“Why a Marina? Everyone asks that,” says Adrian Pike. “I had one as my first ever car and I believe that nine times out of 10, that is why people restore cars – it’s something that they were attached to.
“The other reason is that I love them to bits. They are a funny looking car, but it was designed by Roy Haynes (who designed the MkII Cortina) so as far as I’m concerned it’s a design icon.”
Can’t you almost hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the mainstream motoring media at that remark? Fantastic! Don’t you just love it when people crank their necks out for a point of view which is different and unconventional? Anyway…
“Alright, they handle like poo but you can adjust them and make them handle better. The thing is, what car in the Sixties and Seventies did handle well…?
“My first car I had it for two years and I loved it to bits. I used to work in Plymouth and live in Exeter, which is a 90 mile round trip and it never let me down once. I’ve had modern cars which have let me down more often than not…”
Where did Adrian find his timewarp 1974 1300 Super De Luxe saloon? “I got it from Ebay, where I paid 600 quid for it. I didn’t even look at it! The car was in Leeds and it was being sold by a backyard dealer, so when I got it I thought ‘What have I got here?’ I got in it though and it started first time from cold – and each time I started it, it did went without a problem.” So that’s another one in the eye for Leylaphobes.
“It’s a lovely little car with 39,000 miles on it and it was owned by one bloke from new. I’ve actually got the original deposit receipt from the dealer, Kennings and the receipt for the car – he paid £30 as a deposit for it and the car cost him £1543. The paperwork also shows that he asked for a locking petrol cap for £2.50 and that the numberplates cost him £6.50. The original owner died in 2006 and it was left lying around for a year when this dealer bought it… Since 1988 it’s probably only done 100 miles a year.
Structurally sound, but a little bit scruffy, Dep-O’s old chum, his royal madness, Mark Swingler, has been busy working on the Marina. The chassis legs have been repaired along with both A-posts and the inner and outer sills, which have also been strengthened with 2/3mm steel following the A-posts being opened up to accommodate the extra steel. Two new front floors have gone in, outriggers have been repaired, Metro jacking points have been fitted and the front wings, which have been removed, are going to be repaired and refitted. So currently, that only really leaves the front valance to be repaired and the driver’s side rear wheelarch and lower quarter to be tackled.
As the bodywork nears completion, plans are being drawn up for the rest of Marina’s spec. Yes, the Marina will be modified, but Adrian is keeping the theme very retro and very period.
“The A-series is a nice lump which you can work around, but now I’m putting in a B-series – which is a nice lump and you can get around… The reason I wanted an 1800 B-series is that I wanted an overdrive gearbox (as fitted to the MGB), so that you can do 75mph and you don’t have to shout at the person next to you. I didn’t want a fifth gear because, it wouldn’t be the same car then – if you know what I mean.
Given the MGB drivetrain, there is plenty of potential for tuning. A decongested cylinder head is on the cards, but as it stands the MGB engine will be mated up to a Marina TC three-branch exhaust and a pair of HS4 SU carbs. The transmission tunnel has undergone surgery to accept the MGB overdrive gearbox in place of the original Marina unit. The top of the tunnel has been sliced off and Mark is weighing up welding in either an MGB tunnel or one from a Dolomite 1850. Completing the drivetrain spec will be a change of differential ratio from 3.63:1 to something slightly shorter, a 3.69:1 (along with a recalibrated speedo).
Meanwhile to redress the Marina’s aforementioned ‘novel’ handling characteristics, Adrian is wisely modifying the suspension. “The rear suspension is going to be stiffened and Uncle Frank (a legendary figure in Marina circles) has advised me that fitting tie-rods is the best way of doing this, along with telescopic dampers replacing the lever-arms at the front. I’ve also been looking at different possible anti-roll bars with Mark.
“Outside it will look standard, from the front it will look like a 1300 Super De Luxe and it will only look slightly different when you come around to the side – then you’ll be able to see the slightly wider, by 0.5J, Marina TC wheels. It will only be obvious to people when they really have a look at it.
Now the B-series is in-situ, Mark is wondering about fettling the engine mounts to make the engine sit lower in the car to give the Marina a helping hand through tricky corners.
So does this mean that the Super De Luxe is destined for everyday use? “No, it’s going to be a weekend tool, but I will use it all year around,” says Adrian.
“The only big change to the outside will be a coat of Damask Red, because that was the colour of my first car and anyway, white cars don’t shine… I did actually think that I would keep it white, because that was its original colour and you didn’t get a Sorrell Brown interior with Damask Red, but then I thought ‘sod it!’ I’m changing the car and putting a different engine in, so I’ll paint it the colour I want.”