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Marcos Volvo

Jem Marsh's startingly beautiful GT Coupe was a remarkable car when introduced, and still turns many heads today. The original design, complete with Volvo running gear and De Dion rear suspension, soon settled to a more conventional Ford engine + beam axle arrangement, but the style was never changed. Today, because of rot resistant chassis and bodies, those which have not been crashed are in demand. Until they have owned one, everyone worries about a car with a marine ply chassis/monocoque. Well-protected frames have survived well, and are still worth repairing, but only a specialist can do this.


Photo: Ray Green's B30 Marcos-Volvo raced in New Zealand

Although several different engines were fitted in five years, all gave this light car high performance, and an exhilarating character. Like E-Types, these cars have long noses, always likely to be leaned against other traffic. They were so low that driver visibility, particularly to the rear, was very poor. Today's supply is very limited, but every surviving car in reasonable condition is worth saving. It is important that the wooden chassis is seen to be in good condition. GRP bodies will be easier to renovate, and the Volvo engine/transmission units are among the most durable.

History:

The original Marcos GT, with B18 Volvo engine was introduced in 1964. After 50 cars had been built, the de Dion was replaced by a beam rear axle. A 1.5 litre Ford Cortina GT engine took over in 1966, Lawrence-tuned 1.65 litre Ford engine took over for 1968, Steel replaced wood in the chassis construction in 1969.

At first the steel chassised cars, built in a converted mill in Bradford Upon Avon, Wiltshire, were powered by the Ford V6 Essex engine, but a desire to move into the lucrative US market saw the use of a Volvo straight 6 B30 engine, which already had the necessary anti-pollution equipment available. Some cars also had a 2 litre V4 version of the Essex fitted, but most of these are now converted to V6s.

In 1971, the mill was abandoned and a purpose built factory in Westbury was moved into. However, delays in production during this time and a problem with US Customs over the status of Marcos as a small scale manufacturer led to financial difficulties, which brought about the downfall of Marcos.

A few GTs were built with Triumph 2.5 litre straight sixes, using up supplies of engine originally intended for the 4 seater Mantis. The relaunch cars of 1981 were essentially the same cars which were produced in 1969, although they were often sold as kitcars and some had the German Cologne V6 in place of the Essex.

The '70 3-Litre Marcos-Volvo shown here is owned and raced by Ray Green, the racing series coordinator of the British Racing Classic Sports & GT series. Photo taken at Ellerslie by Jim Hekker. A black 1969 3-Litre Marcos-Volvo with overdrive was last year advertised in Classic Car Magazine for $14,000. Marcos is still going strong, producing very exciting racecars. 

Marcos1963B20.jpg (36013 bytes)   Marcos1963B20B.jpg (33052 bytes)   
Racing Marcos in Australia

Please check out the excellent Marcos web site: www.marcos.co.uk

Ray Greens Web site:
Marcos In NZ

 

 

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