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Brian Stern, my Courier


Brian Stern tells of his long-term love affair with
his ELVA Courier


There are of course many different stories to be told of the ownership of each ELVA and I would like to add these to the website over time, perhaps to give others hope and encouragement particularly if they are about to embark on a similar project. Here is number one with two more in the pipeline; others will hopefully follow. If you would like to participate then send some words and a few images ... we will do the rest!

Brian Stern tells of his long-term love affair with his ELVA Courier.

I acquired this car in 1989 from Roger Dunbar who runs Elva Racing, is the founder of the Elva Owners Club and the current caretaker of the ELVA brand. This was an unfinished project, needing a ground up rebuild which spanned a seven year period, working as and when enthusiasm gripped me. I had first seen Elvas racing at Brands Hatch and Crystal Palace, including the cars driven by Archie Scott Brown and Robbie Mackenzie-Low, when I was a teenager. Later I recall seeing the very fast sports racer of Tony Lanfranchi. I still have many of the original road and track tests often written by John Bolster and John Blunsden, so I have been a 'petrol head' for many years!

The Courier engine is a 1998cc re-stroked MGB engine, modified by Burton Engineering of Essex; transmission is an MG four speed gear box driving a Wolseley rear axle with a 'Le Mans' differential. The chassis had been created from the original welding jig by Elva Racing incorporating a roll bar which adds to chassis stiffness. The frame and suspension parts were black powder-coated before fitting the professionally produced new bodywork. I am very conversant and experienced in the use of GRP products. The body was sprayed using acrylic paint, giving it its lovely gloss shine; the original seats were re-upholstered in Connelly leather together with new leather covered dashboard, the cockpit finished with new carpets.

The Courier has a top speed of well over 100mph which can get quite exciting when I try to slow it down as it is still using the original narrow Wolseley drum brakes all around. The car has been used for track day testing and has taken part in the Brooklands Mercedes Test Track demonstration days which are extremely interesting as everyone is driving as quickly as they can. I have also enjoyed various track day outings include a half hour competition speed trial around the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. This was the first time I had ever experienced how good the car was to drift through the long fast corners of the Silverstone circuit. I also enjoy taking the car to selected classic car shows, especially if they are associated with a charity.

In the last twelve months the Elva has been awarded 'Best in Show' at the Auto Historic Show, held in Burpham, and again more recently at the Raystede Classic Car Show near Ringmer, both shows in Sussex. The Burpham event trophy reads "BRMC Classics in association with John Surtees. Sunday 2nd September 2012. Winner of 1950's SPIRIT Award.

There are very few street-legal Elva Couriers being driven on the road in this country and I much enjoy showing the Courier and receiving compliments on the car, plus adding to the increasing awareness of all that ELVA achieved, and still achieves, on many race circuits around the world.

Footnote from Roger Dunbar ...

As a footnote, I like the image of the Courier sitting alongside the beautiful wide beam barge (60'x12') which Brian has so superbly fitted out. Frank Nichols would have really loved to have seen that due to his obvious involvement with ELVA and the Courier, but of course he went on to build amazing and highly respected lifeboats for the RNLI, including the Brede Class and the full fit out of the Tyne Class lifeboats at Lochin Marine in Rye.
He would have been "chuffed to bits".

19 February 2014

I was shocked and saddened to learn that Brian Stern died on Sunday 16th February as a result of a brain tumour. The story of his enthusiastic ownership of the Courier was completed just a few weeks ago and I know Brian was delighted to be able to share his thoughts and memories with other Elva owners. All of our sympathies go to Nicola, his family and friends.