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Marina-Should I do it or Not(possible project) UPDATED: IT'S RUNNING!

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So, someone posted on another thread a link to an Ebay listing for an LHD '74 Marina listed on Ebay.

I called a little while ago and talked to the seller, and the story is that it was a good running and driving car 10 years ago, but has been neglected and won't run. I'm debating with myself about whether or not I want to take it on as a project.

I know these had a terrible reputation when new, but at the same time they're actually legitimately rare in the US. I have seen one in person, and most of the estimates I've seen put the number of survivors at 10-20(although I don't know how much we can trust that).

There's some definite appeal in the engine familiarity for me with the MGB. I MIGHT have to convert it to a manual though. In addition, there's the issue of having it shipped a couple hundred miles to me. It's listed now for $700...if I could do $500 it might be a make or break for me.

Any thoughts here on it?


EDIT: The car as it sits now is an automatic. If I swapped the transmission, it would be to a manual. Sorry for any confusion from my incorrect statement!

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as the person who relayed the link onto you, my thoughts should be suitably clear :mrgreen: 

I know you would be in fairly good hands here as there are a few Marina owners here looks at @trigger  :) (although I think most of the Marinas on here are A/A+ engined ones)

(just curious whats up with the gearbox? is it a preference thing or is there something wrong with the current gearbox? )

at any rate  its hard to get more autoshite then a Marina, a US Spec one at that too :) those federal bumpers FTW LOL

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It's a good opportunity to save a rare beast, you're familiar with the B-series (uses a Triumph Spitfire/Dolomite gearbox IIRC on the manuals, BW type 35 for the autos, maybe a 65 on the 1.8). Look for terminal rot everywhere.

Not the sort of car for me but I'd save it even if in a few months time I passed it on to another shiter or enthusiast.

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It had new floor pans installed when it was last on the road-they were described to me as ugly but serviceable.

I'm pretty sure the gearbox is a BW35-that was the auto option for the MGB that only trickled into the US in tiny numbers-as well as for the MGC, of which about half were auto. I've heard that Marinas at one time were popular donors for folks wanting an auto MGB for that reason.

With that said, I might have to look into a manual conversion-I know the MGB is supposed to be a real dog with the BW35, and I can't imagine that the bigger and heavier Marina would be any better.

I'm still wrestling with this one-I hate to see it go. I've also had some personal stuff come up rather suddenly(in fact while I was on the phone with the seller this morning) that may-for the time being-make adding another car to the stable in the next couple of months more difficult...

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Having been upside down as a passenger in a beige 1275 auto marina coupe, in an accident where a pedestrian later died, I usually suggest caution, because I hate them with a vengeance, but an 1800 with manual over drive box, and tuned to fast road spec, with decent modern tyres and updated suspension, might be an interesting alternative to an early 1300 Capri.  

Do it. 

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7 hours ago, 1970mgb said:

I know these had a terrible reputation when new, but at the same time they're actually legitimately rare in the US. I have seen one in person, and most of the estimates I've seen put the number of survivors at 10-20(although I don't know how much we can trust that).


I'd heard that Austin Marinas had terrible US reviews back in the day, which of course compounded the whole ethos of Marinas being awful cars, which has been the tagline for 40 years or so, I imagine.

I've only ever sat in a static Marina, not even been driven in one, so what do I know? That said, I picked up an issue of Motor Trend from August 1973 last year and read their review of the then new Austin Marina GT, imagining it to be torn to shreds. I was quite surprised how balanced it was, actually!

Here's an image I've taken (my scanner won't scan at the moment), which is hopefully large enough to read:



To sum up, they seem to like the acceleration (as a manual - it keeps up with a rotary Mazda!) and rate the styling but they dislike pedal positioning, ventilation (open a window?!), suspension and braking. I'm guessing that suspension and braking can be upgraded quite easily nowadays and I suppose pedal positioning and ventilation would be more personal perspectives, plus it'd now be a fun, occasional car and not a daily commuter, I imagine.

They also think 3000 mile service intervals is a bit crap but I guess you'd be familiar with such things, having owned an MGB.

So my verdict would be to go for it, if your situation still allows. It's seemingly being offered at a very fair price by US classic car standards, so I couldn't see you getting too stung if you want to sell it later on, as a running example. I'm sure it'd register some interest on bringatrailer.com at that point!

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Thanks everyone.

I've been doing some behind the scenes work today on this.

After talking to the seller this morning, I got on the phone with John Twist, who is a well regarded MG expert here in the US. He told me that he saw them in decent numbers in his shop in the 70s and 80s(even though he's an MG guy, he's had pretty much all makes and models of US-marked British cars come through his shop over the years) although hasn't seen one in several years.

With that said, he put me into contact with the "Marina Man" down in Arkansas, who is quite passionate about these cars and it sounds like he owns about 1/4 of the known examples in the US :) . Skip-the Marina Man-said that the Ebay car basically looked solid aside from the obvious issues, and said that he can supply a fair few parts for them. Of course, a decent amount of the engine is MGB interchangeable(I'd probably do what I've done on my B and get the compression up to ~9.5:1, although I'm assuming that involves a piston change and not a head change like I was able to get away with on my car). He even mentioned that he could set me up with a manual set up if I'd prefer that to the BW35. Skip reported to me that he'd done business with the owner of these two cars, so knows of them at least a bit.

Since the seller needs to move both his Marinas, one possibility might be to see if I can do a package deal on them. After all, if buying one Marina is crazy, buying two is even crazier!

In all honesty, the biggest potential expense right now, and really the biggest hurdle, is transport cost. A non-running car adds a fair bit to the cost of that with commercial carriers, too. I do have a co-worker who is set up to haul cars, and I MIGHT see if he'd be willing to do it in a weekend for a couple hundred+expenses, but even that might not be cheap. Any way I slice it, I'm probably looking at $700-1000 to get it here, if not more.

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It was me that posted it up.

You seem to be a long way ahead of me in terms of readiness to take this on, so I'll wish you good luck.  My wishes do come with a caveat though: a large part of the attraction for me is the auto box, so please PLEASE do not go manual!

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Well, someone other than me put in a bid on the Ebay auction, so it looks like it's going to someone.

If I can figure out tranportation in the next day or so, I'll still try for it-otherwise I'm out. I might still talk to the seller about his other Marina.

In the mean time, I've been reaching out to the Marina community(all three of them :) ) in the US, and they've been extremely helpful.

Don't worry-if I DO get it, it will stay an auto-at least until-as Skip "The Marina Man" said-the BW35 craps out.

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Without saying too much-

A deal is pending on one of the two cars. I'm actually not totally sure which-the blue one from the Ebay auction is available for purchase as the winning bidder hasn't replied. I'm leaning toward that one, although I'm waiting to see pictures of the engine compartment in the 4 door.

We'll see what happens, but I'd like to at least send a deposit and get one locked down today.

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So, things are looking very, very good for me to buy the blue GT in the Ebay auction. I've chatted with the seller a fair bit today-he's reluctant to budge on the price but is offering me extras, while personally I'd rather take it as is and pay a bit less :) . None the less, I'm probably 95% sure it's going to happen, although it will be a few weeks before I have the car here. Me going to get it is a likely option now-I'll certainly write it up if I do go to get it.

As a question- in the video that @dollywobbler made on the Marina the other day he mentioned them not having brake servos. Both of this seller's Marinas have servos-does anyone know if this was something standard on the 1.8 version and not on the smaller cars, or was it something that was optional on all home market cars and then(I'm guessing) made standard on US market ones? I've never missed a servo on my B-and I've driven later Bs with servos-but at the same time the Marina also weighs a fair bit more than the B(or the Minor for that matter). The last Minor I drove had absolutely terrible brakes, but it was more that they had almost no feel and seemed to not do a whole lot even with my foot on the floor-I'd guess that particular one had more to do with the seller having put Midget front disks on it but not upgrading the M/C to one that could push enough fluid for the disks.

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I'd be inclined to think the servo was a standard fitting on US-market cars, after all, your domestic cars had power brakes way back in the 50s!  As long as it works it can't be a bad thing, I suspect.

I'm glad you've gone for this, it'll be in the best place it could be, probably!

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I do rather like that citron yellow one in the back ground.

Back in the very late 80's i bought a white 1300 Marina coupe (PLA ??L) for £12 that was drum brakes all round,it had been reversed into a post and pushed the rear panel in so the boot wouldn't close.

A quick bit of biffing and levering with a large bit of wood saw everything back into shape again but i had a Datsun 120a coupe at the time so didn't need the Morris so i parked it up under the railway arch outside Rochester Motor Company where i was working with thoughts of getting it back to my flat.

It slowly got covered in pigeon crap and then a Tramp moved into it.

After various comments from senior staff i reluctantly scrapped it not long after and got my £12 back.

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14 hours ago, Joey spud said:

Back in the very late 80's i bought a white 1300 Marina coupe (PLA ??L)

My Daimler Sovereign is PLA  94L! Photo here...



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By the way, my parents had a Marina 1.8 Super estate in bright blue with beige velour cloth. It was a very nice car. IMHO the estate is the most pleasing of the body styles, but any Marina is worthwhile. Hope the Stateside purchasing goes well!

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19 hours ago, dollywobbler said:

Yup, servo not standard on the 1.3. Would certainly like one on a 1.8!

You don't need a servo, on a drum braked car, because drums are self servoing. I'm fairly sure that the early 1.3s would have been mechanically the same as an A30.

A professional classic motoring journo would know this sort of pointless detail.  But I'm only guessing. 

In any case a servo won't improve the brakes performance.  It can not change the physics of the friction materials.  It will mean you dont have to press as hard.  

A bloke I worked with Roger Perks, of Coventry University worked for AP Lockheed in the 70s and was called to BL to investigate the reason one or 2 of their cars were not braking in a straight line.

Marina? assembly line had drums on one side and discs on the other.  I'm sure it was the Marina assembly line. 

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If it turns out to be an absolute shed, keep it anyway and next time Clarkson is over in some expensive luxury car, you can pull a nice surprise on him!

Really looking forward to seeing how this turns out

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Well done on the buy, being a GT I guess it's a twin carb model which has a bit more umphh than the single carb although they are still pretty sprightly, the very early 1.3s had drums and no servos but they soon gained discs and servos by the mid 70s.


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