Friday August 9, 2019
Many readers will have learned to regard the term ‘time warp classic’ with suspicion as it all too often refers to an eBay “bargain” that Albert Steptoe, let alone Arthur Daley, would have rejected.
But on rare occasions, you do encounter a such a car, and BJN 638 K is not just one of the oldest surviving Marinas, it is one of the most uber-1971 vehicles you are ever likely to see.
The blue Morris was registered at a time when a colour television set was an object of aspiration, when decimal money was causing confusion in the nation’s grocery shops and when a factory worker could expect to earn £2,805 per year.
Milk was six “New Pence” a pint and beer 15p. For that memorable dinner, Fray Bentos braising steak was a mere 19 1/2 p per tin, followed by a box of After Eight Mints.
For younger Britons, the latest culinary sensation was 5p worth of Amazin Raisin bar, and the Raleigh Chopper was already a must-have item, although the “T-Bar” gear selector would not be available until 1972.
Today, the Marina is a resident of the British Motor Museum and the curator Stephen Laing reflects ‘the reason we accepted it is two-fold.
Firstly, it is the kind of car, so many people have an emotional connection with, more so than more “glamourous” models; it is more relevant to them. Secondly, the gentleman who donated the Marina used it as his sole car for more than forty years, and he cherished it’.
Mr. Gooding is now aged in his 80s and, as the Museum notes, he ‘wanted it to go to a good home’.
Today, the Morris appears so immaculate that it could have emerged from a BL dealer some 48 years ago.
IT is also one of the few surviving examples of the 1.3 De Luxe, for in the early 1970s. a 1.8 TC was a car for aspirational regional sales managers and dynamic estate agents with Mungo Jerry sideburns.
You were far more likely to encounter the entry-level Marina with its ‘Moulded rubber floor covering’ and upholstery in ‘knit-backed expanded vinyl’.
At least the specification included two-speed wipers and the list of extras ranged from a cigar lighter and reclining front seats to an alternator, radial-ply tyres and a heated rear window.
It is sometimes forgotten that by 1973 the Morris Marina was second only to the Ford Cortina Mk. III as the best-selling car in the UK.
Every detail – the door handles, the fresh air vents, the fog lamps that look as though they hail from Unipart – is enough to cast this writer back to the days when a trip to Sainsbury’s in Bitterne High Street for Tizer and their own-brand chocolate biscuits was a highlight of the week.
Others might recall a trip by Marina to an evening performance of On the Buses, the most popular British film of 1971 or a day trip to Bournemouth (‘are we nearly there yet?’).
And then there were those occasions where you hurried along the B3051, hoping that you would be in time to catch Jon Pertwee battle with Roger Delgado in The Daemons.
And this is why BJN 638 K is such an important exhibit – the memories it conjures are is beyond any price.
With Thanks To:
Stephen Laing and The British Motor Museum - www.britishmotormuseum.co.uk/