Morris Marina Super proved to be anything but... in fact it was nightmare to drive

PUBLISHED: 11:42 18 December 2016

A Morris Marina saloon similar to Howard Read’s first car – reliability was not a strongpoint.

A Morris Marina saloon similar to Howard Read’s first car – reliability was not a strongpoint.


Howard Read’s Morris Marina broke down the first time he drove it. It turned out be the norm for the next 20 months.

I bought my first car – a 1975 1.3 Super four-door mustard yellow Morris Marina – in July 1983.

My friend haggled the price down from £720 to £615. He drove it to his lorry yard and stored it until I got insurance.

My first drive was with my dad in the passenger seat as I was on L-plates. He told me to drive to my sister’s house about five miles away. On arrival, we couldn’t help notice lots of hot water running out from under the car. On opening the bonnet, a burst radiator was seen to be the culprit.

This was to be the norm as, over the next 20 months, I had numerous breakdowns.

The Marina was a nightmare to drive in town. Firstly, the engine had a habit of cutting out and, secondly, if you put the gearbox in neutral at a red traffic light, you couldn’t select first gear without lifting your foot off the clutch slightly and grinding it in.

By today’s standards, it was ridiculously low geared. It was possible to select fourth gear at 25mph and it was revving like mad at 60mph. Cars in those days didn’t have fifth or sixth gears.

I don’t remember ever going faster than 60mph as the Marina had a nasty habit of zig-zagging on the A45 – now the A14. My dad put it down to crosswinds – I later found out the track rod ends were very worn. The man who had it after me asked me how I had kept it on the road.

We had lots of snow in the winter of 1984-85 and the rust advanced at an alarming rate so, in April 1985, I traded it in for a 1982 Renault 9 TSE.

Tell us about your first car and the adventures and scrapes you had – email your motoring memories with a picture of the car to or post it to Andy Russell, motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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