What A Gem! 1970 Mini JEM Unfinished Kit

I’ll bet a lot of you haven’t seen one of these before! Commonly known as the Mini Marcos, this little sports coupe was marketed as both a kit and a completed car — both based on the Austin/Morris Mini platform. This one has quite a history despite never having been completed and is listed for sale here on eBay. The car is located in Jacksonville, Florida and hasn’t even hit $1,500 yet although it hasn’t hit the reserve either.

The Mini Marcos was launched in 1965 but was dead by 1972, although several reincarnations of the kit have surfaced since then. This one has a nice set of Cosmic alloy wheels and comes with an unusual history: “The current owner paid for a shipment of surfboards from Australia in the early 70’s to be sold at a surf shop and the Mini Jem was included in the shipment from the fiberglass shop in Australia. The Australian company was hoping he could sell it in the US, but our current owner decided to purchase the car from the fiberglass company for himself since he was interested in racing.

Trivia for the day: a Mini Marcos was the highest finishing British car at LeMans in 1966. That car is covered in the neat blog maximummini as being lost here, found here and under restoration here. Perhaps the owner of this Jem was interested in duplicating this famous car?

On the other hand, this is the Mini Marcos I remember as a child (and still have, although it’s in very played with condition). It was one of my favorite 1/43 scale Corgi cars despite having wheels that did not roll very well due to the built in jacks.

Back to the car at hand. The shell looks to be in very good conditional although with this much age I’m sure at least some minor work will be needed. There appear to be quite a few new parts included.

The fender contours look a little different to me from the original design; perhaps this was changed in Australia?

The seller doesn’t know anything about the included engine and transmission; with the plugs having been out there’s no telling what it looks like on the inside. On the other hand, at least it’s a place to start! Do you see this Jem as a gem, or just a rock?

 

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Comments

  1. Alan (Michigan) Member

    For sure a new addition to my cars knowledge.

    Fun to look at these, and other variants on the Maximum Mini website.

    Check out the marketplace: http://maximummini.blogspot.com/p/maximum-mini-market.html

    Like 2
  2. Scott Tait

    A later austin metro 1400cc engine fits right in … but then so does a complete 1750cc unit …with mods odd little car only ever seen 2 in my entire lifetime

    Like 1
    • Martin Horrocks

      The 1750 ohc BLMC engine is a horror. No-one ever tuned it seriously in period, other than a few Austin Maxis for Marathon rally events, which were probably de-tuned if anything. Also, the ohc 1750 is tall, so would have to be in the airflow

      It´s very easy to get much more power from a well-built and much lighter A series engine, so your first suggestion would be the best.

      Like 1
  3. sir mike

    Gulf blue/orange stripe…..if I had the talent or money to build it…

    Like 2
  4. scottymac

    Sir Mike,
    Didn’t you read the rules? “No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.” Painting one of these to look like a Gulf Mirage certainly violates one of those!

    Like 1
    • Martin Horrocks

      A gulf livery Mini Marcos was my fantasy car in 1968. Me and my mate were going to have one each, one with straight stripe and the other with the broader nose stripe.

      We were 14 and it never happened. We didn´t have close to the 100GBP the adverts claimed could put you on the road…..

      Like 3
      • sir mike

        Thank you for your support…and good taste

        Like 2
  5. Martin Horrocks

    If it´s a Mini Jem, it´s not a Mini Marcos. They are 2 different takes, of which I think the Mini Jem was the original (Designed by a racing driver called Dizzie Addicot) and Marcos cloned the idea (Jem was the nickname of Marcos founder, Jem Marsh, so maybe there was more to it than I recall). They look very similar, both based on Minivan wheelbase, but the front is quite different, while the profile and rear are simila, but not the same.

    Both were available at the same time, but the Mini Marcos was always better known and more professionally marketed. You are quite right, the Le Mans car and the Corgi model are Mini Marcos.

    But the car in the photos is a Mini Jem, so you´ve got the wrong story.

    Like 3
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Martin, I did some more hunting, and in reality we are both correct, although you probably more so than me. As it turns out, there’s a common ancestor to both. The whole story is spelled out here: https://www.minimarcos.org.uk/mmhist.html
      and they both evolved from a special called the Dart.

  6. Fiete T.

    Fugly.

  7. Patrick JP

    Great car for vintage racing.

    Like 1
  8. firemandk

    I still have my Corgi Mini Marcos, which was pretty well played with , but had a habit of catching the “golden Jacks” on the carpet, so it got “auto crossed” outside more than inside…..

    Like 1
  9. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    I have the even smaller 1/64 scale car marketed by Corgi as a Whizzwheel, orange, in the package. I’ve had it sitting at toy swap meets for sale for many years and someone always picks it up and comments on not knowing these cars really existed.

    Like 1
  10. Tom

    Hmmm…seems to me just a couple of weeks ago I posted about the Mini Marcos in the UK and wished for one stateside. I know its a Jem and on the other coast, but…

    Like 1
  11. carlo meschino

    It’s a Taylorspeed Jem made in Australia.

    Like 1
  12. Tim Neal

    Hi this car is a Taylor Speed Jem. Called The Taylor speed as they were made by a Surfboard Builder in Australia called Taylors. Made under license from the parent company in the UK.
    I own a 1969 MK2 Fellpoint Jem, Fellpoint being the company that took over the project after Jeremy Delmar Morgan ran out of enthusiasm for the project.

    Robin Stratham was the owner of Fellpoint, he also produced a range of VW based kits such as the Futura. He changed the design slightly by lengthening the Window Scuttle panel to enable the windscreen to sit slightly higher to allow more headroom. Which is the MK2 model.

    The later MK3 had an opening rear window hatch.

    You can read the full history of the marque on the following website:

    http://www.minijem.plus.com/

    it covers the early history from the Dart 1 off to the Jem, the parting of the partners two who were part of the Marcos company and who went on to building the more well-known Mini Marcos.

    Good cars are now starting to fetch premium prices, a recent sale in a Paris auction of an early LWR (lightweight racing) shell with original Oselli tuned Cooper S engine recently sold in excess of 40,000Euro.

    If you buy this car you won’t regret it, its got all the charm and character of the original Mini and the looks of an Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, which mine is often mistaken for at first glance.

    Like 1

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