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.