Turneth the wheel, roll out The Alvis.

As our cars look to venture forth, many just on Sunny days for short jaunts, twas not ever thus.

The 1954-55 AOC Membership Year Book declares a time when Fourteens were out mixing it with the best!

On the 7th/8th May 1955 ‘A Night Rally was held. The Bentley Drivers Club and The Lagonda Club were invited and 17 cars took part. The weather was terrible for most of the night but even so it was a most enjoyable ‘do’. The start was from the Hodder Bridge Hotel near Clitheroe following a route of about 150 miles through the Lake District and back to the Hodder Bridge Hotel for Breakfast. Out of this group of fine motor cars a certain Mr H.P. Allen came 3rd in his TB 14, chassis 23517, NHT 11. 4th was a Bentley and 5th a Speed 20- shame. Sadly we have no idea what happened to the TB 14, Mr Allen moved on to a TC 21/100 after a few years and then left the Alvis Owner Club in the 1960s.

  Arthur Varney’s registration of an Austin 1200 might have had something to do with Alex Issigonis at Alvis.  After he designed the Morris Minor he had a spell at Alvis and designed a car with a  2.5 litre V8 engine.  A prototype was built, if OJO 697 was registered around the same period, and if Austin and Morris had joined forces by that time, then it just might be a lead worth following? the following has the best provenance possible from a Senior Alvis Executive.

 ‘On the day that the Austin (or Morris) 1100 was announced, there was a flurry of activity at Alvis, with orders for the maintenance department to completely destroy the prototype car.   (One of the apprentices wanted to liberate a completely standard Laycock overdrive unit on the vehicle, but that too was cut in half with a blow torch.  It was he that told me the story, which must have happened in 1962 or 1963.)  Apparently when Issigonis left Alvis he took with him some intellectual property rights and Alvis should have destroyed the car at that time.  I understand that the interconnected suspension on the 1100 (which was announced with a great fanfare, as an amazing innovation) was included in the Alvis prototype.  A very large roll of drawings (always referred to as “Issigonis”) survived well into the 1980s, in the corner of Alan Russell’s office, when he was a Chief Designer and a V8 cylinder block lurked in the basement some time after 1970.’

As the Fourteen related indexing of old Bulletins continues slowly but surely the indices will soon be updated and there is more useful information that you can put your hands on via old Bulletins, either paper or electronic, see Articles Index. A reminder to those who still do not have access to this wealth of informed knowledge is that for the modest sum of about £30 it can still be acquired in stick or disc form. Go to the main Alvis Archive Trust site alvisarchive.com for details. As a postscript, in Bulletin 403, you can find an index to technical Articles written between May 1978 and April 1992. Many may not relate specifically to Fourteens but may cover similar topics to those where information is required and not immediately sourced by reference to the Fourteen Articles schedule.

 For those with a Special interest in the Mulliners Saloon the Article on pages 12-16 of Bulletin 401, April 1992 makes fascinating reading. Written by a gentleman who joined the drawing office there in July 1946 he takes you back through the early design origins of the Mulliners TA 14 body as he was told by those who were there at the time. He follows with his own experiences.

The car design below is his entry for an International Competition organized by the British Carriage and Automobile Manufacturers. He won first prize in that competition for his 1948 design for a Saloon body for a TA 14 chassis. Very interesting to look at how he modernized the design but not sure about the radiator although the TB 14 prototype without the Alvis radiator was around then. Does anyone fancy putting it on a spare Fourteen chassis?

Despite not putting the design into production he did design the Estate bodies  for Riverlee of Birmingham in 1948/1949.

  Despite the above the very first car on our chassis run was 23500 with a Charlesworth body from Charlesworth Bodies (1931) Ltd., Coachbuilders of Much Park Street, Coventry. Sadly on the 14th November 1940 it was oil bombed along with the Radcliffe Daimler Works and Coventry Cathedral. It goes without saying that was also the night The Alvis was also hit. The drawings below give a flavour of the Charlesworth site as it was before obliteration.

 Sometimes some of us might just be accused of being a little anthropomorphic but yes a family tree does exist for our cars.

Whilst there is a lot in common with the dignified Crested Eagle, our descent shows us following the lineage from the Silver Eagle through the 12/70 and onto the TA 14. Thereafter all the three litres lead through this line.

 For those seeking a Drophead now that Spring is here there is a smart one for sale with Kranz Old Timer in Germany. She is chassis 23249, original English registration was KYX 743, now 26-PT-01. Looks like the car has been restored and is two tone black and white with blue trim and black hood. The seats are not trimmed as Tickford and it is not easy to see whether the hood is lined. The back window is certainly wrong. Go to http://www.oldtimerservice.kranz.de to see more information and photos. The asking price asked is 52500 euros, the boys and girls are going up in price.

 They also have chassis 22069 ex Mulliners Saloon and now a Special. She was originally GFS 878, also KSL 410 and now GEL TA 14H.

She was for sale last year on EBay. Current asking price 20000 Euros. Shame I still have 2 people looking for Mulliners Saloons!

 For those contemplating a car purchase the following words by John Ruskin may give guidance.

 ‘it’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money. That is all.

When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do.

The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and obtaining a lot. It cannot be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run.

And if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.’

Wise words from the 19 Century.

 Another ‘Celebrity’ TA 14 owner is highlighted in an Article in Bulletin 410, 1993 by John Price Williams.

Frank Wootton OBE has been described as possibly the finest aviation Artist ever and he was also a designer for Alvis on fighting vehicles.

His brother was the manager at Caffyns of Eastbourne, this may have influenced the choice of car but more likely he was sold by the quality.

The Mulliners Saloon was chassis 23126, a Mulliners Saloon, body no. M1345, registration EPM 474.

John writes:

 ‘On one of the occasions on which Mr Wootton was asked by Rolls- Royce to picture a car for their brochure, he made an unusual suggestion. Rather than be paid for the commission, he told them. ‘I’ll paint your Rolls if you paint my Alvis’.

The Rolls was brought down to Sussex and the Fourteen taken back to Crewe. It returned with an immaculate finish. Has it stood the test of time?

To answer that we sadly have no record of the car since Mr Wootton’s ownership. Does she lie gleaming in some darkened garage?

 ‘Alvis-The PostWar Cars’ by John Price Williams is a highly recommended addition to the bookcase of any Alvis enthusiast.

 Anyone already in Oz or contemplating a trip down under will have another great tourist attraction to add to their list. The recently opened Gosford Classic Car Museum in Queensland is described as one of the top 5 Motor Museums in the world. It is the largest private car collection in the world. It also houses ‘Marilyn’, no not that one! The beautiful pale blue TB 14, chassis 23509, has been recently restored and now she ‘is a highlight in the Museum’. Whose a Marmite Car now then? The Museum houses 450 cars in a former retail warehouse comprising 11 000 sq. metres. The current value is about 75 million Australian dollars. For more details of the Museum use Google or another search engine.

 Finally for those in the Alvis Owner Club there is an interesting and unusual Article coming up in a future Bulletin. A Club Member recently travelled to visit the ‘Last Alvis in Uruguay, (sounds like the title of a film) the Mulliners TA 14, chassis 21697. Needless to say they do things a little differently in Uruguay!



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1 Response to Turneth the wheel, roll out The Alvis.

  1. Klaus Sercis says:

    I’ve just seen the car 22069 in Germany for sale. At the beginning I was very interested in this car. But as you wrote…it is a special….. As I am not absolutely awareness about this case “special” I think it won’t be the right thing to think more about buying it. Unfortunately it looks good. But today it has only two Brookline windscreens. No hood. And worst: No leather seats. I would be happy if you would tell me some of your thoughts. Regards Klaus

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