Frank Nichols’ first sports-racer was built in 1954, designed by Mick Chapman, competing immediately, and successfully, against the similar small displacement Lotus sports-racers of Colin Chapman. Its success encouraged Nichols to emulate its design with the first few Elva live rear axle sports-racers. Mk II featured a deDion rear axle. Mk IV had fully independent suspension and was the first Elva with a tubular space frame.
90 bhp, 1,220 cc Coventry Climax inline four-cylinder engine with two Weber 40 DCOE carburettors, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with transverse wishbones, coil springs and Armstrong dampers, independent rear suspension with transverse lower wishbones with axle shafts and forward trailing arms forming upper wishbones and coil springs, four-wheel Alfin hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 85″
Once his military service was complete in 1947, racing enthusiast Frank Nichols purchased a small garage at Westham, England. Having achieved some success, he then moved to larger premises in Bexhill, Sussex, where a burgeoning motor racing community existed. Beginning with a Lotus VI, Nichols campaigned a CSM Special in 1954, achieving considerable success. He resolved to produce and sell a similar car of his own design and, in 1955, founded Elva Engineering Company. Legend has it that Nichols named his cars “Elva” for the French “elle va,” meaning “she goes.”
From this very humble start, “Elva” was later to be seen on nearly one thousand racing, sports racing and road going cars. In just ten years, engines ranged from the Elva modified Ford side valve, through Climax, Ford DOHC, BMC, DKW, MGA, Porsche, and BMW, to the big V8 McLaren-Elva cars.