The Jaguar connection

Alvis always made the engines for their cars but sometimes owners chose to try something with more power, like the 4.2 litre XK unit pictured here in a 4.3 but also in a TD21 and an earlier unit in a hot-rod TA14.

13174 4.3. litre VDP saloon in the 1980s DRR 91 with a Jaguar XK unit

Neither the 4.3 or the TD21 has them installed now, having reverted to the Alvis unit. In the late sixties I used to drive 40 miles to Nottingham in my Grey Lady, then 14 years old, and change cars to drive my new employer to London in his nearly new Jaguar 420.  I never regretted getting back into the Grey Lady on the return trip – the sound, the feel, the style.

25842 RLX 367 in 1969

Jaguar, like Alvis and Rover ended up in British Leyland before being acquired by Ford and then Tata.

The XK unit was used in Alvis armoured vehicles – see VEHICLES – Armoured

In 2017 we published a piece by George Butlin on Lofty England, who worked for Alvis and Jaguar and Dave Culshaw wrote this in 2003….

Good news came this week of another Graber restoration being completed in Switzerland and of another being rescued after a long and neglected hibernation.

For more on this TC108G go to Graber and also Rara Avis

Not the original colour, inside or out, this TD21 764, now rescued.

On Saturday 14th November the NEC Classic Car Show goes virtual and at 12 noon David Whale, Chairman, and Paul Chasney, Director of Research for the FBHVC, reveal what the survey results mean for us preserving our heritage.  YouTube

Author: alvisarchive

Driving Alvis cars since 1964 and the website since 2012

7 thoughts on “The Jaguar connection”

  1. I did a feature article many years ago on an Alvis fitted with an engine out of? a Gordon Keeble – I wonder what happened to it? With best wishes,

    Mike Taylor


    Specialist ClassicPowerboat & Classic Car Journalist

    YachtingJournalist Association and Guild of Motoring Writers member

    Tel: 00(44) 01892 654418/07760 430219





    1. The Alvis with engine ( Corvette) taken from a Gordon Keeble, is of course the well-documented ‘Burns’ Special : RYX 997 F

    2. Hello Mike, Yes, the Burns Special did have a spare 327 Corvette engine intended for a GK, a cut down roof and restyled front end. It survives in restored condition, as does SHP 642 which you came to Styal to photograph a very long time ago for your “Pleasure Machines” article, carefully preserved in the Archive.

  2. A heresy I know, but I have often wondered whether the Edward Turner Daimler 4.5ltr V8 or the 3.5ltr Rover V8 would fit in the engine bay of a TD/E/F. But I suspect that the rear suspension would have needed to be strengthened to handle the extra power. All rather academic in today’s driving conditions with so many 50mph limits on A-roads etc; the Alvis engine’s performance is entirely adequate.

  3. The man with me standing next to the Dunham race car is Geoff King, he was a Service Receptionist who returned to Alvis after War Service the photo was taken by Bill Clark, One day while I was still an Apprentice Arthur Varney sent for me and asked me to show Bill around the Works. Bill is the same age as me and we have kept in touch ever since.
    I had a lot of contact with Ron(Soapy) Sutton when I transfered to Fighting Vehicles. He showed me a lot demonstration tricks to show off the six wheeled Saracen. He had access to a sand quarry with steep sides, he would drive to edge of quarry with the centre wheels on the edge, touch the accelerator, the rear wheels would rise up in the air and the vehicle would dive down the cliff.
    One day he said he was going to the MIRA test track with a 3Ltr, would I like to go with him. He was a chain smoker, the car facia had a rectangular hole where the radio would normally be fitted, as we circulated the track at 108 mph he would light up and put the Players packet in the hole when it then fell to floor. When he wanted to light up again he would be searching around on the floor for the cigarette packet with out reducing speed.

  4. I had a modern ZF auto box fitted to my TF21 – the only time in my life I departed from original spec on any Alvis. The difference was astounding. The engine was able to give of its best and I could change gear with the flick of a big toe.

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