The Final Years
Racing until the flag drops
The general recession in the UK began to filter through to Motor Racing by the beginning of the 1990’s. At the same time Jo’s health began to deteriorate. He had diabetes since the late 1970’s and the stress of running Argo Cars Ltd began to affect his health in several ways. He had too many key roles within the Company, never having found a suitable partner to handle the financial side of matters, and there was no one capable of taking some of the burden from his shoulders. He also had much intrigue to cope with from a small firm to whom he had, unwisely, let out part of the factory premises. In spite of the fact he had helped them on the design front with their product they caused him tremendous stress. Jo's love of design was such that he didn't consider if was a gift to be paid for in monetary form. There are records of appreciation from those to whom Jo had given his time and advice for free over the years.
«Jo was like that, far too generous. Where most would have made their fortune maximizing the potential of a winning concept, Jo was always looking to the next car. He could never say no to a project. When FSV driver Bill Alsup asked him to build an Indycar, for example, he responded with relish.»
In many ways he probably ‘loved his Company too much’ and was reluctant to let go when his health dictated otherwise. During 1993 he had been negotiating with David Sears and, if Jo’s health had held out, perhaps it would have been an ideal partnership.
«I can’t help feeling that Sears’ Financial clout and Marquart’s design flair would have gelled, and that the Griston factory and its skilled loyal staff could have thrived earlier.»
At the time of his death Jo had contracts in the pipe-line. A design for Formula Asia FF2000 cars on the cards, and in fact, presented to the press in a couple of days before he died. He was also in close liaison with Roy Winkelmann, with designs begun, on the Winkelmann FS-1. With sponsorship from Stella Artois arriving shortly after Jo had died. He was working on these projects up to the day he died , suddenly from a heart attack on November 29th, 1993. Roy came immediately to UK and gave tremendous support to Jo’s family but was unable to rescue his project. They were to remain good friends for the rest of Roy’s life. (Roy Winkelmann 1930-2011)
David Sears subsequently bought the premises and contents. Also taking over the Formula Asia contract, the design work being continued by Keith Lane, thereby ensuring that for a time at least, the loyal workforce were able to stay in employment. Later David Sears decided to concentrate on his Super Nova Racing Team company.
Jo’s beautiful drawings of the earlier cars have been sold in recent years. Spares do seem to be available for the cars still racing in Historic Racing.
Jo would be delighted to see the continued interest in his designs from the Wilson GT through McLaren, Huron, GRD, Modus and Argo Cars. So many out there being retained, re-built and, most importantly, raced in the flourishing world of Historic Racing.