Ken Day

We are sad to report the passing of Ken Day, the saviour and President Emeritus of the Alvis Owner Club, official historian of the Alvis company and passionate researcher into the life of T G John.

FLP 75 in 1980 with Ken Day at the wheel in Lymington

Ken’s own account of his Alvis life can be found in The K R Day Archive

The AOC obituary can be found here.

Several other tributes have been left as comments and if you wish to add your own, please do so below in the Reply Box.

It’s what we do

An archive is an accumulation of historical records, or the physical place they are located. Archives contain primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organisation’s lifetime, and are kept to show the function of that person or organisation.

Our archive is of no use until someone wants to know the history of an Alvis product or to contribute to it. Happily for us this happens fairly regularly and usually gives pleasure to all parties, the current and previous custodians and the archivists.

The news of a Graber bodied Alvis changing hands is of interest so when Ken Swanstrom got in touch in May to say he was the new custodian a TD21 Graber coupe the documents I received in the 1970s as a Graber Friend came in useful. For more on this story, click here.

This Graber cabriolet is also on offer to a good home:

This week a Swiss website mentioned Alvis in an article about classic car values, citing the TB14, TC21 / 100, TA21 and TA14 models as “big losers” over the last five years.

Valuation advice on classic cars and their investment potential can be useful but drawing conclusions from a small sample of sale prices should not be relied upon because not all sales are in the public domain. The older and rarer the car the more condition and history influences the value.

However, being armed with a detailed history of a car will help determine a fair price, so ask for the history before you buy and if one is provided by the vendor, check it for errors and omissions. “One careful lady owner for 28 years, (but six hooligans in the last ten)“.


Wayne received this photo of a TD21 Series II which needed identifying – it seems to have solved a previous mystery, see here


13179 4.3 VDP DLU 444

This period photo has been identified as a 4.3 Vanden Plas saloon, chassis 13179, registration DLU 444 last heard of in the USA under restoration – do you know where The Village Inn is? If so, please let us know.

At Hershey in 2015

The 4.3 model has it own page and website, click here

The publication date of Dave Culshaw’s latest book now looks likely to be extended into 2021 because of furlough at the publishers Veloce.

One hundred years ago

In July 1920, the first Alvis car was advertised, completed and delivered. For details of the first deliveries click 1920

If you are interested in an update on Gavin’s bee story, click Sybil and the bee swarm in April

Paul Bamford has sent some photos of coachbuilders plates, click  COACHWORK

A new page Silence without Sacrifice sets out the technical details behind this 1930s advert…And two more photos of the Speed 20 SC Charlesworth seeking a new custodian

11978 AKB 583 front ns
11978 AKB583

News

While the future of Alvis motoring has long been of concern because of changing legislation and fuel supply, the FBHVC continues to be a voice supporting the continued use of cherished cars. In this quest, here is a message from Paul Chasney, the Federation’s Director of Research:

To participate in the survey click here


It was confirmed this week that the Alvis Centenary event at the Goodwood Revival has been postponed until 2021.


Stuart Nell in his Speed 20 Charlesworth dhc on the 2005 Swiss Tour

We are sad to report the loss of another Friend to cancer.

Stuart Nell has died in Nottingham Hospital at the age of 65.

A former AOC Treasurer and great enthusiast for British cars, MG, Daimler, Wolseley and two fine Alvis, a Speed 20SC Charlesworth dhc and a TE 21 saloon, he took part in many events over nearly twenty years. He leaves two brothers.


We have previously published articles about the Harvey Memorial event in 1998.

Further articles have now been added – click Major Harvey


 

Eighty years ago car production had stopped in the UK and the motoring press had to look back at what was then available. A new page looks back at some of the articles published by Autocar in the war years.

The first two cover the 12/50 and Speed 20. Click on 1940s


 

Iron Lungs

The application of engineering in medicine, with echoes for today, is told in a prelude to Adrian Padfield’s forthcoming book:
Coventry, Alvis and the Iron Lung’, ‘A Biography of Captain GT Smith-Clarke’.

As a retired anaesthetist, Adrian has also been fascinated by Smith-Clarke’s work in medicine and other scientific fields and has researched our files at Bowcliffe for material. This short history of Cape Engineering which was established and run by ex-Alvis employees includes our Life Member “Young Ron“, Ron Walton.

The Alvis link extends further with 3-litre owner Dr. Geoffrey Spencer who wrote about his experiences in 1999. This is also reproduced and now available to read here.


25525 PGH 311 formerly owned by Geoffrey Spencer

The build records for the Alvis 3-litre TC series have found their way back to the archives and an updated register is being compiled with the first output now available on  TC Series.

If you own, or have owned a TC21, TC21/100 saloon or Tickford drophead do please click UPDATE YOUR DETAILS   and fill in as much information as you can, even it is just a registration number.


We were saddened to learn that our Life Member Albert Ainsworth died in York on 6th June after a short illness at the age of 91. He and his late wife Betty were frequent visitors to Alvis events and Albert made several visits to Bowcliffe.

Show time

This picture from the exhibition at Central Garage, Bad Homburg, is a reminder that the car in question was the Alvis show car in 1955

25856 TC21/100 Graber prototype for the TC108G, originally registered TDU 810 and used by John Parkes for several years. Photo Manfred Fleischmann.

Philip Turner wrote a wonderful piece for The Motor in 1955 about his trip in the Demonstrator to the Scottish Motor Show where 25856 was on display  – click Demonstration Run.

Also from 1955

More advertising material has been added to AERO ENGINES


 

Percival Provost

Manfred has also produced a number of backdrops for the show including a comprehensive file on aircraft with the Leonides engine which can be downloaded from here


The sad news of the loss of one of the organising team has prompted a new page with a contemporary report on the 1995 Swiss Tour


Some feedback on the Firebird article has reunited the car’s seller, now 90, and buyer in the 1960s, see comments under Firebirds are go!


9877 – 1932 A Mulliner Coachwork – Autocar

Over two years ago Wayne  had a call from Steve Patience, the owner of WM 1800 since 1972 who said he still hopes to get around to re-restoring the car sometime. Wayne posted the comment and has had a response from the former owner’s son who wanted to contact Steve. Wayne takes up the story:

Sometimes you can learn a lot by asking questions.  Called Steve Patience who said he would be pleased to hear from Chip Hellie.  Sent Chip what I had on 9877.  Received the following:

“Hello Wayne,

Thank you for the prompt reply!
I have always been smitten by our old Alvis 9877 and often think of it. I was just a lad of 5 years old when my father owned it. It really left a lasting impression on me. We always were a car family and have had countless numbers of fine machinery but for some reason that car stands out above the others.
I can easily see why Alvis collectors are so passionate about them, they are remarkably beautiful cars, especially the Speed models.
My father William Hellie Sr. who purchased the Alvis is still alive at 90. In fact, here is something truly remarkable.  His phone number that is listed in the cars advertisement in the 1959 Road & Track magazine will still get him! 60 years on!
He was doing well and still driving until last December when he broke his back. He’s been bed ridden since. His memory has slowed down but he’s still pretty sharp once he warms up!
What I remember is he bought it off of an advertisement in Motor Sport magazine in England. He shipped it to Portland Oregon on the Dutch ship Dintledyk. It was the freighters maiden voyage. I think he paid around £250 for it from a Doctor. I actually have his name and will look it up for you. Plus I have photos of the car in England just prior to purchase. I believe it was painted all in black. Have pictures of it torn down here in Salem Oregon and then when finshed.
He painted it Cobalt blue metallic with white chassis, suspension and wheels. Sounds odd but was most striking. He had a man from Albany Or. by the name of Pete Sukalac photo it for the Salon section of Road & Track. Pete was a fairly well known automotive photographer shooting pictures for various magazines.
Later on, my dad two toned the car by doing the side panels in silver. Absolutely a knock out!
I remember riding in the back seat and on weekends we’d take her to the Drive in for cokes, sometimes ice cream! There was a popular drive-in where the girl car hops would roller skate to the car. I remember they were playing an Elvis song one time and my mom told us we’re listening to Elvis in the Alvis! I thought that was so funny but remember I was only five.
I’m pretty sure the car sold to a Rodney W. Tripp. He owned a real estate company in Albany area and had many nice cars. I remember him having beautiful 30’s Rolls and a 32 Lagonda with cycle wings. Looked like a Bentley LeMans racecar.
I have all this information and lots of photos I can share.
About 15 years ago a fellow stopped by and talked about the Alvis. He said it was the Olympia show stand car in 1932. His name was Everett Smith.  A real Alvis enthusiast. Sadly he has passed. You may have known him. He lived in Northern California when he died. I’m not sure where he got the information but it very well could be true.
We dug around in the shed above my dads house and I found one of the original headlight lenses! We were looking for the running boards also as my dad didn’t put them back on the car. Couldn’t spot them but I might have missed them.
Thanks so much for the contact info for Steve.
I’ll send you some more things for your archives.
Thanks for the info you sent. It was most interesting and I’ll read your note to my father.
Kind Regards
Chip Hellie”
Hopefully, more information will follow.
Yours for longer bonnets,
Wayne

The son of a TD21 owner has provided some fascinating Alvis owning history of his family. The story of 423 FLD involves registration changes, quite common on the 3 litre, and finding two former family cars for sale at the same time at DD Classics. Just click on the photo…

Hello all fans of Alvis, I’m sending you as an interesting photo of this car, which was taken accidentally in Pilsen (Czech Republic) in 1971.
Sincerely, Slavomir Altman, Pilsen: This TD21 Series II bears a London registration which now appears on a 1965 Bristol 408 last mot’d in Kent. Does the Alvis survive?

 

Make your 3-litre go faster

An occupational hazard of finding archive material is the diversion, “oh! that’s interesting….” and going down a different track. So it was when I found this…

Last year my 1959 TD21 had too much play in the throttle linkage and my attempts to remove it had the unfortunate side effect of sometimes causing the throttle to stick and giving an unwanted high idling speed. So I invested in a new one of those pictured above, a trifle expensive I thought, but it has lasted sixty years. Daunted by the prospect of fitting it in limited time before departing on a long trip, I carried it with me for the next 2,000 miles, just in case. All was OK(ish) until the last time I started it up, and the dreaded high idle has returned. So, finding the above article and spurred on by watching “Quest” and Ed China changing a throttle body on a Maserati that cost £400 needing a computer to set it up, I spent a happy couple of hours getting my hands dirty.

Now I have no lost motion in the throttle pedal and a correct idle, but best of all I have the full range of throttle openings available. It just seems more effortless.

What I was actually looking for were the reports of the 1991 Tour of Britain.The reports and photos not previously published are now on a new page 1991 Tour of Britain


Some new photos landed in the inbox his week including

BGD 283 is of special interest as it is one of very few Silver Crests despatched in chassis form only, 14147 / 14609 / 18993, left the factory 13th September 1937 for Galt’s of Glasgow. The maker is not known and it wasn’t registered until 11th December. It is the 19.82 hp version (much better for towing a caravan). Pictured around 1948 , the last Licence expired 30/12/55 in the name of W. Bolden, of Harefield – does it survive? (research by Dave Culshaw). The family of the earlier owner would be pleased to know.
11363 NJ 4348 Silver Eagle – where are you now?

Red Triangle have found an old stock of “new” handbooks for the TD21 and are now available to buy. Reproduction reprints are also available.


One of the exhibits in the Frankfurt exhibition appears in the TD 21 brochure:

WRW 633 is the first Park Ward production TD21 saloon 18001, chassis 25946

To also have on show the final production car from Mulliner Park Ward, chassis 27472 is impressive, as it was shipped from the UK for the durationWhere is 5002 RU now?


John Speight has sent photos of his TD21 and Firefly in New Zealand and have been added to model pages  Firefly   TD21

26169 TD21 in New Zealand, sporting a secondary antenna for spotting speed cameras
9979 Firefly Cross & Ellis saloon – Photo John Speight
10788 Firefly SA Cross & Ellis Tourer re-bodied by Dick Brockman and road commissioned
by Barrie Gillies ca. 1982-1985. After a few years in Belgium I brought the car to
Northern California where it has been since 1988. – Bob Farrell

Bee post results

A pleasant surprise from Gavin’s bee story was a couple of responses which added to our Alvis knowledge. Gavin had called his Grey Lady Sybil, reasonable enough as the registration is SYL 434. However a previous owner responded, called Sylvie who was unknown to Gavin. What we had not known is that Sylvie is the daughter of the well respected Alvis expert Alf Brown who operated for many years in London servicing cars – ” it was lovely to see my old Grey Lady on the website today SYL 434 now affectionately known as Sybil – of course it used to be known as Sylvie’s… I told my father it was mine as soon as I saw the registration.” Gavin of course had added a “b” to the name……

Sylvie also mentioned her brother Doug who has owned his Firely since 1962 – is this a record?

She added ” I am proud to have been his daughter even though my MG TD is mostly Alvis parts! You have probably guessed that he left Doug and me an Alvis each… so Doug has two. He bought me my MG in 1965 saying an Alvis was too big for a student nurse to drive around London so after he died, I had to chose whether to keep that or the Grey Lady. The MG won..


While we are being bombarded with statistics these days, the survival ones are the most interesting. How many members of the Alvis Owner Club do you think have been members for over fifty years? The answer is at the end of this post.


Manfred Fleischmann has confirmed that his Centenary Frankfurt exhibition  at Central Garage, Bad Homburg will open on May 13th, next Wednesday. He has sent some photos of the display which looks very professional, including detailed Alvis company history, such as:

Following the bee post Mike Dunn wrote “My father was Willie Dunn, the Alvis Chief Engineer for many years until 1959 when he retired. Alvis asked my father to return as they were missing his guidance and leadership as they needed to land the first production contract for 125 Stalwart high mobility load-carriers. In 1962 they asked me to take over from him as chief engineer for cars and fighting vehicles. My father was a life-long beekeeper and taught me a little of his craft.
In today’s Times newspaper there is a disturbing article about the disease Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) which has spread over the last decade to most English and Welsh counties There is a possible link to the importing of too many queen honey bees.

William Marshall Dunn was born on August 12 1893 in Annan, Dumfries. He was apprenticed in the shipbuilding industry at J Milburn Ltd, Engineers and Iron Founders in Workington. Cumberland from 1908 to 1914 where he qualified as a Mechanical Engineer. During the war he worked as a marine engineer. He married Amy Margaret Nelson In 1918 and moved to Coventry in 1919 to work at Daimler Ltd (the British company).
He moved in 1922 to Alvis Car & Engineering Co Ltd (formerly T.G. John Ltd). He retired in 1962.
He died on 22 January 1969 in Coventry and was buried at Canley, Coventry.

This photo was taken from a brochure issued by the company around 1960 which gives a snapshot of the company’s history….

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Since the April 1970 AOC Bulletin proved to be a popular download, this May edition is equally interesting, previewing the joint Register and AOC 1970 Tour of Britain. Click on May 1970 Bulletin 200

Perhaps some Club members will be inspired to organise a joint event once again in 2021?


Tail piece..From our records there are over 50 AOC members who have 50 years or more of membership, from about 4200 members who joined between 1951 and 1970. Another 18 are known to be following the website but no longer members.

Sybil and the bee swarm in April

July 2020 – an update from Gavin:

Dear John,

An update on the alternative ‘classic’ activity due in part to the pandemic lockdown.

The bees I collected in April & May & set up in new hives & my original hive have been so very busy since then, the 2nd new hive produced 25lbs of honey in 16 days & my original one has produced 64 lbs since April !!!
Today I extracted a lot of honey from 24 frames ( 3 supers) and it looks to be a big quantity. It’s all settling in the tank now & I will bottle it once I’ve filtered it tomorrow night.

The photos are of capped frames waiting to be uncapped & put in the spinner & one which I had just uncapped with my hot elec knife & one of the frames in the spinner with some honey visible at the bottom. It is now much fuller & looks like I may have aprox 50 lbs + that which drips out of the cappings too. Busy job now to filter & bottle it. Quite amazing what these little busy bees can produce from flowers 💐 & trees etc. Nice to have a hobby that can produce enough to cover expenses & sometimes a bit more !!!

I hope you are both fine & all other Alvis members are well & free of the Covid 19 virus.

It will be nice to get the ‘ old timers’ back out on the road again soon.

With best wishes

Gavin


This April was the first for some years that I have not driven the Alvis on the open road to meet fellow Alvis owners. However, there is some consolation in knowing that if I pick up the phone to call one, they are likely to be home, answer the call and have time to chat. It is also the first time for some years that I have been able to observe the garden in spring on a daily basis, hear the birds sing, and see a blue sky with no planes (except the Red Arrows, but I don’t mind that). So for something completely different….
From Gavin Wiggins-Davies
Dear Alvisarchive,

No I haven’t quite gone off my trolley after 5 weeks of isolated lockdown !  You asked for ‘Drive Day photographs’ and as I was not able to drive old Sybil out anywhere I thought I could try to share with you all my other weekend activity and some photographs and two videos!

25800 TC21/100 – Sybil
I keep a bee and was told of a swarm last Thursday nearby so drove down , no not in Sybil, & collected the big swarm and brought them home and popped them into a spare old hive that evening.
Next day my new hive arrived (only ordered it 5 days earlier) & I rehoused them into their new des res on Friday.  I went into my original hive on Saturday to make sure that the swarm had not come from that hive but I was relieved to find only 6 newly started Queen cells in it so no chance that they had ‘buzzed orf’ !  In fact I thought it unlikely as the new colony of bees are much larger and darker, a little more like the old English Black bee which is somewhat in decline.
I collected a full honey super* out of my original hive a week before the swarm arrived and I have never had honey ready for collection in April before nor have I ever seen a swarm before May !!
Apologies for breaking the Club trend and sharing activities other than Alvis related but as I was unable to drive anywhere but I was able to do something worthwhile with my time I thought I could try to share it with you all.
I only hope that you don’t ‘blackball’ me for some sort of Alvis heresy ?
Thank you all for the email posts which are helping to keep me and I expect all the other AOC members keen and raring to get going.
With my best wishes to you all and do stay safe,
Gavin
* a bee super is a container the super frames into which the bees put/store their honey. Bees live in a larger box at the bottom of the hive called a Brood box & make & store their honey in a Super positioned just above the Brood box.( I have 3 x Supers on my original hive as they are working very busily and with the early season and a full super already I am giving them lots of room to work in, They are already working in all 3 supers ! )

A new page has been added on a small run of Alvis by Offord


Some more photos have been added to the previous post Your Drive __ Day photos