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The company was founded in Luton, in Bedfordshire, England, in 1959 by Jem Marsh and Frank Costin. Frank Costin had earlier worked on the De Havilland Mosquito fighter-bombers and from there he got the idea to use plywood for the chassis. The company moved to a converted mill in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire in 1963 and in 1971 to a purpose built factory at nearby Westbury.
Problems with exporting cars to the USA and the move to the new premises led to financial troubles in the 1970s and by 1971 they were out of business. Jem Marsh however stayed in the auto business and in 1976 he bought back the rights to the Marcos name, and in 1981 the Marcos was relaunched with the Marcos V6 Coupe that was sold in kit form.
Marcos went out of business again in 2000, but thanks to a wealthy Canadian buying the company, is now producing cars again. The race car production is now located in The Netherlands while the road cars are now made in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, United Kingdom.
The first car, the 1960 Marcos GT was a rather strange looking device with gullwing doors and a windscreen in four panels. For production the body was made less radical but initially retained the gullwing doors. It was powered by a choice of Ford engines varying from 997 cc to 1498 cc and had Standard 10 and Triumph Herald steering and suspension components. Thirty nine were made up to 1963.
In 1961 the brothers Dennis Adams and Peter Adams started working with Marcos and they introduced a number of changes to the original design and in 1963 they displayed the two seater coupé Marcos GT at the London Racing Car Show. Originally this used the 4 cylinder Volvo 1800 cc unit with overdrive gearbox and De Dion rear axle but in 1966 this changed to a Ford engine in 1500 cc, 1600 cc or 1650 cc capacity and a coil sprung live rear axle. In 1969 this changed again to the Ford V4 engine as used in the Corsair and Capri. In 1969 the GT changed from plywood chassis to a more conventional steel one. This shortened the production time and also made it possible to use more powerful 6 cylinder engines with a choice of 140 bhp, 3 litre Ford Essex V6 engine (UK), 140 bhp, 3 litre Volvo straight 6 or more rarely the Triumph 2.5 litre straight 6. The cars were sold into the North American market and for them to pass the exhaust emissions regulations the Volvo engine was used there. The car had a wheelbase of 77 inches, a height of only 43 inches and weighed 18 cwt. The Ford V6 version achieved over 120 mph on test.
As the Marcos GT had got larger and more powerful, a return to smaller cars had come in 1966 with the glass fibre monocoque bodied Mini Marcos. With a wheelbase of only 69 inches the Malcolm Newell designed Mini Marcos was significantly shorter than the usual Marcos cars, but it was the only British car to finish Le Mans that year. It was powered by one of the Mini A-series range of transverse engines driving the front wheels and used Mini front and rear subframes and suspension. Production finished in about 1975 to be taken up by Harold Dermott, who took it through further developments to become the Midas. Cars were also made under licence in South Africa and Ireland. Over 1300 have been made in kit and complete car versions.
In 1991 the Mini Marcos was relaunched to meet demands from Japan and was made up to 1995.
After the demise of Marcos Sales Limited, the Mini Marcos moulds were acquired by Rory McMath of Marcos Heritage Spares. The are able to manufacture/supply all fibreglass parts, from a nosecone to a complete shell Marcos Heritage relaunched the Mini Marcos in 2005 as the Marcos Heritage Mk. VI and Mk. VI GT
In 1968 came two different cars both called the Mantis. One was a pure racing car, a single seater powered by a mid-mounted BRM-Repco V8.Only one was made. The other was the 2+2 Mantis, powered by a 2.5 litre Triumph TR6 six cylinder injected engine, but the design was not well received and only 32 were sold.
Marcos Mantula, Spider and Martina
In 1984 the Marcos Mantula appeared, looking very similar to the old GT, but now powered by a 3 litre Rover V8 and 5 speed gearbox. The Marcos Martina was externally a very similar car to the Mantula, but with flared front arches, however it was powered by a 2 litre four cylinder Ford Cortina engine and use steering/suspension components from the same car. In 1986 the Mantula became available in convertible form as the Marcos Spyder with a design similar to the GT. Both the Mantula and Martina cars were made up to 1993.
In 1992 Marcos left the kit car business and launched the Marcos Mantara that was sold through dealers in limited numbers. The Mantara was powered by a 3.9 litre Rover V8. For a return to GT racing, a range of modified Mantaras was also produced in the LM (Le Mans) versions. In order to qualify as a production vehicle, road going cars were also made. Several version of the LM were made such as the LM400 (with a Rover 3.9 litre engine), LM500 (Rover 5 litre) and LM600 (with 6 litre Chevrolet small block V8). Only 30 road going LM cars were ever built and of these only one was a road going LM600.
Marcos Mantis and GTS
In 1997 the Mantis name was re-used on a 2 seater coupé or convertible road car based on the LM series powered by a Ford Cobra V8 and capable of 170 mph. It cost £42000. In 1999 a 500 bhp (320 kW) supercharged version was announced.
The Marcos GTS was a version of the new Mantis, but powered by 2 litre Rover engines. The top version was the 200 bhp (150 kW) turbo version.
In 1998 the GTS evolved into the Marcos Mantaray, but now with 4.0 and 4.6 Rover V8 as well as the 2 litre Rovers. Only 11 were made with the 4.0 litre, and seven with the 4.6 litre engine.
In 2002, after a break in production, a new car was launched, the Marcasite TS250 with a 2.5 litre 175 bhp Ford V6 followed in 2003 by the 5 litre Rover V8 powered TS500.
Another new car, the TSO, arrived in 2004 with a Chevrolet V8 engine in either 350 bhp or 400 bhp versions. The car's components were CAD designed in England, while chassis engineering has been done by Prodrive.
In 2006 Marcos announced the TSO GTC, a modified version of the current TSO with a racing suspension, racing brakes and a rear diffuser. The car continues on with its Chevrolet-sourced 420 bhp V8, but there is also a 462 bhp Performance Pack available as well. With the extra power from the Performance Pack the TSO GTC accelerates to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and to 100 mph in 8.5 seconds. With the bigger brakes, 340 mm AP Racing brakes, the TSO GTC delivers a 0-100-0 time of 12.9 seconds. With the extra power, its 50 to 70 mph time requires just 2.1 seconds. Top speed is over 185 mph.
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|Jem Marsh and Frank Costin||Corporate website||independent|