Marcos Cars History
1959 - Marcos is founded by Jem Marsh. Frank Costin joined the company and built the prototype in Dolgellau, North Wales. The name is a combination of the first three letters of Marsh and Costin. Frank had worked on the wooden de Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber aircraft and the first Marcos racing cars have a wooden chassis of marine plywood making them very lightweight.
1960 - The first Marcos GT cars are strikingly different from other cars and have gullwing doors, high roof (required by Jem's height) and 4 piece split windscreen. Known as the 'Ugly Duckling' they are powered by Ford 1 litre and 1.2 litre engines and achieve considerable racing success in the hands of Jem Marsh, Jackie Stewart and others.
1961 - Dennis and Peter Adams replace Frank Costin in the Marcos design team. They introduce design changes to the original making the car sleeker and more attractive with a single piece windscreen. The plywood chassis and gullwing doors are retained and the car becames known as the Marcos Gullwing. It is sold mostly for racing although a few are sold as road cars.
A convertible version without the gullwing doors is also introduced and known as the Spyder. A roof is added giving it a boxy look and high fastback rear line causing it to be known as the Fastback or 'Breadvan'. Without the gullwing doors the side doors became small and getting in and out of the cars not easy.
1964 - The Marcos GT 1800 is launched at the London Racing Car show as a road car and meets with considerable acclaim. The chassis is still wood but it is clothed in a glass fibre shell. With a low roof line of 1.09m (43 inch) and long sleek long bonnet it has the classic look of the E-type Jaguar and Ferrari GTO. It has a Volvo 1800cc engine and De Dion sophisticated rear suspension. However production costs are high and this changes in 1966 to a more conventional suspension and a Ford V4 engine, and optional more powerful Ford V6 and Volvo 3 litre straight 6 achieving speeds in excess of 120mph. The export version to North Amercia uses the Volvo engine for exhaust emission regulations.
A unique feature is the fixed seat and adjustable pedals allowing them to moved forward or back to suit the driver making them a very comfortable car to drive.
1965 - The Mini Marcos is launched. Designed by the late Malcom Newall it has a glass fibre body, is sold as kit car and utilises Mini subframes as an affordable GT sports car. It uses the Mini A-Series transverse engine and subframe and suspension. The unconventional bulbous front is necessary to fit over the Mini radiator. Although not a mass market succes as a road car it is successful in competitive racing and is the only British car to finish the 1966 Le Mans. Production by Marcos continues until 1975 when it is licenced to Harold Dermot who launches it as the Midas kit car at the 1978 Performance Car show in London.
1968 - Sees the Marcos Mantis M70 launched as a 2+2 seater sports car with a 2.5 litre Triumph TR6 six cyclinder engine, and the Mantis XP racing car with its agressive angular front designed to fit over a mid-mounted Brabham Repco V8 engine. The XP races at Spa in 1968 but retires with electical problems in torrential rain. Drivers Jem Marsh and Eddie Nelson.
1971 - Problems with sales of the Mantis, a move to expensive new premises in Westbury and unsold cars in the USA cause Marcos to cease business. The Rob Walker Group buys up the assets to continue production for a short while for the UK market.
1976 - Jem Marsh buys back the rights to the Marcos name.
1984 - Marcos is back in business with the Marcos Mantula based in the GT of 1969 but with a more aerodynamic body and more powerful and lighter Rover 3.5 litre V8 engine with 5 speed gearbox. It can reach 0-60mph in under 6 seconds and has a top speed of around 140mph.
The Marcos Martina is externally a similar but lower cost version as it is based on the Ford Cortina steering, suspension and 2 litre engine. The wheel arches are flared to take the wider steering rack of the Cortina. It sells well and is made until 1993.
1986 - The Spyder covertible version of the Mantula is made available
1991 - The moulds and rights for the Mini Marcos revert to Marcos, and it is relaunched for the Japanese market. Complete with a 1.3 litre Mini Cooper engine and air conditioning it is made until 1995.
1993 - Marcos decides to leave the kit car market and launch the Mantara as a fully built sports car in competiton with the likes of TVR and Porsche. It is powered by a 3.9 litre Rover engine.
Marcos returns to racing with sponsorship from Computacenter with the LM400 (3.9 litre), LM500 (5 litre Rover engine) and LM600 (6 litre Chevrolet engine).
The LM500 is highly successful in the 1994 UK BRDC GT Championship. In 1995 the LM600 with a top speed of over 200mph dominates and wins the BRDC National Sports GT Championship. In June 1995 the team is in France for the famous Le Mans 24 hour race, finishing the grueling event seventh in class - quite an achievement for a small manufacturer.
A small number of these are also offered as road cars.
1997 - The Mantis name is revived as a 2 seater coupe and convertible based on the LM series and using a Four Cam V8 engine. Developing 270bph it accelerated from 0-60 in 4.2 secs and has a top speed of 170 mph.
Autocar tests this car and reports that "The doors close with a satisfying clunk, the interior doesn't rattle or squeak and nothing failed or fell off during the course of its time with us - a rare occurence for any low volume British sportscar in our experience" and commented that "How a company that builds just 70 cars a year can...design, engineer and produce a car as good as the Mantis is beyond comprehension".
The GTS version has a 2 litre Rover engine developing up to 200bph.
1998 - The GTS evolves into the Marcos Mantaray launched at the Motor Show with a 4.0 and 4.6 litre Rover V8 engine. It shape has a larger boot and competes with the TVR.
2002 - Following insolvancy in 2000, the Marcos name returns with Canadian backer Tony Stelliga as Marcos Engineering Ltd.
2007 - Marcos Engineering Ltd ceases car production and goes into voluntary liquidation