1993 Marcos Heritage MkVI
It is incredible to think that the Mini Marcos was first launched in the mid-1960s, and its concept is slightly older if you factor in its inspiration the DART.
The DART was the brainchild of narcoleptic test pilot and racing driver — yes, it was exactly as dangerous as it sounds; he had to be prodded awake on the Goodwood startline — Dizzy Addicott (hence Dizzy Addicott Racing Team), and was a one-off glassfibre monocoque racer housing Mini running gear and subframes. Based on a crashed van, it was built for Addicott by Paul Emery (of Emeryson fame) and spawned both the Mini Jem and the Mini Marcos, of which about 1500 have been built.
Jem Marsh sold his kit on-and-off from 1965 to 1996; then Rory McMath’s Marcos Heritage picked up the rights along with the other remnants of Marcos when it went under in 2000 and from 2005 has offered Marcos cars for sale.
This strikingly bright yellow demonstrator is a bit of a legend in that it started off as a workshop project for a bunch of apprentices and has since been driven by hundreds, possibly thousands, of potential buyers of kits or completed cars.
McMath says: ‘When we relaunched it we thought most would go out as kit cars, so I bought the lads in the workshop a 1993 Mini Cooper, totally revamped by Summerford Minis up the road, gave them a bodyshell, and told them to build it and create an instruction manual as they went along. Mechanically it is completely standard except for our LCB manifold and hi-lo suspension. Since then it’s been the only demonstrator Marcos Heritage has ever had. It is a MkIV, but we have to call it a Heritage MkVI [or GT if in racing spec] because Mr BMW got very uppity about me using the word Mini.’
I first drove this car maybe a decade ago. Then I just took it for a quick blast at the end of the day and I didn’t write anything. I couldn’t focus anyway, so in love was I with the car.
So I knew as soon as we set up The Saint 1600GT photo shoot (see last issue) that I would persuade Rory to let me out again in the Heritage MkVI and he was happy to throw me the keys. I can appreciate that a lot of people don’t get the appeal in either the looks or the drive, but this car just fits me physically and perfectly matches the low-speed thrills and high-adrenaline hi-jinks I want from a car. It is all about the delicacy and accuracy of the inputs, the immediacy of the response and the way in which the driver becomes at one with the vehicle, as if it is just the clothes they wear. Sure, big engines and racing cars can be sensational, but I promise they are no more fun.
And still, even after a lifetime of driving classic cars, I can think of nothing that you can legally take on the road that carries a greater percentage of its speed through roundabouts. That might seem an odd claim to fame, but it is one that has stuck with me.
Marcos Heritage may sell only a handful a year, but at £8500 plus VAT for a Stage 1 road car kit (add £250 for the GT version; see rory.uk.com) it must still be making those owners extremely happy for such a modest outlay.
And now I want one even more than I did ten years ago.
Left and below A Mini Marcos in all but name, and still available in kit form — editor Elliott reckons it's an absolute riot to drive.