Sold for £12,390
“Whichever model you choose, you have the exhilaration of racing performance coupled with luxury touring comfort. Marcos motoring is for the man who aims high.” Marcos Cars Ltd Sales Brochure, 1971.
Born out of the combined genius of Frank Costin and Jem Marsh in 1959, Marcos (Cosmar was apparently ruled out after an epic game of scissors, paper, stone and Tinrsh was never really in the running) was one of a number of fledgling British car producers taking off at around that time. As with fellow micro-manufacturers such as Lotus, much of Marcos’ engineering skills came courtesy of the aero industry with Costin having been at De Havilland and his work on the wooden Mosquito fighter-bomber informed and influenced the early cars’ construction. Come 1969 the wooden composite chassis tubs of the early cars eventually gave way to 1 ½” square steel tube frames, not as many a wag would have you believe, due to dry rot but for the significant 15 hours planed off the production process by ‘going conventional’. While early Marcos’ played on the ‘a car isn’t ugly if it wins races’ line a little too much and the stunningly gorgeous 1800 GT of 1964 was penned in haste to appease the aesthetes. A quick fix it might have been but the shape endured in pretty much unaltered form for the next forty-five years. Ultimately available with a range of engines from three different manufacturers (Volvo, Ford and Triumph), with both four and six cylinders in straight and ‘V’ configurations, the prospective Marcos owner certainly didn’t lack choice. Classic un-equal length wishbones and coil springs with telescopic dampers suspended the front while at the rear, afer a few 'independent' cars, a live axle, again coil sprung, was well located with upper and lower trailing links and a Panhard rod. Ironically and regrettably, the GT’s success, combined with the change in the cars basic construction method gave Marcos the confidence to overreach themselves and a costly move to new premises just down the road in Westbury coinciding with a general downturn in the market resulted in the original Marcos Cars Limited shutting up shop in 1971.
And this is where it gets interesting… In an entirely logical move, The Rob Walker Group of Companies, (yes, that Rob Walker) within which there was a Marcos dealership, acquired the remaining stock of cars and parts and proceeded to sell these off both via their Marcos dealership in the case of complete cars but also direct from the Marcos factory. According to fountain of all Marcos knowledge, Mr. Rory MacMath of Marcos Heritage Spares Ltd, who worked for both Jem Marsh’s Marcos and the Rob Walker group at the time, collections of parts were united with completed and painted body/chassis units that were awaiting dispatch when the original company was wound up. According to the original Marcos Cars Ltd. factory records held by Rory, Chassis Number 2T 5967 was the very last car to be sold and leave the Factory. The GT was dispatched, as far as Rory can recall 90 to 99% complete but not assembled and though most Marcos were sold requiring an element of DIY assembly to avoid Purchase Tax, this car required considerably more than a couple of hours work before it could be used to whizz off to the pub. The factory records note that it was finished in ‘Mid-Chrome Yellow’ with black wipers and for the princely sum of £1805 it was dispatched to a Dr J. Papaioannou of Cambridge on 11th February 1972 – with understandably ‘No Warranty’. One of just twelve Marcos GTs equipped with Triumph’s lusty 2.5 litre straight six engine, it is unclear exactly how long it took the good Doctor to bolt the no doubt multiple-boxes of bits and pieces together and onto the car. However, photographs reproduced here courtesy of Rory’s archives from the mid to late 1970s show the car, still sporting its Triumph engine and black trim, back at the Marcos factory for some sort of attention, possibly a repaint given its screens are out and that it is no longer particularly yellow.
Known to have spent a few years in the mid-1980s in South Africa where it seems to have been very much part of the social sporting ‘scene’ with Royal Cape Yacht Club and various horse racing establishments’ screen stickers still present, the Marcos is now reunited with its original registration number. At some stage between its photo call at the Factory in the latter half of the 1970s and its return to the UK the original Triumph engine was swapped for a model-correct and arguably entirely suitable 3.0 litre Ford ‘Essex’ V6. Presumably at the same time, the bonnet was swapped for a correct 3.0 V6 version with a central as opposed to offset power bulge.
As noted above, the Marcos has obviously been repainted, perhaps more than once and it looks very presentable from a short distance. In close-up there is some micro-blistering evident, especially in the door shuts where the paint looks to be of an older vintage and the near side sill has a small chip in it – please refer to the photo gallery. The other bane of fibreglass cars, namely ‘crazing’ of the sub-paint layers, looks to be very minor and limited to one or two high stress areas such as around door handles. The matt black finish to the wipers as detailed in the Factory records is still evident but could usefully be refreshed, along with that to the wing mirror and bumpers however, this will doubtless prove to be a lot cheaper than re-chroming. The chrome itself such as the fuel filler cap and side window frames is in good shape and probably just needs a polish. The windscreen rubber is quite perished and should perhaps be replaced. The period alloy wheels, thought to be ‘Wolfrace’ brand, are in good condition and are wrapped in very period Firestone ‘Cavallino Wide Oval’ tyres which have good tread and pass muster at MOT time but perhaps should be replaced on an age basis.
Long, wide opening doors allow access to the comfortable interior with its trademark fixed reclined seating and adjustable pedals controlled by a wheel apparently liberated from a science laboratory. It is a lovely place to be and the high and wide transmission tunnel makes you feel at one with the car, if not on particularly good terms with your passenger. The interior has at some stage been treated to a good quality re-trim in cream leather and it is in nicely worn-in but far from tatty condition. The headlining and fully functioning factory sunroof (an option fitted to a surprisingly large number of cars), are free from tears but could probably do with a clean. The seat belts carry their Marcos labels and a pair of original looking Marcos key fobs are present.
The Weber 38 DGAS carburettor topped Ford ‘Essex’ V6 engine is in apparently good health and in this instance it is coupled to a five speed gearbox from the same maker; arguably a better option than the sometimes troublesome overdrive boxes that were specified by Marcos at the time. As a Factory fit engine option, the six-in-a-V looks right at home in the engine bay, snug but accessible. Tuning work carried out in South Africa is alluded to with a sticker on the inner wing boasting that a Richie Jute performance cam is fitted while more physically obvious is a Pertronix Flame Thrower HP coil, blue high performance ignition leads and a Kenlow adjustable thermostatically controlled fan.
Underneath, if you are an Olympic standard limbo dancer, though a little oily the chassis is at least well protected and looks to be in good order. With floor pans and sills being fibreglass there is really nothing much to worry about in the lower reaches of the car. New-ish looking springs and alloy bodied dampers courtesy of, we think, Protech allow the ride height to be adjusted while Aeroquip brake lines are a sensible addition. Some surface rusting is present on components such as wishbones, trailing links and brake shields but not to the extent that one would fear their integrity had been compromised in any way.
With only around eight hundred and fifty Marcos’ produced (excluding the Mini Marcos) before the original company folded in 1971, this car is the very last of those and a super-rare variant at that. Delightful just as it is, effectively a good and very usable 3.0 V6 GT with virtually twelve months MOT (and we hasten to add competitively reserved as just that), however one might also give serious consideration to returning the car to its original and historically significant Triumph engine specification.