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Marina club celebrates 30 years of success

Published 18 August 2015

Compared with many of its contemporaries, the Morris Marina wasn’t what you’d call a technically dynamic car, much to the delight of its many critics. And yet it’s always had its army of fans – which explains why the club catering for the Marina and its short-lived successor (the Ital) has just celebrated its 30th anniversary.

That’s quite an impressive achievement when you consider that the very last Ital didn’t roll off the production line until 1984. The Morris Marina Owners’ Club & Morris Ital Register (to give it its official title) was founded just a year later, at a time when both cars were still seen as secondhand runabouts rather than classic machinery. But that didn’t deter Marina fans Frank Phillips and Clive Higgins, who jointly created the club way back in 1985.

Three decades later and the same organisation now has upwards of 300 members, attracted by the benefits of free technical advice, access to remanufactured parts, a quarterly full-colour magazine, discounted insurance and, of course, an active social scene. All Marina and Ital owners are encouraged to join, with full membership for UK-based enthusiasts costing just £22 per year. 

The club also has its own very informative website, packed with information as well as incorporating the 1971 Marina Register, which aims to list all of the remaining Marinas that survive from the car’s very first year of manufacture.

Morris Marina OC Pic 2

The club’s chairman, Andy Walsingham, is naturally an ardent fan of the Marina and the role it played in British motoring history, 'If you go anywhere in a Marina or Ital and listen to people’s memories of their cars and the thousands of miles of reliable motoring, you can’t fail to be impressed. Now, with increasing interest in the classic car press, the Morris Marina is, I feel, an accepted icon of classic bread-and-butter ’70s motoring.'

But was the Marina really that much of a success for British Leyland? Of course, insists Andy, 'The Marina and Ital were highly successful vehicles in the 1970s and early ’80s. British Leyland sold one million Marinas in less than 10 years – how long did it take the Morris Minor?'

Sadly, the Marina hasn’t survived in the same kinds of numbers as it predecessor, with the club estimating that less than half of one per cent of all types are still with us. If you’re lucky enough to own one of them and you fancy joining the Morris Marina Owners’ Club during its 30th anniversary year, you can do so via


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