Manfred has also produced a number of backdrops for the show including a comprehensive file on aircraft with the Leonides engine which can be downloaded from here
The sad news of the loss of one of the organising team has prompted a new page with a contemporary report on the 1995 Swiss Tour
Some feedback on the Firebird article has reunited the car’s seller, now 90, and buyer in the 1960s, see comments under Firebirds are go!
Over two years ago Wayne had a call from Steve Patience, the owner of WM 1800 since 1972 who said he still hopes to get around to re-restoring the car sometime. Wayne posted the comment and has had a response from the former owner’s son who wanted to contact Steve. Wayne takes up the story:
Sometimes you can learn a lot by asking questions. Called Steve Patience who said he would be pleased to hear from Chip Hellie. Sent Chip what I had on 9877. Received the following:
Thank you for the prompt reply!
I have always been smitten by our old Alvis 9877 and often think of it. I was just a lad of 5 years old when my father owned it. It really left a lasting impression on me. We always were a car family and have had countless numbers of fine machinery but for some reason that car stands out above the others.
I can easily see why Alvis collectors are so passionate about them, they are remarkably beautiful cars, especially the Speed models.
My father William Hellie Sr. who purchased the Alvis is still alive at 90. In fact, here is something truly remarkable. His phone number that is listed in the cars advertisement in the 1959 Road & Track magazine will still get him! 60 years on!
He was doing well and still driving until last December when he broke his back. He’s been bed ridden since. His memory has slowed down but he’s still pretty sharp once he warms up!
What I remember is he bought it off of an advertisement in Motor Sport magazine in England. He shipped it to Portland Oregon on the Dutch ship Dintledyk. It was the freighters maiden voyage. I think he paid around £250 for it from a Doctor. I actually have his name and will look it up for you. Plus I have photos of the car in England just prior to purchase. I believe it was painted all in black. Have pictures of it torn down here in Salem Oregon and then when finshed.
He painted it Cobalt blue metallic with white chassis, suspension and wheels. Sounds odd but was most striking. He had a man from Albany Or. by the name of Pete Sukalac photo it for the Salon section of Road & Track. Pete was a fairly well known automotive photographer shooting pictures for various magazines.
Later on, my dad two toned the car by doing the side panels in silver. Absolutely a knock out!
I remember riding in the back seat and on weekends we’d take her to the Drive in for cokes, sometimes ice cream! There was a popular drive-in where the girl car hops would roller skate to the car. I remember they were playing an Elvis song one time and my mom told us we’re listening to Elvis in the Alvis! I thought that was so funny but remember I was only five.
I’m pretty sure the car sold to a Rodney W. Tripp. He owned a real estate company in Albany area and had many nice cars. I remember him having beautiful 30’s Rolls and a 32 Lagonda with cycle wings. Looked like a Bentley LeMans racecar.
I have all this information and lots of photos I can share.
About 15 years ago a fellow stopped by and talked about the Alvis. He said it was the Olympia show stand car in 1932. His name was Everett Smith. A real Alvis enthusiast. Sadly he has passed. You may have known him. He lived in Northern California when he died. I’m not sure where he got the information but it very well could be true.
We dug around in the shed above my dads house and I found one of the original headlight lenses! We were looking for the running boards also as my dad didn’t put them back on the car. Couldn’t spot them but I might have missed them.
Thanks so much for the contact info for Steve.
I’ll send you some more things for your archives.
Thanks for the info you sent. It was most interesting and I’ll read your note to my father.
Hopefully, more information will follow.
Yours for longer bonnets,
The son of a TD21 owner has provided some fascinating Alvis owning history of his family. The story of 423 FLD involves registration changes, quite common on the 3 litre, and finding two former family cars for sale at the same time at DD Classics. Just click on the photo…
An occupational hazard of finding archive material is the diversion, “oh! that’s interesting….” and going down a different track. So it was when I found this…
Last year my 1959 TD21 had too much play in the throttle linkage and my attempts to remove it had the unfortunate side effect of sometimes causing the throttle to stick and giving an unwanted high idling speed. So I invested in a new one of those pictured above, a trifle expensive I thought, but it has lasted sixty years. Daunted by the prospect of fitting it in limited time before departing on a long trip, I carried it with me for the next 2,000 miles, just in case. All was OK(ish) until the last time I started it up, and the dreaded high idle has returned. So, finding the above article and spurred on by watching “Quest” and Ed China changing a throttle body on a Maserati that cost £400 needing a computer to set it up, I spent a happy couple of hours getting my hands dirty.
Now I have no lost motion in the throttle pedal and a correct idle, but best of all I have the full range of throttle openings available. It just seems more effortless.
What I was actually looking for were the reports of the 1991 Tour of Britain.The reports and photos not previously published are now on a new page 1991 Tour of Britain
Some new photos landed in the inbox his week including
A TD21 Graber coupe has a new custodian in the USA, after spending nearly thirty years in Germany.
Red Triangle have found an old stock of “new” handbooks for the TD21 and are now available to buy. Reproduction reprints are also available.
One of the exhibits in the Frankfurt exhibition appears in the TD 21 brochure:
To also have on show the final production car from Mulliner Park Ward, chassis 27472 is impressive, as it was shipped from the UK for the durationWhere is 5002 RU now?
John Speight has sent photos of his TD21 and Firefly in New Zealand and have been added to model pages FireflyTD21
A pleasant surprise from Gavin’s bee story was a couple of responses which added to our Alvis knowledge. Gavin had called his Grey Lady Sybil, reasonable enough as the registration is SYL 434. However a previous owner responded, called Sylvie who was unknown to Gavin. What we had not known is that Sylvie is the daughter of the well respected Alvis expert Alf Brown who operated for many years in London servicing cars – ” it was lovely to see my old Grey Lady on the website today SYL 434 now affectionately known as Sybil – of course it used to be known as Sylvie’s… I told my father it was mine as soon as I saw the registration.” Gavin of course had added a “b” to the name……
Sylvie also mentioned her brother Doug who has owned his Firely since 1962 – is this a record?
She added ” I am proud to have been his daughter even though my MG TD is mostly Alvis parts! You have probably guessed that he left Doug and me an Alvis each… so Doug has two. He bought me my MG in 1965 saying an Alvis was too big for a student nurse to drive around London so after he died, I had to chose whether to keep that or the Grey Lady. The MG won..”
While we are being bombarded with statistics these days, the survival ones are the most interesting. How many members of the Alvis Owner Club do you think have been members for over fifty years? The answer is at the end of this post.
Manfred Fleischmann has confirmed that his Centenary Frankfurt exhibition at Central Garage, Bad Homburg will open on May 13th, next Wednesday. He has sent some photos of the display which looks very professional, including detailed Alvis company history, such as:
Following the bee post Mike Dunn wrote “My father was Willie Dunn, the Alvis Chief Engineer for many years until 1959 when he retired. Alvis asked my father to return as they were missing his guidance and leadership as they needed to land the first production contract for 125 Stalwart high mobility load-carriers. In 1962 they asked me to take over from him as chief engineer for cars and fighting vehicles. My father was a life-long beekeeper and taught me a little of his craft. In today’s Times newspaper there is a disturbing article about the disease Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) which has spread over the last decade to most English and Welsh counties There is a possible link to the importing of too many queen honey bees.”
This photo was taken from a brochure issued by the company around 1960 which gives a snapshot of the company’s history….
Since the April 1970 AOC Bulletin proved to be a popular download, this May edition is equally interesting, previewing the joint Register and AOC 1970 Tour of Britain. Click on May 1970 Bulletin 200
Perhaps some Club members will be inspired to organise a joint event once again in 2021?
Tail piece..From our records there are over 50 AOC members who have 50 years or more of membership, from about 4200 members who joined between 1951 and 1970. Another 18 are known to be following the website but no longer members.
This April was the first for some years that I have not driven the Alvis on the open road to meet fellow Alvis owners. However, there is some consolation in knowing that if I pick up the phone to call one, they are likely to be home, answer the call and have time to chat. It is also the first time for some years that I have been able to observe the garden in spring on a daily basis, hear the birds sing, and see a blue sky with no planes (except the Red Arrows, but I don’t mind that). So for something completely different….
From Gavin Wiggins-Davies
No I haven’t quite gone off my trolley after 5 weeks of isolated lockdown ! You asked for ‘Drive Day photographs’ and as I was not able to drive old Sybil out anywhere I thought I could try to share with you all my other weekend activity and some photographs and two videos!
I keep a bee and was told of a swarm last Thursday nearby so drove down , no not in Sybil, & collected the big swarm and brought them home and popped them into a spare old hive that evening.
Next day my new hive arrived (only ordered it 5 days earlier) & I rehoused them into their new des res on Friday. I went into my original hive on Saturday to make sure that the swarm had not come from that hive but I was relieved to find only 6 newly started Queen cells in it so no chance that they had ‘buzzed orf’ ! In fact I thought it unlikely as the new colony of bees are much larger and darker, a little more like the old English Black bee which is somewhat in decline.
I collected a full honey super* out of my original hive a week before the swarm arrived and I have never had honey ready for collection in April before nor have I ever seen a swarm before May !!
Apologies for breaking the Club trend and sharing activities other than Alvis related but as I was unable to drive anywhere but I was able to do something worthwhile with my time I thought I could try to share it with you all.
I only hope that you don’t ‘blackball’ me for some sort of Alvis heresy ?
Thank you all for the email posts which are helping to keep me and I expect all the other AOC members keen and raring to get going.
With my best wishes to you all and do stay safe,
* a bee super is a container the super frames into which the bees put/store their honey. Bees live in a larger box at the bottom of the hive called a Brood box & make & store their honey in a Super positioned just above the Brood box.( I have 3 x Supers on my original hive as they are working very busily and with the early season and a full super already I am giving them lots of room to work in, They are already working in all 3 supers ! )
A new page has been added on a small run of Alvis by Offord
Thanks for sending these photos which span 1924 – 1965 and the globe….
from Tasmania, Gary Guiver’s 1924 12/40, chassis 2817
from Scotland, Chris Chilcott’s 1926 12/50, a field not a drive….
From Monaco, Guido Cantele’s Speed 20 SA chasis 9878 (but not yesterday)From New Zealand, Doug Dickson’s SB Speed 20 VDP chassis 11154From Australia, Jonathan Gill’s 13686 Speed 25 Charlesworth…and Max Houston’s 14314 4.3
while Tim Perks is getting there with his 4.3 Charlesworth 14327
From Switzerland, Dieter Schaetti’s McMullen Woody 14
Norman Blundell’s TA14 chassis 23308
From Scotland, Peter Martin’s TA21 Tickford “KAA went to the local Morrisons to pick up a click and collect order. PongoNo the new hound went also and was admired almost as much as the car which looks a bit butch as temporarily without a front bumper .Bruce Cunningham’s 25272 TC21 Mulliners saloon taken in 2019 at the Campbelltown Steam and Machinery Open Day (coinciding with Australian National Motoring Heritage Day). The actual location is in Menangle, a little village about 12,000 miles from UK, approx. 5 miles from Campbelltown, NSW, AUST. Here it won a “lucky door” prize.Doug Dickson’s TC21/100 25676Lottie’s Graber 26081
Peter Brown’s TD21 26107
From California, Andres Martinez TD21 26294
Robin Willmott’s 26295 TD21 Dhc…
Doug Dickson’s TD21 26670
Deborah Gold’s TE21 Dhc 27034
From Germany, Frank Nestmann’s TE21 27022Nick Wells’ 27134 TE21 which was far too grumpy to emerge from its den despite a promise to attend the Kop Hill Climb in September!
Never grumpy, Mark Seligman’s fine TE21 Dhc… 27242It’s not too late to send your photo.
Coen van der Weiden wrote to say “today is King’s Day in Holland so we have an extra long weekend.
A certain Mr. Paul Wouters created an extra link on Alvis in his website.
Until December 19th, 2019 he didn’t know much about Alvis, but with the help of the Dutch Centenary book and his camera he created a nice impression. The text is from the book, but then in his own words.“
The lockdown has encouraged some restoration activity and correspondence on regaining original registration numbers. Brian Davies sent his photos of DRF 437, a Cross & Ellis tourer he has owned for a very long time.“I thought you might like some before and (almost) after pictures of the Firebird. As you can see, the before pictures give an idea of the state of the car when it eventually arrived in Southsea, Portsmouth in late 2007 after around 40+ years being stored in garages, barns, warehouses etc. This pic is the current state shortly before the start-up of the engine after around 50 years of inaction. By the way it runs beautifully after having started almost with the first press of the ignition switch – all very gratifying and a great relief!
The car is now awaiting bodywork which is, of course, somewhat on hold as a result of Covid-19.
It was very interesting talking to you this morning and great to hear that you already have some background info on the car and its owners. I will, of course, be delighted to hear/receive any additional info you have on the car.
Many thanks for your help in this matter.”
With the help of DC and WB we were able to piece together the history of the car, the first owner in Staffordshire and the story of how Brian and his friend acquired the car from Ron Harrison who had been a neighbour of the late Apsley in Cornwall. Tony had published a photo of Ron in the AOC Calendar in 1999.AOC Calendar, April 1999, Page 11, photo of Ron Harrison in Firebird DRF 437 circa 1954 or ‘55 & comments by Tony Phillips-Smith: My next-door-neighbour (1/4 mile across the field!) Ron Harrison lent me the photograph below which shows him, just out of the RAF, with two jolly ladies, in the summer of 1954 or 5, probably in Droitwich, Worcestershire, at the wheel of Alvis Firebird Cross and Ellis Tourer, reg. no. DRF 437 (Chassis 13466), then painted metallic silver (!) with black wheels. The indefatigable Dave Culshaw can trace the car as far as Gosport in 1977. Does anyone have any later news? Ron (and Dave, and I) would love to know. Incidentally, Ron “sold” the car at the time of the first Suez crisis, for four pints of beer. Those were the days when men were men, and a pint was really worth something!
“Again, your photo of Ron Harrison at the wheel of the Firebird has really sparked off much interest from friends, neighbours and relations. For many years they’ve been hearing about this mystery car locked away in a garage that has long been keeping me busy, and short of ready cash, so, to see a picture of the car “in the flesh” is a real treat for all of us.
As I may have mentioned, my friend Mike and I were given the car by Ron, (probably around 1961/2) when Ron was living in Clevedon, Somerset, in exchange for some DIY/gardening work that we were doing for him. For the next few years Mike and I did a complete demolition job on the car in the mistaken view that we were conducting a restoration.
You say in the email that you last had news of the car in Gosport in 1977 but, although I moved to Gosport in ’72 when I joined the Royal Navy, as I recall I never actually moved the car to Gosport but that it was eventually moved from the Clevedon area, where it was languishing in a barn, directly to a furniture storage company in Chard in South Somerset in the late 70s when I was firstly appointed to Devonport based ships, then BRNC Dartmouth and later with the Royal Marines at CTCRM Lympstone. I then moved back to the Portsmouth area and it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally managed to obtain a suitable lock-up garage and moved the car from its long term home in store in Chard to the garage in Southsea.
Work on the car started shortly thereafter and, as of today, it awaits clothing in bodywork as much of the original has, over the years, been lost, stolen or deteriorated. The car has been restored from the barest chassis up and the engine, brakes, rear axle etc. refurbished, replaced or renewed and the ash framing completely replaced as the original Cross and Ellis woodwork was either rotten or eaten away by woodworm. The engine, however, having been silent for around 60 years, started last August and runs beautifully.
That, in summary, is the history of the later years of the “Firebird” as I know it and, prior to this, the Duplicate Registration Book (RF 60A) shows details of 2 previous owners in the Midlands before Ron Harrison comes on the scene in the mid 50’s.
I hope this fills in some of the detail of the “missing years” but if there is any further information you think I may have please let me know. Also, if there is any chance of contacting Ron Harrison I would be delighted.
Again, many thanks for your help in this matter,
As Apsley is no longer with us does anyone know if Ron Harrison is contactable?
Oh, yes, a comment below led to this from Ron…
My son, Lee has somehow found your archive and sent me a copy including the photo of what was once my Firebird! I bought it for £200 about 1954 when I was working at Oldbury, Birmingham.
I was then transferred to Portishead and lived in Clevedon, and was a member of the rugby club. Suez and petrol rationing put me off the road and Albright & Wilson wanted me back at Oldbury. The car needed minor attention. I needed to rehouse.There were two lads, whose names I can’t remember, in the team who were engineering apprentices that took an interest in getting the car roadworthy and on that promise I gave them the car for a couple of beers (each). In 1977 I moved to Cornwall and a few years later met Tony Philips Smith , a near neighbour ! We did a few Greatwestern runs and scrutineered some Le Jogs, and – the main reason for this missive – the Commemoration meetings for Major Harvey at St.Keverne. I have the 2003 programme which you are welcome to – where should I send it? Happy Memories !
We have also updated the Firebird page with a new listing, click Firebird
Robin Willmott wrote:
With the sun shining the Alvis all polished up and the Waxoil removed from the chrome the TF 21 was all ready for a drive, but with Covid 19 preventing all events, Bar meals or social meet-ups we were left with only one alternative, a run to our local Supermarket for a bit of social isolation. Whilst l waited reading the paper a BMW Mini owner drove by giving the thumbs up which which was most uplifting . So if the sun is shining in ten days time when we do our next shop we will definitely be travelling by Alvis.