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Elva MkII & MkIII History 
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Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:36 pm
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Post Elva MkII & MkIII History
I have collected information on Elva MkII & IIIs over the past 30 years. I would like to provide some updated information that had been previously forwarded to Elva Owners. I will start by modifying a chronology of Elva MkII & III sent out in 2006. This will cover the evolution from Mk1 to MkIII with technical descriptions of these models that continually are confused for each other.

Stan Mason

Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:32 pm

Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:52 am
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Post Re: Elva MkII & MkIII History
Thank you Stan; you have been doing a great job. My only observation at this stage is that much of the 'confusion' over models is due to the cars being hand built as individuals and cannot be compared with the boring mass production vehicles we are used to seeing today. Things changed on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis and the early Mk.II (say) will have been modified by the time the last of the cars showed a similar Mk.II plate were built. We also have to remember that cars were built to order, taking into account the requirements of that particular customer, and out of sequence. My Mk.1B #32 was built in 1957 long after the Mk.II was introduced and when the Mk.III was on the horizon. Why? Because it did the job for that particular customer; was cheaper than the Mk.II and the workforce was not going to turn away business. So when providing technical information for each model there has to be some latitude as believe me there will be cars that are different. The other considerations are the passage of time and changes made by perhaps umpteen owners, and the less obvious fact that some cars were completely rebuilt and modified by the first owner within weeks of receipt. That's what racers do! ;)

Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:17 am

Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:36 pm
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Post Re: Elva MkII & MkIII History
I am now able to get on the Blog more easily so sorry for the delay in responding. Most of my information is based on observation of older pictures and trying to focus on MkII & III Sports Racers specifically. I agree with your comments on custom tailoring to customer needs. My observation on the evolution from MkII to MkIII is that the MkII had several body changes and DeDion changes beyond the MkIII. My assumption was like most businesses FGN was becoming more familiar with his customers particularily in the US SCCA where roll bars were being required so when the MkIII came out it incorporated some of these requirements into a more standard design than previous models. I have never seen an early picture of a MkIII that did not have a head faring with a roll bar underneath Of the approximate 15 MkIIIs made I am only aware of two body modifications, which were targeted for the 1958 12 Hours of Sebring with Doc Wyllie's FPF version and Bill Bradley's car that both used an extra set of running lamps for night driving mounted higher in the front fenders above the wheel centerline while maintaining the lower Elva Unique Iconic position (some recognize this as a Porsche 935 styling, which came much later). The Wyllie car was unique in many ways with the fuel acess through the head faring on the right rear along with another acess on the left side.

Tue Dec 10, 2013 4:30 pm

Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:14 pm
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Location: Julian, CA (USA)
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Post Re: Elva MkII & MkIII History
Check the Dietrich's MKIII at Watkins and PIB. It is w/o headrest. (It's identified as a MKIII anyway.) The car does have the twin brake cooling air holes in front that seem to be present on MK III's and not MK II's.

image.jpg [ 12.58 KiB | Viewed 3764 times ]

Another difference between II and III is the presence or absence of a bump on the bonnet . My guess it was to clear the Coventry Climax front camshaft cover but it was not necessary in the MK III cars because the motors were moved further back in the chassis. It also appears that the air outlet at the rear bonnet became bigger (wider) as production went from MK II to MK III. My car has a relatively narrow opening compared to the Dietrich MK III.

Another interesting difference is the placement of the spare tire. In the MK II (100/27? Shown below) there is the pronounced hump in the back that I assume was to house the spare. In the Bill Peters bobtail MK II, the spare was moved forward and intrudes into the cockpit. One of these methods was needed in these "bobtail" cars. The longer rear tail of the IIB and III cars left room for the spare with no need for a hump or cockpit intrusion.

image.jpg [ 144.02 KiB | Viewed 3764 times ]

My car seems to have the hood bump (that someone flattened out) but neither the rear hump nor a cut out in the cockpit rear panel to make the room for a spare. It is why I think I have a "long tail" MK II, similar to Ripley's MK IIB and to the MK II that Berdie imported in 1957 and then sold to Frank Campbell. Or, to put it another way, my car seems to have been modified from a MK II to become a MK IIB.

And yet.... The overall appearance of my car (headlight placements, radiator opening, bonnet bump, etc.) remind me of 100/27 although the body color layers sequence and the long tail remind me of Berdie's car. I did not get the rear body section when I bought my car and have only a photo of the rear, taken in 1980, that shows it having a Kamm-style cutoff with two large openings. The photo does not show whether the car was originally a bobtail with a hump or a long tail.

I have more questions than answers.

Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:54 pm

Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:36 pm
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Post Re: Elva MkII & MkIII History
The 146 car at Watkins Glen with teddy bear on side was the Dietrich Car that was originally a MkII Ally (no paint) wrecked at December 1957 Nassau Race by Suzy Dietrich. Chuck sent it back to Bexhill to be repaired. The correspondance I saw from FGN to Chuck has Frank suggesting updating the MkII to MkIII specs. My assumption is the front end was mangled and so they installed a MKIII air brake inlet front alloy, but since the scuttle is a longer MkII it is a unique front end with MkIII features in an Elva BRG. This is also the car that won the PIB (Put In Bay) Race in 1958 with white nose trim and later sold to Robert Wearn who raced at the 1959 PIB with a large head faring added and resprayed BRG without white trim. This car is currently owned by Jon Clifton and we were able to identifiy BRG and white nose trim for confirmation.

Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:45 pm

Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:36 pm
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Post Re: Elva MkII & MkIII History
ELVA 1957 MkII & 1958 MkIII Sports Racer CHRONOLOGY ASSUMPTIONS (S. Mason / Jon Clifton Original Rough Draft 12/23/06, updated 30 September 2010. 25 March 2013, copied to Elva Forum 4 March 2014)

BACKGROUND: Of all the Front Engine Elva Sports Racers from MkI to MkV the MkII & III seems to be the most confusing for many people primarily because they look similar to the untrained eye. Some original race lists even identify the same car as Mk II or III designations, which I am unsure was the owner or the recorder’s mistake. There are many slight unnoticed variations within the MkIIA, IIB & MkIII series along with the experiments in body, engine location and rear suspension design in particular. The following information was put together from journals, letters and photos provided from Jon Clifton, Roger Dunbar, and Bob Engberg that I pieced together over the years. Adding to the confusion was the need to constantly develop new improvements for speed whether at Frank Nichol’s (FGN) Bexhill, England or by the owner. Observing cars in their first year of being produced helps identify more originality. These cars were hand made and expensive to own originally with pricing at $5200 for a MkII in 1957, when compared to the Corvette selling for $3200 in the same year. The following information may not answer all of the questions, but at least it will expand knowledge about the MkII & III. Like all things in life more information in the future will contribute to a better understanding. It is my goal to update this list as I gain more objective knowledge. My criterion for evaluation does not include any economic gain nor ego, but just trying to objectively understand to the best of my ability what these Great Elva Sports Racers are. At this point in time I am unaware of any replica / recreation MkII or IIIs being made, which is not what some of our similar front engine sports racer from the periods experience such as Lotus 11s

The MkI was started as the first customer cars that carried the Elva name. Various Fiberglass bodies were used and some sold as kits. It appears that an Alloy Body was made that resembled the Maserati A6GCS. It is assumed that Ashley Laminates may have had an agreement with FG N (Frank Nichols) of running a mold off of this alloy body since it has a nearly identical style. The Ashley Laminate body did not have head lights in the fender (some were seen with light in the front radiator air intake area). Some Rochdale bodies were also assembled to Elva Chassis. Later in the series Falcon bodies had a similar to almost identical look to the Ashley Laminates with a door and headlights in the fenders added The MkIA used a Triumph Standard stamped front end with space frame rear portion and straight axle using primarily 1100 & 1500cc Engines some with the Elva overhead valve conversion for Ford Flat Heads. The MkIB was a complete space frame using Triumph stamped A-Arms with straight rear axle & Coventry Climax engines primarily FWA 1100cc.

The evolution to MkII was primarily the use of the DeDion rear axle application. We see this evolution from the MkIB with the beginning of the Streamline Alloy bodies like 100/20, which may have been a MkII prototype based on the many welding marks observed when restored indicating various rear suspension configurations tried. There may have been at least 2 of these cars made or rebodied into alloy designs that started the MkII. Archie Scott-Brown, Robbie MacKenzie-Low, Stuart Lewis-Evans and Ian Raby were the serious drivers that raced these Elva Works Racecars’. Radically raked windscreens, streamlined shielded mirrors characterized them.

The first record of a MkII that I have was the 2 cars shipped to Bo Crim Dallas Texas on January 8, 1957. These cars were going to be entered in the 1957 Sebring Race. They were damaged in Sea Shipment when other cars above them came loose and fell on them. They were unable to enter the race (they are listed as entries or applied on some 57 Sebring Internet lists). They were assumed returned to Bexhill to be rebuilt. The shipment papers listed:
1.”1957 Elva/Climax 1100cc MkII Sebring Model”. We believe this car is 101-C-1, which Jon Clifton currently owns. This car had rear wheel valances.
2. “1957 Works Elva/Climax MkII Coventry Climax 1100cc (secondhand unit)”. This is 101-C-20 owned by Silas Kinsey.
An article in “Motor Racing March 1957” on these Bo Crim cars with pictures focused on the DeDion rear suspension design. This new Elva applied DeDion was described as “DeDion tube is located at high level by two splayed tubular arms which connect forward of the tubes.” I would describe this design as the rear of the DeDion tube being at a 45-degree angle from horizontal rotated upward from the axle center line. The DeDion was located by 2 pivoting support type tubes that pivoted from brackets mounted to the horizontal tube that connected to the shock towers. I have never seen this type of locating support on other race car DeDion application.
3. Another MkII Prototype with extended nose on an Ashley Laminate body was the Dennis Taylor car.

An early dark bob tail alloy body car was identified as the first MkII into the USA according to Chuck Dietrich in the Elva News Letters provided in the 1990’s. This car owned by Chuck Dietrich had a unique bulge on the top center rear tail to carry a spare tire (I think that was an FIA requirement). We are suspicious that the earlier Splayed DeDion was probably used on this car and was the reason for the bulge to compensate for the travel in full rebound conditions. Chuck met FGN at Marlboro, Maryland Racetrack in the summer of 1957 where Chuck went off course and crashed into a tree. Shipping papers identify the container as #27 (this could be the chassis number). This car was later sold to a Buffalo, NY owner after being rebuilt at Bexhill (Billing papers report the repairs were completed in November 1957). Today we are aware of 3 cars that exist with the Bobtail and semi Bobtail type rounded rear tail section (Dunbar/ McCaw’s 100/20, Paul Wilson 100/35 and Richard Meyer’s 100/40. Bob Enberg’s car appears to have been a MIIB rebodied jointly with 100/40 into an IIA). All 3 of these early MkIIs utilize the sliding roller bearing location DeDion design that became the standard and carried over into the MkIII. I am describing this bob tail design as a 2 piece rear tail section. A rear section behind the driver extending several inches with a partially formed rear wheel arch. As you move further aft there is a rear tail that can pivot at the top of the rear bulkhead rear seat area or be completely removed. The rear ends with a rounded bulbous tail section.

I had never heard the term MkIIB until we saw correspondence from Millard Rippley’s son Rip. I assume this was a way to describe the longer tail MkII’s. We are unsure if this was an official description or just a good way to describe the difference between the initial Bob Tail design (IIA), which was more complex to design and the MkII longer one piece tail (IIB) which also allowed for a more convenient head faring attachment that evolved into the MkIII. This longer tail design was carried into the MkIII. These cars also used a longer nose section than the earlier Bob Tails. The chassis numbers known today that represent the MkIIB design are 100/34, 100/37,100/41, 100/53.

1st –Falcon fiberglass bodied cars that were shipped 8 January 1957 to Bo Crim Dallas, Texas and used the 45 degree DeDion (2 or 3 of this design)
2nd – The 2 Alloy Body Prototype Streamliners (100/20 &?)
3rd – Alloy Body Bobtail of Chuck Dietrich using the 45 degree DeDion raced Marlboro 1957. (Only one known)
3rd – Alloy Body Bob Tail with sliding roller bearing DeDion (Paul Wilson 100/35 and Marco Faggioli 100/40)
4th – Alloy Body Long Tail (2B?) 100/34 Josh Marvin, 100/41 Josh Dovey,
100/53 Wolfgang Mathai & Fred Burke cars.
5th – Alloy Body with MkIII characteristics 100/49 Tom Jones car is a later chassis number and visually is a MkIII in all characteristics with the exception of stamped front A-Arms. This same car’s earlier history can be traced to Bill Hinshaw in 1962 who listed it as a MkIII. This car’s chassis plate currently is listed as a MkII.
100/37 Jon Clifton’s MkII was rebuilt to some MkIII specifications in Bexhill after the Suzy Dietrich Nassau December 1957 wreck. It returned to the US and raced without head faring until 1959 where it appeared with a unique larger longer head faring. There were many however that were installed by their owners since this was a popular feature on most front engine sports racers of the time.

G. MkIII:The MkIII was an evolution of the MkII and appears to be a more standardized model targeting the USA with standard equipment roll bar for SCCA. The alloy bodies were considered outrageously expensive by FGN. The upcoming MkIV model reflects this desire to reduce the ally body expense by having the first 2 built in ally and used as molds for all other fiberglass MkIVs that proceeded. Sabrina (AJB air cooled engine built for Archie Scott Brown) was the exception and has been reported to be a MkIII, which some think may have actually been a MkII (based on stamped front A-Arms) & was definitely a unique car in many ways both mechanically and aesthetically. All MkIII’s came originally to my knowledge with an Appendix C full windscreen, flat top cowl section, headrests of various shapes, engine located 5 inches further aft (front of Engine behind front tire OD) and a shorter (16 inch) scuttle/cowl to compensate for the engine set back, making the hood longer, roll bar enclosed in head faring, tubular front A-arms, front anti-sway bar, front brake air intake holes through lead edge of body and a reduced rear roll center. The 1100cc FWA Coventry Climax Engine was used with the exception of Sabrina and Doc Wyllie’s specially prepared 1958 Sebring 1500cc FPF Coventry Climax car. Wyllie’s MkIII also had the traditional lower covered head light and a higher head lamp along with a fuel filler hole in the head rest faring. This car was crashed heavily in Sebring practice and some of the body may still reside with his estate. The other 1958 Bill Bradley car that John Bentley co-drove at the 1958 Sebring had a similar front end to Wyllie’s car. The chassis numbers that are known to represent MkIIIs are: 100/ 46, 47, 49?, 48, 51, 52, 54, 55, 56, 60, 65, & 66

H. Conclusion:
The MkIIB and MkIII have similar appearances and have always have been confusing to many as reported many times incorrectly because they appear similar.
Elva was a small company and was constantly in search of new designs to improve race car performance and this maybe the reason for variations within models where new designs were tried for next year’s model. Also there appears to be components swapped during transitions to new or later updates by customers. The MkII was the 1957 Sports Racer with realistically 12 built. The MkIII was the 1958 Sports Racer with realistically 15 built. The assumptions presented are at this moment in time. As more pictures and facts are gained it is bound to allow us to understand more about MkII & IIIs.

All responses welcomed to constructively understand MkII & III Elva Sports Racers by contacting:

Stan Mason
Ecurie Elva
Elva MkIII 100/65

Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:30 pm
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