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Frank G. Nichols: The Fabled "Father" who created ELVA 
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Post Frank G. Nichols: The Fabled "Father" who created ELVA
Good to read the one page feature in Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car magazine as part of the Classic Life Visionaries series of articles with 'Father' Frank as the subject. The feature written by Jim Donnelly.
Some inaccuracies in the story and Frank was not involved with the Trojan Courier Mk.IV image shown, however the other image of him holding the presentation plate that I had engraved for him (Road Atlanta 1990) is I think perfect and the feature recognises all that 'Father' achieved and we all very much applaud.
The U.S. magazine is dated November 2016 and so just published.

Just as a postscript, these images shows the early days and the team of such talented people who made ELVA happen.
Spot the flat cap and a young looking 'father'. We had some superb copies of the caps made for the 60th Anniversary event at New Jersey as a token of respect for Frank who was there in spirit for sure.

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Sat Oct 08, 2016 8:47 am

Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:52 am
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Post Re: Frank G. Nichols: The Fabled "Father" who created ELVA
The magazine were not able to supply a PDF of the article, but have kindly provided the text ..

So "Courtesy of Hemmings Sports & Exotic, a publication of Hemmings Motor News.”


We’ve admittedly all had the dream at some juncture or another. A gnawing desire to design and build your own car, especially a racing car, with very few restrictions standing in the way. It didn’t quite work out that way for Frank G. Nichols, but he was so respected by those who worked under him and knew what he did that he acquired the simple nickname of “Father.” Nichols was, indeed, a father. He sired the Elva, a simple but very significant British sports car that’s raced competitively to this very day.
Nichols’s story begins when he left home at age 14 and joined the British effort against the Axis during World War II. In peacetime, he started his own garage and began selling used cars at Bexhill-on-Sea in the county of East Sussex. He became interested in the wild world of postwar British motorsport and began racing on his own, first in an early Lotus VI and then in a contraption built nearby by Mike Chapman called the C.S.M., a light cycle-fender special. It impressed Nichols enough that he decided to build his own racing car. That was the Elva Mk 1—Elva, a takeoff on the French elle va (she goes)—and it appeared in 1955. The first Elva gathered enough attention for its tubular space frame that Colin Chapman, much better known for such practices at Lotus, threatened to sue.
That pushed aside, the Elva garnered a measure of success in British club racing, and about two dozen copies were made. Since they were designed by purpose to be forgiving race cars, they found special popularity in the United States, where no lesser talents than the likes of Mark Donohue cut their competitive teeth in lightweight Elvas. Nichols saw a way to grow his business by expanding the sale of Elvas in North America, especially after the new Elva Courier road car, built using MGA running gear, appeared in 1958. In terms of sheer volume, Elva was eventually surpassed by the likes of Lotus and Cooper, but things looked rosy until the North American importer was jailed for fraud. Nichols’s little company was wiped out.
The Courier project was taken over by Trojan, but Nichols continued with his race cars, enjoying particular success with the Porsche-powered Elva Mk VI, the first outside constructor to be provided with factory engines and transaxles by Stuttgart. Similarly, Nichols is credited with being the first to introduce BMW to racing as a provider of engines to small-bore formula and sports cars. One of those cars, the Elva-BMW Mk VII, became the basis for the roadgoing Elva 160 GT car, which was pleasing to the eye, but a business disappointment, as only three were ever produced, one with a Rover V-8 engine. Elva stopped production in 1968.
Nichols merely shifted gears and left motorsports behind, choosing instead to take up a new career of deep-sea fishing. He was a frequent attendee at Elva reunions on both sides of the Atlantic until he died in 1997 following a protracted illness.

Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:13 pm
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