Thanks for sending these photos which span 1924 – 1965 and the globe….
from Tasmania, Gary Guiver’s 1924 12/40, chassis 2817
from Scotland, Chris Chilcott’s 1926 12/50, a field not a drive….
From Monaco, Guido Cantele’s Speed 20 SA chasis 9878 (but not yesterday)From New Zealand, Doug Dickson’s SB Speed 20 VDP chassis 11154From Australia, Jonathan Gill’s 13686 Speed 25 Charlesworth…and Max Houston’s 14314 4.3
while Tim Perks is getting there with his 4.3 Charlesworth 14327
From Switzerland, Dieter Schaetti’s McMullen Woody 14
Norman Blundell’s TA14 chassis 23308
From Scotland, Peter Martin’s TA21 Tickford “KAA went to the local Morrisons to pick up a click and collect order. PongoNo the new hound went also and was admired almost as much as the car which looks a bit butch as temporarily without a front bumper .Bruce Cunningham’s 25272 TC21 Mulliners saloon taken in 2019 at the Campbelltown Steam and Machinery Open Day (coinciding with Australian National Motoring Heritage Day). The actual location is in Menangle, a little village about 12,000 miles from UK, approx. 5 miles from Campbelltown, NSW, AUST. Here it won a “lucky door” prize.Doug Dickson’s TC21/100 25676Lottie’s Graber 26081
Peter Brown’s TD21 26107
From California, Andres Martinez TD21 26294
Robin Willmott’s 26295 TD21 Dhc…
Doug Dickson’s TD21 26670
Deborah Gold’s TE21 Dhc 27034
From Germany, Frank Nestmann’s TE21 27022Nick Wells’ 27134 TE21 which was far too grumpy to emerge from its den despite a promise to attend the Kop Hill Climb in September!
Never grumpy, Mark Seligman’s fine TE21 Dhc… 27242It’s not too late to send your photo.
Coen van der Weiden wrote to say “today is King’s Day in Holland so we have an extra long weekend.
A certain Mr. Paul Wouters created an extra link on Alvis in his website.
Until December 19th, 2019 he didn’t know much about Alvis, but with the help of the Dutch Centenary book and his camera he created a nice impression. The text is from the book, but then in his own words.“
The lockdown has encouraged some restoration activity and correspondence on regaining original registration numbers. Brian Davies sent his photos of DRF 437, a Cross & Ellis tourer he has owned for a very long time.“I thought you might like some before and (almost) after pictures of the Firebird. As you can see, the before pictures give an idea of the state of the car when it eventually arrived in Southsea, Portsmouth in late 2007 after around 40+ years being stored in garages, barns, warehouses etc. This pic is the current state shortly before the start-up of the engine after around 50 years of inaction. By the way it runs beautifully after having started almost with the first press of the ignition switch – all very gratifying and a great relief!
The car is now awaiting bodywork which is, of course, somewhat on hold as a result of Covid-19.
It was very interesting talking to you this morning and great to hear that you already have some background info on the car and its owners. I will, of course, be delighted to hear/receive any additional info you have on the car.
Many thanks for your help in this matter.”
With the help of DC and WB we were able to piece together the history of the car, the first owner in Staffordshire and the story of how Brian and his friend acquired the car from Ron Harrison who had been a neighbour of the late Apsley in Cornwall. Tony had published a photo of Ron in the AOC Calendar in 1999.AOC Calendar, April 1999, Page 11, photo of Ron Harrison in Firebird DRF 437 circa 1954 or ‘55 & comments by Tony Phillips-Smith: My next-door-neighbour (1/4 mile across the field!) Ron Harrison lent me the photograph below which shows him, just out of the RAF, with two jolly ladies, in the summer of 1954 or 5, probably in Droitwich, Worcestershire, at the wheel of Alvis Firebird Cross and Ellis Tourer, reg. no. DRF 437 (Chassis 13466), then painted metallic silver (!) with black wheels. The indefatigable Dave Culshaw can trace the car as far as Gosport in 1977. Does anyone have any later news? Ron (and Dave, and I) would love to know. Incidentally, Ron “sold” the car at the time of the first Suez crisis, for four pints of beer. Those were the days when men were men, and a pint was really worth something!
“Again, your photo of Ron Harrison at the wheel of the Firebird has really sparked off much interest from friends, neighbours and relations. For many years they’ve been hearing about this mystery car locked away in a garage that has long been keeping me busy, and short of ready cash, so, to see a picture of the car “in the flesh” is a real treat for all of us.
As I may have mentioned, my friend Mike and I were given the car by Ron, (probably around 1961/2) when Ron was living in Clevedon, Somerset, in exchange for some DIY/gardening work that we were doing for him. For the next few years Mike and I did a complete demolition job on the car in the mistaken view that we were conducting a restoration.
You say in the email that you last had news of the car in Gosport in 1977 but, although I moved to Gosport in ’72 when I joined the Royal Navy, as I recall I never actually moved the car to Gosport but that it was eventually moved from the Clevedon area, where it was languishing in a barn, directly to a furniture storage company in Chard in South Somerset in the late 70s when I was firstly appointed to Devonport based ships, then BRNC Dartmouth and later with the Royal Marines at CTCRM Lympstone. I then moved back to the Portsmouth area and it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally managed to obtain a suitable lock-up garage and moved the car from its long term home in store in Chard to the garage in Southsea.
Work on the car started shortly thereafter and, as of today, it awaits clothing in bodywork as much of the original has, over the years, been lost, stolen or deteriorated. The car has been restored from the barest chassis up and the engine, brakes, rear axle etc. refurbished, replaced or renewed and the ash framing completely replaced as the original Cross and Ellis woodwork was either rotten or eaten away by woodworm. The engine, however, having been silent for around 60 years, started last August and runs beautifully.
That, in summary, is the history of the later years of the “Firebird” as I know it and, prior to this, the Duplicate Registration Book (RF 60A) shows details of 2 previous owners in the Midlands before Ron Harrison comes on the scene in the mid 50’s.
I hope this fills in some of the detail of the “missing years” but if there is any further information you think I may have please let me know. Also, if there is any chance of contacting Ron Harrison I would be delighted.
Again, many thanks for your help in this matter,
As Apsley is no longer with us does anyone know if Ron Harrison is contactable?
Oh, yes, a comment below led to this from Ron…
My son, Lee has somehow found your archive and sent me a copy including the photo of what was once my Firebird! I bought it for £200 about 1954 when I was working at Oldbury, Birmingham.
I was then transferred to Portishead and lived in Clevedon, and was a member of the rugby club. Suez and petrol rationing put me off the road and Albright & Wilson wanted me back at Oldbury. The car needed minor attention. I needed to rehouse.There were two lads, whose names I can’t remember, in the team who were engineering apprentices that took an interest in getting the car roadworthy and on that promise I gave them the car for a couple of beers (each). In 1977 I moved to Cornwall and a few years later met Tony Philips Smith , a near neighbour ! We did a few Greatwestern runs and scrutineered some Le Jogs, and – the main reason for this missive – the Commemoration meetings for Major Harvey at St.Keverne. I have the 2003 programme which you are welcome to – where should I send it? Happy Memories !
We have also updated the Firebird page with a new listing, click Firebird
Robin Willmott wrote:
With the sun shining the Alvis all polished up and the Waxoil removed from the chrome the TF 21 was all ready for a drive, but with Covid 19 preventing all events, Bar meals or social meet-ups we were left with only one alternative, a run to our local Supermarket for a bit of social isolation. Whilst l waited reading the paper a BMW Mini owner drove by giving the thumbs up which which was most uplifting . So if the sun is shining in ten days time when we do our next shop we will definitely be travelling by Alvis.
When the Century of World Motoring was celebrated at Silverstone in 1985, Alvis were there in force.The moment I remember most vividly of this display was when Mike Smith asked for some information on the Grey Lady so he could so a piece to camera. He listened and looked and then without hesitation, in one take, did a superb description of the car to camera. A true professional.
In this year of the centenary of the first Alvis car, it is also fifty years since the death of Hermann Graber. It was he who was largely instrumental in extending the then life of Alvis car production of 35 years by a further 12 years.
35 years ago we took some twenty or so Alvis to visit Wichtrach where Graber had lived and built his cars. A new page which includes the contemporary report and previously unpublished photos is now available – click 1985 Swiss Tour
A TA21 radiator assembly seeks a new home, currently in Scotland…….leave a reply if you are interested.
I recently had some professional photo’s of my Cross and Ellis tourer taken for the business on a rather wet day just before Christmas. In the history file I have an owners letter from the early ‘70s and some hefty Charles Follet invoices from 1947 that suggest the car was used throughout WW2 by the WRVS for war time work, clocking up 100,000 miles or more. I’ve registered as an NHS volunteer and hpe the Alvis can be used for Voluntary work again a mere 80 years after the first time – A good story for the RVS, Alvis and classic motoring in general if we pull it off.
For context the car also appears in a promo video which you are welcome to share around the Alvis community and on our website – our project may interest others. Obviously everything is on hold at the moment but we are still aiming for late ’21 opening with first apprentices in Sept ’22 – frankly It’ll come down to whether our investors still feel inclined to open their cheque books as we come out the other side.
From Peter Stierlin
Some photos of my TC108G restoration, coachwork nearly finished and ready to be delivered to the trimmer
From Andrew Snell
Hi, I thought I would share a few images of how my 1933 Alvis Firefly restoration is progressing now that I have some unexpected time released to concentrate on it!
This Firefly was owned for the last 65 years by a fairly local chap in Oswestry who carried out the most comprehensive restoration back in 1960 using the skills and parts supplied by the Alvis factory and he managed to completely rebuild the rolling chassis including all running gear, engine etc. He even had a new ash frame built for the original Cross and Ellis 4 seater body. Sadly life got in the way and the project was mothballed back then. It sat in a barn for the proceeding 60 years until he very reluctantly sold it at Brightwells last year.
It ended up with me via the guy that bought it as a happy accident when another friend of mine swapped the car for one of his and asked if he could store in in my garage. I couldn’t resist it and bought it!
So work began and it quickly became clear that the rolling chassis, engine etc just needed cosmetic attention and reassembling…it really was a first…a total restoration that required no new parts for all of chassis and engine. When I took the old surface rusted brake drums off they revealed a factory new brake system. Same was true for the engine…all in bits but in as new condition and just had to be assembled. It started first time!!
The ash frame was solid albeit a few unwanted wiggly visitors that were quickly wormed out of existence. The body was thankfully all there…pretty rusty in places but was all salvageable apart from the door skins and the running boards…all of which were remade in steel.
So during the current crisis I have been able to accelerate the restoration massively as I had all the chrome etc done a while back and was sitting on my shelves. Even the wiring harness is brand new (1960 issue).
I do have a remaining issue in trying to sort out how the brake mechanism works under the drivers feet area…there is something missing and I don’t know what. This shows there is a cylindrical peg sticking at right angles from the chassis rail…was this somehow used to connect the brake pedal shaft to the brake light? Any thoughts would be fantastic!
I have the seats re upholstered but currently stuck down in Cardiff and the door cards etc remain to be releathered. But so nearly there and I do look forward to 1. attending the first Alvis rallies when they kick off and 2. is reuniting the Firefly (that I affectionately all ‘Buzz”) with his previous owner who still lives in Oswetry area. That will be a very emotional day as he really did not want to part with it!
On this day one hundred years ago the first experimental Alvis 10/30 car was completed. To celebrate this as best we can, here are some of the photos and messages received in the last few days…
From Hans van Tongeren in the Netherlands a small gathering at Galerie Aaldering in Brummen after the Louwman exhibition:
From Mark Jenkinson news that the restoration of his Speed 25 Charlesworth saloon 14468 BTM 509 will soon be completed.
From Harry Hawkins in Cumbria
I sent this photograph of OJ 690 some years ago and I received back in reply a photograph of the car rebuilt as an open tourer. At that time it belonged to a person living near Halstead in Essex, this would have been around 2010.
I lived at Gosfield which is 3 miles from Halstead from 1970 to 1980 and was never aware that OJ690 had been rebuilt and kept nearby! I sold the car in 1964 when I became unable to store it securely following a timing fault which I could not repair despite taking the engine out and resetting the timing several times, I was single and itinerant at the time.
I had the Austin Seven ‘Chummy’ for about a year having found it in an orchard and paying £10 for it.
From Rick Graham in Cornwall
This photo is from your collection -owned by a person I don’t know.
I owned this car but you can see the body has been considerably modified from when I owned the car in 1965- This pic was taken at Rycotewood college in Thame where I was studying engineering.
I was about 19 here – sitting on the bonnet of my Alvis Speed 20. I come from Henley on Thames. One of my friends father worked on a farm there, and lived in a tied cottage on a remote area of the farm, and because he had a workshop we used to go down there to build motorbikes and cars, and generally cause mayhem.
One day, he mentioned an old wreck of a car that had been stored in a tumble-down barn on the place for years, so I being a fan of wrecks- usually 30’s American (My first car- at age 15, was a 1939 Hudson 112!) went and had a peer through the door. I saw the headlights, and that was it!
I found the owner through the rent he paid to the farmer, and visited him. He’d not even seen the car for years, so I got the key and had a look- you couldn’t see it for dust- about 1 inch thick, and the bonnet was open with the head off and stripped down – piles of springs everywhere, and covered in rust!
I gave him what he wanted -30 quid, and we towed it into the daylight, took it to the farm I lived on, and started on it. My main memory of that was chasing the valve springs all over when the spring clamp slipped off a couple of times – I’d never seen the 9 spring valve setup before!
Actually managed – after changing oil, stripping the carbs and distributor, and generally cleaning everything up – to get it going!! Wonderful noise!
Next thing, of course, the clutch was seized! This was freed the easy way by towing the car with a tractor around the field with the clutch in until it let go with a bang – and it was all fine from then on.
The seats were shot – so I put a couple in from some other car which happened to fit, and off I went!
I used the car for a while, without too many problems as I recall, but the fearsome fuel consumption got the better of my apprentice wage, and I was forced to retire it, then sell it. Someone had given me a spare gearbox he happened to have laying in his garage, and I sold the lot as a runner, for £110, and thought I’d made a fortune!
Went out and bought a triumph TR3, and a Triumph Tiger 110, and still had change! Never thought I’d see it again, until I came across the photo in your archive! If you could pass this to the present owner – please do. [Can do – the owner is a Follower in Sheffield]
Not that long after I got the car, the barn was pulled down, and had I not had it it would most likely been scrapped- so I’m glad I saved part of our heritage!
I’ve been doing much the same with motorbikes more recently, as they are easier to store! I recently sold my 1937 Rudge to fund a divorce and house move! I would love another Alvis – or maybe a Bristol- had 4 of those as well- 400/401s because I want a car with no computers on to see me out!!
From David Hobbis
Hi, in an idle moment I came across your web site and located a reasonably recent photograph of this Speed 20 which I owned in around 1962/63 having purchased her for the grand sum of £65 from a dealer who granted a discount for the ‘poor synchro’.
I thought you and the current owner may be interested in this grainy photo (poorly scanned from a 35mm slide) whilst she was in my ownership. Sadly I only owned the car for about 6-8 months at the time, as a lad at the tender age of 17 years, I was interested in something modern.
From Robert Marsden
From Didier Katz
From George Zaidmann
In long term ownership, and participated in the 1991 Tour of Britain, this car was first used by the Police:
From Tim Perks progress on the restoration of his 4.3 Charlesworth saloon
and attach them in good resolution (preferably one per email).
Whether or not you have a handbook for your car, a digital version is often useful to have on a tablet or phone to refer to. If you would like one click on Handbooks.
While you are possibly spending more time at home, please think of the Trust and perhaps write the story of your Alvis. Even more usefully, now is a good time to update your entries for the vehicle database. Click on UPDATE YOUR DETAILS
Keep well and stay safe at home! Sit in the Alvis and think of journeys past and the ones to come. Don’t forget to check the fluid levels, pump up the tyres and grease the nipples so it’s ready to drive.
Last Week at Bowcliffe we received a file of clippings and photos from a fellow transport enthusiast who, like us, is tidying up years of collecting stuff and finding items long forgotten. So to relieve the boredom, here are some of the more interesting ones which you might be able to help identify.Now Bluebell, as LUM was christened, resides with Ron’s grandson Simon who has created The Motorist and has added more Alvis to his collection. Bluebell is a rare car with only about 80 Tickfords built on the Fourteen chassis. Tickford then made 300 on the TA21 chassis, 19 on the TC chassis and 81 TC21/100s before being consumed by Aston Martin Lagonda.
An even rarer Fourteen is this….
Continuing the four cylinder theme, where is this 12/60 now?Following the display if his Speed 25 at the RAC, Edmund Waterhouse has written about its history – The Story of 13668
This 1973 article from Motor Sport is also a good read..