January 18, 2005 Last march readers may remember the Elfin sports car company's two new models shown at the Melbourne Motor Show. Both powered by high-performance V8 motors, and weighing in at less than 900kg, performance enthusiasts immediately recognised a lightning quick track car that could also be driven on the road. The factory is currently putting the final touches on the first production model of the 860kg vehicle - the MS8 Clubman. The standard engine is the same as that of the Holden Commodore SS - 245kW 5.7-litre GEN III V8. Those who have driven the car say this stunning power to weight ratio gives it startling track performance.
In testing, the car has been timed at 4.4 seconds for 0-100km/h time and has stopped the clocks in a quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds, putting the car's performance right up there with Ferrari and Lamborghini territory.
The first of the Clubmans is to be delivered to a local purchaser though the car is ironically more of a bargain overseas than in the country where it's built.
The car will retail for AUD$128,480 in Australia, where it attracts GST and Luxury Car Tax. Without those taxes applied, the car gets AUD$22,000 cheaper, and most people who order them from the United States do so without the engine or gearbox. As the car is built to take the standard V8 motor, Elfin is finding that American buyers are preferring to fit engines built to their won spec in America.
"You can go all the way to 700 horsepower with the motor, and 400 horsepower is easy", said Elfin's Bill Hemming. "To get a car minus the engine and gearbox into the States is going to cost around US$55, and that makes it a very cost-efficient, very high-performance track car.
"The beauty is that racing costs are very low. You can have a road car and get a whole year of racing for almost no running costs. Take a car with equivalent performanc esuch as a Porsche. Do a clutch in the Porsche and you're up for AUD$7000. You can just about buy a new engine for one of these for the same price."
Both the clubman and the Streamliner are built to order, with the wait on a streamliner currently nine months and the Clubman six months.
"We encourage our customers to become involved in the build of the car. They come down and see the build in progress and learn about their car and basically become part of the process. For overseas customers we take digital pics and email them to keep them involved."