it myself.

I still have the estate, and it drives superbly. Unfortunately, it failed its last wof because it has some rust in the roof.? I do not have the money to give it a proper panel job and paint, so it is sitting while I think it over. I guess it deserves to be saved, as the car that got me started on my Marina path.

Yes - you can even sleep in it. Probably no more cramped than the average small yacht.! And quite a lot more stable - especially on those 7" superlites. They increase the overall track by 3". The difference in handling over the standard wheels and tyres is - well - stupendous.

Happy Morrissing.