PHer - and Marcos fan - Martin Allan
PHer Martin Allan (aka Cool Mart
) on life with a V8-engined plastic British sports car. Nope, the other plastic British sports car...
"My Marcos affair began seven years ago with the rash purchase of a Mantula Spyder through eBay, without actually seeing her. I drove to the Midlands with a pocket full of cash and drove away in the car cursing the lack of visibility, the closeness of the pedals and the roughness of the ride. I maintain to this day that if I'd test driven the car before I'd bought it I never would have parted with my hard earned cash! I drove the 100 miles home and by the time I arrived on my driveway I was in love with the whole Marcos experience, not least the reaction of people whenever they heard the roar or saw the gracious lines approaching.
"Five years down the road and only one thing could have persuaded me to part with the Mantula and that was another Marcos. I spotted the Mantaray (on eBay again) at a reasonable price and watched as over the space of a few months the seller reduced the price without luck. Sitting at my computer one Monday morning I fired a speculative offer to the seller more as an opening bid than anything else, and he replied with a despondent 'Ok... sh*t... now I've got to break the news to her indoors...!'
"That Saturday I travelled the 50 miles to view the car and after admiring the brand new engine, the new leather interior and the fresh respray I parted with a deposit and a large smile on my face. The car was delivered to my house on the back of a trailer the following week thus saving me the nervous first journey in the rain and in an unfamiliar car.
"The Mantaray design moved away from the 'steroidal' bulging Marcos design of the mid nineties, and more into line with the TVR Chimaera's subtle shape. But where there were over 6000 Chimaeras manufactured over the years, Marcos managed to build just 26 Mantarays, and just 7 of those were fitted with the 4.6 Rover engine I have lurking under the bonnet of mine. Such exclusivity does, however, come with a downside. Marcos never seemed to get beyond the prototype stage and every Mantaray I've seen seems to be slightly different in its manufacture, if it weren't for the knowledge of the guys down at Marcos Heritage Spares (the only Marcos specialist left) then we'd be stuck every time something fell off or needed replacing.
"There's something special about driving a car that very few people have heard of, especially one that looks as good as the Mantaray (IMHO). Many a stop for petrol has turned into an extended visit as people wander over to find out what the car is all about, and I never grow tired of talking about both the car and the Marque.
"Sitting with your bum just 9" off the ground and with that massive growling engine in front, you know you're in for petrol guzzling excitement every time you get in. The 4.6 engine is easy to drive both in town and on the open road, and the handling is let down only by the state of our roads. With a low centre of gravity and superb grip in the dry, a lot of fun can be had when the sun's shining, however if it's raining she can be a real handful with no ABS or traction control electrickery to bail me out when my self-perceived ability exceeds actual ability!"