"My dad had a sky-blue Marina estate. No doubt it went to the crusher years ago, but I still remember its registration – CNG 453T. It was a 1.3-litre series three model, built in 1979 and bought from Mann Egerton (remember them?) "
Ode to Leylandia
With dole queues lengthening, a generally despised Labour government and revolution arising in Iran, It feels like 1979 all over again! What better time, then, for a bit of reminiscence back to the days of British Leyland and the cars that populated our streets, reflecting the temper of the times.
Daimler Sovereigns were built to fit right in to the reserved parking space for directors and upper management at the factories and workshops of British industry. Fragrant with walnut and leather and resounding with the giggles of saucy secretaries, the music of the fall of Empire jangled on its eight track stereo. Kiplinesque tones of self confidence radiated from its every sheaf of Sheffield steel.
The P6 Rover, however, reflected the stoic compliance of the British middle classes. Its hunkered down, steady practicality whispered of the success of franchise-broking shopkeepers. English dreamscapes populated by red brick Universities, Barratt Homes and steel-and-glass conservatories are evoked in its easy-to understand lines. The shape makes me think of Saturday night comfort TV in the form of On The Buses, Dad’s Army and Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game. Give us a twirl, Anthea!
The Morris Marina, last and resolutely least, is the proletarian tin can to end them all. Modest, unassuming but in the right hands feisty and agressive, the Marina represented the skilled working class for which it was marketed perfectly. It might be prone to overheating, corrosion and wasn’t exactly easy on the eye, but like the bloke who drove it, it knew its place.
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