When was the last Morris Ital car manufactured.?


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The Morris Ital was a medium-sized car launched by British Leyland (BL) on 1 July 1980. It took its name from Giorgetto Giugiaro's ItalDesign studio, who had been employed by BL to manage the re-engineering of Morris Marina, a car which had been produced since 1971. Although the redesigned car was named Ital, it was actually Harris Mann who was responsible for the car's new look. BL's advertising, however, emphasised the car's connection with the Italian styling house Italdesign, who had in fact merely productionised the design.[1]

The Ital had distinctly different exterior detailing to the Marina, but retained its 1.3- and 1.7-litre petrol engines and rear wheel drive chassis which could be traced back to the 1948 Morris Minor. The Marina's coupé variant was not continued, but the four-door saloon, five-door estate and pick-up and van versions were carried over from the Marina range.

The Ital sold reasonably well in Britain during the early 1980s, offering a competitive asking price and low running costs. The car successfully fused its early 1970s centre section with the newer Austin-Rover front and rear styling. The Ital's technology differed from many of its contemporaries, such as the Opel Ascona/(Vauxhall Cavalier), as well as Renault 18 and Talbot Alpine, which were front wheel drive. After the introduction of the Opel Ascona C / Vauxhall Cavalier Mark II in August 1981, the Ital and Ford's Cortina (and later Sierra) were the only mass-volume cars in the sector to maintain rear-wheel drive.

From 1981, an automatic version of the Ital was available with the 2.0-litre O-Series power unit.

The Marina had been heavily criticised throughout its production life for outdated design and disappointing build quality, and the Ital was little more than an upgrade of the Marina, meaning that its reputation with the motoring press was similarly dismal.[citation needed]

The Ital was the last production car to wear the Morris badge (though there was a van version of the Metro which wore the Morris badge, until 1984). Production of the Ital was swapped from Cowley to Longbridge in September 1982 to allow the Cowley plant to be upgraded for production of the forthcoming Austin Montego and Austin Maestro. At this time the Ital received an upgrade with different front and rear suspension (parabolic rear springs and telescopic front dampers) and models were redesignated SL and SLX. The saloon was dropped from production in February 1984 with the van and estate completing outgoing contracts for another six months until they too were axed. From this point, the Morris marque was kept alive solely by the Metro van.

The Ital's successor was the Austin Montego, launched in April 1984 as a four-door saloon, with a five-door estate arriving in January 1985.


The Morris Ital (essentially a facelifted Marina) was the last Morris-badged passenger car, with production ending in 1984.