Lancashire Hot Shot or
Contender for the Bakersfield Frog Jumps.

Source unknown, from around 1977

You either love it or hate it, whatever, it lives on.

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 trade.

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 Traveller.

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.


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Last updated 1st April, 2013