Jem Marsh was born Jeremy George Weston Marsh in Clifton, Bristol on 15th April 1930. An inspired engineer and an accomplished racing driver, he became a constructor in 1959. He formed a partnership with designer Frank Costin and so MARsh and COStin became what today can only be described as classic car company, Marcos Cars.
Costin had spent the war years at De Havilland Aircraft Co. working on the Mosquito, the famous `wooden-wonder`. Not only did he have great experience with laminated plywood he also saw a practical use for it in the post-war automotive industry.
The company based itself in Luton, Bedfordshire. Motor racing, always Marsh`s greatest love, took up much of his time. The odd racing car made it onto the roads but generally the focus was racing in the early years. There were some outstanding successes, notably 1966 at Le Mans when a French-entered Mini-Marcos was the only British-built car to complete the 24 hours.
Early Marcos production concentrated mostly on racing cars and only a few `escapees` got onto the road. These cars were made in small numbers and were modified out of recognition throughout the 1960s. It would be pointless to publish their ex-works data now, even if we could find it.
The classic Marcos GT body design of 1964 went on, hardly modified, for many years. However, the increasing power output of Marcos engines rendered the ply-wood chassis obsolete. A new steel chassis was introduced in 1969 for the next generation of GTs. The Marcos GT had been fitted with a variety of engines mostly from Ford and Volvo when in 1970 Marcos decided to put the 3-litre Volvo GT into production. The car, like all the previous GTs, was identical except for the power-train.
In 1971 Marcos decided to use the Ford Essex V6 3-litre unit instead. Being cheaper, with no appreciable detriment to performance, the Ford was quite successful except for the US market. The Ford`s emissions were too dirty and they insisted on the Volvo engine. Therefore Ford Essex V6s were never fitted in US-bound Marcos`, in case you were wondering.
From 1971 to 1976 Marcos was under the stewardship of R.R.C.Walker of Corsham, Wiltshire. Rob Walker, a truly larger-than-life character, ran a car dealer-ship in Corsham for anything quick, including Marcos. He stepped in and bought the company to save it from bankruptcy. He had no great ambition to go into sports-car production. However, he was totally committed to racing.
Rob Walker was the last of a breed of privateers that we shall never see again. He owned and ran his own Formula 1 team, usually with a single Cooper-Climax and usually driven by Stirling Moss. He campaigned for several years with considerable success. During the 1971 – 1976 period Walker sold a few Marcos kit-cars and kept the name alive.
In 1976 Rob Walker handed the company back to Jem Marsh. Marsh sold the production license to Harold Dermot of Midas Cars who continued kit production. Production finally ceased in 2002 although the occasional new car appears in the West Country. The future of Marcos is unknown at this moment. What we do know is that whatever comes out is sure to be a future classic car same as it’s older siblings.
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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.
In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.
As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.
At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!
When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.
I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.
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