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Elfin alive but not kicking

Halt: Production of Elfin models like the MS8 Streamliner (left) and Type 5 (below) is on hiatus.

Economic conditions, parts supply place Aussie sports car brand Elfin ‘on hiatus’

Elfin logo15 Mar 2012

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

ELFIN, Australia’s answer to British niche kit car and sports car brands like Caterham and Westfield, is no longer producing vehicles and blaming the shutdown on economic conditions.

All is quiet at the Melbourne factory and will remain so for at least 12 months as the company, a division of Walkinshaw Performance, decides what to do next.

Walkinshaw Performance program engineer Alan Hale, who has assumed responsibility for Elfin and services existing customer vehicles, confirmed to GoAuto that the company is not manufacturing any vehicles.

“We are not building any more cars right now,” he said. “The business is in hiatus for possibly up to 12 months.”

Mr Hale said that in addition to economic conditions following the GFC, supply of General Motors sourced drivetrain components for the four-cylinder Type 5 open-wheeler, launched in 2008, had also been a problem.

“The T5 had several issues associated with that,” he said. “The engine and gearbox supply came from Pontiac, which shut their doors in the US.”

However Elfin does have enough components in stock to build “several” more cars if customer orders come in.

“If we get an order come in for a car we have enough stuff to put one together,” said Mr Hale. “We could put a couple or more together with current stock levels.”

The Type 5 was conceived as a way of boosting exports to Europe, where four-cylinder engines are the norm, but the region has been hit hard following the GFC and the high Australian dollar has not helped exports.

As a result, Walkinshaw Performance decided it could be served better by moving people that from Elfin to other areas.

An industry insider suggested to GoAuto that company enthusiasm for the Elfin brand died along with Tom Walkinshaw in December 2010.

In addition to the turbocharged Type 5, the modern Elfin line-up consisted of two V8-powered models: the MS8 Clubman open-wheeler and the MS8 Streamliner – a striking scissor-doored roadster with comfort features such as air-conditioning and cruise control.

Even when an economic recovery takes place, whether Elfin can make a comeback also depends on how tight government legislation for low-volume vehicle manufacturers becomes.

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