Rare Rides: Behold the 1969 Marcos GT, a Story of Continual Collapse

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides behold the 1969 marcos gt a story of continual collapse

Struggling for decades, Marcos Engineering produced very few examples of its flagship GT model. This excellent condition restored example recently made its way up onto the eBay auction block, which presents a good opportunity to take a look at this stylish British sports car.

Founded in Wales in 1959, Jem Marsh and Frank Costin named their new company Marcos Engineering. They set out to build cars with a plywood chassis, similar to the World War 2 fighter bombers Coslin once worked on. The first production model was officially known as the Marcos 1800, but Marcos also applied the GT name to all vehicles it built before 1970.

Released in 1964, the 1800 took its name from the Volvo P1800 engine found under the bonnet. In typical British shed-built fashion, a number of Volvo, Ford, and Triumph engines were used — eight varieties in total.

Our example today is a later build from 1969, after the company increased the cylinder count up front to six. Six-cylinder versions used either a Ford Essex V6 or a Volvo straight-six (an engine initially reserved only for US-bound models).

Additionally, American versions received a tubular metal chassis instead of wood, and had Borg-Warner automatic transmissions. The seller details via the eBay listing that he had the automatic transmission swapped with a Volvo four-speed unit. Seems more fitting.

Around 60 U.S.-market cars were produced in total, making this GT a very rare vehicle. Lovingly restored in 2013 by a professional shop over 15 months, the GT found a new owner for $43,500.

Marcos suffered through financial difficulties early on, as well as problems with importing cars into the United States — a vital market for the company’s success.

The aforementioned troubles put Marcos out of business for the first time in 1971. A dealer acquired the brand, and though production was supposed to continue in smaller numbers, it’s unclear whether any more cars were built at the time.

The company experienced another reorganization in 1972 as a cash sale right at the factory. Jem Marsh maintained interest in his car company and was able to buy back the rights to the Marcos name in 1976. The relaunch of the Marcos brand came in 1982 with the V6 Coupé, sold only in kit form. Over the years, Marcos engineers modified the Coupé to accommodate Rover or Ford V8 engines. The company continued to produce a very small number of racing and passenger cars, including a second generation of the GT from 1984 through 1989. In 1992, the Marcos factory opened back up, producing the Coupé.

A subsequent bankruptcy occurred in 2000. Production started again in 2002 with the help of a Canadian entrepreneur and Jem Marsh. In the mid-2000s Marcos gained some new employees as TVR neared its end.

As of writing, the final nail in the coffin for Marcos came in 2007, when the company once again entered liquidation. Jem Marsh passed away in March of 2015 and did not get to see a Marcos return to production in his final years. The memory of Marcos is kept alive through dedicated collectors, and the race versions that tear around tracks today.

[Images via seller]

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  • Scott25 Scott25 on Oct 29, 2017

    Marcos is best known for making some of the most “aesthetically challenged” British classics, such as the Mini Marcos and Mantis (which I saw in person for the first time a month ago, the proportions are utter nonsense)

  • THX1136 THX1136 on Oct 30, 2017

    Another good one, Corey. Thanks for the write up!

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