Meeting a Legend
Back in 1968, Marcos built a pure bred racing sportscar, the Mantis XP. This Dennis Adams designed sportsracer was designed to compete with the likes of the Ford 3L and the Ferrari P4. Mid-engined, wooden chassised and fitted with a Brabham Repco V8, it was a strikingly modern design.
Press photo of the XP's unveiling at Bradford-On-Avon
The car was intended to race at Le Mans, but actually only raced at Spa, in a very wet race. After that, it was used (with a Buick V8) as a road car by Jem Marsh before issues with purchase tax led to it being sold to the US (The full story, as recounted in Jem Marsh's book, is on Dave McGill's site).
The XP in action at that rainy Spa in 1968
In 1995, Dave McGill, another UK owner, had visited the family of Roberta Morris (who have owned the car since the early ‘70s) and seen, and had a ride in, the XP and recounted his experience in the Marcos Owner's Club Magazine.
Earlier in 2002, the US based Marcos Maniacs, mainly under the influence of Mike Denman and Don Lattimer proposed trying to contact the Morrises and going to see the XP. As I was planning a summer holiday in California, I pleaded with them to try and set a date during the two weeks that I would be there. As luck would have it, a suitable date was found which suited both the Morrises, some of the Marcos Maniacs and coincided with my visit.
The date was scheduled for Wed 28th August, but when I arrived in the US (on the 21st), Don Lattimer called the relatives I was staying with to say it had changed to Saturday 24th. This was no problem for me. I was just incredibly happy that I was going to get to see this car.