The 70's, it was a time when the world was trying to get their head back into a happy place. Bell bottoms, big lapels and the Bee Gees all come to mind when I think of the time. All good things, right? But there were some things that were really very questionable indeed.
As a little kid (pre-K years) I remember spending time in this super cool place my Dad worked. We lived in Little Rock Arkansas and he worked at place called Continental Cars. It was all things British cars, Triumph, MG, Jaguar, Austin, the works. These cars with their beautiful lines, svelte and muscular, they were works of art.
A perk of working there was getting to drive the cars home at times. I can remember taking trips to see extended family in Tennessee while sitting in the supple leather clad rear seats of the Jaguar XJ6. Looking at the warm glow of the dash and remembering how smooth the ride was on that trip. You felt like royalty in that car.
Another time I recall we were riding around in a TR7, me, my father and my little brother. It was around 1975, I was 5 and my little brother was 3 or so. I remember how well my little brother fit in the rear parcel shelf of that car. It was a 2 seater and he drew the short stick.
Walking the showroom floor you were surrounded by Bug Eyed Sprites, MGBs, MGB GTs, TR6s, GT6s, Healey 3000s and the list goes on and on. And for a boy who was growing up in rural America, these cars made quite an impression.
So in 1974 my father pulled into our driveway with his brand new Austin Marina GT, in Burnt Umber. Now, for those of you not familiar with this particular hue, it's sort of, well it's orange. So now, imagine a childhood where you are driven everywhere in an Orange Marina. Imagine being dropped off, in public, in an Orange Marina.
Now, fast forward to 2016; my Dad has been driving an Marina, exclusively, since 1974. You read that right, it is literally the ONLY car he has owned for over 40 years. I suppose it's entirely possible he just genuinely likes the car. I see it all the time on the internet, people who love odd things. I guess I just feel strange because he is *my* father. Which brings me to the crossroads at which I now sit.
For decades I've wanted nothing to do with the car, while my Dad amassed what must be the largest cache of Marina paraphernalia on planet Earth. He also likes to refer to himself in 3rd person as the Marina Man. If you google it, you will find him and people who are selling boats. Mostly the boats. But nonetheless he has been steadfast in his loyalty to the car. This is find remarkable and endearing.
Then, on the TV show I loved the most, it was the car they hated the most. A sign? Can I ignore this cosmic poke? Is God speaking to me through the Beeb? There can be no other explanation I surmise.
So, it is was much to his elation that I agreed to buy and restore a Marina. No backing out now...
Now, I'm not new to restorations mind you. I recently did a total restoration of a 1978 Fiat 124 Spider. This included a fair bit of fabrication, a bare metal respray, total suspension and engine overhaul. It was no small task, mind you, but the end results were very pleasing.
So I found a rust free 1974 4 door Saloon in Lagoon Blue and took the plunge. I must confess, it's been hard to get motivated. I struggle to find an angle that the car looks presentable. But nevertheless, I've taken on the task and so it shall be done.
Wish me luck. The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a chance of pianos.