Ken has kindly made his personal archives available and we start with a brief pictorial gallery of his Alvis car ownership. Like most of his generation his first cars were his only car. Ken writes in Bulletin 559:
In 1932 the Speed 20 was the boyhood dream car accompanied by my first visit to Brooklands on August Bank Holiday. Here I saw the famous race between Sir Henry Birkin and John Cobb. Cars racing at the top of the banking at 140 mph when traffic moved at about 25 mph, caused Bill Boddy editor of Motor Sport to say that Brooklands was the most exciting place to visit.
In 1938 I acted as a marshal for the Mid Surrey A C West country trial. Though I did not know it at the time, I received instructions from Michael May and Powys-Lybbe, members of the 1934 Alvis Car Club. All I saw of their Alvis Silver Eagle was two black lines on the road as they accelerated away. After the war teaching evening classes helped to pay the bills and with a class every night Alvis transport was essential. The large matter of £25 could have left me a Riley owner instead of a Firefly owner.
The Alvis Owner Club did not respond to my enquiries but Saturday working and no parking problems in the City produced a note on my windscreen. I also had to do my first DIY and fit oil control rings.
Meeting Firefly owner Charles Chace in 1953 resulted in our running events and producing a monthly news sheet once we had acquired a list of members. A meeting was then called to wind up the Club but Charlie and I had made commitments. Charlie said he would be South Eastern Section Secretary if I would be General Secretary. Jock Stevens, before we could speak, proposed and seconded this and Charlie and I were stuck. Fortunately Bernard Stokes took on the monthly news sheet and other positions were soon filled.
More speed followed when Charlie’s Alvis owning friend Bobby Kok (second cellist in the new Philharmonic Orchestra) spotted a two door Speed 20 SA VDP saloon in Settle for rebuilding.
A drive home on sidelights, doubtful brakes and a suspect rear spring enabled me to garage it before my wife could ask unanswerable questions. Norman Johnson and I ran the first Alvis Day at Heston with Works support and to our delight, about 140 cars attending.
By 1957 I had a presentably rebuilt Speed 20 and an Army officer was the cash purchaser of the Firefly. The Brooklands memorial was unveiled, which I attended thanks to our patron the famous SCH Davis. Charles Ballard (London Alvis Service Manager) brought the Works FWD car, so I rode in the parade and also had a brief trip in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, then owned by a relation of my wife.
The Speed 20 was sold to a City friend and I acquired an excellent Speed 25 saloon. With empty roads and stow moving traffic and nearly 100 mph one lived up to the Alvis slogan ‘Master of the King’s Highway.’
My wife wished to drive so I bought a TA21 and she passed her test first time so I bought a TC21/100.
The Club entered a team for the Six Hours Relay Race which was hard work for everyone especially when the TB21 broke a rear spring and a replacement was taken from David Michie’s (Service Manager) car. Through a member we were able to hold Alvis Day at Crystal Palace. Several clubs rang asking how we arranged this. Our Patron ‘Sammy’ Davis attended as RAC Steward. Never having attempted an event of this size, his enormous experience was invaluable as he spotted anything that might go wrong before it happened. A 200 yards sprint to start ensured the right atmosphere.
J J Parkes and his close friend Sir Douglas Bader (who was very well informed on Alvis cars who flew with Alvis engines) attended and my wife and I had lunch with them. I wish I had a tape of their hilarious stories of dealing with mechanical problems. A member who wrote for the motoring press invited me to join him for the Goodwood test day in an Armstrong Siddeley saloon not designed for high speed cornering.
The TC21/100 was followed by a 3.8 Jaguar, a 2.6 Alfa Romeo and a Speed 25 tourer.
Wayne Brooks drove this on a visit from the States and 70000 appeared on the mileometer. Norman Johnson published the first version of the Vintage Alvis and in 1966 my first Alvis history was completed and I was pleased to have 400 orders before it was printed. My wife was less pleased when I had to go to New York and she was left to box and despatch the books. in 1967 Bill Boddy arranged the first public visit to Brooklands since 1957 attended by our new Patron Gerry Dunham with his father’s car which made the fastest lap in the last race at the track.
I became involved in the work which led to the establishment of the Brooklands Museum Trust Ltd. it was time for something new and my wife and I took up sailing – another long story.
I went to see a 4.3 short chassis tourer at American prices which required restoration but later found a Speed 25 SC drop head.
This was restored while we were in Singapore. After I had sold it there was an invitation via Alvis to a Buckingham Palace tea party and a new MC event starting from Woodcote Park and ending with a lap of Silverstone for which Mike Baker kindly loaned me his 3 litre saloon.
Work had the advantage of enabling my wife and I to visit owners in the USA, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore where we lived. I acted as a Concours judge in Australia and New Zealand and even taking one of the early Concorde flights to Bahrain.
Writing and correcting Alvis history still takes time while my son’s SA Speed 20 lives in my garage and taking me to the occasional noggin and natter while a grandson has just supercharged his 12/70.
K R Day