An Elva Story

Racing for real at Swartkops on Sat 2 Feb 2013!
SWARTKOPS FEB 2013“Anyone interested in sports racing cars is likely to be aware of Lotus, Cooper and perhaps Lola, but may be less certain at the mention of ‘Elva’.”  READ MORE http://www.elva.com/elva-history.html

The name is a corruption of ‘elle va‘ meaning ‘she goes‘.  This is a story of JUST HOW “she goes” … a story that began in 1965 and climaxed this past weekend in 2012.

This story begins with a letter from Elva Cars in Sussex addressed to Dr Gous in South Africa …

Letter from Elva Cars to Dr Gous confirming delivery of his new car

3 May 1965              

Left Elva Cars factory in Rye, Sussex, for Southampton port where it was loaded aboard the Edinburgh Castle – destination South Africa.

21 May 1965  

Collected in Cape Town harbour by Dr Dawie Gous from Springs, minus engine and gear box.  Cost £1200 CIF

The Star newspaper of 21 May 1965
Al Gibson of Edenvale (pictured here with Dr Dawie Gous) installed a RSK 4 cam engine and 718 gear box.

5 June 1965

 

Sept 1965

After 7 years of racing, Dr Gous decided to retire and sold the car to “Luki” Botha but he often still shared the drive on endurance races.

Dec 1965      

Angola Grand Prix in 1965

Despite having ‘off loaded’ the car, he continued to enjoy racing – most notably, the Angola Grand Prix as No 14.  The Elva’s performance was awesome, racing through the streets of Luanda, in Green & Gold; starting 10th and finishing 5th behind four Ferraris AND beating all of the brand new Porsche 904’s!

5 Nov 1966  

A last irresistible hoorah(!) was the Kyalami 9-hour when he shared the Elva driving with “Luki” Botha.  At the 3 hour mark, the Elva was lying 5th overall, the leading SA entry.  Unfortunately, the gearbox broke, prematurely ending Dawie’s last race.

 1967              

During the era campaigned by Koos Swanepoel, the Porsche engine was replaced with a Climax 2.7 litre and a Hewland gearbox – it no longer was a true Elva Porsche!

 1968              

“Luki” Botha took over the car again but competed in only a few races.

July 1970      

The car was advertised for sale by Koos Swanepoel in Cape Town

An Elva “For Sale”

1973              

John Truter in Pietermaritzburg bought the car and fitted it with a Lotus twin-cam engine and a Lola T212 body moulded from Andre Verwey’s car.  They renamed the car a JTS – a further demise of the Elva.

The “JTS” – a Lola body & Lotus engine

Unsure of the date, Hagen Wulff of East London, then bought the car with the Lotus motor and Hewland gearbox.  Clive Winterstein confirms that the car he acquired had the repaired rear upright that identified this period.  It had been badly repaired with steel and not magnesium.

1976/77       

It has not been confirmed exactly who, but it was heard on the grapevine that either Dennis Geyer of Pedi or Boet Pelser, also of the Eastern Cape bought the car from Hagen, and fitted a Mazda Rotary engine.

Exact timeline unknown

New owner Don van Staden of Chartwell; who sold to Mitri (Natal), then to Pat Duckham also in Natal until sold back to Don van Staden.

Dec 2001

The car remained with the Lola body and the Mazda rotary engine until discovered by Howard Robinson, who through research and tell-tale signs realised what he had found.

Howard Robinson’s big “find”

This story does have a happy ending and that chapter started with an event at the Porsche Center in Randburg when Dawie Gous was invited to address the Marque enthusiasts about his days of Porsche racing.  Famously, he won the 9 hour Endurance three years in succession.

Clive Winterstein, a well-known Porsche Petrol Head, who owns a Carrera 4-cam and a 356A race car (amongst others!) approached Dawie Gous after the talk to offer him a ride back down memory lane.  Ahead of him he overheard a man talking to Dr Gous saying that he was the current owner of the Elva Porsche which he was in the process of restoring…

 Eagerly Clive pursued the owner of this iconic car, offering to purchase the car without having seen it.  It was not for sale!  Unruffled, and a short time later, with the opportunity to meet in person at Zwartkops, Clive enquired after “HIS” car. 

4 years later, in an e-mail it was offered to Clive for sale, setting off yet another phase in the life of Dawie Gous’ 1965 Elva Porsche …

What a Elva Porsche should not look like!

March 2010

Bought by Clive Winterstein.  Howard Robinson introduced Clive to Andrew Thompson who had just rebuilt a Lotus, and prior to that a Brabham, racing car.  Andrew is a whole ‘nother story hailing back to Team Gunston in the 70’s. Although keen to work on this project he spared no punches on the size of the undertaking.  Not one to shirk at a challenge, the game was on .

A gearbox was sourced in US; Weber replaced the Solexes and a 4-cam Engine was ‘found’ for a king’s ransom in France

    

… and all the cancer was cut out
July 2012
The Re-birth, true to the original specs – if not better!

21 July 2012

As they say in the Afrian classics, “Eish, a Beeg matata’” and 48 years on, the Elva presented at Zwartlops

A master craftsman – Andrew Thompson (L) and proud owner, Clive Winterstein (R)
Note a unique feature of this car – Only two of the 19 Elva Porsche ever built had upright engines.

….and living happily ever after – Team Elva

Team Elva proudly in the original Elva Green & Gold
L to R: Godwin Mtshayisa; Suzette Bouwer; Clive Winterstein (Centre); PJ Ryan; Tania Borges

20 thoughts on “An Elva Story

  1. Lovely Suzette – thanks so much for the detailed history and pics – makes me so proud!
    Shani Winterstein (Clive’s daughter living in the USA)

  2. Hi Clive. it was awsome to see your car on Saturday at the track. Now we just need to see you in your first Historic event. Congrats on the build.

    Cheers

  3. Thanks for sharing this very interesting and detailled story. Elva-Porsche cars wrote important Porsche motorsport history’s pages and I saw several Elvas not only in Switzerland but also last october at the Porsche Race Car Classic at the Quail Lodge Golf Club, Carmel, California. The following Elva-Porsche Mk VII were exhibited in Carmel: Chassis No 70P/030, Chassis No 70P/031, Chassis No 70P/048 and Chassis No 70P/057. There were only 19 such cars produced bay Elva Cars in the UK. Congratulations to Clive and to Suzette for the detailled history. Kind regards from Switzerland, Laurent

    http://josiffert.voila.net/
    http://filmsiffert.voila.net

  4. After Hagen Wulff, went to Boet Pelser, then Martin Jacobs of Peddie district then to Dennis Geyer (pronounced “gayer”). The rotary engine went into it around Boet Pelsers time and the car was a “Lola”. I saw it at Dennis place in Peddie, recognised the chassis as the Elva Porsche chassis in spite of the body on it (having seen it at PMB’s Roy Hesketh). Dennis moved to Cape Town where he was not allowed to race it in sports cars for various odd reasons so drag raced it, blew up the fly wheel and rear end plate and damaged the chassis. I modified another end plate for him. He then sold it to some Free Stater and the car disappeared… Dennis currently living somewhere on the Goldfields, maybe Welkom. There is a photograph of a factory Elva Porsche in one of my Porsche coffee table books.

  5. Hi there, Clarence here again. I particularly remember seeing the car in Dennis Service Station workshop, when I went ot call on him about welding equipment. Dennis had just been out to recover the aircraft which the late Mike Smith had crashed in the vicinity, which could help date it. It could have been early 1978. At that particular time Luki Botha help an important engineering position with the East London Municipality and on my return to E.L. I contacted him about the car, but he showed absolutely no interest at all. I had originally seen the Elva at Roy Hesketh in the late 1960’s and spent a lot of time ogleing the chassis, which to me was an absolute work of art.

  6. Congrats Team Elva! Well done Clive on an awesome build – hope to see tha car on the East London circuit at some stage in the future. Nice story Suzie.

  7. When my brother Brian moved he took all his slides and had them put onto discs. Amongst the pictures he found some slides that he had taken when the two of us had visited Kyalami to watch the 9Hr. He thought it was in 1968 but was not sure.
    I asked him for a copy of the pics and started to do my own research. Based on the cars that were there, their numbers, and drivers etc I realised that it was in fact 1966. I was 18 years old.
    Delving deeper into the race what should I see pictures off? Yip . The very same Elva Porsche being driven by Dawie Gous and Luki Botha. Where in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I, who at the time drove a Beetle still with trafficators, would one day have the priviledge of owning such a car.
    Is that fate or what? (I will try and post some of the pics)
    In fact they were the highest placed South African entry until the gearbox backed up at 8.30 in the evening. However the most exciting part of the race was that the PorscheSpyder RS he sold finished third overall in a field that included 3 GT40s, about 5 Ferraris and a bunch of Lolas
    Come watch her race in Feb 2013 at the “Piper” weekend Historic Races at Zwartkops

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