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  Elva Mk VI Climax      

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1961 - 1962
Numbers built:30
Designed by:Keith Marsden for Elva Cars
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 25, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionDespite struggling to meet demand, Frank Nichols' Elva hit financial problems early in 1960, following the bankruptcy of his American importer. As a result, Elva was forced to reorganise. This was almost a blessing in disguise as the construction of the Courier road car was entrusted to Trojan, allowing Nichols and designer Keith Marsden to concentrate on a new generation of racing cars. The timing was almost spot on, with many of the rivals were quickly switching to superior mid-engined designs.

Following two mid-engined Formula Junior Elvas that were introduced in quick succession, Marsden switched his focus to a new sports car to replace the ageing Mk V, which dated back to 1959. A mid-engined sports car certainly gave the restructured manufacturer a better chance of an edge over the rivals as by the time Elva had launched their new Formula Juniors, Cooper and especially Lotus already had the market cornered. The new Mk VI sports racer did share the same design philosophy and chassis layout with the type 300 Formula Junior.

For the new sports car, Marsden laid down a straightforward steel spaceframe. The aluminium floor was a stressed member of the chassis and served to increase rigidity. The Mk VI featured fully independent suspension and drum brakes on all four corners. As on the 300, Marsden focused on keeping the height of the car to a minimum, limiting the frontal area and drag. Nichols nevertheless insisted on using the existing 15-inch wheels as it would be considerably more expensive to make new casts for smaller wheels.

The rolling chassis was clothed in a lightweight fibreglass body. It was so tightly wrapped around the mechanicals that the front fenders were actually taller than the small windshield. Other stand-out elements of the design were the split air-intakes in the nose that were no doubt inspired by the various Ferrari racing cars campaigned in 1961. The Elva Mk VI was available with a choice of engines, although most were fitted with a 1.1 litre Coventry Climax FWA four cylinder engine. Fitted with twin Weber carburettors, this produced around 90 bhp.

Fitted with a Climax engine, the first Mark VIs were completed in December of 1961. In the hands of Chris Ashmore, the new Elva had a particularly noteworthy debut by finishing a very close second behind Graham Hill in a Ferrari 250 TRI/61 with an engine almost three times the size. With the help from new importer Carl Haas, the majority of the Mk VI Elvas were sold to the United States where they were raced in the popular 'CM' class. Eventually around 30 examples were produced before it was relieved by the Mk VII.

After the impressive debut, the Climax-engined Elva Mk VI was briefly the sports car to beat in its class. That changed when a few months later when Lotus launched the Type 23, which had the benefit of a more powerful Ford-based engine. Elva successfully responded with the stronger and improved Mk VII, which offered customers a broader choice of (larger) engines. Although not the most successful Elva built, the Mk VI played a vital part in the manufacturer's resurgence after the financial turmoil of 1960.

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  Article Image gallery (26) Chassis (2) Specifications