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Frank G. Nichols
An Appreciation

Frank Nichols and Chuck Dietrich
Chuck was the purchaser of the first Elva racing car exported to the US, with which he scored may victories. This photo was taken at the summer meeting of the South East Vintage Racing Association held at Lexington, Ohio, in June 1984. This meeting celebrated the 25th anniversary of Formula Junior. Frank Nichols and John Cooper were present as guests of honour.

Click for enlargement (44Kb) It is with great sadness that Frank Nichols, the founder of ELVA Cars, passed away on Saturday 5 July 1997 after a long period of illness. He was 76.

  Frank left school at fourteen and after spending some time supporting the war effort, started in the second-hand car business near to Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex. He soon became interested in motor sport and started racing with firstly a Lotus VI and then a CSM which was built nearby. His business sense soon tuned into the need to respond to enquiries about similar sports racing cars, and 'ELVA' was born in 1955.

From a quite humble start, the business quickly grew, helped by the production of a simple but effective ohiv modification kit for the Ford side-valve engines. Production of various types of ELVA sports racing cars continued apace, with many cars being ordered from the States, and it was an American distributor who suggested that a road-going sports car should be conceived. The Courier proved to be very successful both on the road and track, put together in a purpose built factory in Hastings. with most going to the States.

In 1961, a financial blip resulted in the Courier production being sold to Trojan Limited who continued to develop the Courier and produced several models until the mid sixties. Frank continued with the sports racing and formula junior cars in Rye with outstanding successes with the Porsche engined Mk.7 and Mk.7S BMW. Many people will remember the delightful little ELVA-BMW GT160 coupe which attracted much attention at the Earls Court and Turin motor shows but never went into full production. About this time Frank Nichols sold his interest in ELVA to Trojan and left the motor sport scene to concentrate on game fishing. His involvement in boats led him to building the beautiful 'Brede' class lifeboats for the RNLI until he retired with poor health several years ago.

Frank described himself as a "man's man" and could be sometimes less than easy to deal with. He had great character and determination, an eye for quality and detail, but an amazing gift for building a team around him. He was very clever at getting others to do want he thought was right, but he was greatly respected and was affectionately known as 'father' by those who worked under his guidance at 'ELVA'.

He will be sadly missed by family and friends and everyone who knew him, but will be long remembered for the wonderful cars he created for us to continue to enjoy.

Roger A. Dunbar


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