SURPRISE, SURPRISE ..... ELFIN RETURNS
27th February, 2004
Holden-designed and powered Elfin MS8 Clubman and MS8 Streamliner
Holden showcased its design capability and powertrain prowess at the 2004 Melbourne International Motor Show today with two retro-cool V8 race performers created in collaboration with the Elfin all-Australian sports car marque.
These low-slung racers are an open wheeler track machine and a smooth-bodied Le Mans style roadster, which Elfin intends to call the Clubman and the Streamliner. They are hand-built specials which are thoroughly modern interpretations of an earlier motorsport era.
The MS8 Clubman track racer and roadgoing MS8 Streamliner show cars boast full design treatment by Holden and the performance of the Gen III 5.7 litre V8 powertrain, while sports chassis design and construction is by the Elfin Sports Car company.
Aimed squarely at the weekend club racer and historic vehicle enthusiast market, the V8 roadsters will be hand-built to order by Elfin with production expected to begin later this year.
Michael Simcoe, Holden's Executive Director Design, Asia Pacific, said the project highlighted the exhilarating performance potential to be realised by matching Holden's 245kW Gen III V8, six-speed gearbox, limited slip diff, ABS and traction control systems to a lightweight space frame with custom suspension and other specialised racing componentry.
"Given the Elfin power to weight ratio of 3.57kg/kW, (Clubman MS8) we estimate a 0-100 km/h time of about 3.5 seconds. This package of pure power, great chassis dynamics and looks to match is enough to place them right up there in the serious sports car league," Simcoe said.
Bill Hemming, Joint Managing Director of Elfin Sports Cars, said the Streamliner and Clubman MS8 project made the best use of each organisation's strengths.
"This project successfully leveraged Holden's design know-how and resources with Elfin's specialist skill in hand-built racing chassis production," he said. "The synergy between us was amazing. I guess that's what happens when one bunch of car buffs meets another," said Hemming.
"Elfin will take all enquiries and orders from prospective buyers and we'll build the vehicles at our production facility in Murrumbeena (Victoria). Elfin owns the intellectual property rights to the vehicles and we will manage all sales, marketing and warranty issues," Mr Hemming added.
Elfin utilised Holden's advanced CAD and ALIAS resources to help design and build a multi-tubular space frame that would accommodate the V8 powertrain and deliver two-seater comfort.
The MS8 Streamliner and MS8 Clubman share the same proportions - long wheelbase (2290 mm), wide track (front 1460mm, rear 1430mm), custom-tuned suspension, racing brakes, 18-inch wheels and low profile 245/40 tyres. Streamliner's length is 3,500mm, 300 mm longer than the open wheeler Clubman at 3,200mm.
Elfin's independent suspension set-up features specifically developed components. It is rose-jointed and fully adjustable for bump, rebound and ride height to allow fine tuning according to individual driver preferences.
The high performance slotted and ventilated disc braking system (343mm front, 315mm rear) - mated to solid billet-machined aluminium 6- and 4-piston calipers respectively - is designed with 24-hour endurance racing in mind and is complemented by Holden ABS and traction control. Steering is direct rack and pinion.
"We share a passion for this kind of thing. And it was an opportunity to work on something a bit different, that wasn't strictly production-related," he said.
"Creatively, this was an entirely worthwhile exercise for everyone who contributed - modellers, designers, colour and trim people, fabricators, CAD operators, ALIAS operators, all of us.
"It's a great example of our design flexibility at Holden as it demonstrates our capacity to create niche designs for hand-built enthusiast vehicles. And once again, it underlines our ability to turn a concept into reality fairly quickly," Simcoe said.
Elfin MS8 Clubman .....
around $85,000 and available late 2004
"It's stronger and more aggressive than the original, but retains the raw, open appeal of this vehicle style," he explains. "Its long-nosed, large dash to axle proportion is of course dictated by the powertrain - that's what these designs are all about. Front and rear overhangs are very short, the stripped-down look is accentuated by the visible suspension componentry and those side pods house the exhaust.
"In track racer mode, the show car is single seater with a removable solid tonneau. It's a very elementary sort of car," Simcoe said.
The MS8 Clubman is finished in Quicksilver with carbon fibre detail highlights and suspension-mounted cycle guards, which lift individually, over five-spoke alloys.
Elfin MS8 Streamliner .....
around $105,000 and available late 2004
The Elfin MS8 Streamliner show car, displayed with a single place tonneau cover and Perspex bubble screen, is finished in brilliant Infra Red. Its aggressive front end is dominated by a large hexagonal-meshed radiator opening, the profile by large alloy gills. The small lift-up doors swing open scissor-style, and the bonnet is forward-opening.
Further features include a big bore dual exhaust, a racing rear vision mirror, historic-style fuel cap, styled roll bar, LED combination tail lamps and five-spoke wheels with a bright silver turn face.
"In true roadster style, you can see functional elements of the suspension under the rear of the car. It's heart is also exposed where the engine is visible through the gills", Simcoe added."
Elfin MS8 Clubman and Elfin MS8 Streamliner
The customary low-backed bucket racing seats, trimmed in black leather, are fitted with four-point racing harnesses. The park brake and grab handle are also leather-trimmed; while the back panel is finished in quilted suede.
Tachometer and speedometer are prominent on the instrument cluster, which includes a programmable shift light. Gauges are silver-faced on the Streamliner, black on the Clubman; both are surrounded by satin silver bezels. Fuel, oil pressure and water gauges on the centre panel are flanked by heater vents with aircraft-style sliding levers, the console houses the ignition button and traction control switch, and the gearshift knob is machined alloy with an Elfin logo.
Elfin's Joint Managing Director, Nick Kovatch, says once the vehicles have gained Australian Design Rules certification, the company hopes to build up to 100 units annually.
"Both will be fully road registrable - and because each will be hand-built and prepared to suit individual owners' requirements, no two will be the same," he said.
"We anticipate that pricing for MS8 Clubman will start at approximately $85,000 and the MS8 Streamliner at approximately $105,000. However, as these cars will be hand built to the specific order of each customer, these prices are really only indicative. There is a myriad of possibilities. And of course that will be part of the appeal - each of these cars will be unique,' Mr Kovatch concluded.
The cars are designed by Holden, under the direction of Michael Simcoe, Holden Executive Director, Asia Pacific Design. Assistant Chief Designer Max Wolff took charge of the Clubman project and Assistant Chief Designer Peter Hughes led the Streamliner styling team. Interior styling was the responsibility of Senior Designer Warrack Leach.
MS8 Series Elfins are equipped with Holden powertrains - Gen III 5.7litre V8 engine, six speed manual transmission, 'V' car limited slip differential, ABS braking system, traction control and associated controls and sensors.
Elfin Sports Cars will take all enquiries and orders from prospective buyers and is to build the vehicles at its production facility in Murrumbeena, Victoria. Elfin owns the intellectual property rights to the vehicles and will manage all sales, marketing and warranty issues.
Elfins won 29 championships and major titles, including two Australian Driver Championships, five Australian Sports Car Championships and four Australian Tourist Trophies, took out the Singapore Grand Prix and twice won the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Drivers who had success with Elfin included World Formula One Champion James Hunt, Didier Pironi, Vern Schuppan, Larry Perkins, John Bowe, Frank Matich, Bob Jane, John Harvey, Allan Grice and Peter Manton.
Elfin Sports Cars was purchased in 1998 by businessmen and historic racing enthusiasts Bill Hemming and Nick Kovatch. A new generation Elfin Clubman Type 3 sports car was launched in the same year and almost 50 examples have since been produced, either in fully hand-built 'turn key' form or as rolling chassis kits.
From this point, the project began to escalate, aided and abetted by the many people within Holden who share a passion for performance cars and an appreciation of the opportunity to support the regeneration of Australia's only true sports car brand.
After viewing initial styling proposals and a clay model, all involved agreed that the new Clubman design needed something larger than the 1600cc 4-cylinder powerplant originally proposed. Holden Design's CAD calculations showed that, with modifications, the current Elfin chassis would accept V6 and V8 powertrains, and no further persuasion was required to make V8 the standard.
Elfin took the decision to design a totally new chassis to fit within the new body style. Major changes included an independent rear setup to replace the live rear axle; extra strength to handle the torque; increased width for driver and passenger; ADR crash testing qualification; revised suspension geometry and symmetry for possible left hand drive export.
More than 6,000 hours were expended during the chassis and suspension design process, during which the Elfin team overcame a series of challenges to ensure that the marque's legendary handling capability was not compromised.
Late in 2003, with the Clubman design and engineering project well advanced, Holden took the decision to design a modern interpretation of the classic Elfin Streamliner body, tailored to the same chassis. Little more than 20 examples of this enclosed aero-bodied sports car, prized by collectors, were designed and built by Elfin founder Garrie Cooper between 1960 and 1963.
Elfin's 'MS' designation (it stands for Motor Sport) is traditional. The last MS series Elfin sports car was the Chevrolet V8-powered MS7, which won the 1975 and 1976 Australian Tourist Trophy Sports Car Championships.
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