The Morris Ital was Introduced in July 1980 as a replacement for the popular Marina Mk3.

Longbridge designer Harry Mann was called upon to create the new look, although the Italian design house ITAL Design was also involved, but significantly less than reported at the time.

The redesign changed the look of the front and rear of the car, although major body panels remained untouched.

The Italís new plastic and chrome squared-off bumpers, door handles and Euro-standard wrap-around lights gave the car a more modern look but did little fo the carís aerodynamics.

Not only did the Marina have an exterior make-over though, the suspension, trim and soundproofing were also upgraded.

The new Ital was aimed at the fleet market, with Austin Morris marketing the car on its simple design and low running costs.

Despite Austin Morrisí best efforts, the Ital was outclassed by its rivals and the press criticised the modelís handling and lack of five-speed gearbox, which hampered motorway cruising.
The car was produced until 1984 when it was replaced by the Montego.

Key dates

July 1980

Morris Ital introduced with 1.3 OHV A+ Series and 1.7 OHC O series engines. Automatic transmission was only available on the 1.7 engined HL or HLS spec car in saloon and estate versions. The Coupe bodyshell was dopped from the range but the pick-up and van continued.

October 1980

Top-of-the-range 2.0 HLS saloon and estate models were introduced with a 2.0 OHC O Series engin, but they were only available with a Borg-Warner model 65 Automatic gearbox. ITAL range now comprised of 1.3 L, HL, HLS saloons 1.3 L estate 1.7 L, HL, HLS saloon 1.7 L, HL, HLS estate 2.0 HLS saloon and estate 440 Van 575 Van 575 Pick-up

November 1981

Upgrades to specifications and trim levels on HL and HLS models. June 1982: A revised van and pick-up is introduced, now known as the ITAL 440/575 (van) and ITAL 575 (pick-up). All have the later revised interior trim, sound insulation and instrument panel.

September 1982
The Ital was moved to Longbridge and became, effectively, the Mk2 Ital. The L and 2.0-litre models were dropped and the HL and HLS replaced by SL and SLX models. Front suspension was changed to telescopic front dampers across the range and parabolic rear springs with additional soundproofing and improved trim. The range now comprised of: 1.3 SL and SLX saloon 1.3 SL estate 1.7 SLX saloon 1.7 SL and SL estate These models ran until the end of Morris production in 1984.

Production Figures
  • 1980 51,274
  • 1981: 54,970
  • 1982: 33,572
  • 1983: 26,753
  • 1984: 8,707
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