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The McLaren-Elva racing cars.

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#1 rdrcr

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Posted 09 May 2002 - 17:45

I've just put an offer in on a '66 McLaren-Elva M1B. I did some research on this car. Some, I got from Mathews (the broker) some from the Internet. I was just curious anyone could supply me with some additional info on the desirability of these cars, their history and the relationship between McLaren and Elva.

Here is what I found out about the Elva side...

The name is a corruption of 'elle va' meaning 'she goes' and, from this very humble start, 'Elva' was later to be seen on nearly one thousand racing, sports racing and road going cars. Engine 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 in just ten years.

Having produced a series of sports racers and formula junior cars, many of which were extremely successful in the States, it was suggested that Elva Engineering should produce a road-going 'sports racer' and the prototype Elva Courier was built in early 1958.

Archie Scott-Brown had introduced Frank Nichols to a young ex-graduate called Peter Nott and, with the financial support of a distributor from the States, Frank and Peter designed the Courier with a ladder frame type chassis. It had to be a sports car that was relatively simple to manufacture, be competitive on the track, and easy to maintain or repair. The pretty prototype aluminum bodywork was built around the chassis by Williams & Pritchard, but production cars used 'grp' bodywork molded from the original. John Bolster road-tested an early example, visited the factory to see nearly twenty cars close to completion, and was impressed with the build quality of these hand- built cars.

From here, I don't really know how their relationship started with McLaren...

The car I'm interested in was originally driven by Peter Revson. This car was equipped with a Ford engine. In 1967 it was driven by Skip Barber and established a new lap record at Lime Rock. This car was number 12 of 28 built. Chassis #30-12. The car competed in the 1966 Can-Am/USSRC/Group 7 races. The M1B was a Michael Turner rebodied development of M1A sports car, sold in US as McLaren-Elva Mark 2. How many of these were made? I can't seem to find any numbers, nor does the Broker have any idea and these types of cars are his specialty...

It now has a small block Chevy in it. And while the Horsepower is more than adequate at 550hp. I would think that it would be better to have the original engine back in the car. Or at least have a clone of the original either in it or as a backup/part of the set-up. My offer is based in part that it isn't totally original, and therefore less desirable. This piece is rather dear and I just want to be sure that I'm getting at least some upside potential here.

Thanks in advance.


#2 Pete Stowe

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Posted 09 May 2002 - 18:29

Briefly, when the McLaren sports cars began being successful starting with the M1A in 1965, Bruce came to an arrangement with Trojan who had by now taken over Elva Cars ( Frank Nichols no longer being involved) to manufacture production versions (marketed as McLaren-Elva) leaving Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team free to build new cars and race. Production figures were M1A 24, M1B 28, M1C 25, although I'm not sure if these are just the Trojan built ones or include the team built cars - I reckon two M1As and 4 M1Bs. A lot of the M1Bs did have Chev engines, which was what the works team used in 1966.
Have you checked out the family Bruce McLaren Trust www.bruce-mclaren.com & there is also a good Elva website.
There was also a lengthy article on Trojan McLarens in a 1970s Autosport which I can dig out if you want.

#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 May 2002 - 18:47

According to the Eoin Young biography of McLaren, Nichols approached McLaren with a proposal to build production versions of the M1. Bruce eventually struck a deal with Peter Agg and John Bennett of Trojan, who owned Elva by that time, having revived the company after it was liquidated.

There are more details in Chapter 13 - Production Cars and Special Projects.

The deal goes back slightly further than Pete says though - the agreement was signed on November 21 1964 and the first McLaren-Elva was shown at the Racing Car Show in January 1965.
And according to Young, those figures exclude the works-built cars.

#4 rdrcr

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Posted 09 May 2002 - 18:47

Hey, thanks a ton Pete, for your info and the prompt response.

I was at the Bruce-McLaren site and there really wasn't much in the way of detail on the M1B.

They did have this on their teams cars -

M1B - McLaren/Olds
Driver - McLaren/Amon
New body & sq chassis
13" wheels, dry sump
Sold Begg

M1B - McLaren/Chev
Driver - McLaren/Amon
65-1 Development car.
Chassis sold Ganley

M1B - McLaren/Chev
Driver - Amon
M1B 1-66 Can-Am Car
Sold US - Soucey

M1B - McLaren/Chev
Driver - McLaren
M1B 2-66 Can-Am car
M6 development car
Chassis sold Ganley

and this statement: The first "true'' McLaren was the M1, (also known as the McLaren-Elva-Oldsmobile Mark 1 when it became the Trojan production car), this was the first in a long line of dominant McLaren Can-Am cars, though wasn't initially too successful due to excessive lift from its bodywork. I think that they made some aero improvments to the M1B, as they appear to be a bit different.

Also, that Elva website, www.elva.com (if it's the same one) is where I garnered my preliminary info about Elva, but they didn't have a great deal of info on the relationship after Trojan's acquisition.

I Really appreciate the production numbers. Where did you find this information? And do you have any idea on how many survive today?

And if it's not too much trouble, I'd love to see anything on the history of these cars. either post it here or PM me with the info.

Thanks Richard... for the additional information. It appears that only two of the original team cars exist today, If I can find the remaining cars, that would give me a good idea about the rareity vs cost aspect.

#5 Allen Brown

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 19:31

I don't know if it helps, but a couple of the the Mk IIs (M1Bs) were rebuilt as single-seater Formula A cars. Joe Starkey ran one with an Oldsmobile engine and Bud Morley ran one with a FOrd (which he later replaced with a Chev). One of these cars ran as late as 1972 in F5000.

Does anyoen know if Trojan still has the production records?


#6 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 20:12

There was a lengthy article titled Kiwi Pride - The McLaren-Elva Story published in Motoring News in 1969. It's too long to type out but if you email me your postal address I will send you a photocopy.

#7 rdrcr

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 22:20

Allen - it all helps ;) Thanks.

Milan - It's in your PM, Thank you!

#8 Doug Nye

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 22:43

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Does anyoen know if Trojan still has the production records?

Peter Agg's son Charles preserves such records and keeps them close to his chest - protecting personal interest in the CanAm McLarens in competition today...


#9 SJ Lambert

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 09:28

Allen - it all helps ;) Thanks.

Milan - It's in your PM, Thank you!

The July 1966 edition of Road & Track has an in depth article on Charlie Hayes' Mark 2 McLaren Elva (Traco) Chevrolet 333cu - 466bhp - running the "little" engine had him doing well in the USRRC - running 3rd in series at time of writing - having won at Laguna Seca........ Box was a LG500

Edited by SJ Lambert, 03 December 2010 - 09:35.

#10 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 16:51

Go to: http://wsrp.ic.cz/ch...aren_canam.html for a list of McLaren chassis numbers with some ownership details.