Elva Mk1/B Sports Racer 1956
Chassis no. 100/B/25
Engine no. FWA 7065
•One of only a handful of survivors of an estimated 14 built
•Believed to be the very last one produced
•Retains its original Coventry Climax engine
•Restored to original specification
•Long-term private ownership
•Comes with Italian registration papers
Designed by Frank Nichols, Elva sports racers enjoyed considerable success during the 1950s and 1960s on both sides of the Atlantic. A Kentish garage owner, Nichols had commissioned a Ford-engined special with which to go racing and the result - the CSM, first seen in 1954 - was a near copy of the Lotus VI. Its name standing for 'Chapman Sports Motors', the CSM had a multi-tubular chassis built by Michael Chapman of Western Light Engineering, Hastings. Ford running gear was used, the front beam axle being split to produce independent swing axles suspended on coil springs, the latter also used on the live rear axle, while the engine was Ford's ubiquitous 1,172cc sidevalve unit so beloved of specials builders and small independent manufacturers. The simple two-seater body featured cycle wings at the front and integral wings at the rear.
Nichols put his next creation into production under the name Elva (from the French, elle va - she goes). The Elva featured a simple, light and rigid tubular chassis while major departures from the CSM were the Standard Ten-based front suspension of wishbones and coil springs, and the engine, which was fitted with an overhead-valve conversion designed by Nichols' mechanic, Mac Witts. A live axle was retained at the rear, located by a Panhard rod and trailing links. The success of this first Elva led to a demand for chassis kits (customers had to supply their own engine, gearbox, and body). Driven by the likes of Les Leston, Peter Gammon, and Robbie Mackenzie Low, the Elvas proved to be very competitive in UK club racing.
After six Mk1 cars had been built, the Elva became available for 1956 in Mk1/B form with a streamlined two-seater body (built in glassfibre by Falcon Shells, an offshoot of Ashley Laminates) and the 1,098cc Coventry Climax FWA racing engine. Although glassfibre would become almost universal for this kind of low-volume production, its use by Elva at this time was nothing less than pioneering. The other major change made on the Mk1/B was the adoption of Elva's own independent wishbone/coil spring front suspension.
Elva always had a stronger reputation in America than in Europe because the company's founder, Frank Nichols, said he was in the business of selling cars not racing them. In Europe it was a case of private Elvas against works cars from the likes of Lotus, whereas in America, SCCA racing gave Elva a level playing field and its sports cars were immensely successful there.
This particular Elva Mk1/B was produced early in 1956 as one of the very last Mk1b's and retains its original Coventry Climax engine. The chassis number's 'B' suffix indicates that the car was equipped with a Coventry Climax engine and the new Elva front suspension. '100/B/25' was immediately shipped to Mr Bill Tannhauser in Milwaukee, USA. Over the years, the Elva passed through the hands of various other enthusiasts (details available) who raced it extensively at venues such as Elkhart Lake, Blackhawk, Road America, and other circuits.
Finally, in 2003, the car was acquired by Mr Maurizio Tabucchi, an acknowledged expert in the conservation and restoration of historic cars. A journalist and scholar specialising in automotive history, Maurizio Tabucchi joined the ASI (Automotoclub Storico Italiano) in 1975, rising through the organisation's ranks to become President of its Technical Commission, a post he held until 2005. From 2003 to 2005 he served as Vice President of the FIVA International Technical Commission, and was also the President of the Italian Alfa Romeo Register and head of its Technical Commission for 30 years. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on Alfa Romeo.
Having shipped the Elva back to Europe, Mr Tabucchi then undertook a complete restoration of the mechanicals and body taking the utmost care to maintain this unique car's originality. The current vendor was able to buy the Elva following Mr Tabucchi's recent death.
A comprehensive file accompanies the car, detailing the ownership history and containing various items of memorabilia. The Elva also comes with FIVA ID and an ASI Gold Certificate for its originality. The ASI certificate acknowledges that the car is equipped with twin Weber 40DCOE carburettors (a correct in-period upgrade) mounted on an original Derrington inlet manifold instead of the SU carburettors that were fitted as standard on Coventry Climax engines. The car was legally registered in Italy for road use and comes with Italian registration papers.
This Elva Mk1/B is an extremely rare find (one of an estimated 14 ever built) and probably the most original in existence today. We are advised by the vendor that it drives and handles very well and has a comfortable driving position, even for taller persons. This 1,098cc car is also very fast for one built in 1956 (claimed 0-100km/h in around 8.9 seconds), boasts stunning looks, and is ready to drive and enjoy.
Thanks to Elva's significant racing heritage, this car would be a welcome guest at major historic motor sports events.
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