War and Peace

February 2014

“War and Peace”

INTRODUCTION

In February 2014, The Alvis Car Company Ltd. received an enquiry from a researcher in the U.S.A., Bill Kreiner, of Hawthorne, New Jersey, who is looking into the impact of WW2 on vehicle production generally, and upon Alvis Ltd. in particular.

Alan Stote requested me to respond to Bill’s enquiry. What emerged from this study seemed worthy of sharing with the aficionados of the AAT website, hence this latest “Posed, Probed and Solved ” feature, which is identical with that supplied to Bill.

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At the time of the declaration of war in September 1939 –  the five models in production and catalogued for sale were:

SPEED 25                    Its fourth sanction, a batch of 250 – 14549 to 14798

4.3- Litre                     Its fourth sanction, a batch of 150 – 14799 to 14948

Crested Eagle             Its tenth sanction,  a batch of  200 – 14949 to 15148

12/70                            Its first sanction,    a batch of 1,000  -15148 to 16148

SILVER CREST           Its third sanction,  a batch of    100 – 16149 to c16248

The aforesaid declaration of war brought civilian sales to a virtual halt. From that point on, even some of those already delivered privately, could theoretically be requisitioned into war service. This did not necessarily mean direct use by the three armed services: Army , Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, but possible allocation to certain people in ” Reserved Occupations “,(i.e. medical, security, government, inspectors of shipyards and shadow factories, key suppliers etc. )

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The above practice was not confined to Alvis Ltd. but was common to all manufacturers, and even stretched to Municipal Authorities, many of which had their mayoral limousines requisitioned into the War effort.

The specific position of Alvis Ltd. hardened on November 15th 1940, when, seeking to knock out Alvis’s military capability rather than the cars, a blitz of enemy action all but obliterated the Holyhead Road factory.

At the specific date above it can therefore be stated fairly accurately that of the models listed earlier :

SPEED 25                    had reached c. 140 of the   250 intended.

4.3-Litre                      had reached c.   72 of the   150 intended.

CRESTED EAGLE        had reached c.   10 of the   200 intended.

12/70                          had reached c. 744 of the 1000 intended.

SILVER CREST             had reached c.   21 of the   100 intended.

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Quite a number of uninstalled components such as engines, gearboxes, chassis and body parts which had somehow escaped the main conflagration, were somehow salvaged and continued to turn up on shelves in the Company’s Parts and Service facilities for many years after the hostilities had ceased.

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The post-war position of the Company was significantly different in that central government sought to persuade motor manufacturers to adopt a ‘single model’ policy, with a view to prioritising on export markets in order to earn dollars, rather than merely to satisfy an extremely hungry home market.

Thus it was that the impressive pre-war five-model line-up has been (with some reluctance) dropped, with the 12/70 being developed into the TA14 by judicious widening and lengthening in order to take more commodious bodies. (The very first development TA14, 20500, GVC 845 had a surplus Speed 25 Charlesworth saloon body ).

Mulliners of Birmingham who had bodied the vast majority of the 12/70 model were awarded the main contract for the supply of most of the catalogued TA14 coachwork, but took rather a long time to get its production under way, facing similar demands from other ‘ local ‘ customers such as Daimler.

The photograph was especially posed in defiant mode on November 11th, 1946 (exactly six years to the day of the Coventry Blitz ). It shows Alvis Ltd.’s three premier regional Agents taking delivery of the first completed production Mulliners saloons. W H Bates, of London's Brooklands of Bond Street is about to spirit away 20573, Mulliners M 1 , which would become registered as JLP 344. Keith Elliott, Galt's of Glasgow has been allocated 20589, Mulliners M3, which would shortly wear the Galt dealership registration G 1. Then there is W.J. Hanna, Hanna's of Belfast, 20655, Mulliners M 5, subsequently GZ 6178. The car in the far background might very well therefore be Mulliners M2 , chassis 20553, exported to Switzerland on January 15th 1947.
The photograph was especially posed in defiant mode on November 11th, 1946 (exactly six years to the day of the Coventry Blitz ).  It shows Alvis Ltd.’s three premier regional Agents taking delivery of the first completed production Mulliners saloons. W H Bates, of London’s Brooklands of Bond Street is about to spirit away 20573, Mulliners M 1 , which would become registered as JLP 344. Keith Elliott, Galt’s of Glasgow has been allocated 20589, Mulliners M3, which would shortly wear the Galt dealership registration G 1.      Then there is W.J. Hanna, Hanna’s of Belfast, 20655, Mulliners M 5,   subsequently GZ 6178.                     The car in the far background might very well therefore be Mulliners M2 , chassis 20553, exported to Switzerland on January 15th 1947.

Peace had returned, and the dealerships would start to fulfill orders again, even if, initially these would be of ‘ chassis-only ‘, to be bodied locally as ” Woodies “.