WESTBURY, UK - One of the UK's smallest low-volume carmakers aims to grow by entering the world's biggest market, the USA. The company assembles just two exclusive sports cars by hand a week.
But Marcos needs a hand. Chris Marsh, managing director of Marcos Sales Ltd., is looking for a US distributor with ambitions to become a car builder.
'We need a partner,' he said. 'My idea is to start by shipping fully built cars, then send rolling chassis to an operation which would fit the powertrain. A few months later, our partner could start manufacturing chassis and bodies to become a full-scale assembly operation.'
Marsh believes the ideal US distribution base would be California or Florida.
'We build a product which is selling well in the UK and Germany,' he said. 'I am convinced it has a great opportunity in the sunshine states alongside Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche. I don't think it would be difficult to reach annual sales of 2,000 units.'
The company was founded 37 years ago by Marsh's father, Jem, and Frank Costin.
The car Marcos intends to take to the USA is the Mantis, an aggressively styled and low-slung two seater that uses light, composite bodywork over a spaceframe chassis. It was introduced at the 1996 Birmingham auto show and costs £44,000 ($71,000).
'We had the USA in mind when we chose the 4.6-liter Mustang quad-cam, four-valve engine for the Mantis,' Marsh said. 'It means we have power to get the car to 96kph in four seconds and a maximum speed of more than 272kph. But it also gets us past the strictest clean-air legislation.'
With a workforce of 42, Marcos generates sales of £4 million ($6.4 million), supplying 19 markets with four sports car models, which use Ford and Rover engines. Current delivery delay is four months.