Paul Jones' 1981 Morris Marina 575 Pickup

First registered in Dec 81’, this ute was originally owned by the Christchurch City Council. After changing hands 8 times in the next 26 years, I bought it in November 2007. Right from the start I was keen to tidy it up a bit, but I’m afraid I took my time getting around to it. I was eventually inspired by a copy of a British magazine called “Classic van and Pick-up” (CVP) that I purchased from a seller on e-bay. It was the June 07’ issue which featured a marina ute. I have been a subscriber ever since!

As purchased.

Most of this restoration was completed at Independent Forklifts Ltd, my employer at the time, who I must thank for allowing the use of their workshop here in Christchurch. The project took off in January of ‘09 and took just 14 weeks, mainly due to having a reasonably good body to start with. Firstly the engine was removed and with the old engine on the floor it was time to strip the body.

Bare metal.

With much help from a friend and work colleague Richard Watson, we proceeded to strip the body back to bare metal. Some rust and panel work followed during many late nights at the workshop. The body and paint took around 9 weeks to complete. The doors had the later ital style handles and one piece windows. They were not in the best overall condition so they were replaced with doors from a 77’ saloon model with the original style door handles and fixed quarter light windows.

Red as. Possibly a bit too much toe-in...

Then it was time to give it some colour. Undecided until I was at the paint counter, I opted for ‘hot red’. Primer and paint was expertly laid on by Richard, as were the pinstripes. So now it was time to fit all the mechanical parts. Before fitting the engine I removed the steering rack, which was then overhauled by another good friend and Marina enthusiast Ken Roy. Ken also offered some great advice and help with parts throughout the whole project, thanks mate.

Excellent result.

Like the owner of the Marina in the June 07’ issue I found that the original 1275cc ‘A’ series motor was a little underpowered so decided to change it. I opted for a ‘B’ series 1800 motor from the same 77’ marina which donated the doors. This was fitted with relative ease, with just a little work to do on the carb and ignition system and she was a runner. I used the gearbox and complete rear axle from the 77’ donor car too. The car rear axle had a better ratio diff and gave the ute ‘longer legs’. This created another small problem in that the car and van/ute had different wheel stud patterns. This meant I would either have to carry two spare wheels or change the half shafts or front hubs to suit. I chose to use the front hubs from the donor car also. This proved to be a good move when it came to sourcing wheels. I managed to track down some alloy wheels from a Triumph Dolomite sprint. They were brought into the country from the Isle of Wight by someone here in Christchurch for a kit car. But when they were fitted he decided they didn’t suit the car so he offered them for sale on Trade Me. The Triumph stud pattern was spot on but unfortunately the offset wasn’t. I thought the wheels really suited the ute so I enlisted the help of another friend, local engineer Mike Wilson, to make some bolt-on wheel spacers. Appropriate wheel studs and nuts were sourced locally.

Perfect sized pickup!

Now a runner, it was time for the finishing touches. The seats were recovered, the cab was carpeted and the load bed was covered. This work was done by Mike Moulin at Woods and Moulin Auto and Marine trimmers. I then added the modern steering wheel which was bought through Trade Me. I’m pretty happy with the result. Although not original, I do enjoy using the ute most days and also enjoy taking it to the odd classic run or show. A practical classic that has definitely given me the motivation to get the next project(s) underway, a Marina van, station wagon and eventually a saloon too.

Thanks to:- Richard Watson, Independent Forklifts, Ken Roy, Mike Moulin, Mike Wilson.