Introduced in 1965, the Mini Marcos has been in virtually
unbroken production for over 12 years. Surprised? I was, too, particularly
when I realised that it is easily the longest established kit car on the
market today. Over the years it has gone through many subtle changes, not
the least of which,I fancy, have taken place since Harold Dermott bought the
project in mid-1975.
Perhaps the most significant change in the little car's
character has come about through Harold's own straightforward approach,
particularly his realisation that it was no more GT than a Wartburg. So,
from the pseudo-GT car of the sixties, the Mini Marcos has emerged through
the seventies as an unpretentious, sports-orientated, 2 + 2 hatchback that
gets on with the job in enjoyable and everyday fashion.
I'd never driven a Mini Marcos before, and I was very
pleasantly surprised. A little contortion doesn't bother me at all, yet the
Dermott machine was remarkably easy to get into. First impressions count,
and I think that set me up for the car.
Allowing that the interior finish displayed some typically
specialist ragged edges, the cockpit's atmosphere was one of down-to earth
purpose. In an excellent driving position, one is surrounded by practicality
- habitable if not luxurious carpeting and trim, a Mini Clubman instrument
package, two very welcome map pockets in the footwells, a huge glove locker
and a vast rear shelf that can be loaded through the opening tailgate.
Perhaps the slide-down perspex windows weren't much fun, but they still did
the job required of them.
During my tenure of the Mini Marcos, one of the first
things said to me was; 'Quite a pretty little thing, isn't it? 'Well, beauty
is very definitely in the eyes of the beholder, and as such becomes a very
personal opinion - so who am I to comment?
Apart from the drastically sloping rear bodywork, the two
details that betray the car's age (the basic shape was actually designed in
1963) are its shallow screen and high scuttle. These hardly detract from
the real pleasure I found in driving it. Tyre, wind and engine noise were
all happily unobtrusive, the ride very comfortable, the nature one of
confident chuckability and the 1000cc engine's performance decidedly nippy.
Rattles are a thing of the past, and the overwhelming
effects are of fun and 'I can do everything that any other small saloon can
do, and maybe a little bit more. TNA 94OR is only the third complete car
that the company has supplied. It was built by their approved constructor,
Steven Roberts (he of racing Mini Marcos fame), using reconditioned Mini
subframes and power unit. The cost was £2000 plus taxes, and while
ready-for-the-road cars are also available with brand new running gear, I
guess you'll be more interested in the kits that are the company's staple
At £545 the cheapest kit is actually a surprisingly
complete one - untrimmed, but with all hinged panels, handles glass, window
frames and doortrim panels ready fitted. Beyond this, the company will fit
extras to individual choice, and the list includes headlinings, carpets, sun
roof, vinyl roof, extra sound proofing, folding rear seat unit, roll cage
and fitted fuel tank. The tank, incidentally, is the only component that
doesn't originate from the standard mini; it comes from the Minivan or
You must realise by now that I'm a specialist car addict,
and you maybe imagine that I'm therefore very tolerant. But Harold Dermott
is very serious about his future in automobile manufacturing, and, believe
me, it shows. The Mini Marcos is probably the most efficiently and lovingly
produced fibreglass bodied kit currently available. Standards of finish are
high, the workshops are unusually tidy, development is still maintained, the
staff are skilled (general manager is John lngram, ex factory manager for
the Nova) and some expansion is at present taking place.
Without trying to be an out-andout sports car, the Mini
Marcos is a genuinely modern conveyance of character and purpose, which will
give your Mini components a whole new future. Send 30p, for further
details, to D & H Fibreglass Techniques Ltd., Heybottom Mill, Oakview Road,
Greenfield, Oldham, OL3 7EP.