1968 Marcos GT 1600
Only 33,154 miles indicated; recently restored with many new parts; rebuilt and uprated engine; driven to the sale; cooler than a cool thing!
Named after its two founders – Jem Marsh and Frank Costin – the Marcos Company began life in Luton in 1959, soon moving to Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire. Jem Marsh was a well-known racing driver and engineer while Frank Costin (whose brother Mike was the Cos in Cosworth) had previously worked on the De Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber and had a keen understanding of aerodynamics.
Using his Mosquito experience, Costin developed the strong and lightweight plywood chassis which was to be used under the outrageously sleek and low Marcos GT. With additional engineering input by Dennis Adams, the GT made its debut at the 1964 Earls Court Racing Car Show where its exotic ‘E-Type-from-the-dark-side’ lines amazed everyone.
A stunning machine in any era, it stood only 43-inches high but was designed around Jem Marsh (who was 6ft 4ins) and can accommodate taller drivers with ease, offering a laid-back, single-seater race car driving position where the seat stays fixed and the pedals come to you – operated by a knob on the dashboard. On a track the driver feels very much in command and, on a long drive, surprisingly comfortable.
Lord Lilford ordered one, as did Prince Albrecht of Liechtenstein. At £1,500, the low-slung two-seater was a bit minty for most pockets. Even at this price the car was running at a loss, so the original De Dion rear suspension set-up was soon dropped in favour of a live axle, the wooden chassis being later replaced by an easier-to-make tubular steel one. The original Volvo 1800 engine was also soon dropped in favour of a Ford unit.
In 1969, Motor magazine said of the GT’s handling: “Fantastic; probably the best of any production car we have driven.” More well-known personalities lined up to buy, including Rod Stewart, Ford president Semon Knudsen – and John Noakes! Although designed as a road car, many GTs did in fact race and the V6 model is still a formidable opponent in FIA and HSCC championships.
As copies of the factory records confirm, this Marcos GT was supplied new via Hexagon of Highgate to first owner Mr R C Beckman in June 1968. Originally finished in Light Silver Blue with a black interior, it was fitted with a Ford 1600 engine and gearbox and has the plywood chassis.
From 1981 – 1998 (when it was registered as REP 446) it was owned by a Mr Wyatt of Manchester and from 1999 – 2021 it was owned by a Mr Ken Ball of Staffordshire who owned an engineering company and seems to have spent more time restoring the car than driving it, judging by the many invoices on file and the detailed notebooks that he kept recording every penny he spent on the car.
Many new parts were fitted over this period including brakes; suspension (polybushed throughout); steering; clutch; exhaust; tyres; alternator; fuel pump; heater matrix; headlights; rear lights; carpets; front and rear windscreens etc.
It seems that the gearbox was also rebuilt as was the engine which was also considerably uprated as follows: 1,670cc; 10:1 compression ratio pistons; balanced crank/flywheel/clutch; lightened flywheel; solid lift crank pulley; high lift cam; big cam followers; double cam chain; vernier cam wheel; Vulcan Engineering gas-flowed, big-valve, unleaded cylinder head; solid rocker posts; double valve springs; competition bolts throughout; Hi Torque starter motor; twin Weber 40 DCOE carbs.
Our vendor acquired the Marcos in the summer of 2021 but he finds it hard to get comfortable in the car, hence the reason for sale (the driving position is fine for taller drivers but shorter folk may struggle). Driven some 30 miles to Brightwells, it has been starting well and running beautifully as we have moved it around on site with good 60psi oil pressure and a very naughty exhaust note. Appearing to be in fine shape mechanically, all that lets the side down is the paintwork which is not as shiny as it could be.
Supplied with two sets of keys, it also comes with much technical literature about the model plus many magazine features, club magazines, period sales brochures, restoration photos etc. There are also five old MOTs from 2013 – 2017 (during which time the car only covered around 1,200 miles) plus two from 1980/1981, the current MOT being valid until February 2023 with just a couple of minor advisories (windscreen wiper blade defective; exhaust noisy; slight oil leak). The current indicated mileage of 33,154 is believed to be correct.
As dramatic today as it was at launch 60 years ago, the Marcos GT is now a very rare machine that is only just beginning to be appreciated by collectors and prices have begun to rise accordingly. This thoroughly rebuilt and uprated example looks mighty tempting at the guide price suggested.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email [email protected]
* All charges are subject to VAT