Posted 20 March 2006 - 14:10
....back to the Elfin 600 Prototype
Garrie Cooper revealed the tube-framed Elfin 600 prototype in early 1968 and the single-seater did its first test run on 23rd March 1968 at Calder Raceway, Victoria. The car was then setup for racing in Southeast Asia and within two weeks of its first test, was being freighted to Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysian Grand Prix on 6th April 1968 with a 1600cc Ford Twin Cam engine. It would have been a splendid start for Garrie and the 600, until six laps from the end when he retired with a broken gearbox (?).
A week later and Garrie was down in Singapore for the third Singapore International Grand Prix, racing the 600 Prototype under the Maple Leaf Racing Team banner. That was the year the 600 prototype won.
Prior to buying Garrie's 600 Prototype, the diminutive Hengkie Iriawan (Henkie Oei was his original Chinese name) had been running a Brabham BT18 Twin Cam. The BT18 had been purchased from a fellow competitor “but it was pretty twisted…and it was thoroughly uncompetitive…I gave him the money before I saw the car..” It was so bad, one carburettor was a Weber 40DCOE while the other was a Weber 45DCOE! It did not take much from Hengkie to sell the Brabham in favour of the Elfin Twin Cam, a car already successful in the hands of the boss (Garrie Cooper).
Success for Hengkie came quick in the Elfin. His first outing was at the Malaysian Grand Prix on 8th September 1968, which he won. The following week, Hengkie was down in Johore for the street race. The weather was foul and Hengkie lost it on a puddle at 120mph and “aquaplaned clear off the circuit” while leading the race. The Elfin was immediately rebuilt for the Macau Grand Prix (run on 17th November 1968) where it took second behind Jan Bussell’s Brabham BT14 F2. Third was Max Brunninghausen in the Alfa Romeo TZII with Tony Maw fourth in the Elfin 100 Mono Mk2B.
Meanwhile, Garrie had been busy building upon the success of that first sale of what would become a very versatile model for Elfin Cars. That prototype had been used to test an airfoil at Mallala before being shipped out to Southeast Asia and Asian racing trim with the Twin Cam Lotus-Ford engine, had been dyno-tested at 180bhp with a Laystall crank, Cosworth con-rods and twin Weber 45DCOE carburettors. Gearbox was an FT200 (the original Hewland Mk5 having been junked) with Porsche single dry-plate clutch. Without fuel, the car weighed 880lb (400kg). A production 600 was then built and sold to Maurie Quincey.
For the 1969 season, Garrie Cooper had the 600C – with a 2.5-litre Repco 830 V8 engine, the intention being to run the Southeast Asian series (Singapore and Malaysia) followed by JAF Japan GP at Mount Fuji. Two cars were built, one which Garrie would use for Asia before selling to Malcolm Ramsay (who would fit a Waggott 2-litre engine). Ramsey eventually sold it to Roger Harrison in 1974 who sold it to Paul Hamilton (restored in 1995 with a 2.5-litre Lotus Twin-Cam apparently). Hengkie would feature in the Elfin story once more – having bought the other 600C, chassis 6910 with a Series 9 1600cc FVA engine which he used in New Zealand Gold Star meetings at Pukekohe and Bay Park between September and October 1969 with the assistance of Graeme Lawrence’s father Doug Lawrence.
That's what I have on the Elfin 600 Prototype and the 600C. Graeme Lawrence passed me some old photos, issues of RCN and Motorman and recounted some of the races in Asia. It appears that Garrie’s Elfin 600C was by no means outclassed by GL's M4A McLaren or Roly Levis's BT23C. At Batu Tiga, the car had been running up to third in qualifying with Levis in first and Lawrence in second. The Elfin was certainly faster on the straight but the McLaren M4A made it up with warm Firestones on the twisty sections of the track. While it possessed a great deal of promise, having started on the front row of every event it had entered in Asia, it never completed any of the races.
Do correct me if there are inaccuracies in the text. I'm still trying to figure out which 600B ended up with Teddy Yip.