The 1959 Austin A40 Farina Pre 65 Race Car
This 1959 Austin A40 Farina was first raced by Motor Machinists Managing Director Brian Ax in 1964 using a 994cc Formula Junior engine (ex Denny Hulme). It was the fastest 1100cc saloon car in 1965 and was repurchased by Brian Ax in 1988.
The car now runs a 1275cc engine, straight cut close ratio gearbox, limited slip diff and with a few other minor adjustments now has a top speed of 125 + mph. In 1996 it ran the standing quarter mile at Ohakea in 14.2 seconds.
ELFIN MALLALA S6317
The Elfin Mallala was bought through the late Murray Richards for $15,000 (AUD) from Graham Clark of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia in l988 .
The pile of junk (tied securely to the back of a trailer), absolutely shocked my father-in-law when I drove into his driveway in Melbourne. But after returning to New Zealand with this "pile of junk" and after many long hours of restoration, it was certainly a joy to see Elfin beauty emerge from the Qantas hangar in Melbourne some years later in all its bright yellow honour and glory.
Condition when purchased; Rolling chassis, no engine or gearbox, new front and rear body section. The car was about to be modified to take a Holden V6 engine to be used as a hill climb special. (Do you want an old photograph?)
Australia's version of the Lotus 23B.
Built in l963. Chassis No. S6317. Brian still keeps the original I.D. plate in the safe at his Engineering Factory in Palmerston North, New Zealand, a replica plate is attached to the dash panel. This car was the fourth out of only five Mallala's ever built. The fourth Mallala left the factory as a rolling chassis to start a long journey to England. Before it left Australia it was raced once at the Calder Race Circuit with a 1600cc lotus twin cam engine.
This car was for the young Victorian Greville Edgerton, (son of the widely experienced Ron Edgerton) who had shown a lot of talent during l963, racing the big Cooper Jaguar sports car. With the boundless optimism of youth, (he was to have his 21st birthday in England) Greville proposed to buy and fit an engine and gearbox in England and go racing. And indeed he did, buying and installing a good second-hand 2 litre climax engine purchased from Reg Parnell. A 25OF Maserati clutch was also fitted with a five-speed Hewland gearbox , and (making the modifications required to bring the car up to European spec for sports car racing) items such as a regulation-capacity luggage bay were fitted.
The bright yellow Mallala was fast enough in a straight line, but under brakes and through the corners the 2 litre Brabhams just ran away and hid. It was a fiercely competitive class, and the little Elfin never stood a chance, it was outdated before it started. It was on far narrower tyres then its rivals, and it was still using the l961 type rubber-bushed suspension. Even so, after racing at Aintree, Goodwood , Snetterton, Oulton Park, Brands Hatch, Mallory Park and Silverstone, Edgerton was getting starting money and some oil company interest. Then the engine broke. With no racing to bring in the starting money, he was snookered. He shipped the Elfin home in its enclosed trailer, and worked in Selfridges (the long underwear department) to earn his own fare back to Australia.
Edgerton and his well-travelled Mallala celebrated their return to Australia by winning a race at the Boxing Day meeting held at Hume Weir at the end of l964. But Edgerton was looking for a buyer. The car had three quiet years before it was bought by Charlie Occhipinti and its serious Australian racing career finally started. Occhipinti shrewdly picked the 1100cc class to run in, and built a clever engine to fill the space left by the original Climax. Using a heavily modified five-bearing l5OO Ford Cortina block, he obtained the smaller capacity with a shorter-stroke, three-bearing steel crank, and regained compression by taking a hefty slice off the top of the block. He then fitted a lotus twin-cam head and had a very free-revving race motor (which was later supercharged with great effect). "Everything worked right" Occhipinti recalls, the little twin-cam "ran to 9500 all the time". With wider rubber and a coat of red paint, the 1100 Mallala scored class wins and lap records before being sold to Steven O'Callaghan around l971, and dropping out of sight.
HISTORY OF ELFIN.
Profile of the Elfin Marque.
Mr. Garrie Cooper, born in Adelaide in l935, died Anzac Day l982.
Garrie Cooper, a quiet Australian whose ambition from an early age was to go motor racing, soon came to realise that financial constraints would mean that to achieve his goal he would have to build his own cars. With the blessing of his father Cliff, Elfin Sports Cars was founded. Although Garrie became a very good racing driver, (winning several Championships including one overseas) his main talent was as a designer and builder of racing and sports/racing cars. Garrie Cooper went on to become the largest and longest running racing car manufacturer in the southern hemisphere The modest Elfin Sports Cars factory in Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown in Suburban Adelaide, South Australia, was to produce 25O racing and sports/racing cars during a relatively short 24-year period.
Elfin cars were sold in Australia and in several overseas countries. They were involved in 24 major Australian and overseas Championship victories. Many drivers were elevated to Championship status through Garrie's products and World Formula One Champion James Hunt raced an Elfin, as did the brilliant French Formula One driver, Didier Pironi. Often Garrie's achievements in Australia were compared with those of the legendary Colin Chapman of Lotus fame, in the United Kingdom.
MY OWN RACING HISTORY.
Brian Ax, whilst completing an Engineering Design Apprenticeship, bought his first car in l96O, this was a l959 A4O Farina. His father Cliff, owned and operated an Automotive Reconditioning Factory. So with Brians design ability and engineering background, the A4O Farina started its life as a competitive saloon car in l964. Brian raced against Bruce McLaren who was driving his Mini Cooper (which he bought out with his Tasman 2.5 Cooper Climaxes). Soon after this Brian bought a works BMC 998cc Formula Junior Engine from Denny Hulme and bored it to 1100cc, this was then the fastest 1100cc car in New Zealand, having no trouble in beating the latest 1071S Mini Coopers on the track. Brian still has his A4O Farina today with a 1600cc BMC A Type engine, hand made crankshaft, alloy girdle plate, dry sump, producing l4Oh.p. at the rear wheels. The urge to buy a classic sports racing car came after an association with a friends Lotus 11. " I wanted a race car that could be driven on public roads."
A Lotus 23B Type car was the answer. After some time, Brian located the Elfin Mallala at
Ballarat, Victoria in l988. For some years, the chassis hung on the wall of his Engineering Factory, the catalyst to complete the restoration of the Elfin was the l994 Formula 1 Grand Prix , Adelaide in which there was an Historic Race for Elfin Racing Cars. Brian started in earnest on restoration of the Elfin late in l993. Three long time friends, craftsmen engineers, who had helped with the development of A4O Farina, Bob Jamieson ,Kevin Richards and Bruce Wilson were Brians right hand men. Bruce Wilson being Chris Amon's personal mechanic.
About 75% of the original Chassis had to be replaced -- The bottom rails would have made a great sieve, as there had been so many holes drilled with new bottom skins having been fitted. All the front suspension mounts are original all the top tube frames that carry the cooling water were replaced. The chassis was copied exactly as per original, with the only modification being the fitting and glueing of a 3mm high tensile alloy floor pan from the front wishbone point to the rear of the engine. This added to the torsional strength ( protecting passengers from road debri coming through the floor pan and giving it side impact strength). All new suspension wishbones and arms were manufactured and fitted with the original rubber filled bushes. New Triumph Vitesse uprights and new rear hubs were fitted. The front wheel bearing hubs and front and rear disc rotors are original as are the front and back alloy girling calipers, the only modification was the adaption of a 3.8 rear hand brake caliper via a Holden cable to an A4O Farina hand brake lever between the front seats.
The original brake and clutch cylinders were honed to over size and used with Fiat l25 reservoirs. All the original brake and clutch pedals were used. The original Triumph 2OOO rack and pinion was rebuilt, all steering components were shot peened. A new radiator with a modified Austin Marina cooling fan was fitted with automatic temperature sensing with a manual overide switch, which proved extremely worthwhile when held up in traffic.
Bare cast magnesium alloy wheels were machined with 6 stud, 3/8N.F wheel studs. Complete with re-manufactured Elfin Badges as per the original which Ron Edgerton had given to Brian. These are etched brass plate, press formed, chromed and paint filled (which Brian now sells to the Elfin Owners Club in Australia for restoration projects of other Elfins). The side pod alloy panels were tape glued instead of the original pop rivet attachment. The original Austin Seven door latches were re built. A new 24 litre alloy fuel tank complete with external quick filler cap was fitted. New. G.R.P. seats were made and upholstered with Australian Kangaroo hide as was the dash and scuttle.
To make the car legal to use on New Zealand roads, the inside was panelled in light alloy and rubber sealed for wet weather driving, extra cooling to the engine component was ducted from the front wheel area through the side pads to the rear compartment.
A major problem came with the fitting of the front body section, the head light units, when fitted with head lights, impacted on the front wheels. A final solution came up with the fitting of Massey Ferguson tractor head light units - together with A35 side lights and Morris Minor lOOO rear tail lights.
Road legality was a step closer. A complete new dash was designed to include the original chronometric rev. counter.
Transmission, (due to the unavailability to procure a MK.6, 5 speed Hewland gearbox)is a second hand V.W. Box modified to suit MK.9 Hewland parts, giving 5 speeds with reverse. Hillman Imp doughnut couplings via l3OO series Hardie Spicer joints to rear hubs.
Engine, the block is a Ford 116E 'L' Cortina block bored to + .O2O std. rods and crankshaft. Both units shot peined, light weight 434O steel flywheel, all dynamically balanced, 61/4 AP clutch with spring centered G.T. Cortina clutch plate. The rubber doughnuts and spring clutch plate made for a positive shock resistance drive to the rear wheels. The cylinder head is a standard valve Lotus twin cam, gas flowed with handmade sports profiled camshafts. Two 4O DCOE weber carburettors supply the fuel, via a red holley racing fuel pump. This G.T. spec. engine dynoed out at l32 H.P.
All the above was finished in Palmerston North on the Wednesday night before the start of the l994 Dutton Rally, leaving Melbourne for Adelaide on Friday, that same week. That Wednesday night, Bruce Wilson did a test drive, (without the body), up and down the local highway outside restoration factory. His only modification was 5mm more toe in on rear wheels to give it more stability at high speed.The team worked through the night, finally fitting the body and its rear vision mirror. At 9.a.m. Thursday morning, the Elfin was loaded onto a trailer and driven 6OO kms. After having no sleep for the past 28 hours Brian and Kevin Richards shared driving, one slept , whilst one drove. Taking turns all the way to Auckland International Airport. Some nine hours later, the Team, which also included Brians wife, Robyn, arrived at Auckland International Airport. It was now 6.p.m. Thursday night. Kevin and Brian assisted with the palaterisation of the Elfin and spares, so the Cargo Company could load it into a 747 cargo plane at 8p.m that very night. Cutting it fine, after 9 months, the restoration was finished.!!!
The Team caught up on some sleep overnight, leaving on flight at 7a.m. Friday morning from New Zealand to Melbourne. Robyn is Australian and her parents meet the team at the Melbourne Airport and assisted them to the Qantas Cargo Depot only to find that there was currently a handlers strike in action, we did not need this!!. The Dutton Rally, between Melbourne and Adelaide was to start at 7.p.m. that night. The Elfin was not cleared through customs, until 3.p.m!!. The tank had to be filled, as it was naturally drained of fuel as a pre-requisite for air travel. Then to hit the road!! Brian actually drove his Elfin for the very first time on the road, with Robyn seated in the somewhat cramped cockpit beside him. A quick modification was made to the windshield with a cardboard deflector plate to help curve the airflow over the drivers' head.
The Dutton Rally covered a distance of 2,5OO km to Adelaide , the only trouble incurred was running out of fuel twice. A tremendous engineering effort ! (with no shake down testing). Kevin and Robyn drove the support vehicle with spares, (which were not required at all). The Elfin Historic races were held the following Thursday at Adelaide Grand Prix Circuit, Brian approached these with a touch of reserve, having not raced the car before.
Sir Jack Brabham made a special visit to the Elfin Display tent and remembered the Bright Yellow Australian Elfin racing in the U.K. Sir Jack, along with fellow Elfin and race car owners, were amazed that we could have modified the Elfin for road use.
The Elfin Mallala has since raced at several historic events in both North and South Islands , actually being driven as a road car to main North Island events and circuits.
In l977 Sir Stirling Moss reminisced with the Elfin Mallala. He recalled this car racing in U.K.( l964) and upon checking the car made the remark of it being a fantastic sports, road registered, racing car.
Another important fact that has makes this Elfin a very rare and historic part of Australian Racing History, would be that the Elfin Mallala S6317 was the first ever Australian built car to race in the U.K.
Sir Stirling Moss checking the Elfin with Brian Ax, owner.
A program and listing of cars of that meeting with famous drivers Clark - McLaren etc.
Mr, Ron Edgerton, the original owner, with Brian during a visit to New Zealand on the Pan Pacific Rally in l992.
Duplicating the original Elfin Badges.
Elfin racing in its supercharged 1100cc - form with Charlie Occhipinti about to be t-boned by Lotus 23B.