A Marcos Mantula proves that a V-8 makes everything better
Marcos Engineering is one of those niche British carmakers whose products don’t cross our paths very often. After the introduction of the rather unconventional Marcos GT Xylon in 1959, the pair of engineer Jem Marsh and aerodynamicist Frank Costin came up with fiberglass sports cars such as the Luton Gullwing, the 1800 GT, the potent Mini Marcos, the Mantis, and even a failed Group 6 prototype called the Mantis XP. However, after less than 13 years of playing with highly aromatic epoxy resins, Marcos Engineering went into liquidation in 1972.
In 1981, Marcos made a comeback using a number of readily available engines for its kit cars, including the same Buick-based Rover V-8 that made such a bang on the British Isles. At the time, this engine was powering everything from Land Rovers through MGB GTs, various TVRs, the Morgan Plus 8, and of course the mighty Rover SD1.
The V-8 found its way into the Marcos Mantula in 1983 along with a five-speed gearbox. Packing the 3.5-liter in its early years, this sub-2000-pound coupé was first upgraded to the 3.9-liter fuel-injected engine and even got the independent rear suspension of a Ford Sierra. Jem Marsh built around 170 coupé kits before Marcos left the kit car business in favor of factory-built cars.
As Petrolicious demonstrates, this 1986 Mantula now lives a happy life in Belgium: