ELVA Automobiles

1966 Elva Courier - A British Sports Car Blog

1962 Elva Logo

Elva (car manufacturer) Bexhill, Hastings and Rye, East Sussex, England, UK

elva header

Elva Engineering Co Ltd
British Sports and racing car manufacturer
Industry Automobiles
Founded 1955
Founder Frank G. Nichols
Headquarters Bexhill, Sussex, England, UK
Products Elva racing cars
Elva Courier

Elva was a sports and racing car manufacturing company based in Bexhill, then Hastings and Rye, East Sussex, United Kingdom. The company was founded in 1955 by Frank G. Nichols. The name comes from the French phrase elle va (“she goes”).

Racing cars

1957 Elva MkII sn 100-49 Bahamas

 Late Elva Mk IIa (#100/49, 1957), a transition model which shares much of the Mk III’s design

Frank Nichols’s intention was to build a low-cost sports/racing car, and a series of models were produced between 1954 and 1959. The original model, based on the CSM car built nearby in Hastings by Mike Chapman, used Standard Ten front suspension rather than Ford swing axles, and a Ford Anglia rear axle with an overhead-valve-conversion of a Ford 10 engine. About 25 were made. While awaiting delivery of the CSM, Nichols finished second in a handicap race at Goodwood on March 27, 1954, driving a Lotus. “From racing a Ford-engined CSM sports car in 1954, just for fun but nevertheless with great success, Frank Nichols has become a component manufacturer. The intermediate stage was concerned with the design of a special head, tried in the CSM and the introduction of the Elva car which was raced with success in 1955.” The cylinder head for the 1,172 c.c. Ford engine, devised by Malcolm Witts and Harry Weslake, featured overhead inlet valves.

On May 22, 1955 Robbie Mackenzie-Low climbed Prescott in the sports Elva to set the class record at 51.14 sec. Mackenzie-Low also won the Bodiam Hill Climb outright at the end of the season.

The 1956 Elva MK II works prototype, registered KDY 68, was fitted with a Falcon all-enveloping fibreglass bodyshell. Nichols developed the Elva Mk II from lessons learnt in racing the prototype: “That car was driven in 1956 races by Archie Scott Brown, Stuart Lewis-Evans and others.” The Elva Mk II appeared in 1957: “Main differences from the Mark I are in the use of a De Dion rear axle as on the prototype, but with new location, inboard rear brakes, lengthened wheelbase, and lighter chassis frame.” The car was offered as standard with 1,100 c.c. Coventry-Climax engine. This went through various changes up to the Mark IV of 1958.

Elva BMW Mallory Park

 Elva BMW Mk VIII.

Carl Haas, from Chicago, was Elva agent in the midwest of the United States from the mid-fifties through the nineteen sixties. In 1958 he was invited to England to drive an Elva in the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood, where he finished twelfth overall. With the Mark IV: “The major change is an all-new independent rear suspension utilizing low-pivot swing axles. The body is entirely new with close attention to aerodynamics and a reduced frontal area.” At the Sebring 12 Hours sports car race in 1959 the #48 Elva Mark IV driven by Frank Baptista, Art Tweedale and Charley Wallace finished first in Class G, and 19th overall.

On June 21, 1959, Arthur Tweedale and Bob Davis won the Marlboro Six Hour Endurance Race in Maryland driving the #37 Elva Mk IV. Arthur Tweedale repeated the win in the Marlboro Six Hours in 1960. Teamed with Ed Costley he covered 337.75 miles in an Elva Mk V sports car. This was the final iteration of the Elva front-engined sports racing car. The last Mk V chassis won a number of important races in the midwest driven by Dick Buedingen, including the 1961 Elkhart Lake 500 teamed with Carl Haas. At this time Elva Cars Limited was operating from premises at Sedlescombe Road North, Hastings, Sussex, England.

1960 Elva 100 Formula Junior

 Elva FJ 100
1960 Elva 200 Formule Junior

 Elva FJ 200

Elva produced a single-seater car for Formula Junior events, the FJ 100, initially supplied with a front-mounted B.M.C. ‘A’ series engine in a tubular steel chassis. “ELVA CARS, Ltd., new Formula Junior powered by an untuned BMC ‘A’ Series 948cc engine. Price of this 970 lb. car is $2,725 in England. Wheelbase: 84″, tread: 48″, brake lining area: 163″ sq. The 15″ wheels are cast magnesium. Independent suspension front and rear with transverse wishbones, coil springs, and telescopic shock absorbers. The car is 12 feet, four inches long.” Bill de Selincourt won a race at Cadours, France, in an Elva-B.M.C. FJ on September 6, 1959. Nichols switched to a two-stroke DKW engine supplied by Gerhard Mitter. In 1959 Peter Arundell won the John Davy Trophy at the Boxing Day Brands Hatch meeting driving an Elva-D.K.W. “Orders poured in for the Elva but when the 1960 season commenced Lotus and Cooper had things under control and disillusioned Elva owners watched the rear-engined car disappearing round corners, knowing they had backed the wrong horse.”  Sporadic success continued for Elva in the early part of that year, with Jim Hall winning at Sebring and Loyer at Montlhéry.

Elva produced a rear-engined FJ car, with B.M.C. engine, at the end of the 1960 season. Chuck Dietrich finished third at Silverstone in the BRDC British Empire Trophy race on October 1. In 1961 “an entirely new and rather experimental Elva-Ford” FJ-car debuted at Goodwood, making fastest lap, driven by Chris Meek.

After financial problems caused by the failure of the US distributor, Frank Nichols started a new company in Rye, Sussex in 1961 to continue building racing cars. The Elva Mk VI rear-engined sports car, with 1,100 c.c. Coventry Climax power, made its competition debut at Brands Hatch on Boxing Day, 1961, driven by Chris Ashmore, finishing second to the 3-litre Ferrari of Graham Hill. The car was designed by Keith Marsden.

On September 8, 1963, Bill Wuesthoff and Augie Pabst won the Road America 500, round 7 of the United States Road Racing Championship, at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin driving an Elva Mk.7-Porsche. “The Elva-Porsche is based on the Mark VII Elva, but redesigned aft of the front section to take the 1,700 c.c. Porsche air-cooled flat-four unit and its horizontal cooling fan.”

Edgar Barth won the opening round of the European Hill Climb Championship on June 7, 1964, at Rossfeld in southern Germany in an Elva-Porsche flat-8 sports car. The cars were placed throughout the seven-round series with Herbert Muller winning at the final round at Sierre Montana Crans in Switzerland on August 30, 1964.

Around 1964-1966 Elva made a very successful series of Mk 8 sports racers mostly with 1.8 litre BMW engines (modified from the 1.6 litre by Nerus) and some with 1.15 litre Holbay-Ford engines. The Mk8 had a longer wheelbase and wider track compared to the Mk7, which was known for difficult handling due to a 70-30 weight bias to the rear. Following the success of the McLaren in sportscar racing, Elva became involved in producing cars for sale to customers:

“Later a tie-up with Elva and the Trojan Group was arranged and they took over the manufacture of the McLaren sports/racer, under the name McLaren-Elva-Oldsmobile.”

At the 1966 Racing Car Show, held in London in January, Elva exhibited two sports racing cars – the McLaren-Elva Mk.II V8 and the Elva-BMW Mk. VIIIS. The McLaren-Elva was offered with the option of Oldsmobile, Chevrolet or Ford V8 engines. The Elva-BMW Mk. VIIIS was fitted with a rear-mounted BMW 2-litre four-cylinder O.H.C. engine.

Luki Botha campaigned an Elva-Porsche in southern Africa from 1966.

Elva Courier

Elva Courier
1967 Elva Courier
Overview
Manufacturer Elva
Production 1958-1969
500 approx made
Body and chassis
Class sports car
Body style 2-door convertible
2-door coupe
Dimensions
Wheelbase 90 in (2,286 mm)
Length 154 in (3,912 mm)
Width 60 in (1,524 mm)

The main road car, introduced in 1958, was called the Courier and went through a series of developments throughout the existence of the company. Initially all the cars were exported, home market sales not starting until 1960. Mark Donohue had his first racing successes in an Elva Courier winning the SCCA F Prod Championship in 1960 and the SCCA E Prod Championship in 1961.

The Mk 1 used a 1500 cc MGA or Riley 1.5 litre engine in a ladder chassis with Elva designed independent front suspension. The engine was set well back in the chassis to help weight distribution, which produced good handling but encroached on the cockpit making the car a little cramped. The chassis carried lightweight 2-seater open glassfibre bodywork. It was produced as a complete car for the US and European market and available in kit form for the UK market. After about 50 cars were made it was upgraded to the Mk II which was the same car but fitted with a proprietary curved glass windscreen, replacing the original flat-glass split type, and the larger 1600 cc MGA engine. Approximately 400 of the Mk I and II were made.

The rights to the Elva Courier were acquired by Trojan in 1962, and production moved to the main Trojan factory in Purley Way, Croydon, Surrey. Competition Press announced: “Elva Courier manufacturing rights have been sold to Lambretta-Trojan in England. F-Jr Elva and Mark IV sports cars will continue to be built by Frank Nichols as in the past.”

With the Trojan takeover the Mk III was introduced in 1962 and was sold as a complete car. On the home market a complete car cost £965 or the kit version £716. The chassis was now a box frame moulded into the body. Triumph rack and pinion steering and front suspension was standardised. A closed coupé body was also available with either a reverse slope Ford Anglia-type rear window or a fastback. In autumn 1962: “Elva Courier Mk IV was shown at London Show. New coupe has all-independent suspension, fiberglass body, MG engine. Mk III Couriers were also shown. Though previously equipped with MG-A engines, new versions will be equipped with 1800cc MG-B engine.” Later the Ford Cortina GT unit was available. The final version, the fixed head coupé Mk IV T type used Lotus twin-cam engines with the body modified to give more interior room. It could be had with all independent suspension and four wheel disc brakes. 210 were made.

Ken Sheppard Customised Sports Cars of Shenley, Hertfordshire acquired the Elva Courier from Trojan in 1965 but production ended in 1968.

GT160

GT160
2009 Elva 160 beim Oldtimer-Grand-Prix am Nürburgring
Overview
Manufacturer Elva
Production 1964
Body and chassis
Class sports car
Dimensions
Wheelbase 93 in (2,362 mm)
Length 150 in (3,810 mm)
Width 60 in (1,524 mm)

There was also a GT160 which never got beyond production of three prototypes. It used a BMW dry sump engine of 2 litre capacity with bodywork styled by Englishman Trevor Frost (also known as Trevor Fiore, and who also designed the Trident) and made by Fissore of Turin. It weighed 11 long hundredweight (559 kg) and had 185 bhp (138 kW; 188 PS) so would have had very impressive performance but was deemed too costly to put into series production. The car was shown at the London Motor Show in 1964. One of the cars was purchased by Richard Wrottesley and entered in the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans. Co-driven by Tony Lanfranchi, the car retired early in the race.

IMGP6080

An Elva GT160 at the 2014 Le Mans Classic

 Other ELVA’s from my collection after searching the WWW.

1955 elva-logo1955-05 elva jubilee race1956 Elva Climax MK II Prototype b1956 Elva Climax MK II Prototype, Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival 20131956 Elva Climax MK II Prototype1956 Elva MkII Race Car1956 elvalogo1957 Elva Mark-II Bobtail Sports Racing Car race reto wallpaper background1957 Elva MkII sn 100-49 Bahamas1957 elva-logo-11958 Charles Kurtz in his Elva MK II (#77) at Sebring, 1958, on cover of SCCA magazine1958 Elva Front Engineers1958 Elva Mark III Sports1958 Elva MK III HMSMW1958 Elva mk3 sports car1958 Elva Mk31958 Rip Ripley's Elva MK IIb at Sebring Bob Engberg Ripley Elva 2B21959 134 Elva Mk.IV1959 Elva 100 Formula Junior 410 bl1959 Elva 100 Formula Junior c1959 Elva 100 Formula Junior1959 Elva 100 g1959 Elva 100a1959 Elva 200 FJ1959 Elva Courier – Driver Stevan Dana1959 Elva courier1959 Elva Formula Junior black1959 Elva Mk V Climax sports-racer1959 Elva MK V Sports Racing Car1960 Elva 100 Formula Junior1960 Elva 200 Formule Junior1960 Elva Courier of Ian McDonald1960 Elva Courier1960 Logo ELVA British Sports and racing car manufacturer1961 Elva Courier Roadster1961 elva1962 Elva coupe1962 Elva Courier Mk III Fixed Head Coupe ( Elva Cars)1962 Elva HR ad1962 Elva Logo1962 Elva Mk.6 Maserati1962 Elva Mk1 CSE0146 infineon-hist-5-081962 Elva oct ad1962 elvacourier-01-02 ad1962 logo silver1963 Elva Courier Racer1963 Elva Mk7-Ford Sports-Racer, Bonhams, Monaco1963 Elva MkVII Race Car, Number 391963 Elva t-type1964 Elva Bmw 160 GT1964 elva bmw 1601964 Elva bmw a1964 Elva Cars Courier Mk 4-T1964 Elva Courier Coupe Cabrio a1964 Elva Courier Coupe Cabrio b1964 Elva GT 160 and a 1962 Morgan +4IMGP60801964 Elva gt1964 Elva GT160 LM1964 Elva gt160 london1964 Elva mk41964 Elva mk-IV ad1964 Elva Porsche (Chassis P70-032) Elva-76-Augusta11964 Elva Porsche MkVIIA1964 Elva-GT160-21964 Elva-GT160-31964 elva-mk-vii-car-hd1964 Porsche Elva Mark VIIS SL-06 RH-011965 Elva BMW 751965 Elva Courier c1965 Elva courier mark IV ad1965 Elva Mk8 - Serial # 80-05 -BMW M10  220BHP  8,000rpm  1,100lbs1965 Elva MK8 Sports Racer1965 Elva Mk8 storyboard1965 Elva Porsche in 1979 - Mk VII model1965 Elva Porsche race car1965 Jonathan Loader chases Sean Kukula, both in Elva Courier Mk4Ts. Anyone got a decent1965 logo1965 McLaren - Elva M1A Loud Chevy V8 Sound1965 McLaren Elva M1A Sports Racing Car1966 Elva Courier - A British Sports Car Blog1966 Elva Courier front-side view1966 Elva courier mk IV s typ t1966 elva courier-02-171966 Elva Courier-BB1966 Elva MK8 901966 Elva Mk8 SR CSRG David Love Memorial Vintage Car Road Races 20151966 McLaren - ELVA M1A - Group 7 car. Elvis Presley drove this car in 19661967 Elva Courier1967 Elva t-type1968 McLaren Elva Mark III Can-Am Las Vegas 19681969 McLaren Elva Mark III Can-Am Michigan2009 Elva 160 beim Oldtimer-Grand-Prix am Nürburgring2014 58 TomDavis ElvaCourier CP Indy2014AMT McLaren-Elva #4022-1elva 1 (1)elva 1Elva AustinElva BMW Mallory ParkElva BMW Mk-7elva bookElva Courier-Coupe-WiesenElva GT160 - chassis #70 GT3elva headerElva Mk IV Wilmot Hills race trackElva Mk VII S op Zandvoort aElva Mk VII S op ZandvoortElva Mk.6 1300cc AlfaElva MK5 Sports 27Elva MkIII YURElva Porsche Mk 7 P Nurburg12Elva Team Morris Commercial 1Elva tek1elva

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Elva1 Early Fordson dropside pickup used by Elva carselva2elva3 s1-13Elva-Climax Mk III Sports Racer of doc Wyllie classic car portrait printGraham Hill driving an Oldsmobile powered McLaren Elva Mk.1Ike Eichelberger’s Elva-Porschelogo tyresMcLaren-Elva kit

That’s it

ELVA Race Cars on Facebook

Other companies

There was another Elva car company that lasted for one year, 1907, and was based in Paris, France.

See also

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Author: Jeroen

In Dutch, my homelanguage: Ik ben Jeroen, tot januari 2015 was ik al dik 26 jaar werkzaam in een psychiatrisch ziekenhuis in een stad vlakbij Werelds grootste havenstad Rotterdam. Eerst als verpleegkundige/begeleider op high care, later op afdeling dubbeldiagnose (verslavingen) en ook nog een tijdje als administratief medewerker. Ik heb een spierziekte "Poli Myositis" (alle spieren zijn ontstoken) daardoor weinig energie. Sinds augustus 2015 is daarbij de diagnose Kanker gesteld, en ben ik helemaal arbeidsongeschikt geworden en zit middenin de behandelfase. Gelukkig ben ik daarnaast getrouwd, vader, en opa, en heb de nodige hobby's. Een daarvan is transportmiddelen verzamelen en daarmee een blog schrijven. Dit blog begon met bussen, maar nu komen ook sleepboten, auto's trucks en dergelijke aan bod. Kijk en geniet met me mee, reageer, en vul gerust aan. Fouten zal ik ook graag verbeteren. In English: I'm Jeroen, till januari 2015 I was already 26 years working as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, near Rotterdam, Worlds biggest harbour with more than 98 nationalities living within it's borders. First I worked on closed high care ward and the last years on a ward with mainly addicted people. I liked my work very much. In 2007 I got ill. I got the diagnose Poli Myositis, a musscle dissease. Al my mussles are inflamed. And last august I got another diagnose. Cancer. It's plaveicelcel carcinoma and treated with Chemo and radioation. So I've even less energy than the last years. Still I try to make something of my life and the blog is helping with surviving with some pleasure.

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