Marcos Diary - Trials and tribulations of living with a 40 year old car!

Subj: 2009 - 50th Anniversary Rally, Prescott Hillclimb

We set off from Fleet about 8:30 - Figured it would take 2 hours or so to reach Prescott and, thanks to light traffic on the M4, that was about right.

As my Marcos is still lingering unroadworthy in the garage, we couldn't park in the paddock on arrival, but there weren't many visitor's cars in the Orchard, so this wasn't too much of a problem.

We spotted Cor's truck along with a Topcats truck and another racing teams parked at the bottom of the hill, which promised some interesting vehicles would be present.

We wandered over to the paddock and were immediately greeted by ranks of Mantises, TSOs and other later model Marcoses. The concourse had been the previous day so, although most cars were clean, people weren't obsessing over polishing their chromed valve caps and such, so the atmosphere was buzzing, but relaxed.

Prescott buzzing as we arrived

It didn't take long to spot Cor's Mantises parked alongside the LM600 raced at Le Mans in 1995 (Where's the other one? Did it turn into one of Cor's EVOs?) and the Topcats Orange trimmed Mantis racer, seen only the previous week at Castle Combe.

Former Le Mans LM600 resplendent in Computacenter livery

Moving on past V6s and 1800 GTs, we also spotted a rare Mantis 2+2 or two amongst the throng and then we came to a small green on which sat the Mantis XP racer, a green V8 engined coupe (turned out this was fitted with the Martin V8 that the Adams brothers had once harboured hopes of fitting to the GT) and the one and only Probe 15.

Mantis 2+2

I re-introduced myself to the Morris brothers (Ned and Chris) and their ever friendly Mum, Roberta, who I had met back in 2002 when I and a few US owners had visited the car, when they'd generously let me drive it.

XP looking amazing after rebuild - Ran well, here with Ned and Chris on board

Of course, since then it's received a complete rebuild and now looks better than new and immaculate. It was great too to see it runs well, with Ned giving the car a fair number of good runs up the Prescott Hillclimb throughout the day.

The Probe too was in the ownership of an old friend. I'd known Goran Mitevski since shortly after I bought my car in 1989, when we worked for the same computer company (albeit in different countries) and he purchased a Mini-Marcos. Sadly a breakdown of the tow car meant the Mini-Marcos got no further than Calais, but the Probe 15 was here and he and his colleague (Marcel) showed my how they had restored the car to its original format after it was heavily modifed by a previous owner.

Goran's unique Probe 15 was a centre of attraction all day

Peter Adams had been along to give his seal of approval for the originality of the design now and it certainly looked amazing, given the tight schedule to get the car to Prescott - Little surprise either that the tiny Imp powered car wasn't yet a runner, but Goran believes it will be so by Spring 2010 (after he and Marcel have returned to their lives for a while!). I'd not seen Goran in nearly 15 years, so it was great to chat over old times, cars and share a beer. Wonderful, too, to see his Probe which attracted as much attention as the XP and shared a number of design cues (the windscreen shape been a notable one).

After watching a number of cars blasting up the hill, with local TVG member Dave Collier's LM500 being one of the first, we walked up to view the whole track and catch the cars in action. The Le Mans LM600 was driven up very cautiously, as were a number of the V8 cars.

Many owners gave the hill a go

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the nimble Mini-Marcoses that seemed most at home on the tight and twisty climb, but a number of owners of the 1800s and V6s were certainly giving their cars a good 'go' as were some of the V8 owners.

We came across an immaculate Costin Amigo at the MOC tent just below the Pardon hairpin, which was another great moment in the day for me as I had never seen one first hand. This was the car that Frank Costin developed after parting company with Marcos and is, surely, a sign of the direction the brand may have gone in, had the aerodynamicist retained his involvement. Great car though it is, it was made in tiny numbers, so Jem's more commercial approach clearly made more sense.

Rare Costin Amigo - A lost Marcos?

Fortunately, there didn't seem to be many serious incidents throughout the day and some of the cars, not least Cor's Mantis which was providing passenger rides (something we found out far too late in the day, so we missed the chance), seemed to be taking another run every 15 minutes or so.

Cor Euser ran passenger rides all day

The XP was spotted a good few times and a Mini Marcos with a spare wheel and petrol can on a roof rack was driven enthusiastically all day (having a slight, but hopefully not too damaging off, around lunch time).

XP did plenty of runs too

Roof racked Mini Marcos was driven enthusiastically

After the speed runs, the majority of the cars took the hill for a cavalcade (led by Marcus Barr's LM400 bearing a huge Union Jack).

Marcus Barr's LM400 and flag

Back in the paddock we took in the stalls (and come Christmas I will have a ceramic Marcos too!) and admired more of the cars, I took a good few photos of the GT that tried to qualify for Le Mans in 1968 and was able say hello to its owner, Michael Royson just before he departed. Before he sent me a photo of the car recently, I was unaware it still existed and it looked as well finished as any of the other cars on 'the green' and probably deserved its place next to the XP too.

Le Mans GT a great car - The spiritual ancestor to the Mantis racer

As we wandered amongst the great and the not so great, but clearly equally enjoyed, Marcos, Mini Marcoses and other related cars, we noted that Mini Marcoses are either in great nick or sheds, but that the sheds are often quicker than the tidy examples and that Mini Marcos owners seem to be a happy lot.

Smart Mini racer

Not so smart roadcar

Tidy road car did lots of runs

The Luton Gullwing and early fastback GT were great too, the green 'Luton' sounding especially fierce on the hill, but it was a slight shame that the Ugly Duckling or Speedex special weren't present.

Luton Gullwing sounded great

Fastback another great early car

The ex-Jonathon Palmer Modsport car was another notable car that was noticable by its absence, but with well over 200 cars present and some truly unique cars, this was barely an issue.

At the end of the day another cavalcade run was held and Gary Harman generously offered his passenger seat so that i got to to ride up the hill after all.

Gary treats me to a run up the hill : Photo David Lewis

Right behind us was Paul Friday's much modified LM600 road car. Purists might not like 'The Satsuma' but the build quality and attention to detail is incredible and you can't help but that think that had Marcos evolved the car to such a degree it would have been a real 'Top Trumps' icon!

Mandy cadged a lift in the LM600 : Photo David Lewis

Mandy craftily cadged a lift in it too, having admired it all day (Orange is one of her favourite colours), so thanks Paul for making her day (and for all the times I'm going to hear that she rode in the LM600 and I never did - Although my California drive in the XP will be an unsurpassable experience, I suspect).

As people started to leave, we headed for the M4 and home. We did pass one silver 3 Litre GT near Cheltenham, but we never saw another Marcos until we reached home and I popped into the garage and saw my car sitting there.

The view from Gary's Mantis as we reached the top of the climb

It was a sad thought that I'd missed the chance to really participate in probably the greatest Marcos event of all time, but equally I would have hated to have not got there and seen the cars and people that the marque such a great one, despite it relative obscurity.

If you weren't there, perhaps these few photos and videos will give a taste of the day, but you really did miss out!

Paul Rich guns it out of Pardon - The spirit of the event?

You can see many more of my photos from Prescott on my fotopic site

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