Project Elva: What is an Elva Mk VI?

Ever since the 1950s, there has been a cottage industry in England that has been building sports racers. Every year companies like Lola, Lotus, Elva and a handful of others tried to outdo each other in classes like G Modified in the U.S. and internationally in small-bore special racing around the globe.

By 1962, front engine sports racers started to give way to mid-engined cars, like our Elva Mk VI. This in fact was the first foray into mid/rear-engined cars for Elva.

Historically, all-out racing cars around the globe were moving to this layout during this time. Elva was an early adopter in the move to mid/rear-engined race cars in 1962, predating Jim Clark’s historic Indy 500 win in a mid/rear-engined Lotus by some three years.

Elva competed directly with Lotus—the Elva Mk VI was designed to beat the infamous Lotus 11, and it did. Lotus quickly reacted with the Lotus 23 and started beating Elva again.

To run GM (G Modified) in SCCA racing in the U.S., you needed a purpose-built sports racer and the power plant had to have less than 1100 cc. The popular engines of choice were the Coventry Climax FWA and the English Ford engines of the time. Although it appears a couple of the approximately 30 (exact number not known) Mk Vis built used alternative power, most used the lightweight, overhead cam English Coventry Climax engine.

This is the overhead cam, 1098cc Coventry Climax engine originally used in most of the Elva Mk VIs

Two Elva Mk VIs appeared in the movie "Viva Las Vegas", starring Elvis Presley and Ann Margaret. Yes, that weird little sports car that Elvis drove in that movie was an Elva Mk VI.

And two of the cars were entered by the factory at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1962. So, if you do the math as an optimist, we had about a one in seven chance of having found a somewhat famous and potentially valuable car. Or as a realist, you could argue we had a six out of seven chance of having truly found what we were actually sold: A badly beaten, much modified, club racing car that had raced in the Midwest.

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ElvaRacingRoger New Reader
8/24/19 5:02 a.m.

While welcoming the feature on this interesting example of the successful ELVA Mk.VI series however a couple of points need clarification.  Regarding mid/rear engine racers built by ELVA, the '200' series Formula Junior cars were built for the 1960 season so predates the Mk.VI sports racer.  As for the Mk.VI build numbers, I hold details of the production details as recorded by the works General Manager which show 30 were produced.  Certainly the Climax FWA was the engine of choice, but the list also shows 'own Ford', Rytune A35, several 'no engine', Porsche 1500, and an Alfa powered car.  Did any 'extra' cars leave the factory .. who knows; have any 'replica' cars been built in more recent times .. possibly.  It is safe to say that official historic records show that 30 Mk.VI's left the Hastings workshops.  Worth mentioning that 60/01 had a much applauded first race at Brands Hatch on Boxing Day 1961 when Chris Ashmore nearly took the win from Graham Hill in a far more powerful Ferrari, and that car is still winning trophies today!  Without doubt "they go!!" 

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