The Marcos GT - Xylon ...
The first Marcos was conceived in a pub in Hitchin, Herts in May 1959 where
Jem Marsh met Frank Costin at a 750 Club Branch meeting. The name Marcos
originated from the first three letters of their surnames. Frank Costin
worked for the De Havilland Aircraft Company where he worked on
wooden-framed aircraft and aerodynamics with his brother Mike Costin (who
later went on to put his name to Cosworth). Costin put his aviation design
skills to good use and designed a lightweight wooden laminate monocoque body
Built in Dolgellau, North Wales, Costin's designs were to have the load
paths taken around the perimeter of the car resulting in large sills (
torsion boxes ) and tiny doors, which were linked by bulkheads. The roof
structure supported the gullwing doors. Mahogany, spruce and birch marine
plywood were used to build the entire body / chassis unit including the
gullwing doors. A glass fibre nose, and rear quarters were developed as an
alternative to the original design – which was to laminate the double
curvatures in plywood, but this proved too costly. The original Ford 100E
engine of the prototype was replaced with the 105E engine on all production
cars. Of the 9 cars built between 1959 and 1960, a four piece windscreen was
a main feature, and the car was originally fitted with cycle wings.
|“ The team worked until the small hours every morning to finish the first prototype….. the car was finally running at 3 o’clock one morning and taken on a test run through the town of Dolgellau with open exhaust, hotly pursued by ‘Jones the Police’ “|
following morning the car overheated. Marsh who hadn’t had a proper night’s
sleep for three weeks drove into some road works at over 50mph, the car
leapt into the air and crashed down again. Marsh stopped to inspect the
damage and both he and Costin agreed that the wooden body / chassis unit was
here to stay!"
Jem Marsh - 1973
The first production model debuted in March 1960 in London. It was named the
"Xylon” ( Greek for wood ). The car was also nicknamed the “Ugly Ducking”
and “Wooden Wonder”, and marketed as the Marcos GT. "The Motor" referred to
it as an interesting newcomer with the cabin and snout of a light airplane
rolling on four cycle-fendered wheels and more recently described as being “
reminiscent of a miniature greenhouse on a skateboard ”.
It was extremely effective on the race track being both fast and streamlined for its day. It was built purely as a race car to compete in 750 Motor Club events drivers included Jackie Stewart, Bill Moss and Jackie Oliver, to name a few. John Sutton was one of the first racing drivers to buy an Ugly Duckling Marcos, and Bill Moss achieved nine victories in 10 starts and set five lap records in the 1 Litre GT class.
The Marcos GT was sold and distributed by the Monocoque Body & Chassis
Company Ltd (MBC). By the end of 1960 Costin withdrew from the project. The
names that were to become synonymous with the classic Marcos shape arrived
in the form of Dennis and Peter Adams, and production moved to Luton.