MORRIS Marina in Australia Marina in Australia Australian Marina Coupe and Sedan
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Production began in Australia in 1972 and the Marina arrived in the showrooms in April

Morris Marina sedan

In Australia the Marina essentially replaced the front wheel drive Morris 1100/1500 range of vehicles and was viewed as a backward step - especially since BMC owed its success in the 60s to front wheel drive and had become synonymous with advanced technology.

It even led to remarkable headlines in the Motoring press that BMC was intending to dump front wheel drive from all its cars in Australia within 18 months, even the Mini would adopt a 1300 OHC engine driving the rear wheels, it was reported.

But in the UK the Marina was a replacement for the outdated Morris Minor which had continued in production virtually unchanged throughout the 60s. Not surprisingly by the 70s it was no match for the much more modern rear wheel drive Ford Cortina and the like.

Production volumes in the UK were sufficient to support the continuation of front wheel drive models and allow a modern rear wheel drive model to provide British Leyland customers with a choice. Not so in Australia.

The highly publicised cable gearbox problems of the Morris 1500 had damaged Leyland Australia's reputation considerably by this time, and many Minis, 1100s and 1800s had covered enough miles to require expensive replacement CV joints, making buyers wary of front wheel drive.

So Leyland Australia decided that a simple conventional car, such as the Marina, would be the one to change buyers minds and bring them back to Leyland. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em...  So the Marina was launched with the slogan that boasted that the new car would "Change Your Ideas". Leyland Australia was hoping it would change its reputation AND its fortunes.