An enquiry by the latest owner of one of the only three Speed 25s with coachwork by Offord was answered by Wayne Brooks with a comprehensive list of both these and the 4.3 litre cars :
There were eleven 4.3 Litre chassis bodied by Offord & Sons, plus two built by Carlton Carriage to Offord designs:
4.3 Litre SA Offord & Sons Drophead Coupé, chassis 13178, BRM 958, Dark Blue with Grey leather, consigned to Bonhams Goodwood Auction, 29 March 2020 and again in October when it was sold.
4.3 Litre SA Carlton Carriage Drophead Coupé, chassis 13646, CVP 537, Dark Blue with Grey leather, last heard of, by me, in 1966
4.3 Litre SA Offord & Sons Drophead Coupé, chassis 14316, DYW 68, Dark Blue with Grey leather, survives in Teignmouth
4.3 Litre SC Offord & Sons s/c Drophead Coupé, chassis 14333, DOM 655, Black with Red leather, survives in Germany
4.3 Litre SA Offord & Sons Drophead Coupé, chassis 14338, EWA 255, Grey, last heard of, by me, in 1937
4.3 Litre SA Offord & Sons 4 Door Convertible Saloon, chassis 14343, FGW 409, Blue with Silver leather, last heard of, by me, for sale with Vintage & Prestige in March 2019
4.3 Litre SA Offord & Sons Drophead Coupé, chassis 14345, EWJ 411, Chianti Red Grey Wings with Brown leather, last heard of, by me, in 1938
4.3 Litre SB Offord & Sons 4 Door Tourer, chassis 14800, FLY 1 / FLY 803 / ALA 797A / 84 FLY, Black & White with Fawn leather, survives in Stourport on Severn
4.3 Litre SB Offord & Sons Drophead Coupé, chassis 14803, DRW 361, Dark Blue Black Wings Dark Blue leather, Survives in Pulborough
4.3 Litre SB Carlton Carriage Drophead Coupé, chassis 14832, FXU 900 / ALV 100, Beverley Blue with Grey leather, Survives in Godstone
4.3 Litre SB Offord & Sons Drophead Coupé, chassis 14839, EDV 795, Black with Red leather, was sold at auction in Austria in August 2020 and remains there with a new owner.
4.3 Litre SB Offord & Sons Drophead Coupé, chassis 14840, ELB 1, Cobalt Blue with Silver leather, survives in Switzerland
From cars and photos I’ve seen none of the Offord bodied 4.3s were exactly the same.
In addition to Jens Roder’s car which has always been in Denmark (below) there are two other Speed 25s bodied by Offord:
Speed 25 SC Offord & Sons 2 Seat Disappearing Hood Tourer, chassis 14557, RTR 486, Dove Grey with Blue leather, Survives in Washington, DC see below:
Speed 25 SB Offord & Sons Drophead Coupé, chassis 13659, DUL 60, Dove Grey with Blue leather, last confirmed information, abandoned in the south of France due to the German invasion.
Captain R H M Sandeman and his Alvis cars
By George Butlin 3rd May 2012
In July last year my wife and I greeted new neighbours Jonathan and Gillie Edwardes who moved in next door to us. The name sounded familiar and I wrongly assumed that this was because of the celebrated athlete of similar name, albeit different spelling. During a conversation over the garden gate earlier this year, Jonathan, having learnt of my interest in matters Alvis, told me that he had been searching for a missing Alvis for eighteen years. The penny soon dropped; I have considerable correspondence relating to the car in question, owned by his uncle, and was soon able to show Jonathan his uncle’s address in 1937 and full details of the car. Someone with an interest in statistics might be able to calculate the extraordinary odds of his making exhaustive enquiries about a missing Speed 25, moving house eighteen years later, and ending up living next door to the Club’s Speed 25 Model Secretary!
The investigation commenced in 1994 when Jonathan asked the Alvis Owner Club for help in tracing the car that his Uncle Captain Robert Sandeman was forced to abandon in France following the outbreak of war while he was touring in the South of France on his honeymoon. At that time it was incorrectly assumed that the car was one previously owned by Robert, a Speed 20 SA Vanden Plas Semi Coupe de Ville with many unusual and interesting features. Jonathan was very pleased with the helpful responses he received from Malcolm Davey and Nick Simpson identifying that Car as Chassis 10616, engine 11068, car number 15477, body number 3022 and registration ALW 648. An article was published in Bulletin 418 in August 1994. Sadly the fate of that very elegant car is unknown.
However a trunk full of Robert’s papers was subsequently discovered in the attic of Robert’s younger brother, and which contained family correspondence dating back to 1812, and including the log book and letters relating to the Alvis which is now known to have been the car used for his honeymoon. This is a Speed 25 drophead coupe with rare Offord coachwork, and which appears to be identical to that owned by Peter Bering in Denmark. It is thought that three such cars were built. The Chassis number is 13659, the engine 14069, the car number 18452 and registration DUL 60. The car was finished in Manders Dove Grey and was despatched in February 1937, unusually to Pass and Joyce and not to Charles Follett the London Alvis agents. Both this car, and the earlier Speed 20, had on the door the Sandeman family crest and the documents included the “Licence to use armorial bearings” for which the then considerable annual charge of two guineas was paid. Robert who was a member of the Sandeman Port family, was a passionate pilot and owned a Hornet Moth biplane shown in the photograph, which was requisitioned by the Royal Air Force and has been identified as having been broken for spares in 1945. In 1939 Robert had flown solo from Hatfield Aerodrome to visit his sister and brother in law in India. This was an epic 14,241 mile journey which he recorded with charming modesty in an article “On a solo trip to India”. His often frightening experiences included landing in Budapest with a ground wind of 93 k.p.h, having a close up view of Dr Goebbels while waiting for the weather to improve, staying in a luxury hotel in Basra where he was amazed to hear the latest London tunes played by the band, and making a detour to fly over the Taj Mahal. Robert also visited Fort Sandeman named after his ancestor Sir Robert Sandeman who founded it. On the return journey he flew along the North African Coast, then crossing the Mediteranean Sea to Italy via Sicily. At Genoa he obtained consent to land on a private jetty by the port. The accompanying photograph shows his take off surrounded by ships. After this extraordinary and brave undertaking, he landed back at Hatfield after thirteen weeks travelling, within 50 minutes of the time he had reported to the thirteen friends who had seen him off at 5.15 am on a drizzly and sleet afflicted airfield.
Robert reports in a very moving letter to his sister in India (Jonathan’s mother) how his honeymoon was interrupted when his bride Angie crashed the Alvis at Le Luc-en-Provence. He described his bride as “adoring flying and motoring fast”. The undriveable car was sent by rail to Marseilles where it remained when the French collapse occurred. Robert and his bride were able to get back to England via the only route still open- the Le Havre to Southampton steamer.
At the outbreak of war Robert enlisted as one of the pioneers of the British Air Transport Auxiliary, comprising experienced pilots who were needed because of the wide range of different planes they were required to fly. While stationed in Canada he was described by the Toronto Evening Telegraph as describing the Spitfire as “practically viceless”. He later trained for the perilous task of ferrying bombers to Britain.
Robert was tragically killed in a flying accident in Canada in November 1942, while flying a Catalina seaplane. Prior to his death he had made enquiries about the car through the RAC, whose acting secretary wrote “The French, under German rule, would enforce to the limit all outstanding liability, and in stating this I have fully in mind what happened after the last war when the French, as a whole, were fighting with us. Much the same conditions so far as cars were concerned, ruled then: numbers were left in France, commandeered by the Military, or were shot to pieces, yet at the termination of hostilities the French Government actually pressed claims against us for thousands of pounds which they considered payable as import duties!”
Following Robert’s death, solicitors acting for his younger brother, a clergyman, made enquiries of the RAC who in 1945 confirmed that the car was last heard of in a Garage in Marseilles. The Customs paper (Acquit-a-caution) remained with transport agents. The Club suggested that the French Customs might accept the car as scrap and discharge the Customs paper of its duty. The transport agents subsequently reported that the garage where the car was stored had been requisitioned by the Germans, who stripped it of its tyres and left it out in the open. The garage proprietor was allowed to cover it with a sheet. The following year a demand was received by Robert’s brother for extortionate storage charges, which he declined to pay. That was the last information received on the car and its condition in France.
In 1952 Robert’s mother Mrs Helen Sandeman had the honour of being the first civilian to lay a wreath beside the memorial plaque at St Pauls Cathedral on Remembrance Day, to commemorate the 157 men and 16 women of the ATA who gave their lives during the war.
After the discovery of the trunk full of documents, Jonathan Edwardes resumed enquiries in 1994 and in 1996 received a letter from Sir John Rogers, the Executive Chairman of the RAC Motor Sports Association reporting that the car was thought to have been purchased by a Captain Dewar USAF and shipped to Boston in early 1947. He further said that a friend of his had seen the car in the back of a warehouse in Rochester New Jersey in September 1977, by which time the car was painted white. There seems to be considerable doubt as to the veracity of this information; the ever helpful Wayne Brooks subsequently pointed out that there is no Rochester in New Jersey, whereas there are Rochesters in twelve other States. Wayne continues to keep his eyes and ears open.
There are therefore seemingly three possibilities; the car is still lurking in a French barn or secreted away, the car is in the United States in secretive hands, or it was broken up by persons unknown. Jonathan’s story of his uncle and the car is immensely moving, and the letters he has give a real sense of the emotions of his family members at the outset of war. He would love to receive any further information if only to be able to give the current owner the full historical background.