Book Review

Alvis – The Complete Story by Matthew Vale 

Hearing a few years ago that Matthew Vale was wishing to write another book on Alvis in time for the Alvis Centenary, I initially had mixed feelings; first I was exceedingly glad that another author was going to print to celebrate the 100 years of The Alvis as a company, but was then worried how he could condense much of the knowledge already written about Alvis products into what I perceived as a more pictorial book as Matthew was on the hunt for further images for this book.

The book arrived only a week ago, in late May, and I have to say that in only an hour’s skimming of the contents, I was mightily impressed. Matthew has managed to interview a number of important individuals, such as Richard Joyce at Red Triangle, Tony Cox regarding the FWD cars, and a large number of owners for their impressions of the cars, as well as accessing a wide range of military and car museums. There is thus a vast range of new photographs of recent and current ownership and quite a number of historical ones as well. Yes, there are one or two rather washy older colour photographs that he either purchased or accessed which let the quality down but in general the illustrations are of a high standard and perhaps the occasional replica has slipped in, captioned as an original car; and the occasional typo, such as Vandan Plas.

What amazes me is the vast amount of text that he has included, with specifications and technical details in support of the development timeline. Clearly, he has done his research well, with an excellent and lengthy bibliography from all the right names in Alvis history included, right up to the car divisions assimilation into British Leyland; that cross-referencing has given a very detailed and accurate description of each model. There are about 120 pages devoted to pre- and post-war passenger cars and a further 40 pages on post-war military vehicles and aero engines, bringing the contents bang -up- to- date with the Alvis fighting vehicle legacy incorporated into BAE systems.

For the Alvis owner, or others interested in Alvis history, who have not purchased all the ‘detailed’ tomes by many distinguished Alvis authors, this is the ideal book to give you an excellent insight into the trials and tribulations of the manufacturer of cars, military vehicles and aero engines in what is perceived as small numbers but of the highest engineering standards and innovation. So, with only 190 pages, it appears to be excellent value for money.

I am very pleased to have added this to my ‘Centenary’ bookshelf.

Crowood Press, cover price £27.50 available at Amazon under £20 at the time of writing.

Steve Horne