British sports car makers are a bit like rock stars from a bygone era. Some of them stick around for decades releasing hit after hit (Lotus), while others release a few belters before vanishing off the face of the Earth only to appear with another cracker a decade later. A bit like Noble. And, of course, there are the stars who constantly fall out with other band members and only periodically make up for the odd reunion tour. This is Marcos.
Take a look back through the Marcos archives and it’s clear it discovered a winning formula early on. The distinct Kamm tail silhouette made its road car debut with the GT in the 1960s and was carried right through to the company’s closure in late 2007. Well, one of its closures. That being said, while the early cars were arguably more elegant in design, later models were proper British bruisers. Just look at the second iteration of the Marcos Mantis - with probably the most flared wheel arches of all time - and the mighty LM600 racer.
But the car we have here, the Mantaray, is the ultimate mix of Marcos’ earlier elegance and its slightly mad senior years. The Mantaray took the clean-yet-muscular lines of the Mantara GTS and introduced the first major change to the rear of the car since the original GT. The tail sat a little higher and wider, ditching the tapered-in design of the cars that came before yet retaining the distinctive Kamm tail look.
Crucially, though, it was available with a host of engines. These included a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated Rover Tomcat motor, plus a turbocharged variant, along with Rover V8s in 4.0 and 4.6-litre capacities - which is extraordinary, really, given that the Mantaray was built in extremely limited numbers. Naturally V8s accounted for the majority of sales, with 18 cars, while eight others are believed to have been built with half-pint four pots. Only a British sports car would offer four engine options for a 26-strong production run.
Of course, it had intended to build more, until, you guessed it, the company went bankrupt and production ground to a halt. That was until it found a wealthy Canadian investor, who managed to kickstart production of the V6-engined Marcasite and the wonderfully different TSO GT2, both of which were produced in extremely limited numbers throughout the 2000s before the business went under in 2007. Again. Only, it bounced back once more in 2010 with the mid-engine Spirit 220, moving Marcos into a new era of cars no longer clinging on to the legacy of the original GT. Yet, here we are in 2022 and the Marcos name has seemingly been resigned to the history books. For now, at least.
This Mantaray may just be the perfect example of Marcos in its heyday. It’s one of seven cars manufactured with the 4.6-litre V8, with power coming in at 324hp (numbers vary online, so feel free to correct us in the comments). Not bad for a car weighing a smidge over a tonne, resulting in what we’d expect to be a very slippery rear axle. What makes this model even more special, however, is that it’s the original UK press car, with clippings from various car magazines included in the sale. Sweet.
So, how does £29,995 sound for an ultra-rare slice of British sports history? It’s covered 36,000 miles and, to quote the ad, a “stack of paperwork” documenting all the paperwork that’s been done. There’s even a walkaround video so you can get a closer look for yourself. It may not have the futuristic appeal of a TVR Tuscan, or the yesteryear charm of a Morgan, but it’s certainly got all the ingredients that go into making a British icon.
SPECIFICATION | Marcos Mantaray
Engine: 4,554cc V8
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 324@4,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 281@3,100rpm
Year registered: 1998
Recorded mileage: 36,000
Price new: £39,000
Yours for: £29,995
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