A Mystery Special

Do you know anything about this?

One of the 300 photos in 1950s – Album 2 has stumped our historians – the only clue we have is the registration number which dates from early 1932 and falls in a sequence of known Speed 20 SAs sold by Follett. With clear similarities to the Jaguar XK120 and enhanced by the large wheels, who made the body?

Author: alvisarchive

Driving Alvis cars since 1964 and the website since 2012

7 thoughts on “A Mystery Special”

  1. Could the car be another offering from Paramount? It might be an avenue worth pursuing. Kind regards Chris

     From: Alvis Archive <comment-reply@wordpress.com>Sent: Saturday, October 16, 2021 10:16 amTo: chris@ctml.co.ukSubject: [New post] A Mystery Special 

    alvisarchive posted: ” Do you know anything about this?

    One of the 300 photos in 1950s – Album 2 has stumped our historians – the only clue we have is the registration number which dates from early 1932 and falls in a sequence of known Speed 20 SAs sold by Follett. With cle”

  2. THE MYSTERY SPECIAL GX3454 – An Anorak’s Observations.

    • The spoke lacing of the wheels is the offset pattern as fitted to IFS Alvis cars from late 1933 beginning with the Crested Eagle and SB Speed Twenty. The wheels appear to have been rebuilt deleting the pre-war hollow rims. They may be of smaller diameter than the standard 19 or 20 inches and with large section tyres, possibly 16 inch. The altered wheels were not original to that chassis and are from a later pre-war IFS Alvis; offset spoked wheels narrow the track when fitted to a beam-axled chassis.
    • The wheel nuts are the later more aerodynamic 1933 onward type (from an IFS car) to fit the slightly longer wheel centres that accommodate the IFS offset spoked wheels. On this car they have been fitted to the earlier ‘shorter’ hubs leaving the grease cap inset; a potentially dangerous substitution as not all of the nut’s thread is engaged with the hub….
    • The door sill height suggests a high chassis and floor level. The wheelbase looks shorter than an SA20 and the bonnet line curves sharply down toward the front. With the lower front styling there must be a much lower radiator, possibly of the later cross-flow type thus the need for the extra lateral front air vents to aid airflow.
    • According to Glass’s Index the ‘GX’ London registration series began in March 1932 and ended in June 1932. ‘GX’ registrations on Alvis cars sold by Follett’s appear to have been issued irregularly. Perusal of registers shows that ‘GX’ registrations were to be found on SA Speed Twenties, TJ 12/50’s and TL 12/60’s. The TJ 12/50’s may be eliminated as they were equipped with bolt-on wire wheels. That narrows the possibilities to the SA Speed Twenty and TL 12/60, both of which were equipped with 20 inch centre-lock wire wheels with the ‘short’ centres on ‘short’ hubs.
    • Neither the Firefly or Crested Eagle had been introduced during the period of the ‘GX’ registrations so it appears those models may be ruled out. Nor did I find any Silver Eagles recorded with ‘GX’ registration plates.
    • In the image, a large brake drum is evident that could be SA Speed Twenty 14 inch, appearing to fill much of the inside of the wheel, highlighting the reduced diameter of the wheel whereas the 12/60 was equipped with much smaller brake drums. There were several TL 12/60’s and at least three SA Speed Twenties with unknown registrations supplied by Follett in London during the ‘GX’ registration period.
    • The body is quite a work of art and mimics the lines of a Jaguar XK 120. In the immediate post-war era there were many clever panel beaters who had been employed pre-war at motor coachbuilders making panels. During the war many of these firms such as Vanden Plas and Charlesworth were making alloy panels for aircraft and so the skills survived.
    • Conclusion:- ‘Short-hub’ 20 inch wheels were only fitted to beam-axled chassis:- TL 12/60, all Silver Eagles with centre-lock wheels, SA20, Firefly, Firebird and SF 16.95 Sixteen. My guess, and it is only a guess is that 1) it has a beam-axled chassis and 2) the large brake drum indicates a SA Speed Twenty perhaps with a cut-and-shut chassis. The registration plate indicates a delivery when new between March and May 1932. On the other hand the chassis height and wheelbase indicates a 12/60 from the same period and with its twin-carburettor 1645cc engine would have a good performance…. May I suggest that the image be shown more publicly, perhaps on some internet forums where perhaps among a wider audience, someone may recognise the car and respond?


    Nick Simpson.

    Technical Advisor, A.O.C.

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