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Balancing Act: 1959 Elva Courier

Claiming a car is “perfectly balanced” is a bold statement to make, but that’s how Mark Donohue described the Elva Courier after his first championship win in one. This 1959 Elva Courier might not be setup for racing, but it’s still very similar to the car Mr. Donohue raced in. It has been in the same owner’s garage since the late ’70s, but is now for sale here on eBay.

Elva’s founder Frank Nichols wanted the Courier to be lightweight and simplistic, which is exactly what the Courier ended up being. The car has a Tubular ladder chassis with independent front suspension and a lightweight fiberglass body. This car’s chassis looks clean, but strangely someone extended the front of it to create a bumper. Also, the body has some stress cracks, the rear fenders were modified to fit larger tires, and it was repainted this Carmine Red in ’77 from its original Robin’s Egg Blue.

The MK I Couriers were powered by a 1500cc MGA engine, but at some point this car’s engine was swapped out for a larger MGB engine. Both engines are B-series units, with the major differences being in displacement and power output. This swap easily added an extra 20 hp without adding a considerable amount of weight.

The interior is very Spartan in design, it’s also very small. To achieve the perfect weight balance, the engine was pushed back as far as possible, making for a tight cockpit and an interesting shifter location. This interior is complete and looks to be mostly original. The car comes with all the original weather equipment and the original steering wheel.

If you are looking for an inexpensive, yet exclusive means to participate in historic racing and rallying, you couldn’t make a better choice than an Elva. Demand is still low for this obscure brand and while they don’t often come up for sale, when they do they are usually relatively cheap. This one is going to need some work to get it ready for the street or the track, but we are sure it would be well worth the time and effort. If we were investing our time and money into it, we would struggle deciding what to do with. Should it be restored or built for track duty? Or perhaps it should just be driven as it is. What would you do with it?


  1. Dan Farrell

    Reminds me of a Barkley a little bit.

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  2. Elva Racing Roger

    While much of the text is generally accurate, the writer needs to explore the Elva website where it will be seen that demand for the cars is strong and very few are anywhere near ‘cheap’. This relatively unspoilt example will hopefully find a sympathetic new owner who will restore the car to a condition that allows for reliable enjoyment both on and off the track.

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  3. Catfishphil

    A local enthusiast loved his Elva so much, he obtained the factory plans to replace his rust-damaged chassis…

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    • Mark Gobble

      Could you please tell me where your friend obtained the chassis plans and might I obtain a copy? I must replace a chassis as well and make sure “she goes” for many more years!

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  4. J. Pickett

    Possible that the “bumper” was added to keep the fiberglass cracks to a minimum?

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  5. Richard

    what did the front look like before the bumper??

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  6. mikey

    When restored these are quite handsome. Love the simple cars…………

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  7. Ridge

    Is the plywood part of the original equipment interior? :)

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    • BB

      Yes. Before Trojan took over Courier production the floor boards were plywood.

      Like 0

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