British-built sports cars have an uncanny way of bouncing back from the grave and the latest brand to undergo resurrection is Marcos. Earlier this year, Marcos's Dutch owner pulled the plug on its UK manufacturing facilities, but with the help of American money the firm has been revived once again.
Competent though the Marcasite is, it does not have a unique selling point. This could be a problem as its price puts the Marcos head-to-head against the Porsche Boxster S and TVR Tamora which offer superlative driving appeal and performance. British-built sports cars have an uncanny way of bouncing back from the grave and the latest brand to undergo resurrection is Marcos. Earlier this year, Marcos’s Dutch owner pulled the plug on its UK manufacturing facilities, but with the help of American money the firm has been revived once again.
Currently trading under the name of Marcos Engineering, the Wiltshire-based outfit is back in the business of making sports cars. The revival of the company also sees the return of Jem Marsh, the founder of Marcos back in the Sixties. The badge on the new Marcasite TS250 is another re-minder of that decade.
The Marcasite, named after a precious metal, is loosely based on the underpinnings of the old Mantis, but boasts a neatly resculpted fibreglass body. This dispenses with the curious kink over the rear wheelarches which became a Marcos trademark – and was always a point of contention.
The newcomer also benefits from a Ford Duratec 2.5-litre V6 replacing the previous Rover and Mustang-sourced V8s under the long, long bonnet. The use of the Mondeo powerplant, and its wiring loom and engine management system, means that the 180bhp Marcasite does not have the brutal power of the old models. But it does cruise through today’s tighter emissions regulations and in theory could be serviced by your local Ford dealer. The engine might lack the aural impact of the V8s, but it certainly sounds a lot fruitier in the two-seat roadster than it does in the Ford that donated it, thanks to some exhaust tuning.
Performance is fine too, and according to the claimed figures that V6 will thrust the bellowing Marcos from zero to 60mph in 5.9 seconds. While that time is perfectly respectable, the Marcasite is happier playing the Grand Tourer, preferring to lope along rapidly on 220Nm of torque rather than being blitzed towards the red line for every gearchange. And even when pushed, it doesn’t feel especially quick, providing drivers with a further incentive not to press on too hard.
In fact, the whole character of the Marcasite, from its relaxed ride to its spacious boot, suggests cruiser rather than bruiser, which is no bad thing so long as you appreciate that fact from the outset. Marcos promises that the strangely inconsistent feel of the steering on our test model will be fixed by the time customers receive their cars.
Although the cabin is tight for shoulder room, it’s comfortable, and the turned aluminium-finished facia is especially stylish. Marcos has even made some of its own switchgear to avoid the kit car look which blights so many low-volume sports machines – although enthusiasts will spot the Mondeo tail lamps and Peugeot headlights. Another quirk is having electrically adjustable pedals instead of movable seats. While that’s a clever feature, the fact that air-con and full leather trim are costly options isn’t so smart given the competitive nature of the market.
* Classic British sports car name resurrected again