How many are left?

A new Follower this week had a familiar name and following several email exchanges has ended up with a fascinating story of survival of a rare Speed 20 model with the inevitable question, how many are left? To read the full story click BXL 835.

Coen van der Weiden asked about the survival rate of the 95 TE21 dropheads produced. The survival statistics published by Red Triangle, on display at the NEC last month, show 83% of all TEs surviving. This is based on the assumption that if a car has been spotted within the last twenty years, it probably still survives. Having recently collected the 352 TE records for the archives, and checked a sample of licence and mot records, there is a significant number of “can’t be sure” cars. There are cars not on DVLA records for a number of different reasons. If you know of a TE21 that has definitely been scrapped or is still around but not DVLA registered, please write to us, click  alvisarchive@btinternet.com

Unfortunately the fascinating website howmanyleft does not include Alvis cars.

The long awaited release of the Alvis Car Club badge has arrived, click badge for details of how to purchase from the Alvis Owner Club.

The last post on Alvis Apprentices produced some positive feedback and in particular a comment from Mike Dunn.

Alvis Apprentices

One of our visitors on our Open Day last Friday was an Alvis apprentice in the 1960s who had worked in the service department. He brought with him his apprentice agreement, a dinner menu and a photograph which he kindly let us copy.

Ken Davies receiving his Apprentice’s prize from Douglas Bader in 1965. This photo has taken pride of place in his office ever since.

 

 

 

 

 

The Alvis Rover P6BS prototype now in the British Motor Museum, Gaydon. Ken kindly donated a folder of his calculations on the P.6.BS Project, Alvis/Rover prototype that he worked on under Mike Dunn.

Apprentice badges were highly prized items:

TD21 news

A 1958 TD21 Graber coupe, 25971, is seeking a new custodian, for more details click here.

The second Park Ward TD21 drophead coupe made, 25952/18502 is under restoration in Devon for its long term custodian

The 1958 Earls Court Motor Show Silver Medal winner for coachwork
The new custodian and Follower of this movie star car intends to complete a restoration in 2018. 26962 was in The Big Sleep, Movie, 1978 – source IMDb.com
Another follower is continuing a long term retirement project on 26596 – chassis restoration in progress

We welcome news and photos of restorations being completed.

Unipower and Leonides questions

Unipower MH 8875 bridge layer – photo Neil Millington

We are pretty good at answering car related questions, but even with the help of ex-Alvis employees we were not able to answer the following two questions – can you help?

From Keith Roberts:

Q. Having long been an enthusiast of Alvis military vehicles I was pleased to find your web page. My interest falls between automobiles and the armoured vehicles of Alvis, to be exact my interest relates to the Alvis-Unipower trucks. Do you have records related to the MH-660 or MH-8875 trucks produced in the 1990s and if not, can you suggest where such information may exist? Many thanks for any help you can give.

A. Martin Wickham says the design work was done by Unipower at their Greenford site and they were built in the Walsgrave factory. The vehicles went into service with the Royal Engineers, and their museum at Chatham may well be the place to seek further information. We will ask our Followers if they have any information on these vehicles.

Neil Millington found this link to Unipower history

Also…..

From: John Hay-Heddle

Something over 50 years ago I read an article in “Autocar” I think. It was about the work of an emigre French aerodynamicist who came to Britain in WWII to escape the Nazis. He had a theory about using a specially designed exhaust system to boost the power and fuel efficiency of aero engines. The Government was sufficiently interested as to allot him an ALVIS LEONIDES engine to experiment with. He designed and kitted it out with tuned exhaust pipes – one for each cylinder – which looked very like those designed by Walter Kaaden for racing 2 stroke motorcycles. The article reported that he obtained a 10% or better increase in power output and an approximately equal improvement in fuel efficiency.

At the time of the work described and of the writing of the article, there were no electronic aids to perform the calculations needed, nor to test the results of these calculations.  The calculations had to be performed with pencil and paper using slide-rule and log-tables, aided and abetted by blood, toil, tears and sweat and many gallons of midnight oil.

Eventually, satisfied that his calculations, he made up his prototype system.  For the 9 cylinder engine it required nine separate exhaust pipes.  Because this was difficult, time consuming and expensive, and because there was no means of performing mathematical modelling of the interplay between all the salient dimensions, the resulting pipes were all built like trombones; adjustable in all salient dimensions.  For weeks, if not months, he carefully adjusted all the dimensions against each other and recorded the results until he came up with an optimised set of dimensions.

These produced: –

  1. A useful (10% from memory?) increase in power output
  2. A useful reduction in fuel consumption per unit of power produced (again about 10% from memory.) In other words one got an extra 65 BHP from the same fuel consumption as observed in the unmodified engine.
  3. A stunning reduction in noise level.  It was reported that with the motor running at full power one could easily hear the tappets working.  This would have been immensely useful if used on an aircraft like the Westland Lysander employed for inserting and evacuating S.O.E. operatives into and out of occupied France.

What then happened bordered on farce.  He reported his findings to the Ministry who sent assessors down to examine his system.  It seems that, not being content simply to test his optimised set-up, they insisted on playing with the adjustability of the dimensions.  The result was that they so stuffed the operation of the motor that it simply would not run!  Our Frenchman then berated them in lurid French – “Vous foux, imbecilles Anglais” being among the more repeatable terms of abuse he used for their stupidity – and he stormed out “In a truly Gallic huff!”  (The words in quotes are exactly as used in the article.)

What subsequently happened to the Frenchman and his work is unclear, except that the latter was never acted upon.  That is until Walter Kaaden independently resurrected his work 20 years later for use on racing two-stroke motorcycles.

I think you will agree it is a fascinating story, and worth the while of the Alvis Archive to resurrect if you can find it.  Please feel free to edit my account and add it to the archive as an un-documented recollection – even though I can personally vouch for the accuracy of the general thrust of the story as a retired research scientist.

 

 

 

 

Fly Fishing by Alvis

Remember the 1983 Yellow Pages advert for “Fly Fishing by J R Hartley” which was a fiction? Then someone actually wrote the book in 1991 under that pseudonym and it became a best seller. Well, Adrian Freer contacted us about his website dedicated to the life, the artificial flies, the pioneering techniques in stillwater nymph fishing and ultimately the angling legacy of Dr Howard Alexander Bell (1888-1974) of Wrington, Somerset.

Dr Bell regularly fished Blagdon Water in the years following WW1 where he sought to devise better methods of catching reservoir trout. He was known to drive an Alvis and Adrian asked if we could help identify it.

Well, after a bit of sleuthing and telephone calls, we did, and it is still around. Furthermore, we were able to apprise Adrian of two other Alvis fishing connections, our Graber TC21/100 cabriolet driving Swiss friend Eliane Schleiffer who also fishes the Spey  see www.salmonalvis.com and

27411 TF21 Radford Fisherman coupe

 

 

 

 

 

The special folding rear seat by Radford

 

 

 

 

Do you know of any others?


We know that chassis 14186 was delivered in December 1937 to Dr Bell from the Phippen dealership when he lived in Wrington. The first change of owner was in 1961 also in the Bristol area. The current Yorkshire owner acquired the car in 1997 and is the sixth.

14186 Silver Crest Holbrook 4 light 16.95 HP saloon – library picture from Wayne Brooks

Adrian Freer writes:

Doctor Bell’s annual pilgrimages to fish the Spey for salmon and sea trout are well documented. He drove his ancient Alvis, accompanied by Mrs Bell, a cook and one or more servants, at great speed on a journey of over 500 miles that took him two days.

Although he never wrote a word about fishing and shunned publicity, Dr Bell of Wrington had the greatest formative influence of any man on the development of reservoir fly fishing in the first half of the twentieth century. He studied for a degree in medicine at Cambridge where he graduated with an MD before the war came to change his life irrevocably. With the onset of WW1 Dr Bell joined the army and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in France and Palestine. He was a shy, sensitive and reserved individual and the horrors of war affected him deeply. He was one of the few who survived the appalling Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

The emotional scars of what he had witnessed as he tended the wounded and dying in Flanders were to remain with him for the rest of his life. It could well be that his wartime experiences led to his desire to live in idyllic surroundings and pursue the gentle art of fly fishing with single-minded dedication. He moved to Wrington in Somerset, where he was the local GP for thirty years, to be near his beloved Blagdon Water.

As a result of his enquiring and scientific mind Dr Bell did not follow the standard practice of the day of employing ‘attractor’ patterns but rather studied the creatures that the fish were targeting and endeavoured to design artificial patterns which replicated them, and retrieved them in a manner which mimicked their progression through the water. His legacy still survives to this day.

Dr Bell was a shy, sensitive and reclusive character, some would even say that he was anti-social, who never publicized the results of his groundbreaking work. As far as is known he published nothing in his own lifetime, but a surviving article that he wrote, presumably for his own benefit, has come to light and was published posthumously in 2010 as an appendix in Reservoir Trout Flies by Adrian V W Freer (Crowood Press).

flies[Photo: Adrian Freer] Bell was not secretive about his flies or the techniques he was developing but, being the reticent person he was, he did not wish to receive any acclaim that might follow should his achievements become widely known. There are many accounts of how he was prepared to pass on the benefits of his experience to others. All he wanted was to be allowed to fish in solitude, peace and quiet. Who could blame him for that?

Despite the profound significance of his innovations, and being the private person that he was, there is little information about Dr Bell that has survived to this day and what remains is scattered over a wide range of resources: books, magazines, correspondence, websites, photographs, official records, archives and the recollections of those who knew him. It was therefore considered that assembling as much material as possible into one place, in a website devoted solely to him, would address this injustice to some small degree. Click on www.webdateuk.wixsite.com/dr-bell

Meanwhile a further Alvis owner admits to participating in fly fishing. Hugh Stirling writes You will be pleased to hear that the Alvis/fishing tradition is still being continued. Here is XJ 1031 at the Glen Dye AA Box near Banchory on Deeside, a round trip of 1000 miles from my home in Herefordshire, and a fresh run 10lb salmon taken from the South Esk in 2016.

 

 

New photos from the past

 

We always appreciate receiving old photographs of Alvis cars when they were new and not so new which help complete their history. Some interesting ones have come our way recently.

We also like viewers who appreciate seeing the photos we post and make contact with us. Mike Newbery who joined the AOC in 1965 spotted a Crested Eagle he owned and after exchanging a few emails he sent some period shots of 12893 Crested Eagle which in part ended up in a special, and some photos of the other cars he owned. 12893 Alvery – see comment from Charles Mackonochie


12082 Speed 20 Lancefield which was of interest to the current owner

12082 more recently

Mike also owned 14426, a Speed 25 now in chassis form with an AOC member, 14639 the well known, ex Ken Day, Speed 25 FLP 75 currently for sale and TA21 24919, MON 647 which may have been scrapped but was offered for sale in 1997.


Andrew Wisdom kindly sent this picture of the plate on his Silver Eagle

W.E. Challice was the Alvis agent in Cannington, Somerset.  His daughter, Wendy Lamacraft who owns a TD21 and a 12/50, sent TD21 Model Secretary Jonathan Huggett several photos from her personal album of post-war cars when they were new.

LYD 995 “1951 North Hill, Minehead, Somerset. Me with father.”

Eileen Goddin confirms that the photo showing a maroon Fourteen Saloon is of chassis 23763, which left the Factory 23/05/1950, one of the later Mulliners, Body number M1739, delivered to W.E. Challice. The first owner shown was Kraft Productions of Cornborough Place, Bridgewater, Somerset, wicker product manufacturers. Where is it now?

“KDU 439 Cannington Somerset. Outside Father’s garage W. E. Challice Ltd.”

Malcolm Kindell says “This is a great piece of Alvis history. The second production car, which I believe was one of the cars sent to Geneva Motor Show in 1950 as either the show car or the demonstration car. Later used for road test reports in motoring magazines in the 1950s.”Note the spare wheel tray on this early model.

Wendy had been browsing on the Francis Frith online database of historic photos and discovered a TD21 on this image

W. E. Challice is recorded as the agent to whom the TD21 chassis 26741 (8279 RW) was delivered.  Interestingly it had previously spent about nine months as a works car and appeared in publicity material. Last heard of with the late Ted Halliday it has not been licensed since 2006. Where is it now?

Lastly, FVC 897D is a 1966 TF21 chassis 27375…..

“W. E. Challice My father with the hat on”

Could the man of the left be Rowland Simmons?

Last heard of in the Netherlands in 1994, where is it now?

 

 

 

 

 

Newby Hall pictures

One of the north’s biggest gathering of classic cars included a wide range of Alvis from 1924 to 1967 entered from several clubs at Newby Hall, North Yorkshire…

2931 1924 12/50 200 mile racer
8436 12/50 8251 Silver Eagle and 2931 12/50 racer
8251 1930 Silver Eagle TB 16.95
8599 12/50 OY 294
9314 12/60TL UB 8680
9425 Speed 20 SA – Chris Taylor explains the niceties of the early Speed to Hugh Westlake
12898 Crested Eagle BXR 853
4 cylinders
15459 1270
15459 12/70
22556 MPH 926 TA14 Carbodies dhc
26162 and 26187 TD21s
26482 TD21 JB 3945
26948 TD21 Series 2 and 26181 TD21
Look! 27026 TE21 MHJ 674
27459 TF21 and 11260 Speed 20