Historic Car Brands
The Purvis Eureka was produced by Purvis Cars at Dandenong in Victoria, Australia from 1974 until 1991. The VW-based sports car was a licence-built version of the UK Nova that was designed to be fitted to a VW Beetle floor pan.
1972 Nova 1.6 – Vauxford
Automotive Design and Development Ltd (ADD) was an English company responsible for the creation of the futuristic-looking Nova kit car. It was based in Southampton from 1971 to 1973 after which it moved to Accrington, Lancashire until 1975.
ADD failed and the rights to the Nova were bought by Nova Cars in Mirfield, West Yorkshire in 1978, which continued until 1990. A low volume production run was made by Nova Developments in Cornwall in the 1990s and the company was sold to India-based Aerotec Nova around 1996.
The car was styled by Richard Oakes with engineering by Phil Sayers, combining a fibreglass shell on a VW Beetle chassis and mechanicals. A two-seater, it was highlighted by a dramatically opening canopy that combined roof and doors into one.
Sterling – DaveST1
Licensed versions of the Nova were built in Austria as the Ledl; in Australia as the Purvis Eureka; in France as the Défi; in Italy as the Totem and Puma; in New Zealand as the Scorpion; in South Africa as the Eagle; in Switzerland as the Gryff; in the United States as the Sterling and Sovran; and in Zimbabwe as the Tarantula.
There have also been numerous unlicensed copies. Some versions featured pop-up head lamps and gull-wing doors, but the basic silhouette remained the same.
Versions of the Nova have appeared in number of films, including Cannonball Run II, Death Race 2000, Winners and Sinners, Condorman and Mani Di Velluto.
Sterling – DaveST1
In the USA, Sterling Sports Cars was the first global licensee in 1973 and sold only kits that were intended to be assembled by the purchaser or by a third-party and the company still sells replacement parts to owners around the world.
Purvis – Ferenghi
First exhibited at the 1974 Melbourne International Motor Show, the Eureka was based on the British Nova kit car design of 1971. Allan Purvis named the Aussie version, ‘Eureka’, after the famous miners’ rebellion of 1854 and adopted the Eureka flag as the car’s badge. Like the Nova, the Eureka used a Volkswagen Beetle chassis, a fibreglass body and the VW air-cooled flat-four engine.
However, in the interest of increased performance options a Ford Cortina engine became available, later. Retro-fit engines by owners have included Mazda rotaries and Subaru flat-fours. Also, many owners updated brakes and suspension.
The Eureka was offered either as a kit car or as a fully assembled vehicle.
The coupe body had no doors, with access being via a manually operated, one-piece canopy, but a power-operated canopy was later offered as an option.
A Targa top version was also available from the early 1980s.
Three models of the Eureka were produced: the Sports, in 1974 and 1975; the PL30, in 1975 and 1976; and the F4, from 1976 until 1991.
1978 Purvis Eureka F4 – Sicnag
When the Sports was replaced by the PL30 the new model had a 50mm-higher roofline and 14-degrees less rake in the windscreen, powered mirrors and halogen headlights. Around 95 PL30s were sold.
The F4 had round headlights and a Targa top was available. Subsequently, many owners adapted their canopies to Targa tops, thanks to the relative ease of working with FRP construction.
The F4 also boasted a Ford Cortina engine option, with space for a blower or turbo, louvered engine cover and more headroom.
Some 235 examples of the Eureka Sports were produced and the total output of all Eureka models had reached 683 when production ended in 1991.
Two experimental machines never made it into series production: the ‘Freedom Machine’, open-top body with a windscreen replacing the canopy and the Free Spirit, mid-engined car, based on an Elfin chassis.