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April 21, 2015

Die-cast: Automodello 1964 Marcos 1800

by Mark Savage

Automodello’s 1964 Marcos 1800

The Marcos nose looks a lot like the Jaguar E-Type.

The Marcos nose looks a lot like the Jaguar E-Type.

Unless you’re of the age where the name Marcos reminds you of a former Philippine strong man/president, you may be a bit puzzled by the Marcos automobile name.

But in the 1960s Marcos was a racer, one that looked somewhat Italian, but with a long nose more shaped like that of the famous Jaguar E-Type.

Certainly Automodello knows Marcos, and loves its cars’ looks. So the Illinois-based model maker has added a 1:43 lineup of 1964 Marcos sports coupes to its offerings of some of the most unusual classic cars available to us collectors. Like its other cars, these are cast in resin with photo-etched bright work.

Just out are red and royal blue models of the 1964 Marcos 1800 two-seater, both in limited quantities. In fact, Automodello is making only 499 of the red Marcos and just 64 of the Tribute Edition royal blue model. Its Tribute Editions are always exceedingly rare in quantity and these are hand-signed by Jem Marsh, who recently died.

The History:

Jem Marsh and Frank Costin (MarCos, get it?) teamed up in 1959 to build lightweight sports cars with wooden monocoque frames. Cost was low and performance high as they dropped Volvo P1800 4-cylinder engines into their 1964 Marcos 1800 that featured a fiberglass-reinforced plastic body.marcos red1

Early models weren’t as sleek and exciting looking as the 1800, but by 1964 the duo had ironed out the bugs, including styling that made the 1800 stand out among sports coupes of the era. These had 4-speed gearboxes with MGB-sourced overdrive units and Triumph-sourced hood latches to allow the car’s front section to flip forward providing access to the engine compartment.

With 114 horsepower, an aerodynamic body and overall light weight, the Marcos would do 0-60 mph in about 9 seconds with a top speed of 115 mph. The cars also handled extremely well with tightly sprung suspensions, making it a favorite among racers, especially in England where they were built. The car company was successful through the early 1970s but after building a modern factory hit on a tough times, went out of business and then reformed. Ultimately Marcos ceased car production in 2007.

The Model:

Automodello’s review models were both crisply executed with glossy paint jobs and fine detail that make these stand out from many 1:43 brands. For instance, the red model is left-hand drive with the photo-etched chrome windshield wipers posed to sweep right to left. The blue Tribute model is right-hand drive with the wipers posed the opposite way.

The rarer Tribute Edition is a gorgeous royal blue.

The rarer Tribute Edition is a gorgeous royal blue.

In addition the Tribute model features classy wire-spoke wheels as opposed to solid wheels on the red model.

In any case, detailing is strong with photo-etch chrome trim around all windows, the big lens-covered dual headlights, front and rear bumpers, a gas cap atop the trunk and latch below the Marcos nameplate on the trunk’s rear lip. Door handles are scoops in the doors’ edges and there’s a highlighted key hole on each door and Marcos logo on the hood.

The small running lights below the split front bumper (again, very much like the Jag E-Type) almost look to glow and the trio of taillights are well executed too.

Interiors are tan in the red model and black in the blue car, with the tan being more interesting because you can see more detail on the lighter color. The review model has a black 3-spoke wheel, shifter and dash face and you can see the instrumentation on that model. You also can see the silver door releases and assist handles in both models’ interiors.

You’ll notice there are no mirrors on either model. That’s not a mistake, it’s because mirrors were optional on the original cars.

Tires are treaded, but with no branding, and the single exhausts are black and well detailed. Both cars are mounted on black bases with the car’s name printed mid-base and the acrylic tops fit snugly and are cleanly molded. The red model reflects the car displayed in the 1964 Racing Car Show display and the blue model represents a model shown in 1964 sales brochures.

A black model with tan interior is planned too as an Homage Edition, with only 24 to be made. Talk about rare!

FAST Stats: 1964 Marcos 1800 red/royal blue

Maker: Automodello

Scale: 1/43

Stock No.: AM43-MAR-180-LS (red), AM43-MAR-180-TE (blue)

MSRP: $119.95/$149.95

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