The club had the very good fortune to meet with Harris Mann-the designer of the Ital at the 2014 NEC Show.
Over the following year we attempted to move towards BL clubs working together in the future.
The story behind Harris’s designs for a Vanden Plas Marina or ‘Posh’ Marina to use his own description.
After leaving Ford then Pressed Steel Fisher, Harris Mann’s first job at Cowley was working on prototype Morris Marina variants.
During a one year period, Harris worked alongside Roy Haynes in a 70/30% partnership, with a futuristic theme running into other British Leyland models such as the Jaguar and Rover aspects.
Roy Haynes resigned as the production design teams prepared to move to Longbridge under Harry Webster.
This left Harris and his team with the Marina variants and Allegro designs.
But from the mid-seventies, around the time of production of the MK 3 Marina, he was also looking at, to use his own word, ‘sweeten’ the design of the Marina.
Face/front and cosmetic changes in the design-looking to upgrade in line with Harris’s other futuristic original designs as seen in the Allegro/Metro/Princess, along with other originals.
The completion of the concept (two design sketches) of the VP Marina, or ‘Posh’ Marina, as Harris describes it, ready to his satisfaction, fell just after the end of production of the MK3 Marina.
This as plans were made towards the beginning of production of the Morris Ital in 1980 to 1982 at Cowley, the Ital then moving on to production at Longbridge from 1982-1984, with the last Morris badged vehicle-the Morris Metro van marking the very end of the Morris line.
As Harris indicated, 18 months to 2 or 3 years may separate design concept to production.
The rest is history-the production line model Itals went ahead and the VP Marina concept shelved and placed to Harris’s design archive-until now.
We would, along with Tom Morley, the organiser of the BL Autumn Rally 2016, like to invite you along as clubs or individuals, to the above.
BL Autumn Rally
Sunday, 25 September, 2016
At the Milton Keynes Museum of Rural Life.