50th Anniversary

The first day of what promises to be the highlight of my Marcos owning lifetime, the 50th Anniversary Celebration Rally. After much anticipation, I left home three hours later having struggled to get off my work laptop. Another reminder that the old work-life balance isn’t quite there yet! Today (Friday) is the ‘Mystery Tour’ & everyone was due to meet at one of two start points between 1000 & 1200 hours. After my late start, exacerbated by a torrid time on the M6 through Birmingham, I got to the northerly meet point (a Garden Centre) at 1330 hours, only 90 minutes late… Fortunately Marcos people being Marcos people, someone had waited & I picked up a list of checkpoints (with Post Codes – Hurrah for SatNav!). Also met a new Mantis & Mantaray owner, & John Brookes who is in the process of re-awakening the Marcos Owners Club. I had to miss most of the early checkpoints but headed off to an Art Gallery (how very civilised!) where I never made it through the door but instead caught up with some people I hadn’t seen for a few years! This may be a common event throughout the weekend!!! I proceeded to follow Bob Skidmore in his cracking yellow LM400 off to another checkpoint (Weston’s Cider!) but again, hit the car park, got chatting to some of the Luxembourg owners & never made it into the site. Then called it a day & headed off to the Regency Hotel in Cheltenham where I knew some of the other owners were staying. Arrived at the car park to be greeted by about 20 Marcos, &, of course, The Morrisons parked by the hosepipe (some things never change!). Yet again, it took over an hour to get from my car to the hotel reception as I caught up with some more owners. Absolutely delighted to see Christian Fey who champions the marque so successfully in Europe but was poorly at the end of last year. Also saw Isobel who has, as always, done an awful lot of the organising for this event. Eventually checked in & pleased to find I had the outermost room looking directly onto the car park full of Marcos. Result! Slightly concerned Richard Partridge’s Mantis is 2 ft from my window though, as he will probably be up polishing it at 0500 hours tomorrow morning! Hotel bar full of Marcos owners so grabbed a beer & got chatting. Met Ned Morris who is one of the two brothers who own the Marcos Mantis XP, which they have restored, &, unbelievably, flown over for the 50th Rally. Now how cool is that?!? Ned was a thoroughly nice chap & it was interesting talking to him, but there was a queue (to talk to him not me!) so after a while we both moved on. Ended up chatting to Jeremy Kearns (of Redline Sportscars & ex Marcos Sales), Jonathan Harmer (S/C Mantis) & Phil Cunningham (who bought the first Mantis before it was finished!) & we dined together, along with Jonathan & Jeremy’s charming wives. Jeremy & Phil between them had some hair-raising stories from the days of Marcos during the 90s, & it was a very entertaining dinner indeed! The group disintegrated about 0130 hours Saturday morning, but I note that of the four people still standing (swaying?), three of them were Mantis owners!