The Heartbeat of…. England? 1975 Austin Marina Coupe

Well, here’s something you don’t see every day – an Austin Marina. I’ve been to a fair amount of oddball car shows, plus I live in California, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one of these, on the road or off. To many people in England, this would be a good indicator that I’m lucky enough to go out and buy a lottery ticket, but having never been exposed to one, I’d like to find out why. Check out this ad from Unique Cars and Parts, which is apparently convincing the 1975 version of me to consider something other than the Hillman-based Plymouth Cricket at the dealer lot across the street.

Here’s the text (technical #$@%$ is keeping me from pasting the video into this post):

Life, performance – they depend on your heart – same goes for a car! It’s power, it’s efficiency depend on its heart.

That’s why we’ve taken the heart of the MGB sports car and put it into the Austin Marina, where it yields economy at a beat of over 20 miles per gallon, based on government tests.

The Marina, the family car, with the heart of the MGB sports car.

Wow, over 20mpg!! During a fuel crisis. In a 4-cylinder compact sedan. I think I know what part of the problem is!

1975 Austin Marina front

And I’m afraid that’s the only picture I can show, since it’s the only one in the listing showing the car for sale in Holland, OH (near Toledo) for $1200. This car comes with an extra engine, new tires, new brakes, and a new battery, so some fairly major expenses have already been handled. All the same, I’d want to know if the car is or was running at some point. It looks pretty decent, although with the surface rust visible on the front wheel, and the fact that it’s in Ohio, prepare yourself for at least a little rust.

And this brings me to my point. Why has nobody modified these cars into something fun? Sure, the handling in stock configuration tended towards heavy understeer, and the suspension is rather ordinary. And I know it was much maligned by the press, but that was mostly due to early production issues. That said, many fun cars had ordinary suspensions. With an easily modified B-series engine, you could get many of the parts folks use to modify their MGBs. And since the later Morris Ital (and apparently even the Hyundai Pony) were based on the Marina, why not use their updated suspensions to improve the road-holding? It seems that with some creativity, you could make an updated, sporty MG Magnette / 1100 out of one of these. Maybe the good folks at AustinMarina.com can help.

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12 Responses to “The Heartbeat of…. England? 1975 Austin Marina Coupe”

  1. Dave Says:

    I have wanted one of these for a long time! As you said, the car is pretty easy to modify. The engine though, is not quite like the B. For some reason BL used a 3 main bearing crank instead of the 5 used in the B.

    You could drop a BL straight 6 in this, too. In South Africa BL sold the 6-cylinder, 2623cc Austin Marina 6.

    Cool find!

    ave

  2. Roger Says:

    I used to know a guy up here who was really, really into Marinas. I think he’s better now.

  3. JoJo Says:

    I didn’t think any of these were still running around; seemingly most have been put out of our misery. Never owned one, but have heard they were marginal in almost every aspect. The long hood does help to disguise that the rest of the car looks like a Chevette.

  4. Mongosdad Says:

    Hmmmmm……..the looks of a 70’s Japanese car combined with the reliability of a 70’s MGB……..no thanks, I’ll pass.

  5. Jerry Crawford Says:

    I just checked this car out and it seems pretty clean for its year. It reportedly has 39,000 miles on it. It looks as if it would be fun to tool around in, for a conversation piece, or an engine swap, to tear up modern cars. The owner seems so have dropped his price to $700. I wonder if this would be a good deal.

    Jerry (Holland, Ohio)

    • Mickey Bitsko Says:

      39,000 miles is amazing! In the sense that I’m amazing one made it that far.

      You could drive one every time you got the chance, since 1975, and still not achieve 39K today. Unless you tow it behind something else.

  6. Bill Dorian Says:

    Hi,
    I just accidentally ran across the Austin Marina website. Could you keep me posted with updates? I belong to the British Car Club in Nashville (drive a 2004 Jaguar S-Type) and love British iron. I remember the Marina, and thought they were very pretty little cars back in the ’70s. It might be nice to find one still running that could be made serviceable as a second car. No one in my area seems to have anything like this.
    Please keep in touch,
    Bill Dorian

  7. Jan Says:

    I use to own a brand new 1974 Marina. It was a lemon from 10 minutes I left the dealership! Gave me nothing but problems. I had the 2 door hatchback. One day, the side window just fell out!
    I had to Google Austin Marina to show a friend who restores and modifies Austin Healy’s and member of BCC of Cape Cod. He never heard of them. I am sure who ever works, restores or modifies an Austin Marina will come out with a much better car!!

  8. dusty stackhouse Says:

    i currently own the 1975 marina and enjoy it very much. its my first marina, and i would buy another if i could find one. driving this car is fun.

  9. Mickey Bitsko Says:

    My dad brought home a ’74 in excellent condition one day in 1978, bragging that “it runs like a sewing machine.”

    Absolute horror of a car. Only my mother could keep it running. With bailing wire and electrical tape. Literally. She also had a theory that you had to speak of the car in friendly, forgiving language or it would punish you.

    God, what a lemon. I actually remember it with fondness, though. First car I ever drove.

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