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MORRIS Marina in Australia History in Australia Australian Marina Coupe and Sedan
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History

Just over 30,000 Marinas were built in Australia from 1972 to 1974.


1971
Outback testing
Morris Marina

The Marina range went on sale in the UK mid-year while Leyland Australia continued to develop the local version to have the e-series OHC engine from the Morris 1500 and to alter the suspension to suit local conditions.

Two vehicles, a sedan and a coupé were spotted undergoing outback testing and another during city testing right outside the factory.

The cars had their identities disguised and were labelled with names such as "Skylarke", "Kadriki" and "Karella".

1972
The beginning...

The Marina was launched in Australia with Morris badges on the back, and when production began in Sydney early in 1972, Leyland Australia expected to sell around 70 per day and geared daily output to that level.

The car was received quite warmly by the motoring press, many of whom had sampled the English version with 1.3 litre A-series engine and were inevitably impressed by the local car with its 1.5 and 1.75 litre OHC E-series engines.

Released in April, demand during the first month averaged 83 cars per day so production quotas were increased... By the end of the year 9,398 Marinas had been snapped up by eager buyers in only 8 months - Leyland Australia must have been delighted!

1973
Leyland Marina
73 marina

By 1973 the Morris badge had disappeared as the new corporate identity saw all Austin & Morris cars sold under the Leyland banner. A new style grille was now shared amongst all models.

The Marina had to rise to many challenges set by its competitors and one major challenge was matching the masses of standard "good little ideas" offered by the Japanese makers.

At the same time Leyland tried to gain some ground by appealing to the patriotic motorist with a "Made in Australia for Australians" approach.

It must have struck a chord because just over 10,000 sales were recorded for the year - the best year ever for the Marina and the best for a BMC/Leyland model for many years.

Towards the end of the year the six cylinder version was launched to compete directly with the Holden Torana and Ford Cortina sixes.
1974
Six cylinder version.
Marina Red Six In 1974 Leyland Australia sold 8,109 Marinas - 2,852 six cylinder models and 5,257 fours.

The larger engined model obviously stole sales from the four - which suffered a 45% drop in sales - but overall sales were down 19% - partially due to a shortage of some minor components from independent suppliers that held up production.

In December Marina production ceased abruptly but not because of declining popularity of the Marina. It was because of Leyland Australia's significant financial problems, and those of the parent company in the UK, that the closure and sale of the Zetland factory was unavoidable.

Infact, over 30,000 Marinas were built at Zetland in just over 2½ years of production which compares favourably with 26,000 of its predecessor (Morris 1500/Nomad) in a simiar timeframe, and the Austin 1800 which clocked up approximately 57,000 sales over 5 years.

To put things in perspective though, in 1963 BMC sold 20,000 Mini 850s and the Morris 1100 reached the 30,000 mark just 18 months after its release in 1964.

1975
The End...

A final 2,500 or so cars were registered more than a month after the factory closed. Many of these may have been sold along with the factory site as the final deal included a large quantity of completed cars, including P76s.