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  Bexhill Museum (July 2007)


On Wednesday 11th July, an Elva meeting was arranged to promote the return of Elva-Climax Mk. III to Bexhill and to start the official Appeal for funding of the rebuild. Guests included local dignitaries, representatives of the Press and very importantly many ex Elva employees together with Frank's brother John Nichols escorted by nephew Nigel Gregory.

What a wonderful evening it turned out to be, with massive amounts of enthusiasm, many stories being exchanged and much fun and laughter from work colleagues from the past. A truly nostalgic evening but with an important purpose. Some words were spoken by various people including funding manager John Betts and quite a few bottles of Elva Ale were consumed and enjoyed while details of the "Bringing back the Elva" project were discussed, and commitments to the plans confirmed. Already donations are being most gratefully received which will move the rebuild of 100/56 forward, with quotes for the bigger expenditures being obtained as specific requirements are identified.

There are three particular areas which are high on the list and need your help please...

  1. The aluminium body sections. Although retaining much of the original bodywork, the sections are rather battered after nearly fifty years and the long shot is that we want Alan Jenner to make a new body. As he built the body in the first place, we could not do better but despite Alan giving the best bargain price there remains a significant cost.
  2. The Climax engine. The car currently has an incorrect power unit and we need to replace this with a 'correct' Climax for display purposes. The car was supplied with an FWP (not FWA) engine and after much consideration it is felt that to reduce expenditure this FWP will be adapted to provide a working look-a-like FWA sufficient for the needs of the museum, and at a cost significantly less that the £16K needed for a decent race engine! Again funding is needed or just maybe you have some FWA parts which could be donated? Top of the list is a set of SU H4 carbs and the appropriate inlet manifold, an exhaust manifold, and anything else you could rustle up please.
  3. A set of the Elva magnesium 15" wheels with the correct bolt pattern pcd and ideally 4" or 4.5" rims. The car currently sits on awful wide rimmed steel wheels, but we are hopefully of obtaining some mag castings if reasonable used wheels cannot be found. There are going to be 'out-of-time' original wheels sitting around out there which cannot be used for racing purposes, but would be IDEAL for museum use. We can have them cleaned up (etc) so do please offer even a single used wheel if just gathering dust in your workshop. Otherwise we can go down the remanufactured route with help already offered by Jonathan Playfoot who now runs the machine shop set up by his ex. Elva machine shop boss and pop John Playfoot. Can you help PLEASE?

This is a hugely important project and deserves support from all Elva enthusiasts from around the world. Where else can you support such a wonderful plan where so many of the original workforce will be so actively involved, and these guys truly deserve that support.

We have Alan Jenner who will once again build a superb body by hand for the car, and although 'retired' will undertake the work assisted by his similarly highly skilled son Ian. Then we have Len Sayers who built every chassis frame for Frank Nichols and is dedicated to this project with his tool kit and welding equipment primed for action!

Bob Curl was much involved with body fitting and other top jobs in the grp section of the Hastings factory, and has since been recognised as a talented designer having produced the Nomad sports cars, and many other projects including Hesketh, the Gordon Murray 'Rocket' driven by George Harrison, and his pretty 'green' Dolphin.

Another talent in the grp field is of course Len Marchant who will be lending a hand, Jonathan Playfoot, Tony (Barny) Barnard, Roger Gillett, David Peckham, Bob Townsend, Jim Hearn ... the list goes on.

So you can see that this project is really special ... do PLEASE help by perhaps donating any suitable parts that you no longer need, or of course by sending a DONATION. Everyone who contributes will receive recognition by the museum, and remember that this is YOUR opportunity to be part of the continuation of the Elva story, in providing a wonderful example of an Elva sports racing car for future generations to admire and appreciate. THANK YOU AGAIN.

Contact details:
Questions, offers, donations, whatever can be directed to me via the website (contact link) or to the museum. Bexhill Museum Curator is Julian Porter and the Funding Manager is John Betts.

The Elva 'old boys' gather round Jonathan Playfoot's early Courier with chassis ID 100/002 outside the Bexhill Museum
Left to Right: (Nigel Gregory), John Nichols, Len Marchant, Tony Barnard, Bob Curl, Alan Jenner, Len Sayers, Roger Gillett, David Peckham and Jim Hearn.

Alan Jenner chats with Len Marchant, Len Sayers and ladies in front of a temporary Elva display.   Rosemary and Len Sayers enjoying the evening.
Curator Julian Porter listens intently as the evening progresses.   But there were plenty of chuckles too ... Len Marchant having fun!

Roger Dunbar


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