The prototype Elfin 300 looks like a sports car should look like
My blog entry on the (MAE head prompted the owner of this car, Graham Allen, to get in touch. It's an Elfin, the prototype Elfin 300 in fact, and features the MAE head on an 1150cc block. (Photos by Graham Allen)

"The car is an Australian make called Elfin who were the equivalent of Lotus for Oz, making over 250 racing cars in the 60's and 70's.

"My car is the prototype 300 which has a Holbay S65 engine, essentially a Cortina block with their own head, similar to the MAE one but 1150cc. You will find a few makes of downdraft head, Lucas and Holbay amongst others and they were used in Formula Junior and Clubmans 1500 series. Thus you find some heads are 1100 and others with larger valves and chambers are 1500.

"I'm not sure how much of an advantage they really were as the fastest Cosworth engined Juniors were sidedraft but for cool looks you can't beat a pair of twin Webers sticking out of the bodywork.

"My car went new from Oz to the States in' 67 where the owner raced it twice before putting it in a barn for 40 years. I bought it from him a couple of years ago and have been restoring it since so (apart from safety upgrades and a full rebuild) is absolutely original.

"This is now the only Elfin sports racer outside Australia so is a bit of a rare beasty although Tom Walkinshaw now owns the brand and they continue to make Caterham style offerings - but no racers."

The chassis looks just as good unclothed
The suspension is rose-jointed double wishbones all round with coilover dampers, front and rear adjustable anti roll bars, magnesium uprights and wheels. The transmission is a Hewland and the overall layout is similar to the Elfin Mono Mk2 single-seater of the time and
really quite advanced."

I agree with Graham about the look of the carbs poking out of the bonnet. The sheer psychological advantage of having too much engine to fit under the bonnet must be worth 20 real world brake horsepower alone.

It was designed by Elfin founder Garrie Cooper and Elfin subsequently became one of the most successful sports and racing car manufacturers in Australia, although they're virtually unheard of in Britain.

A similar Elfin but without the downdraught Webers is featured on the MotormachinistsMotormachinists site (I also really like the Austin A40 on this page!) 5 of these Elfin Mallalas were produced from 1962 to 1964 with engines ranging from 1100cc Fords to a 2.4 litre Coventry Climax FP 4 cylinder. They were named after their first track success at the Mallala race circuit near Adelaide, South Australia. Weight could be as low as 400kgs and the dimensions were tiny - length 3,040 mm, front track 1,080 mm, rear track 1,060 mm, wheelbase 1,960 mm.

The Elfin 300 came after the Malalla in 1967 and only half a dozen were built over the next two years with later cars sporting Coventry Climax engines. One of these has recently been restored in Australia following discovery in Zimbabwe.

Modern day Elfins are much brawnier affairs. I like them, too, but for different reasons.

Elfin 300s belong to a time when racing cars had an an inherent aesthetic about them I'm almost inclined to say "Who cares how fast this car goes when it looks this good!"

But that would just be silly.

Add a comment