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Once upon a time or how it used to be ...

Dr. Florian Brandt who is an ELVA Mk.III sports racer owner located in Germany has been very determined to track down an accurate and detailed history for his car, chassis #100/46, and has managed to discover various interesting people from the era.
He recently reported that he talked with Fred Lieb, described as a gentle man of 81 years living in the US, who had worked in the Elva pits garage at Sebring during 1958. Fred previously part-owned 100/46, together with Ed Costley, Pete Harrison and Bill Warren, each having a 25% share in the car. Later Fred attended several race meetings with 100/46 on his own, but then bought and raced a Turner in which he became rather well known having secured many trophies.
Fred Lieb was able to confirm that he was a member of the pit crew at Sebring in 1958 and knows the precise history of the car during that period and a short time thereafter. The four people bought the car in January 1958 with the provision that they would form a dealership for ELVA in the southeastern area of the US. Frank Baptista was already working for the importer, Continental Motors, and both he and Burdette Martin were to drive the car as part of the deal.

" Once the car arrived at Sebring there were two serious issues which meant a scrutineering refusal (tech inspection), firstly misunderstanding of the FIA Rules which said “either door must operate” which was taken to mean either the drivers or the passenger door should operate, one or the other not both, which was what the FIA inspector said it meant. Secondly there was an additional fuel tank on the passenger side which was outside the frame and covered the door. So suddenly there was an urgent need to fix those problems. Thankfully Fred acquired the services of an experienced aluminium welder in Sebring who probably charged double his normal rate, but changes had to be made to race the coming weekend.
It was necessary to remove the bodywork on the right side to get the tank out and on checking the fuel lines he he found some corrosion and so the lines were replaced and the four fuel pumps were cleaned. The car was running on four Amal monobloc carbs with no floats which used shredded copper to filter the float chambers and stop sloshing. The system used two pumps to feed the Amal units and the other two acted as scavenger pumps. We finally got through tech inspection on the Thursday at around noon.
There was limited practice time during which we may have over heated the engine, but overall the car ran well. Finally the race started and we were keeping up with the Lotus entries until the piston rings gave in probably due to running hot. We had used Stein engine oil which when hot produced a nasty toxic gas and so we added a vent pipe and switched to Castrol lubrication. By the end of that session the car was running well as it was placed 3rd in class.
Another issue had arisen as the team had not fitted air cleaners resulted in the need to clean sand from the Weber carburettors which eventually lead to an engine failure and a short block replacement as the engine was rebuilt. Subsequently Fred won a prelim at Walterboro SC but Bill Warren put the car into a wet hay bale during the main race. "

That is the last of Fred's involvement with the car as he left 'Elva Southern' to move to another location working on the missile program for the NASA together with Wernherr von Braun.
The car was apparently sold to an Atlanta Attorney Bert Dereaux (sic).

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to find people who can so clearly remember their time back in the Fifties and Sixties, having been involved in the many aspects of racing the cars which have now become historic/vintage/collectors items.
Dr. Florian Brandt has devoted much time and effort into researching and race preparing his pretty and very competitive ELVA Mk.III sorts racer so very well done Sir.
Thank you for sharing this interesting story from Fed Leib.

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Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:24 am
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