Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
The Marshal was manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (Australia) between 1957
, being a Morris branded version of the Austin Westminster which was marketed by BMC Australia's Austin dealers as the Austin A95 Westminster. The Marshal was offered as a 4-door sedan and as a 5-door station wagon.
The "Marshal" was the largest car of the Morris range, and replaced the "Isis
" in the six-cylinder field. And as you would have expected from the flagship of the Morris range, the Marshal had good handling qualities, held the road nicely, and had ample power to ensure high average speeds on the highway – leastwise when compared to other contemporary cars from the era.
The Marshal was high geared, with the consequence that the engine ran quietly when the car is cruising fast, and gave a very respectable fuel mileage for the size and weight of the car. Its correspondingly high third gear was an excellent ratio. Unfortunately summer driving in Australia was a bit of a chore, the total absence of any ventilation for the front floor evoking considerable criticism at the time. At least BMC did provide quarter-lights in the rear windows (sedans only) to allow some flow through ventilation.
In spite of its high gearing, the Marshal climbed reasonably well in top gear. If third gear was engaged the Marshal would climb difficult mountain passes, while still being able to achieve high speeds when the gradient fell off. The power-weight ratio of the Marshal, with a load of 3cwt, was good at 58 brake horsepower per ton. Overall top gearing provided a road speed of 19.8 mph at 1000 rpm.
The Morris Marshal was, for the time, an excellent car for touring and its high gearing and smooth engine allowed it to cruise around 70 mph in comfort on safe highways – a speed that remains respectable today. The low speed flexibility of the engine was good, and the car could be ambled along at 25 to 30 mph in top gear, whilst retaining good response. Prompt overtaking could be achieved from 30 mph in top gear, but below that speed it was desirable to use third gear, which gave excellent results.
The engine developed its maximum pulling power (a torque of 130 lbs-ft) at 40 mph in top gear, and 28 mph in third gear – and owners would quickly discover the sweet spot to keep the car on the boil. Times for acceleration were as follows: Third gear: 20 to 40 mph in 5.7 seconds.; 30 to 50 mph in 7.1 seconds. Top gear: 20 to 40 mph in 8.1 seconds.; 30 to 50 mph in 9.6 seconds.; 40 to 60 mph in 11.4 seconds.
Roadholding, Steering and Braking
was definitely on the firm side, and in the lightly loaded condition (two persons), you could notice the rough going on poor country roads. However, it was very hard to make the suspension
bottom out – and despite our best efforts we have been unable to find any road tester from the time that was able to do so. The firm suspension
resulted in good road adhesion under dry conditions, when the car could be cornered hard without slide. Roll was always moderate and the tyres
complained in average fashion on bends taken really fast.
In common with many other cars from the era, the rear wheels of the Marshal carried only 41 per cent of the weight of the car. As a consequence, rear wheel adhesion could not be expected to be really good without a load in the back seat. In those days, it was akin to driving a 1970s ute. But at least the Marshal remained directionally very stable and would quickly respond to the wheel in a slide. For a large car the cam and peg steering
mechanism was most pleasing characteristics. It was always light, without being unduly slow, as only 3.5 turns were required for full movement of the wheels from lock-to-lock. There is very little reaction felt in the hands even over the worst roads, yet the steering
did not display the inert feeling typical of older style steering
box setups. The turning circle was moderate at 40 feet.
The Girling hydraulic brakes
had two leading shoes in the front drums and a total lining area of 190 sq. ins. They were both serviceable in use and gave a quick response with moderate pedal pressures. It was not too difficult to build up heat, which would result in the dreaded fade, but they would cool reasonably quickly such that, provided you were not hell bent on punishing them, the brakes
would return to effectiveness reasonably quickly. The handbrake was of the pull-out type on the left of the steering column.
Behind the Wheel
The inclined disposition of the large steering
wheel was good, and the bench type seating was comfortable enough. The pedals operated through hydraulic rams and were well spaced. Vision was good, except that the screen pillars were a little on the thick side, which impaired vision into corners. The gearshift had a long forward movement and it was spring-loaded to the third-top position, which was that nearest the wheel. Synchromesh
was good for normal operation and could only be beaten by very rapid up-changes.
The instruments were contained in two large circular dials before the driver, and comprised speedometer
and gauges for head temperature and fuel contents. Large and arresting warning lights were fitted for generator, oil pressure, turn indicators, and high beam. The full-circle horn ring unfortunately bisects the driver's view of the instruments. The clock was a standard fitting, located in the centre of the fascia. The starter was actuated by the ignition key. The other minor controls were four well-spaced knobs along the bottom centre of the fascia. The turn indicators were operated by a slender arm beneath the wheel.
The bore and stroke of the six-cylinder engine was 89 x 97.4mm, and the induction manifold was water-jacketed. The engine was a very smooth performer, which operated on a low compression ratio of 7.3 to 1, meaning it would run long distances between top overhauls. The engine compartment was spacious and good access was provided to all ancillaries.
The engine oil passed through a full-flow filter, and carburettor air was cleansed by an oil bath. The gear ratios were: Top 3.9, third 5.6 and second gear 8.7 to 1. The car structure was of unitary type and was suspended at the front end on wishbones and coils, and at the rear on semi-elliptic leaf springs
. The front wheels were stabilised by an anti-roll bar
, whilst piston shock absorbers were used for all wheels.
The bench seats had a width of 52 and 54 inches respectively, thus accommodating six in comfort, but the large hump over the gearbox did restrict leg room for the third passenger in the front seat. Otherwise leg and head-room was ample in both compartments, and the car was easy to enter through wide doors. Carpet was provided for both floors, the seats were covered in synthetic material, and the headlining was a patterned washable plastic. There was ample parcel accommodation on a wide shelf extending across the full width of the car beneath the fascia, in addition to which a sizable glovebox was provided. The boot was very good compared to the competition of the time, having a flat floor, a good shape, and a clear luggage'capacity of 14 cub. ft. The spare wheel was housed beneath the boot floor, and the large tools were stored on a shelf above the petrol tank.