“This is very possibly the worst car I've ever driven. The sort of product that made the British motor industry what it is today...”
I learnt to drive in a Marina and still remember it was not a rewarding experience! Now I find it’s not only considered rare, it’s even collectible. If you have one, if you like them, that’s fine but I don’t want to drive it!
Then I look down the list to find my own mighty Uno listed on the “Top 10 of once-common vehicles which are now rarely seen”. I still see a few in New Zealand but have caused the demise of one, sorry mum*, increasing remaining Unos rarity!
There is a link between the two other than my own car history. In 1980 the Marina became the Morris Ital, named after Giorgetto Giugiaro's Italdesign Studio. It wasn’t his design, not even the face-lift, but I suspect it’s one car Giugiaro would rather forget!
Despite the long-held belief that Ital Design was responsible for the revised styling of the new car, it was somewhat less involved in the process – simply handling its productionisation. Of course, the story soon got out that the Morris Ital was actually the work of Giorgetto Giugiaro and, as one insider has subsequently said: "...why spoil the story with facts, we thought!"
Marina/Ital Development story | The Unofficial Austin Rover Web Resource
A few years later Giugiaro designed the replacement for the Fiat 127. The Fiat Uno was launched in 1983 and was the first modern “Tall Small Supermini”. Giugiaro demonstrated this concept in the MEGAGAMMA. You sit high, more like a dining chair than sofa, which means your legs take less length making the interior seem larger than it is.
The Uno had simple, but subtle, styling which allowed something the with all the sleekness of a fridge to have a low drag coefficient of just 0.34. This was the result of careful detailing. The Uno was one of the first mass production cars to have doors which wrap into the roof, eliminating exposed “rain gutters”. The 3 doors have a small recessed exterior door latch which still catches people out as they can’t find it!
The first generation Unos also had a radical (and very rattley) dash with nearly all the controls mounted on “pods” behind the steering wheel. That idea didn’t survive the ‘89 face-lift which went back to nearly conventional stalks; Fiat’s usual three but still with indicators on the left to confuse Jap car drivers!
The Uno was in production, in Europe, until the first Punto arrived in 1994. It’s more amazing that the Uno is still in production, in Brazil & Pakistan, but now rare in the western world it seems!
Morris Marina now collectible - Stuff.co.nz
Once as ubiquitous as red telephone boxes, the humble Morris Marina has become the rarest car on Britain's roads, closely followed by the Ford Cortina, according to Auto Express….
The 10 rarest list:
- Morris Marina (1971-1980)
- Ford Cortina Mark IV/V (1976-1982)
- Renault 18 (1979-1986)
- Renault 5 (1972-1983)
- Skoda Estelle (1977-1992)
- Vauxhall Cavalier Mark III (1981-1989)
- Austin/Rover Metro (1980-1994)
- Austin/Rover Montego (1984-1995)
- Austin/Rover Maestro (1983-1995)
- Fiat Uno
- Wikipedia.org – Fiat Uno
- Extract from the Uno US Road Test by LJK Setright
- Ital Design – www.italdesign.it
- Morris Marina/Ital - www.austin-rover.co.uk
* Within a couple of weeks Mum was back in another Red Fiat, now a Punto.