Born in 1935, Garrie Cooper was a successful race car driver as well as a successful designer and engineer. His resume is impressive . . . and as a driver he won the 1968 Singapore Grand Prix, the Australian 1½ Litre Championship and the 1975 Australian Sports Car Championship. Incredibly, he achieved this success in Elfin cars of his own design.
Garrie Cooper, with the help of his father, Cliff Cooper, founded Elfin Sports Cars in October 1959. The company was based in Edwardstown, South Australia. The first car Elfin Sports Cars designed was the front engined Streamliner. The prototype was completed in October 1959 and in total 22 production versions of it were built between 1959 and 1963.
Elfin Sports Cars built a number of different race cars for many different classes. Some of the more significant Elfins are as follows. From 1961 – 1965 they produced Formula Junior and Catalina racing cars, the Clubman sports car and the Mallala sports racing car. From 1964 – 1969 they produced the Type 100 Mono Australian 1½ Litre Formula racing car, the Type 500 Formula Vee racing car, the Type 400 Group A racing car (V8 powered) and the Type 300 sports racing car. From 1968 – 1972 they produced the Type 600 open wheel racing car suitable for various formulas, the 620FF/620B Formula Ford racing car, the Type 350 & Type 360 sports racing car and the MR5 Australian Formula 1 (F5000) racing car.
Unfortunately, Garrie Cooper passed away at the young age of 46 on the 25th April 1982. His father completed the outstanding orders before offering the company for sale. In 1983 the company was acquired by Don Elliot, racing driver Tony Edmondson and mechanic John Porter. They sold the company in 1993 to Murray Richards. When he acquired the business he set out to build a new generation of Elfin Clubmans, the Type 3. Unfortunately, failing health forced him to sell the business in 1998. Elfin was then acquired by Bill Hemming and Nick Kovatch. They decided to relocate the business to Melbourne and over the next couple of years Elfin started collaborating with GM Holden which resulted in the concept MS8 Streamliner being revealed at the 2004 Melbourne International Motorshow. It wasn’t until 2006, after the business was sold to Tom Walkinshaw (HSV and Walkinshaw Performance), that limited production of two models of the MS8 were started. Walkinshaw passed away in December 2010 and the last Elfin was built in March 2012.
In the Garrie Cooper era, Elfin built 248 racing and sports racing cars in 27 different models over a 25-year period.
Elfin has won no less than 29 championships and major titles including two Australian Driver’s Championships (in 1973 with John McCormack driving an Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden and in 1975 with John McCormack driving a Elfin MR6 Repco-Holden), four Australian Sports Car Championships (in 1970 with Peter Woodward driving an Elfin 350 Coventry Climax, in 1973 with Phil Moore driving an Elfin 360 Repco, in 1974 with Henry Michell driving an Elfin 360 Repco and in 1975 with Garrie Cooper driving the Elfin MS7 Repco Holden), three Australian Tourist Trophies (in 1966 with Frank Matich driving an Elfin 400 Traco Oldsmobile, in 1976 with Stuart Kostera driving an Elfin MS7 Repco Holden and in 1978 with Greg Doidge driving an Elfin 360 Repco) and three Formula Ford titles (in 1970 with Richard Knight driving an Elfin 600 FF, in 1971 with Larry Perkins driving an Elfin 600 FF and in 1974 Terry Perkins driving an Elfin 620FF. Elfin also took out the 1968 Singapore Grand Prix with Garrie Cooper driving an Elfin 600, twice won the Malaysian Grand Prix (in 1968 with Hengkie Iriawan driving an Elfin 600 and in 1969 with Tony Maw driving the same car) and also won the Australian Formula Two Championship in 1972 with Larry Perkins in an Elfin 600B.
World Formula One Champion James Hunt raced an Elfin, as did the brilliant French Formula One driver, Didier Pironi.
One of Australia’s greatest motor racing success stories was the Elfin 600 of which 27 cars were built from 1968 -1971. Following the success Garrie Cooper had in South East Asia in 1968 he decided to return in 1969 with a more powerful and improved Type 600. This time the type 600 chassis was combined with the 2½ litre Repco-Brabham Type 830 V8 engine (Type RB830). The 600C became the first all Australian racing car designed to comply with Australian National Formula One regulations. Only 3 Elfin 600’s were originally built with the Repco-Brabham engine.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1969 Elfin 600C Repco-Brabham. Garrie Cooper’s ‘exercise book’ records confirm this car was built in early 1969. This car was the first 600C to be fitted with a Repco-Brabham engine and it did not have an easy start. Fitting the Repco-Brabham engine into the 600 chassis turned out to be a challenge. Eventually, Cooper and his team managed to get the car ready just in time to be flown to Singapore for its first race. However, they only managed to put the car together at the last minute and had not been able to do any testing before it left. All the testing had to be done during the practice session for the 1969 Singapore Grand Prix. This turned out to be a big problem. The engine started losing oil pressure during the practice session and by the time Cooper, who was busy getting used to the new car and engine combination, noticed it was too late. Parts to fix the engine were hastily flown in from Australia, but the car could not be repaired in time and Cooper missed the Singapore Grand Prix. Next on the calendar was the Selangor Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur. The car was performing well during practice and Cooper even led the race for a while before the engine started misfiring. Plugs were changed during pit stops and after the second pit stop the engine was firing on all 8 cylinders again. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter Cooper dropped a wheel off the bitumen and the car slid into a marshall’s post, causing damage which ended his race.
The car was repaired and its next appearance was at the first JAF Grand Prix in Japan. Cooper qualified third on the grid and immediately took the lead. Unfortunately, Cooper had a spin early in the race and ended up in a sand trap. He managed to get the car out but had already lost quite a few places. Disaster struck two laps later when an engine misfire forced Cooper to retire the car.
After the Japanese Grand Prix, the car sold to Wallace Harper in Hong Kong with the intention for Steve Holland, a British national residing in Hong Kong, who’d driven various Lotus cars for Wallace Harper, to race it. Holland returned the car to the Elfin factory in Adelaide to have the rear aerofoil remounted. Whilst the car was in Adelaide, he allowed Garrie Cooper to race the car in round four of the 1969 CAMS Gold Star series on 13th October 1969 at Mallala. That race gave Cooper his first win in the car and he’d also claimed the fastest lap during the race. The car was then displayed at Maughan Thiem Ford showrooms in Adelaide for a week before it was returned to Steve Holland in Hong Kong.
In February 1970 Wallace Harper sold the car to Granton Harrison from South Australia. Harrison had established his own racing team, Elfin GT Harrison Racing Team. The team entered the car into the Singapore Grand Prix to be held on 29th March 1970. Driving the car would be Malcolm Ramsay from South Australia. Ramsay had previously raced an Elfin 300 in the 1969 Singapore Grand Prix, finishing fourth. Ramsay backed up this result in 1970, again finishing in 4th place.
After the Singapore Grand Prix, the Elfin made its way back home to Australia where the car was entered into the 1970 CAMS Gold Star Series. Elfin GT Harrison Racing entered two Elfin race cars into the series, the 600C driven by Malcom Ramsay and a new 600D to be driven by Garrie Cooper, who was now also part of the Elfin GT Harrison Racing team.
Ramsay participated in 5 of the 6 races of the 1970 season. He only missed out on the first race at Symmons Plains because the car hadn’t made its way back to Australia in time. The 1970 Season was won by Leo Geoghegan in a Lotus 59B – Waggott TC4V 4. Cooper finished the championship in 4th place in his Elfin 600D Repco-Brabham and Malcolm Ramsay finished in 5th place in the Elfin 600C Repco-Brabham.
After the 1970 CAMS Gold Star Series had ended Harrison decided to take the Elfin 600C overseas again, this time to participate in the XVII Macau Grand Prix to be held on 29th November. Regulation changes to the series meant he could no longer race the car with the 2.5 litre Repco-Brabham engine and a decision was made to fit the car with a 2 litre Waggott engine. Unfortunately, Malcolm Ramsay crashed out of the race and failed to finish.
The car was entered in a few races of the 1971 CAMS Gold Star Series, however, for various reasons it either failed to finish or never actually made it to the starting grid. By the end of the 1971 season the car was retired from racing.
The car was eventually passed on to Roger Harrison, Granton Harrison’s son. He fitted a 5.0 litre Repco-Brabham engine which he acquired in the UK and started using the car in Hillclimb events in the early 1980’s. In 1983 he became the Australian Hillclimb champion in this Elfin 600C. After that the chassis was retired until the car was recommissioned and issued with a new CAMS log book on the 20th December 1995. It was then sold without an engine to Simon Bartold in 1996. He fitted a Ford Twin Cam engine and raced the car at Mallala and Winton in 1996 and 1997.
The current owner acquired the car in 1998 and he immediately went on the hunt for a correct Repco-Brabham Type 830 engine. Once he found the correct engine, he restored the car to its former glory. The CAMS log book was updated and signed off on the 21st March 2002, noting the Repco-Brabham engine. The car was then regularly seen at historic motor racing events across Australia until 2009 and then less frequently in recent years.
As a result, the current owner has now decided to sell this Elfin 600C Repco-Brabham and give its next custodian the opportunity to enjoy the ownership of this special race car. He is a true car enthusiast and has committed to a full handover to its new owner.
Accompanying the car are four new wheels, a windscreen, a windscreen mold, an original aluminum body, spare body parts and an and an excellent history file.
- A genuine factory Elfin works car.
- Owned and raced by Elfin founder and owner Garrie Cooper.
- First Elfin to be fitted with a Repco-Brabham V8 engine.
- A well known car in vintage motor racing circles.
- CAMS log book.
- Well maintained by its current owner.
- Unique piece of Australian motor racing history.
|Vehicle Location:||Northgate QLD, Australia|