1956 Elva Mk 1/B Sports Racer

Courtesy of Bonhams

Elva sports racers — designed by Frank Nichols — 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, was first seen in 1954.

Nichols put his next creation into production under the name Elva. The Elva featured a simple, light and rigid tubular chassis. 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 Elvas proved to be very competitive in U.K. club racing.

After six Mk 1 cars had been built, the Elva became available for 1956 in Mk 1/B form with a streamlined 2-seater body (built in fiberglass by Falcon Shells, an offshoot of Ashley Laminates) and the 1,098-cc Coventry Climax FWA racing engine. Although fiberglass 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 Mk 1/B was the adoption of Elva’s own independent wishbone/coil spring front suspension.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor - %%page%%

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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