Debunking the most common old wives’ tales
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.
The Mantis weighs 100lb less than a TR6 and has a top speed of 125mph.