British Car Day Preview: 1970 Marcos GT

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If you’re going to be in the Boston area on the weekend of June 22nd and 23, and you’re in desperate need of a classic car fix, you can’t do much better than British Car Day at Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline. Every year the museum hosts more than two dozen lawn events which bring together cars and car fans from all over New England, and one of its most popular lawn events happens to be British Car Day. And it is one of the few events in the country where you have a chance of seeing some truly rare British machinery, like this 1970 Marcos GT.

Not exactly what pops into your mind when you think of a GT from Olde England, is it? The Marcos GT is a rare beast, no question about it. The company was founded as a kit car manufacturer in 1959 by Jim Marsch and Frank Costin. Their first car was called the Xylon, which looked approximately how the name sounded: like it came from outer space. And not the sleek, trendy sectors of outer space, but quite unappealing ones depicted in John Carpenter films. But their next car, the GT, was a resounding hit.

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The GT was first shown at Earl’s Court in 1963, and was extremely well received. The GT used a Volvo 2 liter engine in its home market, but for export markets the car utilized a Volvo 3.0 liter 6-cylinder B30 engine. But even with the 2.0 liter unit the car had no problems lighting up the rear tires, as it hardly weighed anything with its fiberglass body over a wood structure.

Speaking of Earl’s Court, why don’t we have cool names for venues for our car shows anymore? The British have Earl’s Court, we have Cobo. Which rhymes with only one thing. Well, two things actually, but I wasn’t thinking of “bobo”.

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In America, the Marcos GT was sold through the US Volvo dealership network in 1970 and 1972. A Marcos GT, in the same color as this example, happened to be featured on the cover of Car and Driver magazine in their December 1970 issue, with the headline “Mothers, hide your daughters! Marcos has arrived.”  Marcos had indeed arrived, but sales were not anything that the Big Three, or even Morris Garages, had to worry about. A total of about 150 examples were sold through Volvo dealers in the two years that the car was offered in the US.

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This example from 1970 is owned by Philip Perron, who took it to British Car Day at Larz Anderson in 2012. This car was pretty much in excellent condition throughout, and you’ve just got to love that orange paint. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this color looks great on almost every car from the 1970s, especially a small European one. Cadillac Coupe deVille – not so much.

This year’s British Car Day will take place on June 23rd at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts, just a few minutes southwest of Boston. Be there, or be square.

Browse the full gallery from last year below:

[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]


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8 responses to “British Car Day Preview: 1970 Marcos GT”

  1. Gooberpeaz Avatar

    Fantastic cars but there is no way to get out of one gracefully. Open the door and fall out head first…

  2. windbuechse Avatar

    God, I remember lusting for these when learning to drive. Then I saw one, at 6'5" there was no way.

    1. Jay_Ramey Avatar

      Deceptively tall in the first photo, isn't it? The driver is practically reclining in his seat.

      1. craigsu Avatar

        Wow, 89.5" (2273 mm) wheelbase and 42.5" (1080 mm) tall. It must be like trying to fit into a scale model. OTOH, that wheelbase is right in MGB GT territory, just 6" less height.

  3. Ate Up With Motor Avatar
    Ate Up With Motor

    For Americans who don't quite grasp the rationale for all these British kit cars, the selling point (other than the usual madness) was that in the '60s, cars bought in component form were generally exempt from British purchase tax, which was between 20 and 25% for most of the decade. The arrival of VAT in the early '70s upset a lot of fiberglass apple carts and a lot of that cottage industry didn't survive.

    1. Alcology Avatar

      I've got a question for you. Or anyone. Were all these kit cars put together at home or by professionals?

      1. Simon Avatar

        Hi you could pay the manufacturer to do some or all of the work.

  4. Alcology Avatar

    German car day was really interesting. I'm out of town this weekend, but I'm looking forward to going to more events in the future.