From Wayne Brooks – TB21 Model Secretary
The TB21 Sports Tourer was first shown at the London Motor show in the fall of 1950.
However, the first TB21 dispatched from the Alvis Works, chassis 25136 (APM 1116), did not depart until 30 January 1952, registered LWK 942.
A day later, 25140 APM 1120 was registered HKW 397.
The last TB21 to depart the Works, chassis 25138, was dispatched on 14 August 1952 to Casablanca.
Alvis, Ltd. records indicate that 31 TB21 Sports Tourers were produced. Chassis numbers 25120 through 25150.
A. P. Metalcraft’s premises were on Stoke Row at the end of Brown’s Lane, Coventry and formed part of Jaguar’s trim shop.
At least 25 TB21’s have survived…
The TB21s in the UK are:
25139 (APM 1119) OKT 143 – John Edward Beck
See BULLETIN 507 for more on the history of 25147
The TB21s in the USA are:
25128 (APM 1108) – in the USA and for sale 2021
25131 – David Higel
25133 – Sandy Bettelman
25137 – James Cox
25145 – Laura Grandy
25146 – D’Jearlmien Gardina.
The TB21s in Australia are:
Rob Gunnell writes: 25127 was originally delivered by a Devon Motors country dealer, Mr. O. G. Roberts of Shepparton, Victoria, to Mr. Percival G. Cronk at 3 McCormack Avenue, Shepparton, on 8th May 1952 with registered number plate Vic:YB-624. Its registration was changed to NSW: AFH-057 when shortly after the Cronks moved to Boree Creek in New South Wales. Percy died in February 1962.
I bought the car on 25th August 1962 for 200 pounds from Narrandera Motors after Mrs Cronk traded it in for a second-hand Morris Minor. It was run-down generally, especially the engine and front suspension. After I got it home in Sydney it was registered on 23rd November 1962. Then it was overhauled and tidied up in the bodywork. This took about 9 months on and off, but it was then a beautiful car to drive and we enjoyed the motoring for another few months until the drastic accident at Uralla on 29th March 1964.
The circumstances of this were that the Queensland Vintage Club and the Alvis Club decided to have joint rally, meeting at about half way from Brisbane and Sydney at Armidale. NSW. We had met on the Saturday and had a tourist bus trip around the area. Then on the Sunday we went to Uralla where there was a bloke who ran a minerals museum. After seeing the museum it was arranged that he take us on a short trip to the Rocky River to show us how to find gold. Half way down the last hill to the river a truck loaded with superphosphate lost his brakes and slammed into the back of the TB 21, driving it into a tree on the side of the road. He then continued to the bottom under some large trees where he slammed into a number of other cars that were parked. The driver died and his wife and daughter who accompanied him were severely injured. An old lady who was in one of the cars he hit also died the next day. Others had various injuries (especially David Manson) and a few of our vintage cars and a couple of members traveling in moderns had suffered various damage.
As the TB21 chassis and bodywork were effectively wrecked, and I couldn’t claim on any insurance (it wasn’t insured), I had to figure out what to do for the best. This was resolved when TC21/100 25422 came up for sale. This car was not in very good condition so it was not expensive, so I bought it and then transferred all the good front suspension and engine, which I had just overhauled, from the TB21 to the TC21/100. With a bit of other tidying up the Grey Lady was a nice car to drive and we kept it for 9 years. Meantime the TB just languished in the corner of the garage. Some years later Bill Ewing showed interest in the TB and I sold it for the price of a set of pistons, complete with a good TA/21 chassis and the factory chassis drawings for both models. A few years later when we decided to sell the Grey Lady we thought that it should go to Bill so he could put everything back in their proper places. Sadly, I don’t think that has happened, but I am sure that the TB21 will be stored under proper cover.
On other TB21s…..I have driven three of them, mine. Barry Turner’s same colour (red) one and the Phil Andrews NZ car. You didn’t mention the NZ one, so I assume it has left the country. Phil didn’t quite like it as it was so he fitted wire wheels and made it a “legless children” 4-seater and it looked really great. It went well too. This car was an original import to NZ and Phil’s father was the Alvis agent for NZ.
Wayne continues the history:
Phil Andrews has been a very keen Alvis enthusiast “For more years than I care to remember” having owned a number of prewar models from a ’23 12/40 to a ’37 Speed 25. Phil Andrews’ company, MOTOR LINES, LTD. imported motor vehicles from Europe and the UK. They were the sole distributors of Alvis Cars in New Zealand from 1949 to 1967. He was originally in charge of sales promotion and took over the company on the death of his father in 1956. Phil tells me they sold more Alvis cars than any other distributor outside the UK during the 1950’s. TB21 25133 arrived in the port of Wellington, NZ in October 1952 in the company of three saloons and a drophead coupe’. Phil drove the TB21 off the wharf and some 80 miles back to their headquarters in Palmerston North. Initially it was used for display purposes and was eventually registered in his father’s name on February 24, 1953.
In 1956 TB21 25133 was sold to a Mr. R. Jansen who resold it some 18 months later to a Mr. T. M. Stephen.
Phil Andrews got the car back in August 1960 and it remained in his possession until 1991. The car was ordered with wire wheels but they were unavailable at the time. However, they received a TC21 on wires in 1953 and made a swap in their workshops. A set of chrome wires was obtained from Dunlops, in Coventry, during a1965 trip and are currently fitted. On a visit to the Alvis works in 1958 Phil was critical of the TB21 being a two seater, and was told that their intention had been to build it as a 4 seater. However, due to the high cost of building a car in such limited numbers, the idea had been dropped, purely for economic reasons. One of their department heads showed him a sketch of plans he had for the conversion to a 4 seater. Phil took a copy and returned home fired with enthusiasm to get the car back and convert it into the car it would have been, had it remained in production. It took him some time to track the car down. However, eventually he located the owner, Mr. T. M. Stephen, negotiated a deal and handed the car over to their workshops for the conversion, which required virtually no structural alteration. The car now sports a solid walnut dashboard. TB21 25133 had covered 65,288 miles to Dec 18, 1989.
The car is now in Germany…..see below…for more photos and history from Phil Andrews
25135 (APM 1105) – Cecil Rodway
25132 in South AfricaJohn C. Morland, the original owner of TB21 25132 in an article on page 67 of the Motor Sport of February 1957:
“In 1952 I went to England again and took delivery of a new 3-Iitre Alvis with the sports two-seater body, and ran it about 6,000 miles before shipping it to Kenya. This car was, unfortunately, very like the 20/90 Salmson of 1938. On paper it should have been ideal. The engine and gearbox were good, but the chassis was rotten. Early. in October 1952 I started out to have a look at Africa in this car, by means of a trip to Cape Town and back. On the second day out from Nairobi one of the bonded-rubber engine-mountings came “unbonded.” I had this bolted up fairly firmly but leaving quite a bit of free movement, but a week or so later, in Portuguese East Africa, the engine fell with a loud crash through the front crossmember. This was a box-section affair and fortunately the engine only went through the top part and I was able to get to Salisbury and have it repaired. After that there were constant minor troubles, and on the return journey two exhaust valves burnt out and were replaced with spares I was carrying. The whole trip was about 13,900 miles and took three months. Very shortly after getting back to Kenya the off-side steering-arm broke; fortunately the wheel followed” and no accident occurred. Later, the engine fell out again, so we stripped the chassis right down and welded in a new and stronger cross-member. We also found that the tail-end of the chassis was very badly cracked so, after patching it all up, I parted with the car without much regret after 35,000 miles in 16 months.”
Jean Revill in an 8 July 1992 letter to Simon Fisher related that John Revill, her late husband, “— flew to Kenya in 1974, when his father died, and bought a vintage Stinson Aeroplane which he flew to Rhodesia, as it was then, to have it done up. The Alvis was sold to pay for the aeroplane along with a 1929 Willys Knight. The Alvis was bought by Mick MacGuinnes with whom I lost touch. Last week I spent a night with friends, the son was reading out the small ads and found the enclosed advert. So, I rang up the next day and Mick MacGuinnes had just sold it that morning.”
M. J. “Mick” MacGuinness: 16 September 1992 – “My grand old warhorse was sold, of necessity, on the 31st of July 1992 to an unidentified buyer via Messrs. Speedway Motors of Johannesburg. — While my memory is somewhat sketchy as to the exact date on which I purchased the Alvis from John Revill, I have no reason to doubt that given by Mrs. Jeannie Revill, and, was aware that the money was required to help pay off the Stinson aircraft. In brief, John Revill, his wife and two daughters emigrated from Kenya to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) during the early sixties and he, being a mechanic, bought a garage in Bindura some fifty to sixty miles north east of the capital, Salisbury (Harare). On emigration from Kenya, John was very restricted in the amount of cash that he could take from the country, this being a common problem throughout Africa, so bought a vintage Willys sedan plus the Alvis and transported them by road on the back of an ex Army truck with his wife following in their family car. One can only imagine the trials and tribulations that the family must have faced on that journey from Nairobi to Salisbury, a distance of some 2,800 miles through Tanzania and Zambia over the most atrocious roads/dirt/mud tracks conceivable. However, this was the sort of family that they were, they would, to coin a phrase, give anything a go and would have made good pioneering stock in the early days. John, in his need to raise funds, initially offered to sell me the Willys but being a sports car enthusiast myself and already owning an MG TD, MG TF and a 3000 Healey I held out for and finally bought the Alvis TB21. My reason for buying the Alvis was not purely for its aesthetic qualities for, while my family resided in Salisbury I had established my headquarters in Bindura and was forced to use the frequently ambushed connecting road. The Alvis was in my view the ideal vehicle for this purpose, she was heavy, had a good road clearance, a top speed up in the nineties, and, with the hood and windscreen down gave an excellent field of fire for the “cut down” Russian RPG which lay beside me on the passenger seat. That vehicle traveled everywhere and never gave one moments trouble be it on farm roads or tarmac, she was a big beauty. returning to John Revill, I do not know whether his wife informed you that John was killed in action during 1979 and shortly before the cessation of hostilities. He was that morning traveling as observer in a Police Air Wing Cessna when they sighted a group of armed intruders. The pilot, in order to keep the group under surveillance until the re-action forces could be deployed, kept circling them and during the course of this manoeuvre two bullets struck the aircraft and a third penetrated John’s forehead killing him immediately. In June, 1980 and following Robert Mugabe’s rise to power I together with my family emigrated to South Africa, loading the Alvis and the MG TF onto a truck and trailer. The MG was sold some years ago and now with the sale of the Alvis my last link with the motoring past has gone. — There is little else that I can tell you about the car, or those who have savored the thrill of driving her and the pride of ownership—.”
TB21 25132 now resides in New Zealand with John & Katy Parish.
25140 (APM 1120) HKW 397
Chassis 25148 – thanks to Robert Zadick the following photos are from Dr Dietrich of Zwickau
The TB21 in Canada
Three TB21’s, may survive, but are not accounted for. The unknown TB21s are:
Chassis 25124, last documented information with Adrian J. C. H. Weissenbruch in Bearsden, Scotland circa 1958
Chassis 25126, dispatched to Fergus Motors of New York City, last information from Fergus Motors in 1955
Chassis 25149, last documented information from Olive Childs Hurd then of Washington, DC in 1955.
Three cars, although surviving, have been crashed, or are in quite deteriorated condition. The crashed or knackered TB21s are: 25120 25127 25128
Three cars, have been reported destroyed and are reportedly accounted for.
The reported destroyed TB21s are: 25129 25136 25141
However, 25129 was on the DVLA database as recently as 1988, long after the date of its reported destruction???
Chassis 25120 was completed 15 September 1950. However, Dave Culshaw has written, “Comparatively recent research has revealed an unpublicised aspect of the TB21’s ‘first – footing‘, which just had to be ready alongside a Mulliners saloon, and a Tickford drophead, for the October 1950 Earls Court Motor Show.
The research referred to has ascertained that the first chassis to be allocated to A.P.M. for the roadster development was 23806 – only the fourth of the new model to be numbered. At that time this was probably quite devoid of the differences which would be deemed necessary to maximise on the roadsters lighter weight, and was merely a ‘mule’, upon which the prototype A.P.M. shell, numbered XX 1, would sit for the duration of the Show. It has now become clear, and most curiously so, that not long after the Show, the body XX 1, and the chassis 25806 were separated, and the chassis returned to the factory. We then know this chassis to have been re-bodied as a standard saloon, and despatched to – of all places, Peru, on February 22nd 1951.
TB21 25120 2 Seater Sports was completed on 27 June 1952. Factory paint Grey – Glasso C.3407, trim Red Vaumol V.M. 8300. Rear axle ratio 3.77/1. Sold as “second hand” 10 June 1952 to James H. Gault, Alvis agents at 52 Woodlands Road, Glasgow. The Car Record lists Body XXI.
TB21 25120 first registered KYS 921 circa March 1953 by the Glasgow Burgh Council.
In June 1953 Charles Ballard, Manager of the London Service Depot, wrote David Mitchie to advise 25120 was being offered as “shop soiled”, with only 500 miles on the odometer, by Gordon Cars of Warren Street for £1450. Mr. Ballard inquired regarding the history before recommending it to a regular customer. David Mitchie replied the car had been in the hands of the Alvis Experimental Department for quite a considerable time for development purposes and it had also been in the hands of S. U. Carburetors for development work on the single S. U. Carburetor.
John Ince, then owner of TB21 25120, in a letter of 18 September 1982 to Goran Milutinovic, wrote “The engine, apart from the single SU carb, & special manifold to go with it, is little different from the TA21 engine.” He also mentioned the fold down windscreen.
John Ince, in a letter of 7 January 1983 to Dave Culshaw, quoted John Tilley as saying he bought the TB21 in 1957 from a dealer in Watford who was connected with Brands Hatch. Tilly didn’t know who had the car before him, said it was a friend of the then celebrated playboy & social & financial parasite, Kim Waterfield. Tilley remembered the Log Book showed the first owner bought it from Galts in Glasgow.
In 1962 Tilley sold it to Ron Smith of Day’s Garage, Oxford Street, Whitstable, Kent. Smith’s daughter had seen the TB21 outside Tilley’s Sturry Road home and persuaded her father to buy it for her. Miss Smith married the son of Charlie Lee of Charlie Lee’s breakers yard. The car was converted into a wrecking vehicle with a crane mounted in the boot, then disused and left at the top of Lee’s yard, where Sue Speyer saw it and bought it in 1973.
To get around the cut about rear of the body Sue bought the remnants of TB21 25136, LWK 942, by then black, that had been in a head-on crash. All that was fit for further use was the engine (now in TA21 Dhc 24280), the two doors and rear body section, including boot lid.
This photo of 25120 from Malcolm Kindell was taken at Sue Speyer’s in March or April 1973. The photo shows the rather sad TB21 with red front wings and bonnet, Black rear wings and missing radiator. The photo clearly shows the fold down windscreen of the Motor Show TB21 body.
Sue sold 21520, the rear clip, boot lid and doors of 25136 and a chassis from a TA21 to T. F. Robertson. Sue also obtained and sold him, from a scrapyard in Scotland, two complete new TB21 front wings still in their red lead primer, which had been bought from Alvis. Robertson reportedly had it all moved to Devon or Cornwall, then moved back to Kent. He parked the various bits on two farms in Kent and did nothing more.
T. F. Robertson sold the lot to John Ince on 18 October 1980. John researched the history of the car, accumulated spares from Red Triangle and other sources, but never got around restoring it. When John died in 1990 his cars went to his son Robert Ince.
Somehow the car and collection of parts ended with a man in Thetford, Norfolk. Seen by John Wheeley in 1994. Apparently the remains are still there, stored in a shed.