March 11, 2004

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March 12, 2004 Holden showed two retro-cool V8 racer roadsters at the Melbourne Motor Show. Created in collaboration with the Elfin sports car marque, the low-slung racers are an open wheeler track machine and a smooth-bodied Le Mans style roadster respectively, and will be called the Clubman and the Streamliner. They are hand-built specials which are thoroughly modern interpretations of an earlier motorsport era.

Holden showed two retro-cool V8 racer roadsters at the Melbourne Motor Show. Created in collaboration with the Elfin sports car marque, the low-slung racers are an open wheeler track machine and a smooth-bodied Le Mans style roadster respectively, and will be called the Clubman and the Streamliner. They are hand-built specials which are thoroughly modern interpretations of an earlier motorsport era.

The Clubman MS8 track racer and roadgoing Streamliner MS8 show cars boast full design treatment by Holden and the performance of the Gen III 5.7 litre V8 powertrain, while sports chassis design and construction is by the Elfin Sports Car company.

Aimed squarely at the weekend club racer and historic vehicle enthusiast market, the V8 roadsters will be hand-built to order by Elfin with production expected to begin later this year.

Michael Simcoe, Holden's Executive Director Design, Asia Pacific, said the project highlighted the exhilarating performance potential to be realised by matching Holden's 245kW Gen III V8, six-speed gearbox, limited slip diff, ABS and traction control systems to a lightweight space frame with custom suspension and other specialised racing componentry.'Given the Elfin power to weight ratio of 3.57kg/kW, (Clubman MS8) we estimate a 0-100 km/h time of about 3.5 seconds.

This package of pure power, great chassis dynamics and looks to match is enough to place them right up there in the serious sports car league,' Simcoe said.Bill Hemming, Joint Managing Director of Elfin Sports Cars, said the Streamliner and Clubman MS8 project made the best use of each organisation's strengths.

'This project successfully leveraged Holden's design know-how and resources with Elfin's specialist skill in hand-built racing chassis production,' he said. 'The synergy between us was amazing. I guess that's what happens when one bunch of car buffs meets another,' said Hemming.

'Elfin will take all enquiries and orders from prospective buyers and we'll build the vehicles at our production facility in Murrumbeena (Victoria). Elfin owns the intellectual property rights to the vehicles and we will manage all sales, marketing and warranty issues,' Mr Hemming added.

Elfin utilised Holden's advanced CAD and ALIAS resources to help design and build a multi-tubular space frame that would accommodate the V8 powertrain and deliver two-seater comfort. The Streamliner MS8 and Clubman MS8 share the same proportions - long wheelbase (2290 mm), wide track (front 1460mm, rear 1430mm), custom-tuned suspension, racing brakes, 18-inch wheels and low profile 245/40 tyres. Streamliner's length is 3,500mm, 300 mm longer than the open wheeler Clubman at 3,200mm. Elfin's independent suspension set-up features specifically developed components.

It is rose-jointed and fully adjustable for bump, rebound and ride height to allow fine tuning according to individual driver preferences. The high performance slotted and ventilated disc braking system (343mm front, 315mm rear) - mated to solid billet-machined aluminium 6- and 4-piston calipers respectively - is designed with 24-hour endurance racing in mind and is complemented by Holden ABS and traction control.

Steering is direct rack and pinion.Clubman MS8Simcoe describes the Clubman MS8 as essentially an open wheeler, although the show car track racer has cycle guards, with specific links to the 60s vintage Elfin Clubman. 'It's stronger and more aggressive than the original, but retains the raw, open appeal of this vehicle style,' he explains. 'Its long-nosed, large dash to axle proportion is of course dictated by the powertrain - that's what these designs are all about. Front and rear overhangs are very short, the stripped-down look is accentuated by the visible suspension componentry and those side pods house the exhaust.

'In track racer mode, the show car is single seater with a removable solid tonneau. It's a very elementary sort of car,' Simcoe said. The Clubman MS8 is finished in Quicksilver with carbon fibre detail highlights and suspension-mounted cycle guards, which lift individually, over five-spoke alloys.

Streamliner MS8'

The Streamliner takes the same mechanical underpinnings and interprets them in a sleeker, yet time-honoured sports body,' Simcoe continued. 'It's the closed wheel, traditional front-engined sports car form that's typical of the open cabin racers of the 50s. There's a real tension in the wheel arch and fender surfaces, and the closed body really emphasises the front-end proportional style,' he said.

The Elfin Streamliner MS8 show car, displayed with a single place tonneau cover and Perspex bubble screen, is finished in brilliant Infra Red. Its aggressive front end isdominated by a large hexagonal-meshed radiator opening, the profile by large alloy gills. The small lift-up doors swing open scissor-style, and the bonnet is forward-opening.

Further features include a big bore dual exhaust, a racing rear vision mirror, historic-style fuel cap, styled roll bar, LED combination tail lamps and five-spoke wheels with a bright silver turn face. 'In true roadster style, you can see functional elements of the suspension under the rear of the car.

It's heart is also exposed where the engine is visible through the gills', Simcoe added.'InteriorA smart, modular-style interior common to both cars provides the necessary basic comforts in minimalist fashion.

Exposed interior surfaces are body-coloured throughout, highlighting the naked silver frame and accentuating the cars' open-top nature. The customary low-backed bucket racing seats, trimmed in black leather, are fitted with four-point racing harnesses. The park brake and grab handle are also leather-trimmed; while the back panel is finished in quilted suede.

Tachometer and speedometer are prominent on the instrument cluster, which includes a programmable shift light. Gauges are silver-faced on the Streamliner, black on the Clubman; both are surrounded by satin silver bezels. Fuel, oil pressure and water gauges on the centre panel are flanked by heater vents with aircraft-style sliding levers, the console houses the ignition button and traction control switch, and the gearshift knob is machined alloy with an Elfin logo.

Elfin's Joint Managing Director, Nick Kovatch, says once the vehicles have gained Australian Design Rules certification, the company hopes to build up to 100 units annually.'Both will be fully road registrable - and because each will be hand-built and prepared to suit individual owners' requirements, no two will be the same,' he said.

'We anticipate that pricing for Clubman MS8 will start at approximately AUD$85,000 and the Streamliner MS at approximately AUD$105,000. However, as these cars will be hand built to the specific order of each customer, these prices are really only indicative. There is a myriad of possibilities. And of course that will be part of the appeal - each of these cars will be unique,' Mr Kovatch concluded.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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