LightAuto

My Fun Cars

The story of my marlin Roadster

My Marlin Roadster is a standard wheel-base version, using a 1981 model 1.3 Morris Ital, as the main donor of mechanical components. I completed
the construction and the formalities to be able to use the car on the road on the fifteenth of April 1991 after commencing the task some twenty-two
months earlier. But the story of the cars engineering heritage goes back a long way before that. I had purchased the Ital second hand in December
1982, and had used it until 1989 before dismantling it for it's components and disposing of the remainder. The Ital was the last of the Morris line
that went back to 1912 when Herbert Morris made the first Morris Oxford. The Ital was a short-lived model, only in production from 1981 to 1984
and was an obsolete design when introduced. It was a revamped Morris Marina and shared that models diverse engineering history. The Marina was introduced in 1972 as the British Layland Motor Corporations answer to the Ford Cortina and was an amalgam of components and design influences from various parts of the corporation. The 1275cc 1.3 engine used in the Marina and the Ital was originally an Austin design, the front suspension and steering was
based on that of the Morris Minor and the rear axle and gearbox had first been used in Triumph cars.
<p>The Morris Minor suspension and steering was the first of these components to be designed and produced. The design part took place towards the end
of the end of the Second World War, in the Cowley works of Morris Motors and was the work of Alex Issigonis. He had been developing his ideas on
independent suspension which was not then in general use, and when he was allowed to design a completely new car he incorporated his idea's in to
it. The Minor front suspension was of the wishbone type, using a lever type shock-absorber operating arm as the top link, a pair of steel pressings
as a lower link with a torsion bar attached to their inner end. Torsion bars had been chosen as the layout used gave lots of room for a proposed
flat four engine that didn't make it to the final design. A forged upright connected these links and had the steering arm and the stub axle attached.
An unusual method was used for steering pivots in the form of screw trunnions top and bottom, similar to a nut and bolt arrangement. The final component
a steel tie rod that links the bottom of the upright forward to the chassis. The Minor was in production by 1948 and due to it's front suspension, rack
and pinion steering which was another departure from current practice, and a forward weight distibution it's handling was a great step forward.
When the Minor front suspension was incorporated into the design of the Marina, the top trunnion was replaced by a ball joint design that had been
created for the Mini, the next big step forward by Alex Issigonis. In the Mini it was used to connect the forged top suspension arm with needle roller
bearings at its inboard end to the swivel hub. In the Marina this was again a lever type shock absorber. The Mini connection was used to advantage
in the Marlin design, when the lever type shock-absorber was replaced by a telescopic shock-absorber and a Mini upper suspension arm was used instead,
the common ball joint was the thing that made this possible <p>The 1275cc engine used in the Ital, the Marina and in Minor in 803cc,
948cc and 1098cc form, was the "A" series, this engine, was first fitted to the Austin A30 in 1951. Initially with an output of 30BHP and rising
to a peak in unmodified form of 93BHP in the MG Metro Turbo, it was produced in ten different capacities, three of them only used in the Mini Cooper
and Cooper "S" models. It was used in twelve distinct models and I estimate that around twelve million cars have been produced with the "A" series
engine. The first time I drove a vehicle with an "A" series, was the 803cc Morris Minor van that I learnt to drive in, I went on to drive other Minor
vans, the best being a 1098cc version that was great fun. The first "A" engined car I purchased was a1275cc Marina that I kept for ten years, the
next was a 998cc Metro that I drove as far as Yugoslavia and back. This was replaced by a 1275cc Ital in 1982, the components from this I used
to build a Marlin Roadster which I still own and use most days, the engine is now converted to unleaded petrol. The last "A" engined car I purchased
was a 1275cc MG Metro that had a tendency to pink a lot due to the 10.3 to 1 compression ratio, but gave good service until electrical problems
lead to a loss of confidence and sale after eight years. So I think I know the engine well. I sometimes think my Marlin with the "A" engine feels
like a vintage car, after driving my Rossa K3 fitted with a Rover "K" series engine. The Triumph Toledo 1300. (1970-1980),Was the first car to use the
gearbox used in the Marina and Ital, and I beleive the rear axle came from the same source. As the Marina/Ital was a backward looking design, the
components were ideal for a car that mimiced the designs of sports cars of the late 1930's.
The Marlin Roadster, was the brainchild of Paul Moorhouse, who started by building one off specials. In 1979 he went into production with the
original Roadster kit. This was designed to utilise the mechanical components of the Triumph Herald/Vitesse range, this consisted of a light but strong
chassis constructed of box section steel and a set of body panels, some in aluminium and some GRP mouldings. In 1981 a Marina based version was
added to the range and 1089, with some very small changes an Ital version. The Roadster is still produced today by YKC engineering, basically the
same but now using Ford Sierra components. It is not a track day only car, but is in the spirit of the pre-war sports cars, to be used every day, at home on the winding country roads or just for running about, but mainly for fun.

The story of my GTM Rossa

The GTM Rossa K3, kit was introduced in early 1993. It was designed to use Rover Metro components, the kit consisted of a GRP chassis/body tub, with no
other materials incorporated as strengthening. Also front and rear body mouldings, also in GRP, that covered the radiator, suspension and boot at the front and the engine, transmission and suspension at the rear of the car. And various mouldings and brackets required too complete the car.
My Rossa K3 was ordered 26th June 1993 and kit 003, was collected from the factory at Sutton Bonnington near Loughborough, on the 6th December 1993.
It took a couple of Rover Metro's to be written off for me too able to build my Rossa K3. That was because I needed two front sub-frames complete with suspension, hubs and brakes, along with a K-series engine gearbox, transmission and various other Metro parts. As I wanted to fit a DOHC multi-point injection 1.4cc K series engine to my car, one of them had to be a GTi model. This someone obligingly did by the 20th August 1993 when I collected the donor parts from Birmingham.
The Rover Metro, introduced in May 1990, was a revised Austin Metro, now fitted with a Rover K-series engine and a Citroen gearbox, a new front sub-frame and suspension. This replaced the A-series engine with the gearbox in the sump and front suspension layout that had been inherited from the Mini. The one Mini component that survived the makeover, was the forged upper front suspension arm. The Metro GTi special edition, was the first model with a DOHC, multi-point injection engine and was introduced June 1991. With a top speed of 116mph and 0-60 time of 8.6sec it out performed the XR2 and XR3 and there isn't a 1400cc car available today to match it.  Production of the Metro Gti ceased 1995. After the usual trials and tribulations of kit car building,Rossa K3 003 was ready for and passed it's first MOT on the 4th March1995, and was registered Q838REU  5th March 1995. As a joint second car, it's taxed and insured all the year round as with the hardtop fitted, it's an all weather car. Since then has covered over twenty thousand miles, these days mostly sunday outings on the country road of Southwest England, where it is at it's best.

Disconnected Jottings

Index Page