Elfin Sports Cars is a little known company – certainly outside of its home territory of Australia. The company was founded by Garrie Cooper in 1959. Cooper was a successful Australian racing driver and decided to build his own racing cars from facilities in Adelaide. Cooper, like Sir Jack Brabham, was a championship winner in one of his own cars taking out the Australian 1.5 litre championship in 1968 and the Australian Sports Car Championship in 1975. He even won the 1968 Singapore Grand Prix in one of his cars.
Over the years he built around 250 pure racing machines for Formula Ford, Formula Vee, Sports Racing and even Formula 2 and Formula 5000. Most of the cars were raced in the Southern Hemisphere and the company is credited with being the most successful Australian race car builder with 29 championships to its name and more interestingly, by the early 2000s was the #2 racing car constructor (by volume) worldwide!
Although Cooper died in 1982, the company continued to build racing cars for existing orders until Cooper’s son sold the business to Murray Richards in 1993 and the factory moved to Melbourne. The plan was to introduce a new model – the Type 3, however, Richards’ health was also under pressure and he sold the business again in 1998 to Nick Kovatch and Bill Hemming, both of whom were avid historic racing enthusiasts. They launched the Clubman Type 3 as a kit or rolling chassis and expanded into road cars – following the example of many other more established manufacturers who recognised that building only racing cars was a limited business.
Then in 2001, Mike Simcoe of Holden’s design group contacted the company. Simcoe had penned the last Monaro (aka Pontiac GTO, Chevrolet Lumina or Vauxhall Monaro) and was by then a successful designer. He wanted to get involved and design a new car for them. So the company allowed Simcoe to draw up some sketches and as they liked what they saw they engineered a new chassis for the design. The original idea was to drop in a 1600cc 4 cylinder motor but Holden’s team suggested that with a little modification it could fit a V6 or V8. A Holden sourced V8 was subsequently chosen as the standard motor. So the MS8 and MS8 Streamliner were born.
In 2006, there was another change of owner with Elfin being absorbed into Walkinshaw Performance, a conglomerate then owned by Tom Walkinshaw who also owned HSV and the Holden Racing Team for the V8 Supercars series. Walkinshaw had made his name by winning the precursor to the British Touring Car Championship and campaigning Jaguars in various categories including Le Mans.
In 2008, Elfin announced a third model – originally thought to replace the MS8 – although it now sits alongside the MS8 in the range. The new car (called the “Type 5”) provides huge performance from a small lightweight body, with a space frame chassis and a GM sourced 2 litre turbo power unit. As you can imagine from the heritage, all their cars use racing concepts and technology.