POSED PROBED and SOLVED – ‘ The Saint and the Sleuth ‘
The strangely appropriate arrival in my letterbox on St. Patrick’s Day – of a photograph relating to a Dublin-registered Firebird made my day, being one previously unknown to my Register.
The image came from Richard Mitchell, AOC member 679, who tells me that it was taken on the beach at Sandbanks, Dorset during the hot Summer of 1957. Young Richard is on the left. Interestingly too, in the background, under a protective sheet, is a Lancia Aprilia. a remarkable device in its own right, being an unusual example of pillarless monocoque construction. That factory however managed to fabricate a base unit version for supply to coachbuilders. Wonder how this would have fared with the DVLA’s ” two axle, rigid body ” appellation ?
Now, a number of followers have enquired in the past, how it is possible sometimes to identify and date such vehicles as this Alvis from a visible registration number. Hence ~ an explanation using this previously unknown Firebird as an example :
There are a number of publications, now sadly out of print, reference to which can often tell us the first registration number issued by each taxation authority on January 1st of each year.
The Dublin entry is quite specific in confirming that Z 5866 was the first mark of January 1935, and Z 6550 the first in January 1936. A simple mathematical calculation thus tells us that the Dublin office were averaging an issue of 1.88 vehicles per day over the 1935 year, and
a similar calculation would suggest that it would thus take about 100 days to reach the Z 6054 of Richard’s photograph.
Over now to the Works Sales Ledgers, seeking compatible Firebird coupe despatches. ( Only 97 such made and of these very few not already accountable for by registration number ). Here there is a Eureka moment, for there is only one such car conforming to the criteria, being chassis 12518 which left the factory on April 4th 1935, for the Grafton Motor Company of Dublin. Ergo , another gap fortuitously filled.
Half the title of this piece mentions a sleuth, an aspect relating to another of Richard’s photographs which arrived in the same post. Here is shown a well-known SA Speed Twenty VdP tourer number 1982, chassis 10182 / AJJ 585. The ‘sleuth’ , and first owner of this device was Dr. Harold Dearden, born 13/11/1883 in Bolton (joined AOC in April 1960 as member 1824 – died 6/7/1962.) Dearden was one of Britain’s most eminent criminologists, and wrote many books on crime detection, notably :
Mind of a Murderer ( 1930 )
Death under the Microscope (1934 )
Devilish but True ( 1948 )
Aspects of Murder (1951 )
( The paragraph above is from the forthcoming book : ‘ Alvis Society ~A Century of Drivers ‘ )
Interesting that when the photograph was taken, 10182 was clearly in everyday use, and has a VSCC badge prominently displayed. It is parked on a ‘Woodstock Avenue’. Can anyone identify this location ?