Photo above: Pierre-Etienne Bordet in his french blue Marcos 1800 at Spa 6 hrs, September 2018
The following are some of the key race cars developed by the Marsh family over the decades. Any omissions are not in any way meant to cause offence – this is not intended to be a history of Marcos! Each of the following were in some way iconic to the Marsh family, and all of them captured the ethos of Marcos – lightweight, powerful, designed and developed for speed and endurance.
With thanks to Lyn Marsh for permission to reprint photos and extracts from “Making My Marque” by Jem Marsh (2009)
Austin 7 Special (1957)
Running on Amal Carburettors, from racing at Silverstone to Rodeo! Picture of Jem Marsh racing at the Eight Clubs Silverstone Meeting, June 1957. This car then became the Rodeo car with Jem performing under his pseudonym “Rodeo Rod” Marsh. Chris was born while Jem and his mother travelled the country performing in the rodeo!
Speedex EST (1959)
1172 race car, notable for its alloy wheels. Picture of Jem Marsh leading at North Staffs 750 meeting in 1959
Marcos GT (1960)
The first all wood monocoque 2 seater coupe, tailored to fit Jem’s 6ft4” frame, christened the “the Ugly Duckling”, it was raced by Jackie Stewart in the early 1960s at the start of his career.
Picture of Jackie Stewart racing in the 1960s (courtesy of Graham Gauld)
Marcos Gullwing (1961)
With a one-piece screen, and glass fibre bodywork over the wooden chassis, the Ugly Duckling was becoming a swan. This was also the first car that took Marcos to Le Mans 24 hrs – in 1962 (with John Hine and Dick Prior). Picture of Chris Marsh winning at Thruxton in 1976. Chris was so far in front he thought the race had been stopped as he couldn’t see anyone else!
Marcos Fastback (1963)
The Marcos evolution to swan-like status continued, “The successful Fastback was the best looking car that we had produced in that period. This model was very reliable and easy to drive…I drove James Mortimer’s car…and won over 12 races in this model” (Jem Marsh).
Marcos 1800 (1964)
The swan emerges...the 1800 with its Volvo 1800cc engine, bored out to 2 litres, used in all competition models. With its super lightweight construction this was one of the fastest of the Marcos stable. Picture of the unique LM 1800 - with a longer nose than the standard to generate additional down force for the Mulsanne straight. This is the car that took Jem to Le Mans in 1968 and then Chris some 50 years later Note the comparison with the 1800 in the headline photo with its slightly shorter, standard nose.
Mini Marcos (1965)
Glassfibre and wood construction with a Mini-Cooper S engine – the first Marcos to go to Le Mans, and the first to take a Marsh to Le Mans. Picture of Jem and the Mini Marcos in Sicily, 1968 - Chris is in the middle of the picture holding the pit board, flanked by his mother and brother, Nick.
XP Mantis (1968)
Jem wanted to develop a really fast car for Le Mans, and this wedge shaped design was specially constructed to confirm to the then FIA Constructors Championship, which he drove in pouring rain at the Spa endurance race in 1969, against the GT40s, Lolas and Ferraris!
Marcos V6 (1969)
With a similar shape to the 1800, this beauty had a 3litre Ford V6 engine, and the car was supplied to Rod Stewart, Sam Wanamaker and John Noakes, amongst others. It also saw the transition from wood chassis to steel in the 1970s versions. Picture of Roger Young's steel framed chassis V6 at Mission Motorsport recently.
The resurrection of Marcos through the late 80s was first evidenced by the LM500 which was tested in the rain at Castle Coombe by none other than Derek Bell – having had a somewhat illustrious intervening career since his early days in the Marcos Fastback! The LM500 raced in 1994 with a 5 litre Rover engine winning the GT2 Championships.
Thanks to the support of Philip Hulme and his company Computacentre, the dream to develop and build a car specifically for a crack at Le Mans became a reality, and the LM600 came about via a 6 litre Chevrolet V8 and design improvements to generate some 300% more downforce and the reliability which allowed the Marsh family to finally complete the epic 24 hr challenge at Le Mans with Chris at the wheel.
Mantis (1997 – current!)
The philosophy of the LM500 transformed into a road going car – which subsequently had its own race series through the 1990s – and ended up becoming one of the biggest sellers ever for Marcos. The cars made then are still going strong – and one of the Marcos Mantis of that era, aged 21, secured 3nd place in the 2018 GT Cup overall standings, beating the modern Aston Martins and Ferraris, testament to the speed and longevity of the Marcos marque. See https://www.topcatsracing.com for more!
Jump in, buckle up and enjoy the ride!