Contemporaries and Peers 5: Marcos

Marcos: Going Against the Grain: Marcos and Lotus Compared and Contrasted


The Contemporaries Series has been written to achieve the following objectives:

  • To compare and contrast the designs, products and achievements of Colin Chapman/Lotus with their, rivals, contemporaries, peers and competitors
  • To benchmark achievement by a series of consistent criteria
  • To extract from the comparisons an objective assessment
  • To counterpoise some specific models against each other
  • To examine the nature, culture and economic viability of the British specialist sports car market.

The British specialist car market has been extremely vulnerable to economic downturn and its history is littered with casualties .Those that have survived are worthy of examination.

Please note the editors have striven to achieve objectivity and consistency of comparison throughout however it will be appreciated with many conflicting sources, references and specifications this is not an easy task and some inaccuracies may occur. We are happy to correct these presented with reliable alternatives.

Note that several sources have been drawn upon for specifications.  For general consistency the editors use Taylor, The Lotus Book .In this article other additional/ complementary sources are used and stated where appropriate.

In this article we use some information about Lotus from our previous article on Lotus & Morgan; subscribers may therefore be familiar with this aspect.

The Post -War Era

Colin Chapman and Jem Marsh were of a similar age. They had much in common and developed their respective marques against the socio-economic events that shaped Britain since the Second World War. Both men experienced the following and possibly factored in circumstance when contemplating their new models:

  • Post –war Rationing including petrol and raw materials steel etc.
  • Suez crisis impact and petrol rationing
  • Purchase tax was considerable and major savings /increased specification could be created by self-building
  • Ford and Austin Specials- a culture of building , tuning and experimenting partly to avoid taxes
  • 750 Motor Club and 1172 Formula and culture of highly competitive amaeuter club racing
  • The Lotus Seven, Lotus Elite ,Austin Healey Sprite Mk.I, Mini, and E Type Jaguar
  • London particularly the swinging sixties , Carnaby Street and the Racing Car Show*
  • The World economic crisis on two occasions with its impact on oil prices and consumers through petrol price but also VAT and interest rates
  • Mainstream manufactures providing more sophisticated models particularly the hot hatches and GTi range
  • European legislation .Mot’s and safety issues etc. impacting on exports e.g. US
  • The availability of engines gearbox and axles etc. from manufacturers
  • Technical skill levels and apprenticerships in engineering have reduced so fewer have skills or motivation to assemble component cars. Note property prices have also become significantly higher based on footprint many do not have space to assemble component car
  • Culture and taste showing an interest in sustainability

*The Racing Car Show [see dedicated A&R article]

Many of both Lotus and Marcos models debuted at the Racing Car Show and made a considerable impact including winning orders. To fully appreciate this context subscribers are recommended to see A&R dedicated article and that of Carnaby Street which explains the London scene in the 1960’s


The post-war era threw up many enthusiasts who embraced motor sport in various capacities some were also entrepreneurs believing they could serve the market and form the backbone of the British specialist car manufacture. Some of the names who have communality with Jem Marsh include:-

  • Eric Broadley
  • Frank Nichols
  • A.Mallock
  • Walklett brothers
  • John and Charles Cooper
  • John Tojeiro
  • Julian Kingsford-Booty
  • David Ogle
  • Trevor Wilkinson

British Specialist Car Manufacturers of the Era

  • TVR
  • Morgan
  • Lola
  • Turner
  • Gilbern
  • Ginetta
  • Elva
  • Tornado
  • Berkley
  • Bond
  • Falcon
  • Deep Sanderson
  • Fairthorpe
  • Lenham
  • Rochdale
  • Unipower

Understanding these help appreciate the size, nature and competition within the market. Particularly interesting is the specific adaption of the Mini with regard to the Mini-Marcos and the other versions including the Unipower.


Jem Marsh is the primary founder of Marcos. However he entered a partnership with Frank Costin [see below] and the amalgamation or contraction of their names created the brand name of Marcos

Jem Marsh

Jem Marsh as noted is a contemporary of Chapman and they had interests in common.

These might be summarizes as:-

  • Both were of similar age
  • Both had experience of the British armed forces post war.
  • Both men were competent competition drivers; Jem Marsh right through his life and career
  • Both gained experience and participated in amateur club racing via the 750 Motor Club [note importance of 750 and 1172 formulas] its interesting to note both men had ridden motorcycles.
  • Both worked with /alongside other men of considerable abilities .Chapman in early days with Mike and Frank Costin , Keith Duckworth ; and Jem Marsh again with Frank Costin, Dennis and Peter Adams and others
  • Both men produced and sold a mixture of competition and road cars with some small overlap of customer base but Lotus on a far greater scale.
  • Both men shared some character traits in common but the differences were greater [see A&R article on Motoring Icons]
  • Both responded to the market for tuning and components for specials [ see era ] and both developed this into turnkey and component cars although at vastly different volumes
  • Both men witnessed their cars raced at Le Mans again with Lotus having far greater success and publicity
  • Both men demonstrated considerable determination and business acumen against the odds at various times to keep their specialist marques afloat again Chapman being the more enterprising and resourceful of the two with a far larger concern and workforce to support. Both experienced massively polarized success and failure –Chapman perhaps more so both in his racing team and car production
  • Both men learned lessons, both perhaps aspiring against realities but also able to adapt and improvise e.g. .Chapman the Elan following the Elite and Marsh the Mini –Marcos Vis the 1800.
  • Both used mainstream engines notably Ford to give their products practicality and affordability
  • Both men had a particular impact during the 1960’s and their products were owned by the style leaders of the swinging sixties [ see A&R article on “The Avengers” and Carnaby Street, as noted their cars were launched  at the Racing Car Show.

It ought to be appreciated that Marcos production and model range was far less than Lotus and of course they did not compete in FI or Indianapolis etc.

Jem Marsh was born in Clifton, Bristol in 1930. [Note close contemporary of Colin Chapman]. His family were reasonably well of .Both his father and step father had interests in motorsport.

Jem Marsh spent many years in the Navy. He enjoyed photography and developed this as sideline. Following this he had employment as a stunt driver, car salesman and gained some useful experience at Firestone’s.

Jem Marsh is a tall lean man and this is unusual in a racing driver and probably incongruous in the compact cigar body racers of the 1950’s. Jem was competitive on and off the track and possessed a strong sense of vision and determination when motivated and focused. Jem entered racing through the 750 Motor Club and drove an Austin Special with some success. He had his first race in 1954. Of the early mid 1950’s he stated:-

“We could pick up Austin Seven’s for £5”

During the 1950’s in Britain there was a demand for second hand cars due to many factors including the war, postwar austerity, export preventing home market availability and also purchase tax etc.

Note these factors would be significant until the widely available introduction of the Mini and Austin Healey Sprite Mk.I in the late 1950’s.

These factors created a market for second hand cars and possible specials as a derivative. Jem would have had a special perspective on this [as did Chapman] from racing and observation/ experience. It was probably the demand for tuning equipment / conversion parts that led him to form Speedex. It is worth looking at period magazines to see the companies that were providing tuning and aftermarket spares. These included Aquaplane, Dante, Super Accessories and LMB [Lesley Ballamy for whom Jem worked briefly-see A&R articles]

Speedex Castings and Accessories was formed c 1957 and based at Luton.Amongst the parts he supplied included cylinder heads, alloy wheels, wishbone suspension and related items for Austin Seven and Ford 10 [nb Ford specials and 1172 Formula racing] Speedex catered for calling customers and mailorder.By 1958 Speedex offered a 2 seat body conversion for the Austin Seven which looked slightly like a Lotus Seven. Soon after an aerodynamic fibre glass shell was offered .This was designed by Mike Featherstonhaugh.

Jem Marsh was also competing in his own 750 Formula racing car. He would be in contact with the network of people and organizations particularly 750 MC around London the acknowledged epicenter of postwar motor sport and where many of the Ford special manufacturers were based.

Jem was possibly thinking of a new car kit project that might be multi-functional, competitive and cut an advantage in club racing or to use a modern terminology find a niche. Therefore when he was able to discuss plans with Frank Costin there may have been a shared vision of the market and a suitable product they could create. Please see dedicated paragraphs for extended analysis of the Marcos cars]

The marque name Marcos is combination of these men’s surnames.

Jem Marsh split from Frank Costin and in the early 1960’s set up production at Bradford on Avon. Here he was to enjoy both financial support and encouragement from Grenville Cavendish c 1962-66.

He has been a business man and experienced his fair share of commercial problems. Throughout this has retained a sense of humour and charm. Jem has evident energy which some believe borders on restlessness .He is certainly not pretentious and slightly anti-establishment but this must be balanced by the fact he has held senior roles in the HSCC and SMMT Specialist Car Group. He remains his own man.

Jem Marsh has brought longevity to the marque and a continuous development as he has owned and driven hard the products both on and off the track. In many respects he is a legend in his life time and made a long and important role within British motor sport .Although perhaps unlike Chapman reaching the highest echelon of GP FI and Indianapolis, Jem has concentrated mainly and successfully at sports car racing at club level but also attempted Le Mans.Although a big man in stature he has been something of a giant killer in that he drove smaller capacity machines to success against larger and more powerful opposition.

Frank Costin

We recommend our subscribers to see our extended and dedicated article on Frank Costin in our contemporary’s series. Frank Costin had experience of the 2nd World War Mosquito and allied construction / design of gliders and light aircraft.

Dennis Adams

Dennis Adams holds an important place in British specialist motor design. He was self-taught and gained some early experience at Lister’s in Cambridge. He is believed to have served in the RAF.His designs include:-

  • Adams Roadster
  • Probe series 15 onwards through to Probe 2001[Probe was dubbed “an investigation into extreme of styling” ]
  • Autocars project
  • Sports racing cars [see chapter XP Group 3]
  • Luxury off road vehicles
  • Recreations /reinventions interpretations of classic/ veteran vehicles
  • Single seat commuter car
  • Futuristic  3 seat vehicle
  • Wrought iron work
  • Furniture

His most famous and memorable work is probably the original Marcos 1800. [See sketches p 66 “Marcos” by Barber & page 107 “Specialist Sports Cars” by Heseltine] this car possesses elements of the Ferrari GTO /GTB and the aerodynamic E Type Jaguar and perhaps also the Alfa Romeo GTZ.

Adams is also famous for the appearearnce of the Probe in the iconic film “Clockwork Orange”

It’s believed that from the early 60’s he undertook design consultancy and that by the early 1980’s he formed a design consultancy named Adams Design Studio. He was featured along with Probe 16 in Daily Telegraph supplement discussing British designers which also included Chapman. The Probe was also given some prominence at the London Motor show when Styling was promoted again involving the Telegraph.

His brother Peter was a skilled carpenter and contributed significantly to the chassis constructed of marine ply.

When first taken on and working in Wales with Frank Costin it’s believed his wage was £35 month.

Gullwing GT prototype [Xylon?]:c1959

This car was designed by Frank Costin .The prototype is believed to have his design for both body and chassis.

The GT possibly had a brief that contained some of the following elements:-

  • The GT was possibly conceived primarily as a sports car for road use with the potential for competition
  • To be enclosed: I / for aerodynamics, ii / for advantage racing class,iii / comfort /protection combined road /race car, iv / address new generation Mini & AH Sprite etc.
  • In order to be competitive weigh same or less than Lotus Seven with greater torsional rigidity [it’s believed that Costin aspired to a weight between 7-8 cwt.]
  • Ability to accept proprietary parts notably Ford: I economy/ availability ,ii tuneability, iii eligibility for racing class

Frank Costin is reputed to have referred to the Xylon as “a dry Lotus Seven”

The prototype was registered as DFF 529. It’s likely that it was built through 1959 and registered in 1960.It’s believed that it was painted a dark colour [as indicated by B&W photographs] possibly blue with unpainted aluminum guards front and rear.

In appearance the prototype possessed:-

  • Gullwing door arrangement with large side window
  • Low bonnet with long tapering nose cone
  • 4 piece windscreen
  • High cabin [ nb Jem Marsh’s height]
  • Cycle guards front and rear where they are integrated with body
  • Small low and close set headlamps
  • Curious rear end / cabin treatment

The appearance was functional and aerodynamic if not particularly aesthetic. It was produced at minimum costs with little or no specialist input and in very rudimentary workspace/ facilities.

The Chassis

Structural timber

Timber is not a material associated with the chassis of motor cars but it has excellent properties and is used to advantage in: boats, planes, gliders, furniture, and architecture and of course in many prewar automobiles where it was used for framing. It is strong, stable durable and has a modest weight. It’s relatively easily worked and joined. Its strength can be increased when it is veneered, laminated or resin bonded.

The chassis was constructed of special laminated plywood on the monocoque principle and joined using the synthetic Aerolite 300 adhesive. Small sections are assembled into a whole by gluing and stapling.  Localized stress areas were reinforced. There are not many photographs of the chassis but a diagram appears in Jem Marsh’s book, pictures in Haynes and possibly the best image of the chassis, engine bay and front suspension appears in “The Post War Touring Car” along with a front three quarter photograph of the completed 759 DBM. A good verbal description interestingly appeared in a review published by “Sports Car and Lotus Owner”

Twite comments that:-

“The basis of chassis is two deep side boxes which are joined by various cross members, all of which are glued together, no bolts are used at all. The side boxes are of necessity very deep to give the necessary strength and this causes some problems with entry and exit.”

Essentially the chassis was formed of three “torsion” boxes fore and aft and three crossways.

Some have compared the constructional method with three primary longerons as used in airframe fuselages.

The advantage of the marine ply/spruce monocoque included:-

  • Strength
  • Fire resistance
  • Impervious to extremes of temperature
  • Corrosion proof
  • Does not fatigue in same way as metal
  • Relatively easily repaired as damage often localized and tending not to impact through chassis Vis tube space frame.
  • Reasonably energy absorbing  in accident therefore reasonably safe
  • Assembly jigs reasonable easy and cheap to make

The chassis for the prototype and early cars was made by the Monocque Chassis & Body Co.Ltd. Headed by Frank Costin. They were based in Dolgellau, and not long after Llanberis, Wales

Mechanical Specification [Summary]

The GT was offered with a variety of engines and the following generalized specification:-

Front suspension independent by coil; Standard/ Triumph [e.g. Herald] steering and suspension components which were very well designed. They are mounted on the wooden frame by a triangular steel frame.

Standard rear axle –choice ratios rear semi elliptic spring according to some sources possibly on prototype others suggest coil springs

Engines/gearbox : the prototype used the Ford 1172 cc side valve thereafter   Ford 105 E [ most often used for racing in 1000cc GT class] and 122E, twin SU carburetors, Ford  [or Hewland five speed conversion for racing ]  gearbox, hydraulic brakes. Some sources suggest that the Nash Metropolitan rear axle was utilized. It’s also possible that a Formula Junior engine was considered [see A&R article]

The GT was well equipped


Wheel base               7’-3”

Front track                 4’

Rear track                  4’

Overall length           12’

Overall width             4’-7”

Overall height           4’-6”

Kerb weight               1008 lbs. [includes 5 galls. Fuel]

Performance and handling were quite exceptional due to the excellent power to weight ratio. The GT offered handling, economy and convenience.

It almost immediately did well in competition including winning both the 1961 and 1962 Autosport Championships. Drivers who helped establish its reputation beside Marsh included Bill Moss, S.Diggery, Chris Meek and of course Jackie Stewart.

Following the prototype with its unconventional looks there was both a slight aerodynamic and aesthetic improvement with a front end bearing some resemblance to a “Frog Eye” Mk.I Sprite. Some examples also had transparent Perspex covers /fairings over the lights.

Marketing and Sales

Jem marsh headed up the sales concessionaires at his Speedex Castings & Accessories based at Luton.

Famous GT Registration Numbers


80 SNK

G 128

8853 JH

759 DBM

Spyder/Fastback/GT: c1962/63

This model seems to be primarily an aesthetic upgrading of the original model. It appears to retain the laminated marine ply construction with a proprietary wood preservative treatment. The screen had become wrap-round and integrated with the rounded aerodynamic body shape. The gull wing doors were retained in a “bubble” type canopy over the cockpit. Triumph suspension was used and Standard 10 back axle. There seems to be a choice of engines including Ford [ohv] with twin carburetors. Disc brakes were fitted on the front wheels which might be standard pressed steel or mag-alloy. The editors believe it was first displayed at the Racing Car Show of 1963.

The following specification is provided by Twite.

Engine /Cyli 4-water cooled
Bore /Stroke 80.9 x 48.5
CC 997
Valve Gear ohv
Comp Ratio 10:01
Carburettors Twin Weber
Max.Power 85 bhp @ 7500 rpm
Trans/Gears 4
Front Brakes Disc 9″ dia
Rear Brakes Drum 8″ dia
Steering Rack & pinion
Front Susp’ Ind’ x coil spring
Rear Susp’ Rigid axle & coil springs
Chassis Laminated plywood unit construction
Wheel base 7′-6″
Front Track 4′-2″
Rear Track 4′-0.5″
O’length 13′
O’width.body 4′-8″
Kerb weight 1,000 lbs
Front Tyres 5.60 x 13
Rear Tyres 5.60 x 13

Twite records that a works car was entered for Le Mans in 1962.

Famous Registrations:-


HOO 144

The Marcos “Fastback”

The Marcos Spyder fell between two stools. Some observers claim it was too basic as road based sports car. There were very few orders and production data confirms this. It was offered as an open two seater later upgraded with a bubble type hardtop canopy.However the preference of the racing community possibly vis classes was for a permanent fully integrated hardtop and this was developed by Marcos by mid-1963 and is most frequently referred to as the fast back.

XP: “Science-fiction” prototype: c1963

The XP is a totally unusual car and none of the text books give adequate answers for its role or its potential market. It appears to have some of the shape of an ultra-aerodynamic creation of Frank Costin to deliver exceptional fuel economy .The XP appears to have been designed for a much larger engine possibly even a V6 or V8 possibly intended to be rear mounted. The central steering wheel and three abreast accommodation seems too radical for the British market /era and it might be questioned if the car was commissioned for purposes other than road transport or as means of gaining publicity. Motoring historians seen uncritical about the cause of its demise.

Marcos 1800:1964 -66/ 1966-67, 1967-68

It might be contended that the Xylon, Gullwing/Coupe and Fastback although proposed as road /race cars had succeeded primarily as club racers. Therefore it possible that when Jem Marsh commissioned a new design from Dennis Adams he wished for a genuine road sports car and for non-racing customers [potentially a much bigger audience] having said that the Marcos 1800 appeared at the 1964 Racing Car Show .The car bore a likeness to the aerodynamic bodied E Type, Ferrari GTO/GTB and the Alfa Romeo GTZ.It was strikingly low sleek, stylish, of its time and extremely beautifully finished inside and out. The dashboard, interior and steering wheel were very highly regarded and impressive as were the specially cast alloy mag wheels. The dash board in particular evoked aviation practice [see “British Auto Legends” It was extremely low [necessitating semi reclining seats] and this made it very memorable and accentuated its shape. It was possibly this dramatic appearance that caused the 1800 to be sold to celebrities, pop stars and rock royalty and which perhaps gained it such a powerful early reputation. It was well received by the press.

It’s believed that the car had been designed to accommodate tall drivers like Jem Marsh. In order to allow for varying heights adjustable pedals and steering column were included .The seats being fixed.

The cockpit trim was possibly far and above that of what is associated with a kit car and head restraints were adopted.

Like the earlier GT it was constructed from marine ply box sections comprising door cills, front footweels, and transmission tunnel and united with a one-piece marine ply baseboard. The construction is often alluded to as “multi-monocoque”. The body in GRP was unstressed.

The mechanical specification included the Marcos tuned Volvo engine and gearbox.

The Marcos 1800 was offered as turnkey or in component kit form. The kit was comprehensive and it’s estimated that it could be assembled in approximately 24 hours. The manufacturers provided a long list of extras. The Marcos 1800 was very expensive and in price league of an E Type.

Critics commented that the car was noisy, cramped, access was difficult and that storage space was very limited. However performance and handling were excellent resulting from approximate 50/50 weight distribution; engine behind axle line.

Stan Gray played an important role in the cars development.

The following specification is quoted in “Automobiles”

Specification Marcos 1800 GT
No. of Cylinders 4:Volvo
Cubic Capacity 1783 cc [1788cc?]
Compression Ratio 10:01
BHP 114
Max. mph 115
Overall length 13′-3″
Overall width 5′-2.5″
Height 3′-5.5″
Wheel base 7′-5″
Track [front] 4′-1″
Track [rear] 4′-1.5″
Weight 11.75 cwt [approx.]
Turning circle 30′
Fuel tank capacity 12 Imp.  gals

Additional /supplementary specification:

Front track                 49”

Rear track                  49”

Wheelbase                89”

Ground clearance    5”

Tyres                          5.90 x 13 [5.5 J] Mag –alloy option & Pirelli tyres

Weight                       1215 lbs. [dry] 1702lbs and 1336 lbs.

Haynes in “Guide to Component Cars” suggests that on a smooth surface the Marcos 1800 might be compared with the Lotus Elan. He also records:-

“The Marcos is a really splendid sports car with exciting styling.”

Other engine options through this period included hose by Ford of 1783cc 1498cc 1650 cc. Ford engines were often fitted with twin carburetors. The 1650 cc engine was supplied by Lawrencetune.

Marque Marcos
Model 1600 1500
Displacement 1,599 cc 1,499 cc
Maximum HP 95 DIN
Maximum speed 120 mph
Wheel base 88.9″
Front track 50′.5″
Rear track 52′-0″
Overall length 160.5″
Kerb weight 14.8 cwt.
Body 2 door, 2 seat coupe
Tyres 165 x 13
Fuel capacity 10 gals.
Engine Ford
Cylinders 4
Bore /stroke 81 x 77.6 mm
Compression ratio 9.6:1
Maximum power 95 bhp @ 5,500 rpm 85 bhp @ 5,300 rpm
Carburettors Weber Twin CD Stromberg
Cooling Water cooled
Valves Push rod
Transmission Rear wheel drive
Clutch /Gearbox Diaphram clutch /4 speed
Chassis Monocoque of marine ply , forward structure steel tube; body f-glass panels
Suspension front Independent wishbone, coil springs tele-shock absorbers
Rear suspension Fixed axle, coil springs, oblique thrust rods, telescopic shock absorbers
Steering Rack & pinion
Brakes Disc front /drum rear

Mini Marcos: 1965-74 – [nb reintroduction 1991]

Published sources do not inform with regard to the commercial intentions of the Mini Marcos or the proposed customer base. Several motoring historians suggest that Jem Marsh saw a similar design at the Racing Car Show and was able to get his version into production earlier. Possible factors that shaped its existence are:-

  • The Marcos 1800 was an aesthetic success but expensive ; limited sales were predictable against established competition
  • The Mini had been in production for some time , second hand and crashed cars were available
  • The Mini had established a reputation in racing. Competition and rallies. There were after market and tuning modifications available
  • The Mini came in various engine sizes giving customers choice [841, 1098, 1275 cc]
  • The Mini Marcos potentially could fulfill an updated role of the Speedex and earlier body shells fitted to Ford specials
  • Body shell production would be easier than assembling and selling complete cars. It was likely to have higher turnover and geater volume sales
  • It provided some competition opportunities because it was slightly lighter than the Mini
  • In some respects the Mini Marcos was reworking at least of the principals involved with the Xylon
  • Jem Marsh might have seen the Mini Marcos as baby or starter model to ongoing Marcos ownership or larger and more expensive models

Malcolm Newell takes primary responsibility for the design of the original Mini Marcos. Although it’s believed Malcolm Sharp also made worthwhile contributions. Its launch was the 1966 Racing Car Show.

The Mini Marcos was a two seat coupe using a glass fibre monocque shell with tubular sub-structure and possibly a wooden floor designed to take Mini mechanical components and sub frames with a wide range of options / tuning etc. Both rubber and hydrolastic suspension are believed to have been fitted. It was offered in kit form and was reasonably affordable.

The car proved light, simple and enjoyed great handling and performance as a result of the f.w.d and transverse engine. It was very British.

The Mini Marcos despite its somewhat crude yet functional appearance produced a low drag and deceptively small frontal area.

The Mini Marcos was not considered particularly aesthetically pleasing by some although the authors credit with it with an extremely functionality and its shape was determined by economics and the retention of standard Mini parts. Notably the front mounted radiator. This is an interesting study of aesthetics as applied to form and function where function predominated. The Mini Marcos proved fast, reliable, competitive and significantly, cheap.

The Mini Marcos did well in competition and earned a reputation at Le Mans where it competed in 1966 and 1967.

The manufacturing rights of Mini Marcos has been bought and sold on many occasions. It therefore has chequred history. It has been sold in various occasions either as a complete assembled car or as a kit. Between its launch and 1974 its estimated 700 were sold.

Marque Marcos
Model Mini-Marcos 1300 GT
Displacement 1,275 cc
Maximum HP 76 SAE
Maximum speed 105 mph
Wheel base 80″
Front track 48.5″
Rear track 47.3″
Overall length 125.5″
Kerb weight 10 cwt
Body 2-door, 2-seat plastic construction
Tyres 145 x 10
Fuel capacity 6 gals.
Engine BMC Mini Cooper S
Cylinders 4
Bore /stroke 70.6 x 81.33 mm
Compression ratio 9.75:1
Maximum power 76 bhp @ 6,00 rpm
Carburettors Twin SU semi-downdraught
Cooling Water cooled
Valves ohv
Transmission Front wheel drive
Clutch /Gearbox Diaphram clutch /4 speed gearbox
Chassis Utilises BMC Mini sub frame
Suspension front Independent “Hydrolastic” unis T&B arms & tie rod
Rear suspension Independent “Hydrolastic” units located by trailing arms
Steering Rack & pinion
Brakes Disc front , drum rear

XP Group 3:1968

It’s believed that the code letters stood for “Experimental Project”

This was a rear /mid-engine sports-racing coupe. It’s believed this machine was designed for the FIA Group 3 [3L, GT category]. The XP was again designed by Dennis Adams and possessed a wedge shape profile. The chassis remained stressed plywood monocoque based

It’s believed that the first engine obtained was Repco-Brabham V8. This machine was not a competitive success and was not developed. Later a lower performance V8 was substituted and the car used on the road. It has survived.

It’s possible that Marcos hoped to produce a run of these cars or that it was intended as donkey prior to producing a road sports car.

Adams believes his design was slightly compromised during construction.

Marcos 2L 1970-71 & 3 L, 2.5 L& 3L-Volvo: 1969-c 1971

Adams shape 2 –seat coupe with various engines. They were displayed at the 1969 Racing Car Show.

These models are variants of the steel tube cars and continued the “1800” Adams shape [2-seat coupe] but with steel tube chassis but adopted the Ford V4 ohv engine of 1966cc and

Ford V6, Volvo straight 6 and Triumph 2.5 L

Production numbers tell their own story but this needs to be related to the era / world economic events.

A brief summary specification of the 1969-71 3 L:-

Engine: Ford V6

Capacity: 2994 cc

Max power: 136 bhp @ 4750 rpm

Front suspension: coil and wishbone and anti roll bar

Rear suspension; live axle, coils upper and lower links, Panhard rod

Steering: rack and pinion


Length: 13’-4.25”

Width: 5’-2.5”

Height: 3’-6.5”

Fuel consumption averaged; 23 mpg

In 1969 Marcos advertised the 3L model in “MotorSport” they quoted from “Motor” April 1969 stating:-

“ Striking closed two-seater with tremendous punch , outstanding road holding very hard ride, but superb seats , well appointed…….its full performance is impressive …….”

Marcos strap line was “Three litre fireball ……..All you need is a Marcos”

Mantis: 1971

See extended details below with comparison with 1970’s Elite and Eclat.

Marcos since the 1980’s

There is some merit in contrasting the Marcos with TVR [see A&R article].Both companies were in the specialist market and both adopted medium –to large powerful engines. More recently the larger possibly to compete with mainstream supercars. In the Marcos case this has resulted in some loss of aesthetic refinement and general loss / dilution of character and possibly a marketing move towards a more butch and macho car. Of course export and markets might well also determine this along with the realities of engine availability.

1983: Mantula [Rover V8 believed to be the 3.5 L engine giving estimated 190 bhp.engine upgraded with development. Weight distribution approximately 50/50] Spyder, Martina

1990’s: 1992 /1994 LM 200 GT RS, 400,500,600; 1993 Mantara, 1996/7 Mantis, [Ford V8] GTS, 1998 Mantaray

2000’s 2002.Marcasite, 2004 TSO

Marcos at Le Mans

We have noted that both Lotus and Marcos competed at Le Mans.It’s interesting perhaps that Marcos have entered at opposite ends of the engine capacity. Some of their early reputation was based on the Mini Marcos. The firm reestablished itself in the mid 1990’s and enjoyed some success.

Marcos: Estimated Production No’s

The editors do not have definitive figures and numbers vary from different sources. An attempt has been made to average and amalgamate these. We are happy to amend with information from reliable sources.

Model             Year                Production

GT                   1960-63         29

1800               1964-66         99

1500               1966-67         82

1600               1967-68         192

Mini Marcos  1965-74         700 [possibly well over 1264 into 1995’s]

3L                    1969-71         80

2.5L                1971-              11

3L-Volvo        1970-71         250

2L                    1970-71         40

Mantis                        1970-71         32

Deductions to be meaningful need to factor in considerations such as: general state of the economy / impact on buying public, the alternative competition and price. However they do provide insights and we will take this up when discussing finance.

Brief Company Histories and Design Methodologies


It’s not considered necessary here to recall Chapman / Lotus history in great detail. Much can be discovered by the comparison of commonality given above and in -depth analysis can be found in A&R articles:-

  • Lotus Design Decades
  • 20c Motoring Icons

For this article’s objective Chapman/Lotus history [non chronological] might be summarized as:-

  • Chapman’s history and development witnesses some extreme polarization of success and fortune in both commerce and competition. Chapman is said to have been eulogized and demonized in equal measure
  • Chapman delivered a succession of  FI cars and won 7 World Constructors Championships .Following  an interruption after his death Lotus is again currently in the forefront of FI which have been complemented  with equally distinctive high performance road cars notably the Elite,Elan,Esprit etc.
  • Lotus cars successfully competed at nearly every branch and level of motorsport and introduced some of the greatest British drivers to FI
  • Chapman’s designs were invariably innovative , ground breaking and iconic
  • Chapman placed importance on research & development and consultancy that sometimes carried the organization and possibly subsidized it.This principle has continued to the present day.
  • Chapman is renowned for his collaboration with the likes of Ford [cars and engines- Cortina, Twin Cam and Cosworth DFV ], and Vauxhall [ Talbot Sunbeam Lotus / Carlton Omega]
  • Chapman for all his flaws developed talent and developed human potential
  • Chapman had a reputation as a ruthless entrepreneur and through DeLorean was found guilty of fraud
  • Since his death in 1982 Lotus has suffered multiple changes in ownership, financial difficulties but despite this has still produced the award winning Elise that almost twenty years after its introduction still achieves plaudits and remains incontestable in its class;  and with build quality issues in the main resolved.
  • Chapman with his colleagues and engineers contributed much too post war Britain’s reputation as the leader in International motor sport.
  • The Chapman design methodology continued in the Elise is innovation, experimentation, performance through light weight / high power to weight ratios, sheer unalloyed driving pleasure and satisfaction.


The history of Marcos is very much that of Jem Marsh, his driving competence and skill. This has perhaps feed into the product as it did with Chapman. Racing possibly also acquainted Marsh with the market and designers and perhaps gave him insights of potential products. He was able to merge these through Speedex and the development of a specialist car range. His thinking was of the time and era. Marcos also enjoyed a reputation which possibly worked through to demand as a result of the striking appearance of the 1800.Marsh perhaps used low volume to advantage.

Marcos like most of the small British specialist car makers have suffered with the vagaries of the economy. Culture, legislation, competition from mass market products becoming more sophisticated and their own high overheads and low volume.

Marcos has faced closure on several occasions during its lifetime including one demise early 1970’s.

The most recent within the last decade. After a turbulent history and several financial catastrophes Marcos closed in 2007.

As at the present the future of the company is unknown. Jem Marsh like chapman benefited from the skills of able assistants and colleagues e.g. Frank Costin.

It’s to be hoped that this iconic marque will not be lost and that it can be revived although the nature of legislation and development costs mitigate against this for small companies.

Business Philosophy

Colin Chapman

Possible the quotation that most encapsulates Chapman design methodology is by Rudd:-

“The most elegant and effective and traditional Lotus solution is the one with the least parts effectively deployed”

This was design mantra that permeated his road and competition cars. It brought him international success through British Club Racing to Indianapolis, Le Mans and seven FI Constructors championships.

The philosophy of Chapman relating to manufacturing cars is complex. He started in a humble fashion with limited resources but considerable ambition and the application of innovation to overcome limited resources.

Success led to him offering services and with the Lotus MK.VI low scale production. The Mk.VI sold approximately one hundred cars in the early mid 1950’s which the editors believe established Chapman both competitively and commercially. These “kits” were for the enthusiast and club racer. At the same time Chapman was developing the aerodynamic racers which were far more expensive, sophisticated with racing engines.

It’s not known categorically if Chapman built cars just to support racing but they did provide finance. To this ends he designed cars for particular racing classes. Overlapping were the road cars like the Elan, Europa. Some of the cars were over ambitious and lacking development and quality control. [This was probably a function of the idealist/ engineering integrity specification overcoming available budget and volume – of course some would argue a proper business plan would have revealed this.

Chapman enjoyed considerable success with collaboration with other manufacturers namely Ford and Talbot.

In the 1970’s he could see that taste , times and expectation was changing and along with VAT the market for the enthusiast kit car such as the Seven was barely viable. He hived it off.

Chapman tried to take the Lotus brand up market through the 1970’s and 80’s but this was not an entire success partly because the product was not the most competitive but perhaps more so the world economy and crisis associated with oil. However the Esprit became iconic as a result of its appearance in James Bond.

Chapman was willing to diversify and this can be seen in theory to be desirable but in practice it was not a commercial success e.g. Furniture, boats and micro lights.

Chapman was implicated in De Lorean.Against the background of other events we might understand the temptation and feelings of injustice but these are not an excuse.

More recently with stability from Proton Lotus has found international success with the Elise [and this is perhaps it’s true to the Chapman methodology and a car suitable for the enthusiast pure driving experience] and improved build quality, reliability etc. Lotus is doing well again in F1.

It ought to be appreciated that virtually all Chapman are designs are essentially green because of their superior mechanical efficiency ensured through low weight and aerodynamics.

Chapman extracted considerable income from consultancy and this applies up to the present time.

Jem Marsh

We have outlined in the company history most of the factors that determined Marcos. They had a much smaller product range and limited formal competition entry. It’s evident that Jem Marsh attempted to discern markets and respond and in many respects was successful, however like many of the British specialist there was perhaps a failure to really budget and understand the nature / response of the mainstream manufacturers. Although most of the Marcos models were very well equipped possibly to the standard of professionals and well established marques this does not compensate when astute customers conduct evaluations.

As mentioned the risk of the specialist market is that they fall between too stools.

Chapman is an excellent example. In the early days he provided for the race orientated enthusiast, quickly moving significantly up market with the Elite. However the retail price placed it in another league where its value for money was challenged. Chapman realized that the future was within the quality end of the market and commenced a strategy to realize this from the 1970’s onwards .It is not an easy task for the specialist and there are many complex customer perceptions to overcome.

We can see that Jem Marsh attempted to diversify with the Mantis and this was something of a gamble. He was possible aware of a potential market but meeting this at price quality and performance is not an easy task even for the smaller more adaptable and responsive specialists.

We are also aware that Jem Marsh attempted expansion through to enter the American market. He was possibly aware of the potential but there is no sentiment in industry and an enormity of risk, calculation and preparation is demanded.

Many of the British specialists have developed some of the most iconic, aesthetic and high performance cars but for many of the reasons given they have struggled to survive. It remains a privilege to have owned or driven examples of the marque .Their low volume will assure them of rarity and value.

Profitability Spreadsheet:


For Lotus there are few direct references to annual returns however the Lotus Book by William Taylor gives useful information on production numbers and Nye supplements this with some accounts. Financial information for Lotus is not readily available although the A&R have traced some, this will be the basis for an extended article. For our purposed here it will be sufficient to quote Nye.

We understand the following figures applied for Lotus:-

  • 1959               Loss    £29,062
  • 1964               Profit   £113,000       [nb Elan production 1195]
  • 1965                                                   [nb 2505 cars including 986 Lotus Cortina’s]
  • 1966               £251,000 on turn over of £2,156,000
  • 1968               At Hethel Lotus Group profitability  had increased by 11.5 to 16.5 %                                   and  production 1968/69 is suggested at 4506
  • 1970               Profitability dropped to 6.5%
  • 1980               365 cars built  and around this period at it lowest ebb Lotus was                               valued at  only £3m

Lawrence has stated:-

“At the end of 1963 Lotus …… a total of 1, 1195 Lotus cars of all types were made. On top of that were 567 Lotus Cortina’s .The turnover was £1,573,000…. and  generated a pretax profit of £113,000.The financial figures to not take into account the money generated by Team Lotus , which was paid into the account of Team Lotus Overseas.

Using just one example of race winnings [which is not entirely reliable or representative] we can note that the winnings from the 1966 Indianapolis was $ 77,000 approximately.

Marcos: Form, Function, Finance

The editors have been unable to discover any published financial analysis for Marcos [it would be good research to explore other sources].Neither is it clear at what margins Marcos operated. These must have been reasonable considering the small volume. It’s possible that they conducted other activities that helped cross subsidies or it might have been finance and sales through part exchange.

In order to make objective comparisons and indeed to help engineers it would be useful to know what development cost were and in general what the budgets were and perhaps the costs of bought in engines [including if these were contracted in batches etc.]

It’s reputed that Marcos faced liquidation following the Mantis; knowledge of costs would help appreciate the overall viability of the project. The editors believe the study of costing important especially in relation to competition with other marques and the means to possibly steal a march through value for money or added value.

Perhaps an important lesson is that in period owners used hunch and intuition rather than expensive and time consuming market research and of course often as sole proprietor they took the ultimate responsibility.

We do know that Jem Marsh was aware of the high cost of the original 1800 and as result took the following cost cutting measures:-

  • Chassis Tube chassis 1” tube*
  • Ford engines
  • Interior [dashboard, wood rim steering wheel, ]
  • Delicate steel bumpers [ altered to moulded fibre-glass]
  • De Dion axle substituted

*Note overtime material costs and assembly costs change often in relationship to labour.

The timber plywood chassis had initially advantage but later economics preferred the tube construction. Possibly another consideration was market perception when Marsh was considering the expansion/ export to the US.

Jem Marsh like Chapman was probably aware of the opportunities of the American market. This might have represented an opportunity to increase sales volume but it’s also known that there are risks and many specialist have foundered in the process including TVR. However there are constant dynamics and manufacturers have to respond appropriately.

The British specialist car market has been one of extraordinary innovation and improvisation. Often small individual or family owned companies providing for niche markets increasing quality and choice. Often in the process keeping motor sport healthy and virile. They have often provided lessons for the mainstream mass manufactures .Sadly the economics of their existence does not favour sustainability although there are current examples of survival and in this we ought to see the achievements of Lotus.

Weights: Lotus

Weight is a particular good measure of assessing fuel efficiency. Unfortunately we don’t have comparable cd information for both marques to make reliable and consistent comparisons.

The respective weights provide interesting comparisons; particularly when the same engine / gearbox and rear axle might have been used in both marques.

Year Marque Model Weight lbs/ cwt
1948 Lotus Trials Car 1092 lbs
1951 Lotus Mk.III 815 lbs
1952 Lotus Mk.VI 952 lbs
1957 Lotus Seven 924-980
1968 Lotus Seven 1210-1258
1954 Lotus Mk.VIII 1148
1956 Lotus Eleven 1019
1957 Lotus Elite 1484
1962 Lotus Type 23 884
1962 Lotus Elan 1210-1250
1962 Lotus Cortina 1822
1966 Lotus Europa 1350-
1967 Lotus Elan +2 1180-1970
1969 Lotus Seven S iV 1276-1310
1974 Lotus Elite 2240-2550
1975 Lotus Elcat 2450
1976 Lotus Esprit 2218
1982 Lotus Excel 2507
1989 Lotus Elan 2198
1989 Lotus Carlton 3641
1996 Lotus Elise 1518

Weights: Marcos

Haynes in “Guide to Component Cars”:-

C1959/60 Marcos GT                      9-9.5 cwt [depending on specification]

1964 Marcos 1800 Volvo                1215 lbs. – [estimated 12 cwt]

1965 Mini Marcos                            10 cwt approximately

Lotus Elite/ Eclat & Marcos Mantis Compared and Contrasted

The 1974 Lotus Elite and 1975 Eclat

We tend not to identify 4 seat cars with Lotus but they have played an important commercial role in the marques line up since the 1960’s. The Cortina was possible not deliberately branded or promoted as four seater but it acknowledged the market for family cars. Chapman may have wished to retain brand loyalty from customers as they matured and had children. He might have deducted that as they progressed in their careers and professions they would be required to project professional images and that it was desirable and economic that he should take the marque up-market. The Elan + 2 with its extra pair of seats for children was early evidence of this thinking. Ron Hickman is believed to have designed the body. Early prices were just under £2,000 including tax, built. The c 1971 2S 130 cost approximately £2,626.

As this model ended its production life Chapman would have probably wanted a replacement and possibly believed there was trend / even demand for sporting 4 seaters. Of course motoring history informs us of the hot hatch and GTi’s like the Golf provided an excellent product to challenge the conventional sports car. The introduction of the Elite and Eclat also possibly coincided with a deliberate move by Chapman to take the brand up market. He probably appreciated the customers had more competitive choice and were more sophisticated and had higher expectation. He is likely to have deducted that there might be greater profit in a more expensive range [good research might involve finding any formal market research that was undertaken of if the decision was hunch]

For these reasons it’s probable that Chapman took a new direction with these two models and they represented a break with the past and a radical departure. Both these models were more: sophisticated, stylish, luxuriously appointed, and expensive. They were comparatively expensive the Elite initially costing nearly £5.500.

The cars were designed by Oliver Winterbottom and it’s believed that Giugiaro /Ital. Design [see A&R article] may have contributed the interior. The shape incorporated a fashionable semi-wedge profile and a blend of curves and straight lines that were perhaps not entirely compatible/ harmonious. The distinctive shape did provide a fairly low drag at the time of the fuel crisis.

The GRP bodies were produced by the VARI moulding process that resulted in production economics.

The design incorporated steel frames within the doors and this model won the Don Safety Trophy. The Elite proved spacious, comfortable with reasonable storage.

The Eclat [see specification contrast table] was complementary model in many respects. It shared aspects and possibly provided production economics. Although too a four seater it looked less like an estate car. As a result it had less head room etc. for passengers at the rear. In 1977 it’s believed it retailed at £8,372.

The statistics quoted by Taylor suggest that sales were not fantastic. This always requires further detailed investigation and comparison with well-established and traditional brands with equal or higher reputations for quality, performance and resale value need to be examined.

Technical specifications from the “Lotus Book”

Model Elite SI
Year 1974-80
Volume 2,398
Engine Lotus 907, 16v dohc
C.C. 1973
Carburation 2x Dellorto DHLA 45
Power Output [bhp] 160
Transmission Lotus 5 speed BL Maxi int’
Chassis Box section steel backbone .Y front, rear cross mem’
Body G.R.P
Front Suspension Double pressed steel w/bone c.s./d anti roll bar
Rear Suspension Pressed steel semi-trailing radius arm lower link, fixed d/shaft, c.s./d
Brakes F/R 10.5″ disc/9.5x 2.25″ inboard drums
Wheels F/R 14 x 7 ” alloys
Tyres F/R 205 x 60 x 14
Length 175.5″
Width 71.5″
Height 47.5″
Wheelbase 98″
Track F/R 58.5 /59″
Weight 2240 lbs /2550 lbs with auto & air -con unladen



Eclat & Eclat Sprint

Year 1975-80
Volume 1299
Engine Lotus 907, 16v dohc
C.C. 1973
Carburation 2x Dellorto DHLA 45
Power Output [bhp] 160
Transmission Ford Granada /Capri 4 speed all-synchro
Chassis Box section steel backbone .Y front, rear cross mem’
Body G.R.P
Front Suspension Double pressed steel w/bone c.s./d anti roll bar
Rear Suspension Pressed steel semi-trailing radius arm lower link, fixed d/shaft, c.s./d
Brakes F/R 10.5″ disc/9.5x 2.25″ inboard drums
Wheels F/R 13 x 5.5″ steel ;alloy’s on Sprint
Tyres F/R 185-70 x 13
Length 175.5 “
Width 71.5″
Height 47.5″
Wheelbase 98″
Track F/R 58.5/59″
Weight 2450 lbs

The Marcos Mantis

Jem Marsh possibly believed there was market for a four seat specialist sports car. There was historic president in the Gilbern and many production saloons were capable of coming within striking distance of out and out sports cars. He might also have seen the European adoption of the American V8 through the 1960’s in cars such as the British Gordon Keeble .It possible that he wished to cultivate an export market to the USA.

The Mantis arrived in 1971 it was possibly bad timing and possibly caught up in unforeseen events. [VAT and oil crisis etc.]

Many consider the Mantis a bizarre shape. It was designed by Dennis Adams. Some believe it to be a curios styling, an unhappy mix without any consistent motif.  The editors consider this to be consistent with some of Adams other futuristic concepts including the Probe. The shape was probably determined by the four seat [possibly 2+2] accommodation, engine size Vis weight / load and intended performance. The tube chassis/grp body construction [moulded in two halves] and a style that would easily distinguish the car as of Marcos heritage. Adams design was possibly modified for production or suffered alteration for economic considerations.

The shape was dramatic, low based on a stable, strong chassis and with the 2.5 L engine capable of a very respectful performance.

It’s believed the prototype was powered by Ford V6 but production cars were provided with the Triumph 2.5 L injection engine. The Mantis was luxuriously appointed. It is interesting to note that by comparison a Rover V8 -3500 in the period would have cost c £2,150 including tax.

Model Comparisons

Both cars: –

    • Two seater sports cars of light compact design
    • Both bodies were made of fibre glass  [but diametrically opposed structural concepts]
    • Its claimed they suffered noise in the cockpit associated with the fibre glass bodies.[the editors not privileged to have driven either car are unable to comment from experience]
    • Were reasonably expensive for the time and the probable clients [see A&R articles on Design Decades and social History –Price relativity]. In period both cars represented about 30% of a new house price.
    • Neither manufacturer really benefited from these low volume cars
    • The International economic conditions and oil crisis was not conducive to their success

Product Prices

When subscribers compare prices we strongly recommend that our article on Price Relativity is consulted where we attempt to place vehicle costs in relation to house prices and wages in an attempt to draw meaningful comparisons. 

c1952 Lotus Mk.VI £400-500 Estimated / specification
Lotus Eleven £872 £1308 inc pt Ford 1172 sv
Lotus Eleven S2 £1690 pt£811 Le Mans
Lotus Eleven S2 £1490 Nett Club
1959/60 Lotus Seven S  1 £892 Eng’£356 Chassis£499
1959 Lotus Seven S  1 £1036 “F”
1959 Lotus Seven S  1 £1546 “C”
1959 Lotus Seven S  1 £536 Kit form Eng’options
1960 Lotus Seven S 2 £587 Kit form
1961 Lotus Seven S 2 £499 Kit form
1962 Lotus Seven S 2 £868
1962 Lotus Super Seven £681 pt£350 inc cr gears
1962 Lotus Super Seven £599 Kit form without cr
1965 Lotus Super Seven £645 Kit form without extra
1965 Lotus Super Seven £695 pt£173
c 1968 Lotus Seven S 3 £775 Kit form
c 1968 Lotus Seven S 3 £1250 Kit form SS Twin cam
1969 Lotus Seven S 3 £1600 SS
c1970 Lotus Seven S 4 £895 Kit form
c1970 Lotus Seven S 4 £1245 Kit form Twin cam
c1970 Lotus Seven S 4 £1265 Kit form Holbay
c1973 Lotus Seven S IV £1487
1963 Lotus Elite £1451 Kit form Special Equip
c 1963 Lotus Elite £1966 inc-p’tax
1965 Lotus Elan £1187 £249


Lotus Elan Sprint £2436
1971 Lotus Europa £1595 Kit form Twin cam
1971 Lotus Europa £1715 Twin cam
c1973 Lotus Europa Spec £2436
1983 Lotus Esprit S3 £15380
1997 Lotus Elise £20950 1.8i
2013 Lotus Elise £29050 1.6
2013 Lotus Elise £37205 1.8S
2013 Lotus Evora £53080 3.5 V6
2013 Lotus Evora £62290 3.5 V6S


C 1961 Marcos Spyder                                           £830 [kit] estimated

Haynes in “Guide to Component Cars “, c 1966

1964 [on introduction] Marcos 1800 [Volvo]        £2,283. [Complete including tax]

C1966                                                                                    £1,429. [Kit]

£1,430. [Complete + £299 tax]

Marcos 1800 L [Live rear axle]                               £1,310. [Kit]

C1967 Marcos -1600]                                              £1,316

1965 Mini Marcos                                                    £199 [basic kit]

1970-71 Marcos Mantis                                          £3,185 built [£2,425 kit]

C1973 Mini Marcos Mk.IV                                      £324 [part kit including VAT]

                                                                                    £357 [complete kit]

1992 Mini Marcos                                                    £10,685 [export spec’ 1275 cc engine]

£1,639 [basic kit Inc VAT]

£575 [glass] & £382 trim]

C1992 Marcos Mantula                                          £25,000 approx.,

Additional Peer Price Comparison [£-rounded] Majority of figures include taxes.

1961 Autocar Road Tests/ Motor Sports Car Road Tests:

  • AC Greyhound                                             £3,087
  • AC Ace                                                          £2,094
  • Alexander Turner                                         £1.052
  •           Ditto      950                                         £815
  •             Ditto    Kit                                           £550
  • Austin Healey Sprite Mk.I                           £678
  • Berkley Sport 2 Seater                                £574
  • Jaguar E Type                                              £2,097-£2,160
  • Gordon Keeble                                             £3,045
  • Saab 96                                                         £885
  • VW Beetle                                                     £716
  • Sunbeam Alpine                                          £985
  • Morris Mini Travellor                                    £623
  • TVR Grantura                                               £1,298
  • Lotus Elite                                                    £1,966
  • Lotus Seven                                                            £1,157
  • Lotus Eleven Le Mans                              £2,501

C 1962 “The Motor”

  • Gilbern Mk.1             MGA 1600     Kit       £978
  • Morris Mini Cooper  997cc                         £679
  • M.G. Midget                                                   £689
  • Reliant Sabre                                               £1,164
  • Sunbeam Harrington Le Mans                  £1,556

1964 Autocar Road Tests

  • Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider                          £1,396
  • Chevrolet Stingray                                       £3,323
  • Reliant Sabre Six                                         £1.076
  • Fiat 500 D                                                      £399
  • Renault R8 1100                                         £674

C1965/66 “The Motor “Sports Car Road Tests

  • Ford Lotus Cortina                                       £1,100
  • Gilbern GT                 MGB               Kit       £995

£1,260 -£1,408

  • E Type Jaguar                                              £1,992
  • MGB                                                               £870
  • Morris Cooper S                                           £695
  • Reliant Sabre Six                                         £1,075
  • Sunbeam Alpine                                          £891
  • Triumph Spitfire                                           £729
  • Volvo 1800                                                    £1,836

Projected Futures


Recently the future of Lotus has been cast into doubt. There have been concerns about its financial viability, possible sale and relocation. Lotus has been owned by Proton since 1996. Proton suggest that the future is secure but we are not privy to long term strategic plans or perhaps the vagaries of world economics and motor car demand.

Recent senior staff have included A.Farikullah and S.Z.Abidin.

Lotus has enjoyed considerable success and international acclaim with the Elise.

In 2002 Lotus were granted The Queens Award for Enterprise. In 2010 five new proposed models were introduced at the Paris Motor Show. These were to be released over a five year period. This seemed too many somewhat over ambitious.

The recent range has included the Elise, Exige, and Evora.

The editors feel that the dilemma that surrounds Lotus is focused on its role. Lotus Consulting possible contribute deign to most of the cars in production today but these are invisible and my necessity secret .Its possibly also the greater source of income. The Lotus production models possible playing a promotional role and show case for the consultancy wing. Their economics partly assisted by shared components or related economies of scale. In absolute accountancy/ economic terms they may not be fully viable. Lotus as such cannot cross subsidize as larger manufacturers might across their range that might include commercial vehicles etc.

Lotus possibly also suffers from placement in the hierarchy of brands. Chapman realized that the economics of the enthusiast sports car was barely viable. He intentionally took the range up market. However in the process reputations, quality, resale value, perception and value for money become critical. No longer in a defined niche competition with the major manufacturers is not easy. Not just Lotus but other British specialist sports cars manufacturers find themselves between a rock and a hard place unable to go back or climb out. Their reputations increasingly becoming regressive and the once predominant purchasing category older and not being seen as so cool as by the younger audience. FI has the means to keep the brand in the forefront of prospective purchasers but this really requires success and is expensive so much so that only the mass producers can afford the cost and potential loss. Chapman achieved miracles with relatively low budgets but he was increasingly aware of the need for ever increasing spend and investment in R&D

It’s to be hoped that Lotus can succeed in the current generation of FI and that this might translate into a wider purchasing appeal in the emerging markets of the East and South America etc.

As off 2014 Lotus engineering are believed to be involved or providing consultancy to over one hundred projects for some of the largest motor corporations. It’s likely much of this might involve hybrid technologies although the full extent has and is likely to remain a secret for commercial reasons.


The future of Marcos is unknown. However it is to be assumed that this specialist marque with a considerable reputation and following [rather like TVR] can expected to be revived in the future.

The vulnerability of the specialist manufacturers does enable Lotus to be considered an achiever and survivor.

The Proposed CCM&EC

The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

Consistent with the application of benchmarking is a series of exhibitions based on the display and evaluation of Colin Chapman/ Lotus and their main competitors. This might take the form of contrasting marque histories, competition, and design construction and assembly methods. Noting how history and changing assessments and perceptions impact on marketing etc.

Cars and design objects can be placed in juxtaposition for maximum interpretation value. In addition test runs and other photo opportunities can be exploited.

Merchandising opportunities are extensive.

Cooperation with marque owner clubs and manufacturers museums could be sought.

This provides some exciting opportunities because of the extreme contrasts not least visual in many cases. In addition it allows the proposed museum to examine an important and continuing manufacturing activity so desperately needed which embraces a British culture, success and continuity.

An exhibition and interpretation of this nature also permits vivid graphic and practical demonstrations of sustainability in the more considered holistic context.


Our study of Marcos and Lotus provides fascinating insights into the dynamics of British culture, technology, the motor industry, and manufacturing. These have changed dramatically over time. By examining the interrelationships it’s hoped lessons can be learnt.FI and the specialist car manufacturers have been and remain significant drivers of innovation and component of our economy and exports.

Through our study it’s possible to establish links and bridges between tastes, demand, and organizational delivery to end product. Attempts can be made to extrapolate success and efficiency through costs, sales and longevity.

The specialist car providers play an important role in individuality and choice. They have existed to develop and deliver products that excel in their chosen field and specifically driving pleasure, performance or unique aesthetics. Small companies are often best placed to do this with their greater adaptability and flexibility. They enhance democracy but often struggle in real world economics. By debating and exploring the interwoven linkages it’s hoped that specialist manufacturers can continue. In some small way the editors hope that we can contribute to the continuity by addressing and explaining the interrelationship of costs, the role of budgets, performance, and value for money and peer competition. We hope this will assist engineers and entrepreneurs understand success and failure and the ingredients of both. From a foundation of analysis we hope they might design build and market with a successful formula.

The achievements of Lotus can be seen to be that much greater in the context of the obstacles they have overcome and the products they continue to develop and bring to the market.

Using the comparative analysis that the A&R adopts it’s hoped that the merit of Colin Chapman and Lotus are seen a worthy of a museum. As such the investment is intended to:-

  • Promote Car sales and engineering
  • Contribute to national economy through tourism
  • Support and integrate with local economy to support enriched tourism within the experience economy
  • Contribute to the development and education of engineers and entrepreneurs
  • Reduce welfare by increasing education and self-sufficiency and skills
  • Promote the wider cultural dimension of design through engineering

The editors are developing a series of comparative articles that will evaluate Lotus against:-

  • TVR
  • Ginetta
  • Gilbern
  • Elva
  • Chevron
  • Bond
  • Reliant
  • Turner
  • Lola

Please let us know if you would like other marques to be included and any preference in sequence.




*Marcos: Making My Marque.Jem Marsh.Poulton Lodge.2009

ISBN: 9780956296801

**Marcos.DM Barber.Cedar.1995.

ISBN: 0951700294

Motor Sports Car Road Tests. Temple Press.1965

The Lotus Book .W.Taylor.Coterie Press.1999.

High Performance Cars.Autosport. [Morgan with a difference –John Bolster- TOK 258]

Motor Sports Car Road Tests second Series. Temple Press.1965

Guide to Used Sports Cars Vol’s I &II .J.H.Haynes.Haynes.c 1965

Lotus –The Legend. David Hodges.Parragon.1998.

ISBN: 0752520741

Specialist Sports Cars.R.Heseltine.Haynes.2001.

ISBN: 1859606903

Guide to Component Cars. JH Haynes.Haynes.1966


The Worlds Racing Cars.Twite.Macdonald.1964

British Auto Legends…Zumbrunn/Heseltine.Merrrell.2007

ISBN: 9781858944944

A&R library

Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.

*Available at British Library

**Available Surrey County Council Library

Ascenseurs Marcos