MYTH BUSTER

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News - Giles Chap­man

1 IT RU­INED MAR­COS

If the Man­tis played a part in the sad demise of Mar­cos En­gi­neer­ing in spring 1971, then it was only a very small one. The com­pany had just splashed out £125,000 on a new fac­tory in West­bury, Wilt­shire to meet de­mand for the Mini Mar­cos, Mar­cos and Mar­cos Man­tis. At the same time a plan to sell cars in the USA hit prob­lems, and the in­evitable cash­flow chaos pushed the com­pany into bank­ruptcy. In July 1971, most of the as­sets were ac­quired by Rob Walker Garages.

2 THE MAN­TIS IS A BAD DE­SIGN

It’s cer­tainly an odd-look­ing beast; some­thing went awry be­tween the draw­ing board of de­sign­ers the Adams brothers and the fin­ished car. Yet it’s easy to imag­ine how the over­all shape could have looked fan­tas­tic. It’s a full fourseater – in fact, the only Mar­cos that can carry four peo­ple – and so prac­ti­cal­ity plays a big part in the de­sign. The in­te­rior was of­ten noted for its good looks in con­tem­po­rary re­ports. Lo­tus founder Colin Chap­man is said to have been in­trigued by the Man­tis, and you can eas­ily see the way it may have in­flu­enced his later Elite and Eclat four-seaters.

3 IT WOULD BE A NIGHT­MARE TO OWN

This can’t be true be­cause, per­haps sur­pris­ingly, this sup­pos­edly ‘up­mar­ket’ Mar­cos was also of­fered in kit form, so home as­sem­bly was care­fully con­sid­ered. Re­vealed in 1968 but not in pro­duc­tion un­til 1970, the M70 Man­tis had a fuel-in­jected Tri­umph TR6 en­gine in a steel chas­sis of 1.5in square tubes, and a glass­fi­bre body. The over­drive gear­box also came from the TR6. The door hinges were chas­sis-mounted to en­sure an ex­pen­sive-sound­ing clunk when closed. Tri­umph GT6 front sus­pen­sion and a Ford Capri back axle, to­gether with Tri­umph switchgear, mean spares will be easy to source.

MAR­COS MAN­TIS

The Man­tis weighs 100lb less than a TR6 and has a top speed of 125mph.

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