Sixty years of Marcos sports cars will be a key celebration during the eighth Castle Combe Autumn Classic on Saturday 5 October.
To mark 60 years since the late Jem Marsh built his first Marcos, a huge gathering of both road-going and racing examples of the Marcos marque will be on hand and it is hoped to bring one of the 1995 LM600 Le Mans cars to the event. Club Marcos International will be strongly represented in the display of road cars.
First run in 2012, the Autumn Classic is now firmly established as a must-do date on the classic racing calendar and consistently delivers glorious racing from grids full of cars of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
It was in 1959 that Jem Marsh built the first Marcos sports car and the Autumn Classic will honour the 60th anniversary of one of Britain’s most successful and best-loved specialist car manufacturers. Marcos cars have been racing at Castle Combe since June 1962 and the race debut of the Mini Marcos was at the Wiltshire track in September 1965. In 2001, Boyzone star Shane Lynch finished seventh in a British GT race at Castle Combe in a Marcos Mantis GTO. Over the years, many famous drivers raced example of the marque, including Jackie Stewart, Derek Bell, David Leslie and Jonathan Palmer.
The company was based in Bradford-on-Avon and then moved to a purpose-built factory in Westbury in 1971. The small and dedicated team delivered race-winning cars and striking road cars for nearly half a century. Through the 1960s, production was spear-headed by the sleek Volvo-powered 1800GT and the Mini Marcos. Later, models like the Mantula and Mantis took centre stage and the Mantis featured in a high-profile one-make race series in the late 1990s.
In 1995, Marcos returned to Le Mans with the mighty LM600 and enjoyed great success in the British GT Championship. Later the company was taken over but production finally ceased in 2008.
Jem Marsh, who created the company with Frank Costin, was a remarkable engineer, designer and racer and was joined in the company by his son Chris over a story spanning six decades. Both Jem and Chris raced and won at Castle Combe and Chris was a Formula Ford contemporary of Ayrton Senna in 1981. Jem died in 2015, aged 84.
Chris Marsh, who is returning to racing and his Marcos roots after 20 years, said: “The family loves the idea of celebrating the Marcos heritage and remembering Jem. We hope to have lots of cars on show and maybe some race cars for the demonstration laps. We also hope to have several of the earlier cars racing on the day with the Historic Racing Drivers Club and we’ll create an award in Jem’s memory for the best performance in a Marcos.”
For more details about the Castle Combe Autumn Classic, visit www.autumnclassic.co.uk
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Pictured: Car 71 finishing at Le Mans in 1995, with Chris Marsh at the wheel