Cobra Competitor: 1971 Marcos GT

1971-marcos-gt

We have featured only a small handful of Marcos GTs over the years. They are rare cars and I feel that every single one of them deserves to be saved so when Barn Finds reader Graham L. sent in a link to this one, I knew we had to feature it! These cars offered unique engineering, stunning good looks, and easy to maintain engines. This one has some issues, but it is a later model so the restoration shouldn’t be too complicated. The seller is asking $6,500 here on Kijiji in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Thanks for the tip Graham!

flattened-marcos

This project seems like a great buy, except for one thing. Looks like a tree may have fell on it! The seller doesn’t mention anything about that little issue. When I said that the restoration might be easier than on a earlier model, I was referring to the underside. Early Marcos featured a plywood chassis while later cars were given a steel one to cut down on production costs. It did lose some of what made it so special, but I have a feeling that most people are more comfortable with restoring steel than wood. Too bad wood collided with steel, er fiberglass here though…

marcos-engine-bay

The seller claims that the Marcos was a Cobra competitor. I’m not sure where they heard that one. These cars were normally fitted with four or six cylinder engines from one of the big manufacturers. The company did shove V8s in them at a much later date, but this particular car probably had a Ford V6 in there judging by the exhaust manifold. So, it probably couldn’t keep up with a Cobra. It does get some points for being unique and having great curves though. Anyway, I hope someone sees the potential here and saves this lightweight street racer!

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Comments

  1. Josh

    I love Marcos, be that looks like a handful. That said, I would probably buy it anyway

    Like 1
    • Alvin

      Did you buy it? 323-239-6100

  2. Dolphin Member

    You see lots of micro-manufacturer cars like this one at the giant British car show ‘n shine that takes place near Toronto each Fall. I’ve never driven a Marcos but an owner I spoke to had one of the few that was fitted with the big straight-six Volvo OHV engine, which was 3 liters IIRC.

    I think it was mildly hot rodded, and he said the car was fantastic when he drove it across Europe before bringing it over here. I think his car had the Volvo box with OD, because he said he could cruise at 120 all day long on the Autobahn. I’ve done the same thing (219 KPH…get out the calculator…right—136 MPH—just not quite all day long) and fantastic is the word, especially seeing as it’s legal in many places there.

    Standing next to a Marcos like this you can see how small they are and how incredibly streamlined. No surprise, since the “Cos” part of the name is for Frank Costin, who contributed so much to low drag body design in the UK decades ago. Maybe Frank was slim, but I think that would help in fitting into this car.

    This car is one of those with the super streamlined ‘glas body but a steel space frame, same as my acquaintance with the Volvo-powered car. It may be sold already since the link isn’t working, and that would not surprise me because there are lots of Brit car fans in and around Toronto where this car is, and I would expect it to be snapped up at such a good price, even if a tree did fall on it.

    I don’t know if the windshield is unique or adapted from a production car, but if unique then the biggest problem might be finding another one and also the special rear windows, which are an odd shape.

    To see what this car looks like without the tree damage here is a link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcos_Engineering#mediaviewer/File:1970-71_Marcos_3_litre_%28Volvo%29_at_Oldtimer_Expo_2008.jpg

  3. julian

    I had an early one with the Essex V6 3 litre engine. Great to drive and quite quick but nowhere near a Cobra. An Elan sprint would out drag it to 80mph, but after that the Marcos would quickly catch up and leave the Elan at 120 mph. The car had an overdrive which made it virtually a 6 speed box. It sounded great, looked good. There were some problems in an English Winter.
    1. There was only room for a very small battery which would not turn the engine sufficiently on a cold morning.
    2. The front hinged bonnet was held by a couple of Triumph Spitfire catches. On a long run, the catches would vibrate open and the bonnet would then suddenly lift until the back edge was in line with the top of the windscreen with no forward view.
    3.The car was very low and the foam seat cushions were laid on the fibreglass floor. when the car had bottomed out a few times, the fibreglass floor would crack and on a wet day the seat cushion would soak up water which made for an uncomfortable ride.
    4. The plastic headlamp covers were not sealed ,would steam up and most were removed.

    In conclusion, an excellent little car for warm wether climates (had a sunroof) Best engine was the Cologne 2.8 V6 which was considerably lighter that the Essex motor.

  4. Mark E

    These certainly are very special cars and this one should be saved but dang, they’re difficult when just in regular barn find condition. This one’s going to take someone with a stout heart and a thick wallet. Oh and a fiberglass fabricator on speed dial wouldn’t hurt either! ^_^

  5. a miller

    Doesn’t mention the rollover damage to the roof. I guess that is covered under the “needs restoration” claim.

  6. Tim H

    I like convertible better anyway.

  7. Rancho Bella

    Yep, indeed they are tiny………..and one cool cat. They are better looking in person

  8. jim s

    very interesting cars. this one may end up being parts for others that are in better condition. it has a box tubing frame from what i can see which will need a very close look as they can and will rust/rot from the inside out. great find

  9. Barry Thomas

    Marcos, now there is a nightmare of a car. I’m going to disagree with the other writers, but I think that the Marcos cars are some of the worse looking to ever be made in Britain. As always beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Dolphin mentions the Burlington British Car Day, so he has probably seen the blue Mantis that usually appears there. That poor old Mantis has to be in the top five ugliest cars ever, but today’s feature is no beauty queen.
    Barry Thomas’ “Wheel to Wheel” blog

    • Dolphin Member

      I certainly agree about the Mantis—I have trouble with both the ’71 and the ’97. The ’97 seemed like something that was intended to look muscular but ended up just plain grotesque.

      Yes the rear deck of the ’71 GT in this auction is a tad awkward, but I’ll cut Costin some slack and assume that the CD was lower with it that way. For me, Rancho is right—the ’71 GT looks best when you’re standing next to it.

  10. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Later on in Marcos history, they made some convertibles based on this car. Here’s a picture. I’d be tempted to turn this one into a convertible rather than resurrecting the roof…

  11. Cameron Bater UK

    An intresting car, even if the repair could run into the £1000s, you may need a new chassis and then the pannels may not fit and realistically at that point your looking at a kit car.

  12. Mark

    This will be a really big project but should be saved as there are fewer and fewer left. It will require a complete nut and bolt restoration and will be a little easier than the earlier wood chassis. This would have had an Essex 3L V6 installed and that will be a little hard to find
    but can be done. There is a great supplier in the UK for parts and knowledge that will really assist, Marcos Heritage Spares. Rory will be able to provide the original details on the build of the car from its birth. As to deep pockets, yes if you have to hire out the work, not so bad if you can do most yourself. How do I know, been there done that with a picture attached.
    Best of luck to any one who moves forward. Mark

  13. Desi

    This is the car!
    I remember seeing this car in a farm garage in the early 90s’ near Erin Ontario. I was working for a commercial weed spraying company back then and was treating a country house lawn. Beautiful property, surrounded by mature trees and when nature called, I stepped behind the garage to relieve myself and spotted this car in the garage through the window. Back then the damage was fresh including a hole in the trunk / boot that appears to have been repaired since. The driveline was intact back then too, but looks to have since disappeared.
    It was the first time I had ever heard of a car called Marcos. Its one of those memories that sticks with you, and here it is, not much changed from what I saw back then.

  14. LARRY Meadows

    Does anyone know who owned this Marcos in Stanford Connecticut?
    LARRY Meadows

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