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Elfin Magic: A Spellbinding SA Success Story



26th November, 2007


The National Motor Museum has announced the opening of a new exhibition that centres on a remarkable South Australian Racing Pioneer. Elfin Sports Cars was founded in 1958 in Adelaide by Garrie Cooper. It quickly grew to become an amazing South Australian success story and an Australian motoring icon.

In the late 1960s a small factory in the Adelaide suburb of Edwardstown was the second largest manufacturer of racing cars in the world! Elfin Sports Cars built 27 different models – and a total of 248 cars. The founder of Elfin Sports Cars, Garrie Cooper, was a self-taught engineer and business manager.

Elfins were very successful on the race track, winning 29 championships and major titles, including two Australian Driver Championships, five Australian Sports Car Championships and four Australian Tourist Trophies. Elfins also won the Singapore Grand Prix and the Malaysian Grand Prix twice. This is quite an achievement for such a small team – only nine employees in 1965, including Garrie and his father Cliff, and typist Mrs Webb.

His first sports car bore resemblance to the Lotus Eleven. He had significant successes in his cars as a driver, including wins at the 1968 Singapore Grand Prix and the 1975 Australian Tourist Trophy.

The tragedy of this incredible story is that Garrie Cooper died suddenly at the age of 46 in 1982, leaving us to ponder what else this amazing individual could have achieved?

But the Elfin dream lives on. The company was purchased in 1998 by Bill Hemming and Nick Kovatch, who began working on a new Streamliner and Clubman. Recently, a new lease of life was breathed into the Elfin name – in late 2006 the company was purchased by Scottish racing entrepreneur Tom Walkinshaw, who also owns HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) and HDT and Toll HSV racing teams.

Vehicles to feature in the exhibition include:

  • Formula Junior (prototype): In 1962, Frank Matich won the first Australian Championship (Formula Junior) in an Elfin. Twenty of these fully-fledged racing vehicles were produced by the factory. A new class of car in Australia, the Junior was designed using only magazine photos as a guide.
  • Streamliner: the Streamliner was the first sports car to wear the Elfin badge. In total, 24 of these vehicles were built by the Elfin factory.
  • Mono Mk III: Work commenced on the Mono in late 1963 as a replacement for the Formula Junior. Its innovative design centred around the monocoque chassis.
  • 622: Six 622s were produced in the early 1970s. The 622 was a new Formula Two version of the Elfin 620 Formula Ford, as driven by Larry Perkins in the UK.

What: Elfin Magic
When: 25th November, 2007 – 31st May, 2008
Where: National Motor Museum, Shannon Street, Birdwood, South Australia
Admission: $9.00 adult, $4.00 child, $7.00 concession, $24.00 family

Other Elfin content: here

Other historic vehicle content: here

Other Vehicle Museum content: here

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