Marbon Chemicals History

Marbon Chemicals , a division of Borg Warner, manufactured and sold plastic to the manufacturing community. In the late 50’s and early 60’s, plastic sales were soaring. However, the plastic manufacturers wanted to sell more. They had been trying to get the Big Three automakers to increase their use of plastic in automobiles but had not been very successful. Finally, someone at Marbon suggested making an all plastic car to show the automakers just how practical and cheap plastic could be.

In 1964, Marbon hired a design firm to create a design that could be thermoformed from their new ABS plastic called Cycolac. The body was made as a top half which included the dash, interior and seat platforms and bottom half, which included the inner wheel wells. Marbon hired a race car company called Centaur Engineering to construct a chassis and assemble the car which was to debut at the SAE (now called SEMA) show in Detroit in January 1965. The car was a two seat roadster with a Hillman Imp 4-cylinder engine in the back, mounted on a metal space frame.

Marbon Chemicals Vehicle

The car was called the Cycolac Research Vehicle, or CRV for short, and was the hit of the show. Marbon was so happy they hired Centaur to build another car, but this time they wanted a race car for an event and Mid-Ohio raceway in mid-June. Centaur was told if they got the job done, they would became the new research and development division for Marbon.

The new car, dubbed CRV-II, was build over a fiberglass tub with the engine and suspension part bolded to metal cages attached to the tub. A 140 ci Corvair engine was used for power. The car was finished on time and was very successful in the SCCA races it competed in.

Soon Centaur was designing all sorts of things made of Cycolac, Snowmobiles, Scooters, camper shells, and boats, just to name a few.

A third CRV was build for crash testing but did not do well. A fourth and fifth cars were also built as coupes for the road, and sent overseas to promote Cycolac in the foreign markets.

However, Marbon did not want to build cars, they wanted to sell plastic. So they started shopping around for someone to take over production of the CRV so they could sell them the thermoformed plastic bodies. Eventually, AMT Corporation made a deal to take over production of the car so they could build and sell it as a limited production vehicle. However, things at AMT did not work out and ofter only a few cars were made, AMT ceased production.

Still looking for a market, Marbon started selling Cycolac bodies to subsidiaries of Allied Industries, the kit car company based in Nebraska. Eventually Allied started making modified copies of the CRV in fiberglass and no longer purchased plastic from Marbon.

Marbon designed and built a second generation of the a Cycolac car called Formacar, which AMC looked into producing but due to a change in management, the project was scrapped.

Where are they now?

It has be verified that the CRV-I was disassembled and disposed of by Marbon Chemical employees. The CRV-II and CRV-IV have not been located, but it is assumed they were destroyed by Marbon, like other prototypes, to reduce the chance of company liability. CRV-V did get into private hand and is partially restored, and the rebuilt CRV-VI has been modified but the new owner hopes to restore it to its original configuration.

Marbon Chemicals Photos