It’s not often in this internet-connected world that an auto enthusiasts can muster only raised eyebrows when an obscure, low-slung sports car rolls by. Usually you can at least venture a guess based on a manufacturer’s familiar-seeming styling. So it’s a bit of a humbling experience when we stumble across something that leaves us asking “what the heck is it?” If you haven’t had that feeling in a while, savor the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage featuring a bright blue 1971 Marcos GT.
Founded in 1959 by Jem Marsh and Frank Costin, Marcos (get it?) was a British manufacturer that got its start making tiny sports cars with four-cylinder Volvo engines and laminated plywood chassis. For real. This particular GT, being a later 1971 model, was one of 200 or so to feature a factory steel chassis and Ford’s 3.0-liter Essex V-6. While a 155 horsepower engine might not sound like a lot, it sure goes like stink when it’s only pushing 1700 pounds.
Its owner, Frazer Douglas, purchased this sports car after years of driving everything from Porsches to Datsuns. To him, there was something about the gorgeous styling, English heritage (as he’s a Brit himself), and the overall rarity of these cars in the United States that made it irresistible. The long hood and sloping Kammback rear looks like nothing else on the road. Leno goes so far to say that “If this car had an Italian badge, it would easily be worth $150,000 or more.”
From what we see, getting into the Marcos is almost as much of an experience as driving it. With fixed bucket seats and only 43 inches of overall height, prospective drivers need a certain level of finesse—and fitness for that matter—to squeeze in. Once seated, however, the GT rewards Leno with burly exhaust note and excellent driving dynamics. The pair cruise some of the twisty back roads surrounding LA, letting its composed chassis and grunty V-6 devour some pavement.
Both Leno and Douglas agree the Marcos punches above its weight class, with prices for excellent examples well below $50,000. Our own valuation data agrees, showing values for earlier, average-condition 1969 GTs at $19,000. If you do decide to pull the trigger on one, you can rest assured knowing that you’d be the only person with a Marcos GT at cars and coffee. Maybe even in your entire state.