By Dean Larson

This car legitimately has a wooden chassis. No that doesn’t mean the body is supported by wood like a Morgan or anything like that. No, with this car, the majority of the chassis is actually wood. Marcos enthusiasts will stress that this is actually marine-grade plywood, which has strength comparable to metals in this application. And we’ll hand it to the designers, the monocoque-type chassis under the Marcos looks to be well built, and the cars were built this way for five whole years before switching to steel. Whether you’re seeing a quirky classic or a splintery death, here’s what you need to know about the Marcos GT.

The name Marcos actually comes from the names of its founders, Jem Marsh and Frank Costin. Costin’s name should ring a bell for enthusiasts, as he’s a well-known English engineer and designer who worked for Lotus, Jaguar and others. The pair of engineers started the Marcos firm and immediately set about making rather ugly cars. Their first creation, the Xylon, was nicknamed the “Ugly Duckling,” and it’s not hard to see why. Their second creation, named the Marcos Luton Gullwing, was much more attractive, but the car was soon reworked into an unrecognizable creation dubbed the Marcos Fastback GT. The car performed well in competition, but looked a lot like someone hastily added a sleeping quarters to its trunk. Despite their outlandish looks and plywood construction, Marcos race cars were actually quite successful on the track. Notable drivers Jackie Stewart, Jackie Oliver and Derek Bell piloted Marcos vehicles in competition.

Marcos Gt 9

Marcos finally hit it right with their fourth creation, the Marcos 1800 GT. Produced from 1964 to 1971, the GT initially employed the same plywood monocoque design seen in the earlier cars. A choice of engines from Volvo, Triumph and Ford were available with most in the 1,500 to 1,800 cc range.

By 1969, Marcos replaced the plywood monocoque chassis with a steel frame. The steel chassis was cheaper and quicker to build, and many customers were weary about the plywood usage in the previous iteration. These steel cars were considerably heavier though, and larger engines were installed to keep them competitive.

In 1971, Marcos closed its doors. It’s believed that the costly process to legalize the Marcos GT for American markets and the development of the radical Marcos Mantis dwindled the company’s funds. Marcos cars have reemerged several times since the 1980s, always with a focus on motorsport.

The Marcos listed for sale here on eBay is an exceptional example of the GT body style. The car was built in 1967 with a plywood monocoque and an optional “Lawrencetune” engine, but it's being sold with a standard Ford 1,600 cc engine today. The seller claims the engine and transmission will need to be overhauled.

Much work has been performed on the chassis and body however. The wooden chassis is claimed to be in good condition and the fiberglass bodywork was stripped and repaired. A whole list of additional cosmetic and functional items are included in the sale, including bumpers, headlight covers, emblems, trim, latches and more. It’s apparent that the car will need some glass, but a usable windshield is included.

Clearly there’s a lot of work remaining to get this Marcos 1600 back into GT shape, but the previous owner has provided a great foundation to build from. The underside of the car appears to be undercoated and all suspension, braking and steering equipment is installed. Tackle the bodywork, overhaul the 1,600 cc engine and transmission, and you'll have a street-legal machine that qualifies for vintage racing events across the globe. Also, imagine the thrill of telling people they're riding in a car with a wood chassis!

The big question is, what’s this thing worth, and there’s not really a concise answer for that. Finished GTs have sold in the neighborhood of $50,000, while project cars have sold for as little as $5,000. The value on this car is obviously somewhere in between, likely $15,000 to $20,000 in this condition. However, any eager buyers from the U.K. could drive the price up on this obscure British classic.

See the seller’s ad here on eBay.