News - Elfin - MS8
Elfins hit the UK
Aussie sportscar company Elfin starts export push as Walkinshaw and Harrop team up
17 Jul 2007
AUSTRALIAN sportscar company Elfin has begun its export push by sending a batch of four V8-engined cars to Britain.
The Walkinshaw Performance-owned operation will use the cars – three MS8 Clubman models and one MS8 Streamliner – to not only promote the brand but also to sort out UK compliance.
Elfin Sports Cars chief executive officer Chris Payne said the company already has three dealers in the UK and is conducting a number of promotional events and drive days over the northern summer.
The main focus appears to be on the more traditional-looking but potent MS8 Clubman, which Mr Payne expects will sell there for around $100,000 (£40,000).
“We had the key British magazines over here a couple of months ago for a preview drive and they really enjoyed the cars,” said Mr Payne. “They understand the concept of the car, which is not surprising as Britain is the home of clubman-style cars.
“That’s where the growth is for Elfin and, with the demise of TVR, we think there might be some appeal there for the Streamliner. I guess we will find out.
“People over there are impressed with the quality of the vehicles versus cars like Caterhams etc, so I’m quietly confident.” Elfin will operate out of Walkinshaw’s base at Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, where former Holden Special Vehicles chief executive Phil Harding now looks after export markets for both HSV and Elfin.
The company expects the MS8 Clubman will require only minor changes under the UK’s liberal “single vehicle compliance” system.
Mr Payne said he is already well-advanced with the three goals he set when Walkinshaw took over Elfin late last year – establishing a national dealer network in Australia (“achieved that”), an export program (“well underway”) and creating new products.
The main focus on the new model front is a replacement for the old-fashioned Type 3 Clubman model, a four-cylinder Toyota-engined car that was introduced in 1998 but which can trace its roots all the way back to the first road car built by Elfin founder Garrie Cooper in 1961.
This is the car that inspired former Holden design chief (and now chief of design for GM in Detroit) Mike Simcoe to create the Holden 5.7-litre V8-engined Elfin MS8 models.
Production of the four-cylinder Type 3 Clubman finished last year and there are almost 90 of the modern versions on Australian roads.
A new model is “not imminent”, said Mr Payne. “It definitely will not be this year.” However, Mr Payne said we could expect something significant next year, when Elfin officially turns 50 (despite starting the golden anniversary celebrations at the Melbourne motor show earlier this year).
“We hope to announce some racing plans soon because 50 years of Elfin doesn’t go by without acknowledging the significance of Elfin as a racing company,” he said.
A factory re-entry into motorsport is expected to begin this year with a works car being entered for Holden-associated drivers such as Leanne Tander, David Reynolds and Tony D’Alberto in 10 road and club events including the Dutton Rally and Mt Buller Sprint.
Walkinshaw and Harrop join forces
WALKINSHAW Performance and Harrop Engineering Australia have entered a “technology agreement” to develop new products for the aftermarket industry.
It is an interesting combination, not least because Harrop is currently working with Toyota Australia’s TRD performance division in packaging a new Eaton twin-vortices supercharger for the forthcoming TRD Aurion sports sedan.
The TRD Aurion will rival VE Commodore-based cars from the Tom Walkinshaw-owned HSV outfit, which in some cases share retail space with the new Walkinshaw Performance aftermarket tuning operations.
In another local muscle-car twist, the Walkinshaw operation is known to have held discussions with Mitsubishi Motors Australia about developing the Ralliart franchise.
GoAuto can also now confirm that Ford Performance Vehicles owner Prodrive has also been in negotiations with Mitsubishi.
Harrop Engineering Australia designs, develops and manufactures performance-oriented components for Australian and overseas car-makers. Earlier this year it was appointed the sole Southern Hemisphere distributor of Eaton supercharger components, and the Oceania distributor for Eaton traction control products.
In addition to developing new products with the Walkinshaw outfit, Harrop will market its existing range of products at the hot tuners. They will be sold alongside tailored Walkinshaw products which are primarily designed to enhance the latest VE Commodore and HSV models.
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