When the Century of World Motoring was celebrated at Silverstone in 1985, Alvis were there in force.The moment I remember most vividly of this display was when Mike Smith asked for some information on the Grey Lady so he could so a piece to camera. He listened and looked and then without hesitation, in one take, did a superb description of the car to camera. A true professional.
In this year of the centenary of the first Alvis car, it is also fifty years since the death of Hermann Graber. It was he who was largely instrumental in extending the then life of Alvis car production of 35 years by a further 12 years.
35 years ago we took some twenty or so Alvis to visit Wichtrach where Graber had lived and built his cars. A new page which includes the contemporary report and previously unpublished photos is now available – click 1985 Swiss Tour
A TA21 radiator assembly seeks a new home, currently in Scotland…….leave a reply if you are interested.
I recently had some professional photo’s of my Cross and Ellis tourer taken for the business on a rather wet day just before Christmas. In the history file I have an owners letter from the early ‘70s and some hefty Charles Follet invoices from 1947 that suggest the car was used throughout WW2 by the WRVS for war time work, clocking up 100,000 miles or more. I’ve registered as an NHS volunteer and hpe the Alvis can be used for Voluntary work again a mere 80 years after the first time – A good story for the RVS, Alvis and classic motoring in general if we pull it off.
For context the car also appears in a promo video which you are welcome to share around the Alvis community and on our website – our project may interest others. Obviously everything is on hold at the moment but we are still aiming for late ’21 opening with first apprentices in Sept ’22 – frankly It’ll come down to whether our investors still feel inclined to open their cheque books as we come out the other side.
From Peter Stierlin
Some photos of my TC108G restoration, coachwork nearly finished and ready to be delivered to the trimmer
From Andrew Snell
Hi, I thought I would share a few images of how my 1933 Alvis Firefly restoration is progressing now that I have some unexpected time released to concentrate on it!
This Firefly was owned for the last 65 years by a fairly local chap in Oswestry who carried out the most comprehensive restoration back in 1960 using the skills and parts supplied by the Alvis factory and he managed to completely rebuild the rolling chassis including all running gear, engine etc. He even had a new ash frame built for the original Cross and Ellis 4 seater body. Sadly life got in the way and the project was mothballed back then. It sat in a barn for the proceeding 60 years until he very reluctantly sold it at Brightwells last year.
It ended up with me via the guy that bought it as a happy accident when another friend of mine swapped the car for one of his and asked if he could store in in my garage. I couldn’t resist it and bought it!
So work began and it quickly became clear that the rolling chassis, engine etc just needed cosmetic attention and reassembling…it really was a first…a total restoration that required no new parts for all of chassis and engine. When I took the old surface rusted brake drums off they revealed a factory new brake system. Same was true for the engine…all in bits but in as new condition and just had to be assembled. It started first time!!
The ash frame was solid albeit a few unwanted wiggly visitors that were quickly wormed out of existence. The body was thankfully all there…pretty rusty in places but was all salvageable apart from the door skins and the running boards…all of which were remade in steel.
So during the current crisis I have been able to accelerate the restoration massively as I had all the chrome etc done a while back and was sitting on my shelves. Even the wiring harness is brand new (1960 issue).
I do have a remaining issue in trying to sort out how the brake mechanism works under the drivers feet area…there is something missing and I don’t know what. This shows there is a cylindrical peg sticking at right angles from the chassis rail…was this somehow used to connect the brake pedal shaft to the brake light? Any thoughts would be fantastic!
I have the seats re upholstered but currently stuck down in Cardiff and the door cards etc remain to be releathered. But so nearly there and I do look forward to 1. attending the first Alvis rallies when they kick off and 2. is reuniting the Firefly (that I affectionately all ‘Buzz”) with his previous owner who still lives in Oswetry area. That will be a very emotional day as he really did not want to part with it!
On this day one hundred years ago the first experimental Alvis 10/30 car was completed. To celebrate this as best we can, here are some of the photos and messages received in the last few days…
From Hans van Tongeren in the Netherlands a small gathering at Galerie Aaldering in Brummen after the Louwman exhibition:
From Mark Jenkinson news that the restoration of his Speed 25 Charlesworth saloon 14468 BTM 509 will soon be completed.
From Harry Hawkins in Cumbria
I sent this photograph of OJ 690 some years ago and I received back in reply a photograph of the car rebuilt as an open tourer. At that time it belonged to a person living near Halstead in Essex, this would have been around 2010.
I lived at Gosfield which is 3 miles from Halstead from 1970 to 1980 and was never aware that OJ690 had been rebuilt and kept nearby! I sold the car in 1964 when I became unable to store it securely following a timing fault which I could not repair despite taking the engine out and resetting the timing several times, I was single and itinerant at the time.
I had the Austin Seven ‘Chummy’ for about a year having found it in an orchard and paying £10 for it.
From Rick Graham in Cornwall
This photo is from your collection -owned by a person I don’t know.
I owned this car but you can see the body has been considerably modified from when I owned the car in 1965- This pic was taken at Rycotewood college in Thame where I was studying engineering.
I was about 19 here – sitting on the bonnet of my Alvis Speed 20. I come from Henley on Thames. One of my friends father worked on a farm there, and lived in a tied cottage on a remote area of the farm, and because he had a workshop we used to go down there to build motorbikes and cars, and generally cause mayhem.
One day, he mentioned an old wreck of a car that had been stored in a tumble-down barn on the place for years, so I being a fan of wrecks- usually 30’s American (My first car- at age 15, was a 1939 Hudson 112!) went and had a peer through the door. I saw the headlights, and that was it!
I found the owner through the rent he paid to the farmer, and visited him. He’d not even seen the car for years, so I got the key and had a look- you couldn’t see it for dust- about 1 inch thick, and the bonnet was open with the head off and stripped down – piles of springs everywhere, and covered in rust!
I gave him what he wanted -30 quid, and we towed it into the daylight, took it to the farm I lived on, and started on it. My main memory of that was chasing the valve springs all over when the spring clamp slipped off a couple of times – I’d never seen the 9 spring valve setup before!
Actually managed – after changing oil, stripping the carbs and distributor, and generally cleaning everything up – to get it going!! Wonderful noise!
Next thing, of course, the clutch was seized! This was freed the easy way by towing the car with a tractor around the field with the clutch in until it let go with a bang – and it was all fine from then on.
The seats were shot – so I put a couple in from some other car which happened to fit, and off I went!
I used the car for a while, without too many problems as I recall, but the fearsome fuel consumption got the better of my apprentice wage, and I was forced to retire it, then sell it. Someone had given me a spare gearbox he happened to have laying in his garage, and I sold the lot as a runner, for £110, and thought I’d made a fortune!
Went out and bought a triumph TR3, and a Triumph Tiger 110, and still had change! Never thought I’d see it again, until I came across the photo in your archive! If you could pass this to the present owner – please do. [Can do – the owner is a Follower in Sheffield]
Not that long after I got the car, the barn was pulled down, and had I not had it it would most likely been scrapped- so I’m glad I saved part of our heritage!
I’ve been doing much the same with motorbikes more recently, as they are easier to store! I recently sold my 1937 Rudge to fund a divorce and house move! I would love another Alvis – or maybe a Bristol- had 4 of those as well- 400/401s because I want a car with no computers on to see me out!!
From David Hobbis
Hi, in an idle moment I came across your web site and located a reasonably recent photograph of this Speed 20 which I owned in around 1962/63 having purchased her for the grand sum of £65 from a dealer who granted a discount for the ‘poor synchro’.
I thought you and the current owner may be interested in this grainy photo (poorly scanned from a 35mm slide) whilst she was in my ownership. Sadly I only owned the car for about 6-8 months at the time, as a lad at the tender age of 17 years, I was interested in something modern.
From Robert Marsden
From Didier Katz
From George Zaidmann
In long term ownership, and participated in the 1991 Tour of Britain, this car was first used by the Police:
From Tim Perks progress on the restoration of his 4.3 Charlesworth saloon
and attach them in good resolution (preferably one per email).
Whether or not you have a handbook for your car, a digital version is often useful to have on a tablet or phone to refer to. If you would like one click on Handbooks.
While you are possibly spending more time at home, please think of the Trust and perhaps write the story of your Alvis. Even more usefully, now is a good time to update your entries for the vehicle database. Click on UPDATE YOUR DETAILS
Keep well and stay safe at home! Sit in the Alvis and think of journeys past and the ones to come. Don’t forget to check the fluid levels, pump up the tyres and grease the nipples so it’s ready to drive.
Last Week at Bowcliffe we received a file of clippings and photos from a fellow transport enthusiast who, like us, is tidying up years of collecting stuff and finding items long forgotten. So to relieve the boredom, here are some of the more interesting ones which you might be able to help identify.Now Bluebell, as LUM was christened, resides with Ron’s grandson Simon who has created The Motorist and has added more Alvis to his collection. Bluebell is a rare car with only about 80 Tickfords built on the Fourteen chassis. Tickford then made 300 on the TA21 chassis, 19 on the TC chassis and 81 TC21/100s before being consumed by Aston Martin Lagonda.
An even rarer Fourteen is this….
Continuing the four cylinder theme, where is this 12/60 now?Following the display if his Speed 25 at the RAC, Edmund Waterhouse has written about its history – The Story of 13668
This 1973 article from Motor Sport is also a good read..
A perfect match for the carpet, Edmund Waterhouse’s Speed 25 Charlesworth saloon graces the Pall Mall Rotunda this week.
The inaugural Alvis Centenary event at the R.A.C. Pall Mall H.Q. last October has been reason enough to assemble a follow-up feature, exploring previous connections between the two organisations in greater detail.
Probably the earliest of these came about when the R.A.C.’s third President: Prince George (1902-1942), younger brother of King Edward VIII ( TE21 27259 FJF 887 D ), took up the office briefly in 1942. Back in 1929, on June 7th, Prince George had taken delivery of a Silver Eagle TA 16.95, chassis 7712, UV 2648, which was uniquely bodied for him by Lancefield Coachworks. Prince George numbered amongst his personal friends another Alvis owner, the famous society photographer Cecil Beaton,( Speed 20 SB 11231 AXU 635 ). The third in line to the throne however met a most untimely end when the Short Sunderland flying boat in which he was a passenger, crashed into a hillside in Caithness on August 25th 1942, after which the R.A.C. Presidency was taken up by Earl Mountbatten.
The prestigious Pall Mall headquarters had also, on 19th February 1976 been the venue for a gathering according honours to famous racing driver and journalist S.C.H. ( Sammy ) Davis. This event was attended by representatives from the Brooklands Society, B.D.C., B.R.D.C., Aston Martin, Alvis, V.S.C.C. and l’Automobile Club de l’Ouest ( Le Mans ).
Some three decades later, the R.A.C. purchased, as a parade car, one of the 4.3-litre short chassis VdP tourers ( 14340 DON 313 ) Since then, the Club has seen its asset grow considerably in value, and it is regularly driven in events by the current President: Prince Michael of Kent. The car was first supplied to a Birmingham businessman, Walter Rule Nimmo, and has had a number of characterful owners, which included Jim Bidwell-Topham, co-owner of the Aintree Race-Course, and prior to him, an individual who had been a guest in one of Her Majesty’s custodial institutions. The accompanying photograph shows it in its original ‘battleship grey’, and is from the Peter Cameron-Clarke Collection.
The Alvis exhibited at the inaugural Centenary event in October was especially interesting, being chassis 13105, one of the 62 3.5-litre models made. It was to the order of Henken Widengren, the anglophile Swedish racing driver, then a resident of Bournemouth, who had previously owned a Silver Eagle (ch. 8108 LJ 1111), and the second SA Speed 20 made ( ch 9268 GW 15 ). Very early in its life 13105 was upgraded to 4.3-litre specification. Also worth mentioning is the fact that Widengren had finished 5th at Le Mans in 1932 with an Aston Martin which he co-drove with A.C. Bertelli, which neatly provides the connection with the coachwork on 13105 and indeed that on 9268.
The foregoing represents the assemblage of a number facts included in the forthcoming Alvis book by Dave Culshaw.
Amongst some miscellaneous papers a card appeared with this painting commissioned by the late Rod Yeend prompting some research as to why it was chosen. The snowy scene depicts three ladies taking part in the 1953 Monte.