1980 Morris 1700 (Marina Mk3)

This Marina was advertised on Trademe. It was in Canterbury, so I emailed the sellers via the auction and introduced myself. I felt they were asking a bit much for it at $1500, but they did think it had only covered 65,000k. I wished them luck and offered to supply any information they might want. They asked if I wanted to make an offer, but I advised them to try their luck. I suggested that if they did not manage to sell it I would be prepared to give them $900 for it. They replied immediately. SOLD!

Dammit. I was trying to back out gracefully. Honestly. We drove out to Ashley and collected it. There was a nasty dent in the rear, and I noticed it smoked a bit. Otherwise, it drove ok, and the auto changed gear nicely. The doors all opened and closed nicely, and the suspension was free of rattles and clunks. Maybe it really was a genuine low mileage car.!

I didn't do it..

I had the panels straightened, and fitted another bumper. As per my usual routine, I rebuilt the front suspension and adjusted the ride height a bit. Ok - I lowered it. The front suspension is prone to trouble if not regularly greased - a la Morris Minors - and I prefer not to take chances. There is also a bush in the steering rack that wears out, so a Nolathane replacement is fitted at the same time

It all cleaned up nicely, so I felt we had got ourselves a rather nice example of an unmolested Marina. Sue used it for a while, then had a disagreement with another car in traffic, and bent the front. That got straightened too, and as the paint repairs had hidden the pinstriping, I had a rubbing strip fitted both sides and rear - over the top of the original pinstripes.

Ahhh. Straight.!

Looking for some smoother running, I was considering lifting the head and giving it a valve grind. I was most disappointed to discover that it did not have its original engine. Adding that to the fact that it had new plates (original were JR3474), I deduced that it had been stored for long enough that the motor had seized. Presumably a used engine was fitted - maybe not long prior to our buying it, so that left me with no idea how many miles this one may have covered.

I decided that it should have a new motor - due to its otherwise shipshape order. This would be my second 1700 to 2000 conversion. The engine and transmission are best removed as a unit, because the whole lot come out underneath the car. There is no cross member, so you just undo everything and lower it to the floor - then raise the front of the car and drag it out.

A tad worse for wear..

If the block needs reboring, the conversion process could not be easier. Using the crankshaft from a 2 litre Austin Princess, and a new set of pistons for same, the block is simply bored to suit the pistons at whatever size they should turn out to be.

The crankshaft has a longer stroke (big-end journal spacing quite obvious with 2 litre on left..), and consequently the piston crown must be lower - but in fact the whole piston is shorter, which has the added advantage of affording less friction.

Bigger is better..

So - this lot was lovingly assembled into the engine block, mated to the gearbox, and promptly stuffed back under the car.! Cylinder head was left off to make it lighter, and to give a bit more manoeuvring room under the car body.

A plan coming together.

Once it's all bolted up, the rest of the assembly can continue. The observant may notice that my attention is mostly to the mechanical aspects of the car. The thought of painting the engine bay simply did not occur to me. Other than me - who would ever see it.?

The engine parts deserve to be clean and shiny though. That will help me to notice if anything untoward is going on..

It will never be this clean again.

As expected, the added cc's gave the motor a lot more adrenalin. A lot more torque is produced at lower revs, so getting underway briskly is an easy affair. There were no problems encountered, although I did manage to find a couple of old Princess carburettors, and stripped them to make a few small changes to correct the jetting with the bigger motor.

The standard carb size on both 1700 and 2000 motors is 45mm, and I am keen to find a way of setting two of them up if I can afford to have the manifold made. The lovely cast inlet/exhaust manifold you see is also used as an anchor on the Queen Mary - so replacing that with something lighter would be a smart move.

I decided to treat the car to a little more traction, as we began to utilise the extra horses we had found, and it seemed wise to take safety measures. I had a set of Superlite alloy wheels fitted to another Marina, so we bought a second set of those. The tyres cost about the same price as standard size - yet give about 3 times the mileage.

So there ya go. Look at it. Butter wouldn't melt...


Of course - because I have now reached the tender age of 60, I just use it to go shopping. Here I am down at the mall..

Quite a pleasant cockpit, of the two-pedal variety. A bit of sheepskin helps to prevent mid-summer vinyl fom scorching the nether regions. Non-standard steering wheel has more padding, less size, so legs fit under it more easily.

A very nice user-friendly car indeed.