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 email@example.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.
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.
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.
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: –
A useful (10% from memory?) increase in power output
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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…..
Could the man of the left be Rowland Simmons?
Last heard of in the Netherlands in 1994, where is it now?