The particular appeal of the Three Litre Alvis Mulliner Park Ward saloon lay in the fact that it was one of the then few remaining coachbuilt cars – coachbuilt in the sense that it was put together by skilled and meticulous craftsmen, with an attention to detail and finish that could not be contemplated on a production line. All this, of course, accounted for the fact that the price was fairly high. Only modest changes were made to the car for the 1964 model year, the Series III TE21.
In the sphere of styling, if such a word can be used in connection with the coachbuilders’ art, there was a radical departure from previous models in that a four headlamp system had been introduced. This called for a slightly higher wing line and each pair of Lucas 5.75” diameter lights were mounted vertically in plated surrounds. The extra headlamps replaced the long range driving lamps previously fitted: redesigned, horizontal air intakes broke up the plain and extensive panels between the new lamp clusters and the traditional grille. An improvement was made to the appearance at the back by turning under the lower edges of the wing valances to line up with the curvature of the door sills.
Perhaps the most noteworthy improvement was a 13.5 percent increase in power output, from 115 b.h.p. at 4,000 r.p.m. to 130 at 5,000 [later confirmed to be 135bhp due to a faulty dynamometer]. This gave the new model a top speed of 110 m.p.h. The extra power resulted from an increase of 2mm in the diameter of the inlet and exhaust valves, and redesigning of the dual exhaust manifolds into a “bunch of bananas” form, in addition the diameter of the pipes had been increased from 1.125” to 1.75”.. The sturdy seven bearing crankshaft is well able to absorb the increased engine speed, and the torque, which showed an improvement right through the speed range. Maximum torque occurred at 3,250 r.p.m., the same as on the series II engine, but was increased from 156 to 172 lb.ft. In spite of the extra power, however, specific consumption (pints per b.h.p. per hour) was reduced, which pointed to an increase in engine efficiency: a Borg and Beck diaphragm-spring clutch replaced the older type.
Inside the car there were detail changes. A folding central armrest was fitted to the back seat: ashtrays were removed from their rather inaccessible position on the door trim pads and let into the facia rail: and minor controls and switches were regrouped on the facia, so that they were in a more logical order. The cigar lighter was now to the left of the switches and the starter, ignition switch and choke control on the right hand side of the steering column. The spare wheel tray, difficult to lower on Series II cars, was altered and became secured by over-centre lifting levers and was, as a result, far easier and more convenient to operate. Finally, modifications were made to the steering box that resulted in lighter steering, a welcome improvement as the steering on the TD series was undoubtedly heavy Power steering from ZF became an option during the first year of production. 352 chassis were built, of which Graber took 12 and 95 were MPW drophead coupes.
Ken Cameron TE21 and TF21 Model Secretary writing in 2003.
For more on Graber bodied TE21s click on Graber
Coen sent in this item from the web which is intriguing. Graber had been using twin headlights using Marchal units in 1962 at the same time as Bentley were designing their new small Bentley with twin stacked lights which went horizontal in later versions and eventually on the Silver Shadow.