1980 Morris 1700 (Marina Mk3)

This Marina was advertised on Trademe. It was in Masterton, so I emailed the sellers via the auction and introduced myself. I felt they were asking a bit much for it at $1000, but I conversed with them and offered any help I could give. We exchanged a few emails, and I learned a little of its history.

Basically it spent its life in the hands of two elderly owners, and had been stored on blocks inbetween. An auto in standard trim, it had been loaned to the daughter when the old chap died - as his widow did not drive. She had a few maintenance issues with it, and it seemed that her local garage was holding her to ransom.

Finally, she contacted me saying the wof had expired, and there were some repairs needed that they did not wish to fund. She was sure her Dad would have liked me to have it, and it could be mine for $300.

I didn't need any further incentives. We decided to fly up to Wellington, train to Masterton, and have a go at driving it back to Christchurch. Considering we didn't know what state it was in - it was a gamble - especially as we made the ferry bookings for the same day - so it would be touch and go.

I love a challenge.

Our train was an hour late, but Pauline was still waiting for us at the station. Good thing as I had completely forgotten to ask for their address! We were taken to her Mother's house, and given a wonderful lunch, while we learned about the car, and Ivan who had owned it. We then went out and looked at the car, having handed over the meagre sum they asked.

The car started readily, and we were off to try our luck at negotiating the 'Rimutakas', the formidable hill between us and the Ferry back to our Island. It soon became apparent that the auto was not very happy. It slipped badly in top gear, and took a considerable distance to pick up speed. Other than that, it seemed to run happily enough.

As the car warmed up, the auto began to function much better, so by the time we got to the hills, the car was able to cruise up with no qualms. Huge relief at this point. We made it to Wellington with time to spare, and in the late afternoon, drove on to the Ferry and made our crossing to Picton.

I guessed that the car had probably been an around town unit for many years, and the auto would need flushing. As I found later, it was seriously short of fluid. Our entire trip went without a hitch. We used virtually no oil, and we hummed along at the 100kph limit in fine style. I was aware that the car had no wof or rego, but it didn't get a second glance from the law. I suspect that they look upon Marina drivers with a sense of pity...

'JZ' duly had its front suspension rebuilt, and the occasional brake cylinder replaced, after which it was used by all and sundry as a spare vehicle. Some time later, it began overheating vigorously, and I found the head gasket to be suspect. I replaced it, and all is well again. The only job remaining is to replace a rear wheel bearing - which is a bit of a task, so I'm waiting until I have sufficient courage.

Currently, the car sports a set of old Hotwire mags that came attached to my first ever Marina. I painted them several times - they were purple for a few years - now black. Its a very quiet car to travel in, and the body is in good enough health to offer quite a few years of service. Great!

I also blacked out the centre of the grille, and moved the Morris badge to the centre. Its just a look I prefer, and makes my cars look a little different to standard. I tend to fit roof mounted aerials too - but as this one has no radio, it hasn't seemed necessary. I think this car will do a lot of miles yet - hopefully I will get to drive some of them.