1965 – M1A, Elva-BMW Mk VIII & Formula Libre

AUTOCAR, 5 Febuary 1965


The Olds engine really is a General Motors cocktail, with many parts “lifted” from other units within the group. 

Basically the engine has a bore and stroke of 90-5 X 86-3mm, giving a capacity of 4,450 c.c. Compression ratio is 11-7 to 1, and four 48mm Weber downdraught carburet­tors are used. Maximum torque is 300 lb.ft. at 4,600 r.p.m., so the useful rev range must be at least 3,000, probably all the way from 3,800 to over 7,000.

Both the block and head are aluminium, and the first stage in the modifications is to machine the top and bottom faces of the block to ensure that they are true and parallel. Then the bores are opened out and the usual attention paid to the combustion chambers and porting. The crankshaft comes from a 1964-model Buick Special, and is “stroked” up by an extra 0.4in., with the journal fillets filled in with weld metal and reground to larger radii. Connecting rods come from Chevrolet with their big ends narrowed to fit the Buick journals. Cast aluminium pistons are used as, apparently, they are lighter than forged ones. 

A special aluminium forged flywheel is made by Schiefer, with a single dry plate clutch incorporating an aluminium pressure plate. Much of -the cover plates .and bolt-on fittings are similarly made in light alloys so that the total weight of the whole engine, including starter, clutch and flywheel, carburettors, generator and distributor, is only 3321b. 

Behind the engine a Hewland four-speed gearbox is mounted integral with the straight-cut crownwheel and pinion and incorporating a limited-slip differential. 

The chassis itself, as John Marsden’s cutaway shows, is a simple space frame utilizing round and square section steel tube, with alloy sheets bonded and riveted as stress panels to form the undertray and cross bulkheads. Oil and water are carried to and from the front-mounted radiators through the frame members.

Front suspension can be described as using double wish­bone, but the upper one has such a wide base that its rear pivot is right back almost on the scuttle bulkhead. Similarly at the back the upper parallel radius arms extend well forward to the main tubular hoop just behind the seats. There are single upper transverse links here, with an inverted wishbone below. Armstrong coil-spring and damper units are used all round, with screw adjustment for ride height. The front wishbones have anti-dive angling of their pivots, and at both ends of the car there is provision for adjustment of camber and alignment. Brakes are by Girling with 11.5in. dia. front discs and 10.75in. dia. rear ones, all mounted outboard and well ventilated by cold-air ducts and perforations. Special cast magnesium wheels are 15in dia. and have the incredible rim width at the back of 10in; at the front they are Sin. wide. The Dunlop racing tyres on the back were 7.5 section at the show, but a larger size may be available later, probably as large· as 8·00 like the Goodyear’s used on the AC. Cobras.

Cutaway drawing of the McLaren-Elva V8 published in an Autocar report in 1965

RACING drivers signed on by works teams must have keen abilities as test drivers also, and be able to analyse the characteristics of a new car so that they can make constructive suggestions for improvements. From there, many drivers have gone on to be successful designers, the classic examples being Colin Chapman and Jack Brabham. Now Bruce McLaren, the No. 1 Cooper team driver, has joined their ranks with an unlimited­capacity sports-racing car. 

A prototype car with 4,5-litre Oldsmobile engine has already proved extremely successful at several North American events and at the Nassau speed week. Now it is being produced in series by Elva, with orders from John Coombs (for Graham Hill to drive), Charles Vogele (Swiss hillclimb expert), A.J. Foyt, John Coundley and Augie Pabst. The power unit will be a 4.5-litre Oldsmobile vee-8 modified by Traco to develop 355 b.h.p. at 6,800 r.p.m., although other engines such as the Ford 4-7-litre Cobra unit can be substituted easily. 

Cutaway drawing of the McLaren-Elva V8 published in an Autocar report in 1965

Elva Mk.VIII

LOOKING very tame in comparison, the Elva Mk. VIII is a development of last year’s very successful Elva­ BMW Mk. VII. It features completely adjustable suspension, which can be adapted to any circuit, and each end of the car can be set to give the handling required. Only a bare chassis was ready in time for the show, but this showed very dearly the basic rigid structure with its choice of suspension mounting points.

The front spring and damper units are mounted inboard for convenience with rocking upper wishbones and normal swinging lower ones. At the back, the arrangement of links and arms form in effect double semi-trailing wish­bones each side, rather like a Honda formula 1 car. Anti­roll bars front and rear can be adjusted for rate by trunnion clamps on the ends of the links to the lower wishbones. 


Bruce McLaren in his 4.5 litre sports racing car at Nassau



Designed by Grand Prix racing driver, Bruce McLaren, this unlimited capacity sports racing car is now being built by Frank Nichols and his team at the Elva factory at Rye. Since the announcement last October that Bruce and Frank had joined forces to produce the car, major extensions have been made to the factory to accommodate the build programme.

Bruce will be driving one of the cars himself under the banner of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd. The John Coombs Racing Organisation have ordered a car for Graham Hill to drive and the John Coundley Racing Partnership (one of the very few private outfits left in international racing) will have John at the wheel in major events and his wife, Pat, in certain speed events.  Pat Coundley will be remembered for her exploits in her Jaguar E-type in which she qualified in 1964 as ‘The fastest Woman in Europe’ in the Annual Belgium Record Attempt held at Antwerp.  Charles Vogele of Switzerland, well-known for his ex­pertise on hill and circuit on the Continent will also be McLaren-Elva mounted for 1965.  In the United States notable drivers who have already placed orders for Elva-McLarens include Indianapolis winner ‘Ajay’ Foyt, Augie Pabst of Milwaukee and Ludwig Heimrath of Canada.  The power unit for the 1965 McLaren-Elva is the 4″5 litre Traco/Oldsmobile. Other V8 engines can be supp­lied if desired.

Tony Lanfranchi with the Elva-BMW Mk11 in which he won the 1964 Auto-Sport Championship



Out of the 2-litre Elva-BMW – the Autosport Championship car of 1964 – comes the completely new Mk V111 featuring still further advances in chassis and suspension design and with an even more potent Elva/BMW/Nerus engine developing 188-192 b.h.p.  In 1965 the Mk V111 Elva-BMWs will be entered and raced by Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd., and driven by Chris Amon and, in certain events, by last season’s Autosport Champion, Tony Lanfranchi.  A Porche-engined version of the Mk V111 will be available for the U.S.A while the Mk V11 Elva-BMW (with the new engine!) will continue in production.



Tony Lanfranchi raced the first Elva-BMW throughout last season to become the Autosport Champion of 1964. In doing so he broke many lap records, some of his own!


Elva also made its mark in the European Mountain Championship when Herbert Muller took second place to Edgar Barth in the series, driving the Elva-Porsche entered by the Porsche factory.


Elva-Porsche came first, second and third in the under 2-litre class of the Road America 500 mile endurance race at Elkhart Lake and took second and third places in the United States Road Racing Championship.

If YOU want to share in the sucesses of 1965 contact:
Elva Cars(1961) LTD Address
Elva Cars(1961) LTD Address
Elva official document header



Lubricate the suspension ball joints with a general purpose grease as required.  The cantilever and lower wishbone rear fulcrum are nylon bearings and only require coating with oil on assembly. The front hubs are packed with high melting point grease and should not require further attention, unless there is evidence of grease having run out.

To adjust the front hubs, remove the ⅝” nut from the hub shaft, the cup washer, the oil seal and inner race track. Remove the spacer separating the inner and outer hub race. Machine sufficient from the small diameter of the spacer to eliminate free play only from the hub shaft assembly,

Reassemble and tighten the hub shaft to 75 foot/lbs,

Details of suspension settings are included on a separate sheet. However, the following points should be noted when suspension changes are made.  To adjust the front wheel camber angle, remove the nut at the base of the vertical link and slide off the lower wishbone ball joint, Slacken the wishbone ball joint locknut, and screw in and out as required.

Whichever cantilever mounting is selected, it is essential that the steering rack, cantilever reaction links and spring damper units are moved correspondingly to their alternative mounting position. (i.e. the aforementioned components will either all be in their upper mounting positions or all in the lower).

The lower wishbone may be fitted to either mounting point regardless of the position of the cantilever and damper. Subsequent to changing lower wishbone or cantilever mounting points, it is necessary to reset wheel camber and alignment.

Variations of roll stiffness can be applied by positioning of the drop link clamps along the roll bar arms. The shorter the effective lever lengths the greater the applied roll stiffness.


Lubricate the rack and pinion with a general purpose greasy as required,

To adjust the rack and pinion mesh, disconnect the track rods from the steering arms. Slacken the large nut at the right hand side of the rack case with a peg spanner. Unscrew the nut located above the pinion and remove the rack loading spring.  Systematically, remove shims from the underside of the rack loading nut and retighten leaving out the loading spring.

On reaching the point when tightness of the mesh is evident on pushing the rack to and fro by hand, add a ,0 15 shim, replace the loading spring, and tighten the nut,

Finally, tighten the peg nut at the end of the rack case and check before reconnecting the track rods that the movement is smooth,

To adjust the front wheel alignment, slacken the track rod lock nuts and screw the track rod in or out of the track rod ball joints as required, Retighten the lock nuts before checking alignment. Ensure that an adequate amount of thread remains in the track rod ball joint.


Lubricate the suspension linkage ball joints, drive shaft splines and universal joints with a general purpose grease. Particular attention being given to regular greasing of the drive shaft splines.  The rear hubs are packed with high melting point grease on assembly and should not require further attention, unless there is evidence of grease having run out.

To adjust the hub shaft bearings, dismantle the outer universal joint. Remove the ⅝” nut from the hub shaft, the washer, the universal yoke, oil seal and inner race, slide out the spacer separating the races. Machine sufficient from the small bore end of the spacer to eliminate free play only from the assembly, Reassemble and tighten the nut shaft nut to 75 foot/lbs.

To adjust the rear wheel camber angle, remove the lock nut and unscrew the bolt retaining the top link ball joint to the rear hub unit. Slacken the top link ball joint lock nut and screw in or out as required, Alternatively, the camber may be adjusted by screwing in or out as required the lower wishbone inner ball joint.

To adjust rear wheel alignment increase or decrease the number of washers located between the inner rear wishbone ball joint and the chassis.


Front and Rear Armstong AT9 adjustable,

To adjust, turn the adjustment knob in a clockwise direction to increase damping.

To adjust the ride height of the car screw the lower spring abutments up or down as required. Do not screw the abutment above the extremity of the thread on the damper body or the springs will become coil bound.


Total Oil Capacity of system l4 imperial pints.

The engine has been run during bench testing on Shell Super JD /40 oil.

Do not fill oil tank above the maximum mark.

Maintenance as per engine sheet.


The engine and transmission are taken out as a complete unit.

Remove rear body section.

Drain Radiators

Disconnect top and bottom water hoses, oil pressure and feed pipes, throttle cable, petrol supply pipe, starter, dynamo, coil leads, gear change linkage and exhaust system.

Remove circlip and slide out clutch slave cylinder.

Support the car under the rear chassis member of the cockpit bulk head.

Fix a rope around the engine transmission and take weight of unit.

Remove the front engine mounting bolt, the engine bay diagonal , the transmission crossmember, and drive shafts.

The engine and transmission can now be lifted from the chassis .

Refitting is a reversal of the above procedure.


Hewland H.D. 5-speed.  Capacity 3½ Imperial pints.  Oil E.P.90.


Support weight of engine.  Remove the engine bay diagonal, and transmission support crossmember. Disconnect the exhaust tail pipe, clutch slave cylinder, drive shafts, and gear change linkage. Finally, remove the bolts around the bell housing and draw off the transmission unit.

Refitting is a reversal of the above procedure.

It is only necessary to disconnect the exhaust tail pipe and gear change linkage to remove the  transmission cover in order to change ratios. Keep the gear change linkage joints and bushes lightly oiled.


Use SAE-7O hydraulic fluid.

It is important that the clutch stop located behind the clutch pedal at all times restricts the clutch being thrown out further than is necessary to disengage the drive.


Use Girling disc brake fluid,

Brake distribution can be varied by means of the ⅝UNF nuts, located either side of the brake pedal compensator bar. The right hand master cylinder is connected to the rear brakes.


Adjust the accelerator cable so that full throttle coincides with the pedal going down to the chassis diagonal tube. The lip at the base of the pedal can then be set to restrict the rearward  movement of the pedal at closed throttle.


Capacity – 12 Imperial Gallons each.

During short events Use only the left hand tank. The right hand tank must then be isolated by means of the tap located behind the drivers seat. The right hand tank is turned off when the tap lever is at right angles to the fuel line. When both tanks are being used, the tap must be left in the on position. It is not permitted to drain one tank and then switch over since the petrol pump will then draw air from the empty tank.


Picture shows the 13.M.W. power unit developed by Frank Nichols and Nerus Engineering Ltd., which is fully dry sumped. The 2 litre engine develops between 170 and 175 b .h.p. and is expected to be in the van of Elva Racing successes during 1964.

BMW 1991 S.O.H.C Racing Engine with dry sump lubrication


182 B.H.P. at 7200 R.P.M.
156 ft./lbs, torque at 5000 R.P.M.
Dynamometer tested.


B.M.W. 4 cylinder, modified to 1991cc. Fitted with special forged pistons and high duty connecting rods. Engine fully balanced, including crank­shaft – flywheel  – clutch – connecting rods and pistons. Fitted with special light alloy flywheel and racing clutch.

Complete with Elva dry sump and oil scavenge. Engine developed by Nerus Engineering in conjunction with B.M.W. Munich. Cylinder head modified with special racing camshaft-high duty over sized valves -special racing valve springs -head fully gas flowed. 

Carburation by twin 45 D.C.0.E. Weber Carburetters, fitted to alloy induction manifolds. 



C.R – 




Engine Inclined at 17°



10.5 – 1 



Weber 45 DCOE

McLaren - Elva formula 1 - Libre - sprint and hill climb chassis - Image


The wealth of experience gained by the McLaren-Elva unlimited sports cars’ successes last year, with lap times in advance of the 1965 Formula 1 class, gives the opportunity to present this NEW FORMULA chassis, incorporating any components from the sports car. With an engine bay acceptance from 6-litre to 3-litre, it is ideal for the increasingly popular Formula Libre, sprints and hill climbs, not excluding even Formula 1, subject to customer availability of 3-litre Formula engines. A Grand Prix rolling chassis for £3,000! Delivery available from March.



This is a rugged, large diameter tubular structure with bulkheads front: and rear taking main loads. An aluminium alloy under­tray is bonded and riveted to the mainframe rails and an aluminium instrument panel doubles as a bulkhead in the cockpitarea. The water cooling system is an integral part of the chassis in the interest of weight saving and simplicity. Wheel base is 8ft for those interested in Indianapolis.


Armstrong Shock absorbers surrounded by coil springs provide suspension medium while the upright wishbones, radius rods etc are those developed for the McLaren-Elva sports car. Similarly the geometry is based on that of the sports car with ‘controlability’ in mind,


Front 13″, Rear 15″. Or 13″ all round.


Girling AR calipers and 10 7″/16″ dia. discs are used all round, and if Grand Prix racing is in mind or stopping from 180 m.p.h, discs with a half-inch section are available.


This is the customers’ choice, the engine bay accepting the 4½-litre Oldsmobile, Ford. Cobra, Ford Indianapolis, 3-litre R: pco Oldsmobile, 3-litre Maserati, and 2½ o·r 2. 7 Climax 4-cylinder, engines.


The rear bulkhead is designed to accept both the 5D525 ZF Gearbox and the Hewland LG, the latter being recommended because of the ease and speed of effecting interchang­able ratios. 


A car aimed at hill climbs or sprint racing without fuel, but otherwise-ready to run,with an Oldsmobile engine, would ,weigh 1,100 lbs, With an Oldsmobile 5-litre engine producing 400 b. h. p., power-weight ratio equals 810 b.h.p per ton! 


Wheel Base


Track F.


Track R.


Overall length


Height to top of screen


Approx. weight (dry chassis less power unit)

730 lbs