I had never heard of this car before seeing it on eBay Motors. But that classic shape, much like a Datsun 260, quickly caught my attention. What is it? Mystery Car 117 is none other than a 1969 MARCOS 1600 GT. Yes, an oddball for sure. But wait until you read the seller’s description.
This is an extremely rare 1969 Marcos 1600 GT. Developed by Jem MARsh and Frank COStin. The Marcos uses an unusual plywood chassis with metal sub-frames to support the suspension at each end. Frank Costin had worked on the development of the famous WWII British Mosquito aircraft that primarily used wood in its construction and carried this strong and light weight construction technique over to his cars which where very successful in period motor sports. 1969 was the last year for the plywood chassis which although extremely lightweight and effective was simply too time consuming to build. Only 192 cars where built with the wood chassis and about half are believed to have survived making this quite rare indeed.
I’ve heard of the Woody, but a chassis made of plywood? Yes. “The chassis was fabricated from laminated 3 mm thin sheets of marine plywood.” 3 This must have made for a very light weight sports car. In 1964, the GT used a Volvo 1800 cc 4 cylinder, presumably the same one used in the Volvo P1800. (Just think, it could have been a Marcos with 3 million miles on it!) But these were later replaced by Ford 4 cylinders to lower the cost.2
In 1969, people were wanting more power, so steel replaced plywood and six cylinder engines replaced the four cylinders. The 140 hp Ford six was able to achieve 120 mph, but a combination of research for the Mantis, an expensive new factory, and low sales caused the company to enter bankruptcy in 1971.3 Read the rest of the Wikipedia article or visit the current company website to find out what happened after that.