06 May 2011
David and Goliath in miniature - David Wright puts the spotlight on model maker Corgi and British sports car manufacturer Marcos. ...
This is the story of a Goliath of models makers, Corgi, and its consistent support of a small and specialist all-British sports car manufacturer, Marcos. However, this story has some unexpected twists and turns in it, both in the real cars and in the models, for it reveals a connection that may not be too well-known. So, read on, it’s got a few biblical parallels!
In the beginning, the name Marcos came about from the fusion of two larger-than-life characters. Into the frame first comes former stuntman Jeremy George Weston Marsh who, after a career in the navy, established a reputation as an engineer and specialist supplier of parts for those fibreglass kit cars that were all the rage in the 1950s.
Through his driving exploits, he met Frank Costin, an aerodynamicist and former Olympic swimmer. Their first foray into car manufacture was in 1959 with a wooden framed, ultra-lightweight Lotus Seven style car which was brilliant on the track, especially in the hands of Jackie Stewart, but known either as the Xylon or the ‘ugly duckling’ for its rather chunky styling.
Clearly needing more help in the design department, they were joined by Dennis Adams, who had previously worked with Lister, who brought with him his brother Peter, a carpenter no less (see – how very biblical!). A more aerodynamic shape was produced, known as the Marcos GT, and the first sold to future F1 driver Jackie Oliver.
And so, Marsh-Costin was born and, as a result of excellent successes on the track, including one GT being driven by a then unknown driver Jackie Stewart, orders were flowing. However, at this time a temporary split, in part due to financial difficulties, led to the Adams brothers developing the extraordinary supercar known as the XP in 1962, driven by a rear-mounted Chevrolet flat-six engine, with 3-abreast, and centrally steered seating (30 years before the Mclaren F1!). With new finance secured, Marsh knew that continued development of the XP was of interest to a limited market and so the Adams brothers came up with an altogether more stylish conception, purely for road use, which was launched at the 1964 Racing Car Show. The Volvo-engined sensation had arrived and it stole the honours.