2020 Vision

It is nearly seven years since we issued our first leaflet with a vision for 2020 and we have already achieved much of what we set out to do:

  • on 10th September 2018 the Alvis Archive Trust was registered as a charity, number 1179868
  • we have been resident at Bowcliffe Hall with the Collection since May 2017, open to visitors
  • the website has over 1,000 Followers from all over the world
  • our programme of digitisation continues to record more history from period photographs and films
  • we continue to receive donations of material and financial support
  • we continue to provide archive information to enquirers about Alvis products with the help of our Consultant Historians, Wayne Brooks and Dave Culshaw together with frequent items of news from Coen van der Weiden.

A new page Diary lists the events to look forward to in the coming months but in the near future look for the ALVIS sign with:

Wayne Brooks at AACA Hershey Meet, October 10-13, spaces CZ 24, 25, 26 in the South Chocolate Field and

Steve Horne at the Lancaster NEC Classic Car Show, November 9-11.

A new page Duxford 1989 has over 70 new photos of the 1989 International Alvis Weekend .

A new page Education and Training  reports on the Alvis course being held at Bicester today and tomorrow.


In September, following a request for a Parts Catalogue for the Speed 20 SB we discovered that it was not among the many items available to download for members of the AOC from http://www.alvisoc.org.

We have now added a scanned PDF version as the late Nick Walker had provided one from his collection. It is on the page Speed 20 SB

 

Nick Simpson has sent us a link to a video of his Speed 20 cruising in the Luberon, now added to the page Alflix

 

 

Additions have been made to the page Recent Donations

These include a Programme from 1939.

Several trophies have been donated by the current owners of the well known ARB 14 Ron Buck TA14 which are on their way to Bowcliffe.

The W O Bentley Memorial Fund has kindly sent some photos of Alvis in their collection two of which are known to still exist and their owners were pleased to receive copies. But where is the third one – click Speed 25?

11211 Speed 20 SB Vanden Plas – Rod Jolley
14800 FLY 803 4.3 Offord four door – these photos are black and white polaroids.

We were glad to have a caption on one of our photos challenged as it meant we received an up to date picture to add to the collection. Photo 2-74-1 has accordingly been reassigned to chassis 4013 thanks to scrutiny by Dave Culshaw and comparison with 2-76-4 which it is now alongside in the 1920s Album.

7407 12/50 DF 7352 Alvis Rally 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Graber stars at the RAC

A Graber TC108G took first prize not only in the British late post-war class in The Warren Concours at Woodham Mortimer but best car out of over 200 cars.

Steve Horne with the Warren Concours trophy for 25942 TC108G
Steve drove down to the RAC Club, Pall Mall, Central London this morning at 5 am! It will be on display for the week until next Monday 4 am. right in the centre rotunda/reception hall of the Club

The Warren Concours event has many of the same judges as at Hampton Court Concours where only two weeks ago George Butlin’s Alvis Speed 25 also won a club trophy and was also displayed at RAC , Pall Mall until a week ago.

In Switzerland, the last Graber also made a star appearance at Grand Basel two weeks ago.

27475 20180906 Grand Basel
27475 TF21 at Grand Basel. 6th September, photo Dieter Schaetti

 

 

 

Concours

Steve Horne reports:

I was in contact with the organisers of the Hampton Court Concours of Elegance last Autumn and again this Spring, principally to arrange AOC participation in 2019 and 2020 as the celebratory 100 years of Alvis.

Being reminded that we could nominate a candidate for the Inter-Club Concours on Friday 31st August 2018, we took up the challenge and promised we would provide an entry by July. Some firm requests by the South East Section did not easily bring up a short-list, but George Butlin was persuaded that his 1938 Alvis Speed 25 Drophead – coupe by Charlesworth, substantially modified during its construction by Hoopers, definitely needed an airing and a good polish.

George was left to his frenetic preparations and to finalise the details of his entry ‘By invitation’, direct with the organising committee. Thankfully, he had prepared a most suitable resume of the car’s history with some fine references to the Hooper connection, its wartime exploits and political canvassing in the post-war years prior to George’s ownership and of course there is no-one better able to describe with passion the intricacies of the Speed 25 model and his own car in particular.

George Butlin being presented with the RAC Club Trophy by HRH Prince Michael of Kent behind his magnificent Alvis Speed 25 Charlesworth Drophead-coupe; a day to remember.

As an Alvis Owner Club nominated entry, George entered alongside a huge array of immaculate and very distinguished marques with equally important historical significance, so it says much for the quality of the restoration and his constant upkeep, that the panel of selected Royal Automobile Club judges decided that his Alvis Speed 25 should be the RAC Club Trophy winner.

This huge accolade will be followed by presentation of the car in the Rotunda at The RAC Club in Pall Mall during the coming weeks, where George and Annie will have further opportunities to represent the Alvis marque, and the Speed Models amongst other exhibits, and no doubt the 1929 Mercedes Benz S-Type , ex-Earl Howe, which won the distinguished Pegasus trophy in the 60 limited Private Entry class, which will be the highlights on show to the motoring press.

13645 4.3 Vanden Plas FMP 888 – Jeremy Coleclough’s concealed hood VDP 4.3 as private entry at Hampton Court Concours of Elegance 2018, being present for the whole 3-day event and competing for the coveted Pegasus Trophy amongst those invited to participate.

A rare Alvis never registered with the AOC had success at Pebble Beach this year.

3½ Litre SA 25.63 Vanden Plas 3449 Tourer – photo John Fasal via Dave Culshaw and Wayne Brooks

First delivered to the Maharajah of Mayurbhanj it has remained in India and a photo of its current state can be found at number 22 on Pebble Beach 2018


A date for your 2019 diary is Friday 14th June when the Bowcliffe British Car Concours takes place, featuring Alvis and Bentley.

This is the start of the AOC International Weekend based at York.

On 15th June the Trust will hold an Open Day at our Hycilla office. Invitations and booking forms will follow later in the year.


Grand Basel was not a Concours but featured the last Alvis made, click Graber TF21

Unipower and Leonides questions

Unipower MH 8875 bridge layer – photo Neil Millington

We are pretty good at answering car related questions, but even with the help of ex-Alvis employees we were not able to answer the following two questions – can you help?

From Keith Roberts:

Q. Having long been an enthusiast of Alvis military vehicles I was pleased to find your web page. My interest falls between automobiles and the armoured vehicles of Alvis, to be exact my interest relates to the Alvis-Unipower trucks. Do you have records related to the MH-660 or MH-8875 trucks produced in the 1990s and if not, can you suggest where such information may exist? Many thanks for any help you can give.

A. Martin Wickham says the design work was done by Unipower at their Greenford site and they were built in the Walsgrave factory. The vehicles went into service with the Royal Engineers, and their museum at Chatham may well be the place to seek further information. We will ask our Followers if they have any information on these vehicles.

Neil Millington found this link to Unipower history

Also…..

From: John Hay-Heddle

Something over 50 years ago I read an article in “Autocar” I think. It was about the work of an emigre French aerodynamicist who came to Britain in WWII to escape the Nazis. He had a theory about using a specially designed exhaust system to boost the power and fuel efficiency of aero engines. The Government was sufficiently interested as to allot him an ALVIS LEONIDES engine to experiment with. He designed and kitted it out with tuned exhaust pipes – one for each cylinder – which looked very like those designed by Walter Kaaden for racing 2 stroke motorcycles. The article reported that he obtained a 10% or better increase in power output and an approximately equal improvement in fuel efficiency.

At the time of the work described and of the writing of the article, there were no electronic aids to perform the calculations needed, nor to test the results of these calculations.  The calculations had to be performed with pencil and paper using slide-rule and log-tables, aided and abetted by blood, toil, tears and sweat and many gallons of midnight oil.

Eventually, satisfied that his calculations, he made up his prototype system.  For the 9 cylinder engine it required nine separate exhaust pipes.  Because this was difficult, time consuming and expensive, and because there was no means of performing mathematical modelling of the interplay between all the salient dimensions, the resulting pipes were all built like trombones; adjustable in all salient dimensions.  For weeks, if not months, he carefully adjusted all the dimensions against each other and recorded the results until he came up with an optimised set of dimensions.

These produced: –

  1. A useful (10% from memory?) increase in power output
  2. A useful reduction in fuel consumption per unit of power produced (again about 10% from memory.) In other words one got an extra 65 BHP from the same fuel consumption as observed in the unmodified engine.
  3. A stunning reduction in noise level.  It was reported that with the motor running at full power one could easily hear the tappets working.  This would have been immensely useful if used on an aircraft like the Westland Lysander employed for inserting and evacuating S.O.E. operatives into and out of occupied France.

What then happened bordered on farce.  He reported his findings to the Ministry who sent assessors down to examine his system.  It seems that, not being content simply to test his optimised set-up, they insisted on playing with the adjustability of the dimensions.  The result was that they so stuffed the operation of the motor that it simply would not run!  Our Frenchman then berated them in lurid French – “Vous foux, imbecilles Anglais” being among the more repeatable terms of abuse he used for their stupidity – and he stormed out “In a truly Gallic huff!”  (The words in quotes are exactly as used in the article.)

What subsequently happened to the Frenchman and his work is unclear, except that the latter was never acted upon.  That is until Walter Kaaden independently resurrected his work 20 years later for use on racing two-stroke motorcycles.

I think you will agree it is a fascinating story, and worth the while of the Alvis Archive to resurrect if you can find it.  Please feel free to edit my account and add it to the archive as an un-documented recollection – even though I can personally vouch for the accuracy of the general thrust of the story as a retired research scientist.

 

 

 

 

Fly Fishing by Alvis

Remember the 1983 Yellow Pages advert for “Fly Fishing by J R Hartley” which was a fiction? Then someone actually wrote the book in 1991 under that pseudonym and it became a best seller. Well, Adrian Freer contacted us about his website dedicated to the life, the artificial flies, the pioneering techniques in stillwater nymph fishing and ultimately the angling legacy of Dr Howard Alexander Bell (1888-1974) of Wrington, Somerset.

Dr Bell regularly fished Blagdon Water in the years following WW1 where he sought to devise better methods of catching reservoir trout. He was known to drive an Alvis and Adrian asked if we could help identify it.

Well, after a bit of sleuthing and telephone calls, we did, and it is still around. Furthermore, we were able to apprise Adrian of two other Alvis fishing connections, our Graber TC21/100 cabriolet driving Swiss friend Eliane Schleiffer who also fishes the Spey  see www.salmonalvis.com and

27411 TF21 Radford Fisherman coupe

 

 

 

 

 

The special folding rear seat by Radford

 

 

 

 

Do you know of any others?


We know that chassis 14186 was delivered in December 1937 to Dr Bell from the Phippen dealership when he lived in Wrington. The first change of owner was in 1961 also in the Bristol area. The current Yorkshire owner acquired the car in 1997 and is the sixth.

14186 Silver Crest Holbrook 4 light 16.95 HP saloon – library picture from Wayne Brooks

Adrian Freer writes:

Doctor Bell’s annual pilgrimages to fish the Spey for salmon and sea trout are well documented. He drove his ancient Alvis, accompanied by Mrs Bell, a cook and one or more servants, at great speed on a journey of over 500 miles that took him two days.

Although he never wrote a word about fishing and shunned publicity, Dr Bell of Wrington had the greatest formative influence of any man on the development of reservoir fly fishing in the first half of the twentieth century. He studied for a degree in medicine at Cambridge where he graduated with an MD before the war came to change his life irrevocably. With the onset of WW1 Dr Bell joined the army and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in France and Palestine. He was a shy, sensitive and reserved individual and the horrors of war affected him deeply. He was one of the few who survived the appalling Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

The emotional scars of what he had witnessed as he tended the wounded and dying in Flanders were to remain with him for the rest of his life. It could well be that his wartime experiences led to his desire to live in idyllic surroundings and pursue the gentle art of fly fishing with single-minded dedication. He moved to Wrington in Somerset, where he was the local GP for thirty years, to be near his beloved Blagdon Water.

As a result of his enquiring and scientific mind Dr Bell did not follow the standard practice of the day of employing ‘attractor’ patterns but rather studied the creatures that the fish were targeting and endeavoured to design artificial patterns which replicated them, and retrieved them in a manner which mimicked their progression through the water. His legacy still survives to this day.

Dr Bell was a shy, sensitive and reclusive character, some would even say that he was anti-social, who never publicized the results of his groundbreaking work. As far as is known he published nothing in his own lifetime, but a surviving article that he wrote, presumably for his own benefit, has come to light and was published posthumously in 2010 as an appendix in Reservoir Trout Flies by Adrian V W Freer (Crowood Press).

flies[Photo: Adrian Freer] Bell was not secretive about his flies or the techniques he was developing but, being the reticent person he was, he did not wish to receive any acclaim that might follow should his achievements become widely known. There are many accounts of how he was prepared to pass on the benefits of his experience to others. All he wanted was to be allowed to fish in solitude, peace and quiet. Who could blame him for that?

Despite the profound significance of his innovations, and being the private person that he was, there is little information about Dr Bell that has survived to this day and what remains is scattered over a wide range of resources: books, magazines, correspondence, websites, photographs, official records, archives and the recollections of those who knew him. It was therefore considered that assembling as much material as possible into one place, in a website devoted solely to him, would address this injustice to some small degree. Click on www.webdateuk.wixsite.com/dr-bell

Meanwhile a further Alvis owner admits to participating in fly fishing. Hugh Stirling writes You will be pleased to hear that the Alvis/fishing tradition is still being continued. Here is XJ 1031 at the Glen Dye AA Box near Banchory on Deeside, a round trip of 1000 miles from my home in Herefordshire, and a fresh run 10lb salmon taken from the South Esk in 2016.

 

 

New photos from the past

 

We always appreciate receiving old photographs of Alvis cars when they were new and not so new which help complete their history. Some interesting ones have come our way recently.

We also like viewers who appreciate seeing the photos we post and make contact with us. Mike Newbery who joined the AOC in 1965 spotted a Crested Eagle he owned and after exchanging a few emails he sent some period shots of 12893 Crested Eagle which in part ended up in a special, and some photos of the other cars he owned. 12893 Alvery – see comment from Charles Mackonochie


12082 Speed 20 Lancefield which was of interest to the current owner

12082 more recently

Mike also owned 14426, a Speed 25 now in chassis form with an AOC member, 14639 the well known, ex Ken Day, Speed 25 FLP 75 currently for sale and TA21 24919, MON 647 which may have been scrapped but was offered for sale in 1997.


Andrew Wisdom kindly sent this picture of the plate on his Silver Eagle

W.E. Challice was the Alvis agent in Cannington, Somerset.  His daughter, Wendy Lamacraft who owns a TD21 and a 12/50, sent TD21 Model Secretary Jonathan Huggett several photos from her personal album of post-war cars when they were new.

LYD 995 “1951 North Hill, Minehead, Somerset. Me with father.”

Eileen Goddin confirms that the photo showing a maroon Fourteen Saloon is of chassis 23763, which left the Factory 23/05/1950, one of the later Mulliners, Body number M1739, delivered to W.E. Challice. The first owner shown was Kraft Productions of Cornborough Place, Bridgewater, Somerset, wicker product manufacturers. Where is it now?

“KDU 439 Cannington Somerset. Outside Father’s garage W. E. Challice Ltd.”

Malcolm Kindell says “This is a great piece of Alvis history. The second production car, which I believe was one of the cars sent to Geneva Motor Show in 1950 as either the show car or the demonstration car. Later used for road test reports in motoring magazines in the 1950s.”Note the spare wheel tray on this early model.

Wendy had been browsing on the Francis Frith online database of historic photos and discovered a TD21 on this image

W. E. Challice is recorded as the agent to whom the TD21 chassis 26741 (8279 RW) was delivered.  Interestingly it had previously spent about nine months as a works car and appeared in publicity material. Last heard of with the late Ted Halliday it has not been licensed since 2006. Where is it now?

Lastly, FVC 897D is a 1966 TF21 chassis 27375…..

“W. E. Challice My father with the hat on”

Could the man of the left be Rowland Simmons?

Last heard of in the Netherlands in 1994, where is it now?

 

 

 

 

 

The Goodwin Special and a course for Alvis novices

Built in 1948 the Goodwin Special is now back in competitive trim.

Alex Simpson drove it in the Chateau Impney sprint recently, coming 7th with a best time of 47.3. – for a YouTube video click on Chateau Impney

See also Goodwin Special for Brian Ledwith’s 1965 Bulletin article.

For those less confident driving old cars….

Alvis Car Care and Maintenance course: Tuesday 2nd October and Wednesday 3rd October 2018

The Club have managed to secure the services of the Heritage Skills Academy at Bicester Heritage to run a two day course, in their fully equipped workshop, specifically aimed at the care and maintenance of post war cars.  The course is designed for owners who wish to use their cars more frequently but perhaps do not have the knowledge or experience they would like when delving under the bonnet! Part of the course will be aimed at strategies to fix the small problems and ‘get you home’ rather than having to wait for recovery.

The course will be limited to 12 people. The cost for the two day’s training is £250 per person.  Hotel accommodation has been reserved for both the Monday and Tuesday nights (Tuesday morning will start sharp) and may be booked at a rate of £112.50 per person per night B&B. All bookings are on a first come first served basis.

Please email Paul Chasney at the Club enquiry desk (enquiries@alvisoc.org) or telephone 07808 056100 to make a booking or for more details.