Another starring role at the RAC

A perfect match for the carpet, Edmund Waterhouse’s Speed 25 Charlesworth saloon graces the Pall Mall Rotunda this week.

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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.

Links – Speed 25

Sammy Davis

The 4.3




Lost Alvis friends


Nicholas Parsons who died today aged 96, pictured last year in Scarborough against an inappropriate sign. A film, TV and radio personality who retained his love of Alvis to the end. Photo Robin Willmott

Not an Alvis but an Atalanta, the last restoration project of Barry Ward, serial 3-litre Park Ward and Graber restorer who died unexpectedly on 20th December at the age of 55. The funeral service is on Friday 31st January at Reepham Church, near Lincoln and afterwards at the Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa. Our condolences to his parents who were to celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary the weekend of his passing.

Monte Carlo Rally – 1953

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.

24416 TA21 LWK 226 Monte Carlo Rally Mrs Dorothy Stanley-Turner Nancy Mitchell Rosemary Fotheringham-Parker
The Rallye plate confirms it is the 23rd Monte in 1953

A Pathe News film can be found on YouTube here.

Warning -watching this will lead to other films ….

The actual car survives and is on offer for sale.


Alvis on the small screen

If you are the present custodian of the TD21 3969 VT which appeared on the TV Drama The Trial of Christine Keeler, the first owner has a sheaf of early history papers to hand on to you. I had a telephone enquiry after the second episode asking when Alvis made a long wheelbase version of the TD21. Another knowledgeable follower opined that John Profumo actually drove a Jaguar in the 1960s.

The updated Speed 25 Register generated some satisfying feedback including this rather fine picture of a surviving Charlesworth saloon in New Zealand.

13679 Speed 25 Cw saloon
13679 Speed 25 Charlesworth saloon believed to have been a Works car CDU 822 (DU being a Coventry registration) before being depatched to Mumfords of Plymouth. AOC Bulletin 62 September 1958, Page 2:  Our member, V. E. M. May, of Sanford Ranch, Littleton, Colorado (15 miles south of Denver), will be happy to see Alvis owners passing through this region.  Mr. May tells me that when his Speed 25 was taken out to the States his wife drove it 3,000 miles in 5½ days.  The car now operates at an altitude of between 6,300 and 13,000 feet.

These photos were sent in by Jonathan Gill, the other New Zealand owner of a Charlesworth saloon.

13686 FPE 11 J Gill Aus
13686 FPE 11, starting life in Surrey (PE is a Surrey registration), and travelling the world via the USA and now in New Zealand

Both of these cars are in Batch 2.

The Register of Batch 3 of 150 cars is now available to view on the Speed 25 page together with additional photos.

There is also an updated piece on the 39 Cross & Ellis tourers.

The Speed 25 Charlesworth Saloon

Of the 391 Speed 25 models produced from 1936-40 the majority were Charlesworth saloons. Writing in 2002, George Butlin said over one half of the total production survived and that 151 retained their original coachwork, with the remainder becoming specials or rebodied as tourers or drophead coupes. A few Charlesworth saloons have changed custodians recently and one now lives close to Bowcliffe.

14569 ETV 550 Daniel Hardy (left) with his father Trevor (a TA14 owner for 60 years) with Daniel’s new Speed 25.
14569 Speed 25 ETV 550 at Alvis Day 1965, Crystal Palace (ES photo)


2019 – how did we do?

Once again we have had more than 20,000 visitors to the site in 2019 and this is where you were from…                                ….and this is what you looked at…                                 The Fourteen site also had visitors..                                …as did the 4.3 siteSo, although this gives us a good idea what you like would you be so kind as to let us know what you would like to read about in 2020? Just leave us your thoughts in the reply box below.

Happy New Year!


Last heard of….?

It’s the unexpected emails we receive with news of Alvis cars that have not been heard of for years which give us the greatest pleasure. Someone somewhere has quietly been taking care of a special car, not a member of any of the car clubs, or perhaps was at one time but no longer belongs. If this is you, we look forward to hearing from you with news of your Alvis. Just leave a reply below.

While the emphasis is on the cars the other products and their survival are also of interest. Questions about the uses of the Leonides engine have prompted a new page covering Hovercraft .

Coen van der Weiden has sent photos of the The Louwman exhibition which can be found on  Louwman

The auction sale of a Graber TC108G has prompted an article on Graber with some information not published before, Gstaad Auction.

2020 promises to be a full year of events and a new book is expected, Alvis Society