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Morris Ital

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The Ital wis an aa assembled in Portugal, whaur it retained the predecessor model's Marina designation. The caur in this picture haes a mid-1970s Portuguese registration plate.

The Morris Ital wis a medium-sized sedan caur biggit bi Breetish Leyland (BL) frae 1980 until 1984. It wis the last caur wi a Morris badge.

Design an launch

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The Ital wis first launched on 1 Julie 1980. It teuk its name frae Giorgetto Giugiaro's ItalDesign studio, who haed been employed bi BL tae manage the re-engineering o Morris Marina, a caur which haed been produced bi the company syne 1971. Awtho the redesigned caur wis named Ital efter the design studio, it wis actually Harris Mann who wis responsible for the caur's new leuk. BL's advertising, houiver, emphasised the caur's connection wi the Italian stylin hoose Italdesign, who haed in fact merely productionised the design.

The Ital haed revised exterior styling, but retained the Marina's 1.3- an 1.7-litre petrol engines an rear wheel drive chassis. The dashboard an interior o the Marina wur an aa carried ower largely unaltered. The Marina's coupé variant wis na produced in Ital form, but the fower-door saloon, five-door estate an pick-up an van versions wur carried ower frae the Marina range. Frae 1981, an automatic version o the Ital wis available wi the 2.0-litre O-Series pouer unit.

Portuguese assembly

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Awtho maist Itals wur manufactured in the UK, thare wur an aa Portuguese-assembled Itals (badged as Marina 1.5 D) which wur aw equipped wi the auncient 1.5-litre B-Series diesel engine, producin 37 hp. The Breetish Leyland factory in Setúbal (IMA) then switched tae producin the Mini Moke.

The Ital sauld reasonably well in Breetain during the early 1980s, as it offered a competitive asking price an law runnin costs. The Ital's technology differed frae mony o its contemporaries, sic as the Opel Ascona/Vauxhall Cavalier, as well as the Peugeot 505 an Talbot Alpine, which wur different in that thay haed front wheel drive. Efter the introduction o the Opel Ascona C / Vauxhall Cavalier Mark II in August 1981, the Ital an Ford's Cortina (an later Sierra) wur the anerlie mass-volume caurs in the sector tae maintain rear-wheel drive.

The end o Morris

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The Ital wis the last production caur tae wear the Morris badge (awtho thare wis a Morris-badged van version o the Metro which wis produced until 1984). Production o the Ital wis swapped frae Cowley tae Longbridge in September 1982 tae allou the Cowley plant tae be upgraded for production o the forthcoming Austin Montego an Austin Maestro. At this time, the Ital received an upgrade wi different front an rear suspension (parabolic rear springs an telescopic front dampers) an models wur redesignated SL an SLX. The saloon wis dropped frae the line in Februar 1984 wi the van an estate completing ootgoin contracts for anither sax month, until thay too wur axed. Frae this pynt, the Morris marque wis kept alive solely bi the Metro van, an bi the end o the decade the Morris marque haed been completely discontinued alang wi the Austin marque, as the Rover brand monopolised the range o hatchback an saloons.

The Ital's successor wis the Austin Montego, launched in Aprile 1984 as a fower-door saloon, wi a five-door estate arrivin in Januar 1985.

Later production in Cheenae

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Efter UK production ceased, the Ital's production tooling wis sauld tae the Chengdu Auto Works, a company belonging tae the First Auto Works Group in Sichuan province, Cheenae. In 1998, the Ital estate (utilising a locally-made chassis) reappeared thare, unner the name Huandu CAC6430. Van an pick-up variants wur an aa produced. Chengdu Auto Works is thocht tae hae closed doun in Mey 1999.


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Already ootdated bi the time it wis launched, an continually saddled wi big quality problems, the Ital suin gained a very bad reputation. In Julie 2008, it ended up seicont in a poll o "the worst Breetish caur ever" conducted bi The Sun, endin narrowly ahind the Austin Allegro. The Ital wis said tae hae seemilar rust problems tae its predecessor, the Morris Marina, an acause o this surviving Itals ar rare the day, awtho the Morris Marina Owners Club an Morris Ital Register is makin sure the few remainin examples survive.