Never heard of them?

Unusual cars with interesting histories

The Elfin MS8 Streamliner, Australia's own supercar

Elfin MS8

Most people in Britain have never heard of Elfin sports cars. Most people in Australia certainly have!

It was set up in 1959 by a gentleman called Garrie Cooper; it has had a number of owners since then, and although it no longer makes racing and sports cars it is still in business in Adelaide, Australia. It is not only the longest surviving Australian manufacturer of sports and racing cars but also the most successful, with nearly 30 Grand Prix titles and championships to it's credit, with their cars driven by such successful racing drivers as Britain's James Hunt and Frenchman Didier Pironi.

Garrie Cooper was a highly successful racing driver. A very brave one too, who took many risks and came near to death when he broke his leg in a crash at the Australian Grand Prix in 1978. This didn't put him off cars though and despite health issues he kept on racing right up to his death, whilst working on a car, in 1982.

The MS8 Streamliner first saw the light of day in 2004 and was available for sale from 2006 onwards up to March 2012, going through numerous improvements.

Anyone lucky enough to get hold of one of the later MS8s, and who has ambitions to become (or at least emulate) a Formula One racing driver will love this car. It has everything. It is a handbuilt supercar, with a 5665 cc V-8 engine upfront producing 328 brake horsepower. It's maximum speed is 171 mph with nought to 100 km/h within 4.5 seconds.

Handling can best be described as 'spirited'; like every car based on a racing design it needs careful nurturing. It feels like a real racing car though; low set comfy leather seats cocoon the driver and passenger, there are four point racing harnesses and roll bars for both driver and passenger.

The body panels are made from glass reinforced plastic to save weight; the doors are gullwing type allowing the occupants to get in and out in tight spaces. The hardtop roof is removable.

This is a bargain priced supercar that could out pace a Porche GT3 no less; at around half the cost. During the Garrie Cooper era a total of 248 sports cars and racers were made; we have no sales figures since then though, and Elfin car manufacture ceased in 2012.

There is a heritage centre in Melbourne which was opened in 2007 dedicated to the memory of Garrie Cooper and his cars with about 24 Elfins on display; it is open by appointment only. This centre can still supply parts for Elfin cars, either ex-stock or reproduced on the original jigs and moulds. They can only be supplied for original Elfins however, and not for replicas.

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