This Marcos GT Has Plenty Of Joy Left To Give
Photography by Calum Ballinger
Story by Neil McDonnell
Where do you start with a car like this? Well, the Marcos lightweight GT (weighing in at just over 800kg, or about 1,750lbs) was first registered on the 23rd of May in 1969 before being sold by Jem Marsh Performance Cars for £1,290.00 to a gentleman living in Tufnell Park, London, on the 17th of March in 1972.
The V6 3L Ford Essex-engined wooden chassis was one of 115 built before Marcos moved to a steel chassis and a 3L Volvo engine resting within. This early Marcos thus spent almost two years in the UK before traveling with its owner to Australia, finally arriving in Melbourne on the 15th of December, 1973. Since then it’s had five owners and a respray from the original white to the Gulf racing colors that it now wears in its retro racing look (the extremely extensive history folder that came with the Marcos has provided a number of interesting reference points and is a testament to each owners regard for this individual Marcos).
I stumbled across the car for sale on a well known website and instantly booked to view it in Sydney during a business trip as I set off on researching what to look for when buying one of these unique machines. It was pretty scary looking at the potential purchase of a wooden chassis car as there’s just so much that could have gone wrong—and there were some initial challenges when it was shipped to Brisbane.
Firstly, the steering was jamming on the alternator, the doors had moved and were poorly fitting, one of the electric windows (yes electric windows on a 1969 Marcos!) didn’t work and then there was the whole charade of getting it registered by the local transport organization which took a full month and required a duplicate chassis number because a four-digit chassis number also had been assigned to trailers in Queensland! I did ask when was the last time the police had confused a Marcos in Gulf racing livery with a trailer though.
It’s a fun car to enjoy on individual drives or just walking around admiring its curved bodywork, but it’s not just about the personal connection between car and individual; I’ve got to say that joining the Marcos Facebook group and subsequently finding a Marcos spares supplier in the UK has been a blessing. The group is both very passionate and helpful in providing advice, plus, it’s great to feel part of a global group of Marcos enthusiasts that is receptive to the interest we take in these odd sports cars.
I’ve had my Marcos going on five months now, and recognize that it will be a continuous project—yes, the rear suspension needs to be and will be lowered to its original height, that’s the next item on the list—but I’ve already had many great drives, including taking it to work on a couple of occasions which is an interesting experience, being in rush hour traffic driving a car with just over 42 inches from the ground to its roofline!
These cars should be driven as intended by the likes of their creators, Jem Marsh and Frank Costin, and at times, hard on a race track. It’s great testament that after Marcos was launched in 1959 that these cars still manage to attract a following of passionate enthusiasts around the classic yet distinct British sports car look.
But how many of these are in Australia? I haven’t heard of any others nearby, but I know of four others in other areas of the continent, but given the landmass of Australia it would be a challenge to get all cars together! For now, Marcos enthusiasts like myself can make do with sharing our cars virtually.