Those magnificient men in their racing machines

Long before the name of Alvis was a gleam in T.G. John’s eye, the world of British Motor Racing was born.
Probably if the question was asked in a Pub Quiz, many would submit the name of Brooklands but they would be wrong.
In May 1902, cars hurtled along the Bicycle Boulevard, De La Warr Parade at of all places Bexhill upon Sea.
The 8th Earl De La Warr, Chairman of Dunlop had got together with the RAC’s predecessor organization and thousands attended the event with over 200 entries.
Cars hurtled down the straight in time trials and even more terrifying would have been the sight of 2 cars racing side by side, some 8/9 litre Leviathans. The age was also somewhat before ‘Health and Safety!
Another first was achieved by the first French Motor Racing Victory on British Soil, no doubt doing little for entente cordiale!
Earl De La Warr had plans to develop a large race track outside the town but the plans came to nought. Motor Racing moved to Brooklands in 1907.
The RAC approved the designation of Bexhill as the home of British Motor Racing after extensive research by Brian Hazell. For further reading, Google Bexhill Motor Racing and there are some lovely photos of the event courtesy of Alastair Hazell.
So when musing over the exploits of the TA 14 Racing Car at Le Mans, remember, the link goes back to Bexhill on Sea.
More next month.

Fourteens were exported all over the world when they were new but only one had the honour of being the one exported to Finland.
More next month.

As a postscript to the reemerging of the Carbodies Drophead in India, an AOC Member recalled seeing the car in India in 1969 and talking to the previous owner and next month there will be photos to prove it!

OPU 438, chassis 22302, Tickford Dhc., mentioned last month has been snapped up and we look forward to seeing her with her new owner.

The bargain complete Tickford for sale for £6000 has also been snapped up and moved to Wales.

The mostly restored TB 14 has also sold but for anyone who missed her, there is a running and part restored one in Germany that could be available to discuss with seriously interested parties.

A very interesting Utility, Coachbuilder unknown, is soon going to come up for sale, chassis 21954, CRS 788.
Formerly owned by the late Tom Poole, it is believed to be the only car he ever sold. A gentleman was over from Tennessee some years ago buying up Morgan spare parts to take them back to the USA. He needed a car to collect up the spares and ship them. He bought this car and duly shipped the spares back. She (Tilly) then passed through the hands of several owners before returning to the U.K. Must have had some interesting experiences.
She is a very attractive and unusual Utility with a narrow back and predominance of glass, absolutely oozing 1940s style, a real headturner. Photos will be be available on Gallery 1 very shortly. She is a complete running car but would benefit from some more restoration.

The gentleman looking for a TA 14, as mentioned last month, has been beguiled by a 3 litre and acquired the next Model on, a Tickford TA 21, next best thing to a Fourteen! There is a very interesting Article in AOC Bulletin 398 showing the development of the TA 21 from the TA 14.

For those who wish to expand their stable into 3 litres there is a very nice one that has just now become available. SNW 9, Chassis 25100 is the first of the 100 series and is described as being ‘surprisingly quick’ and similar in performance to a TC 21. I can send photos and put you in touch should you want to talk with the owner.

The Alvis Archive Trust is now actively seeking material for it’s new premises, details on the main site, Should you have interesting Memorabilia make contact with them to see if it is of interest. The Trustees are working to transfer material and it should soon become a very interesting place to visit.
For those who have not bought the disc or stick of all the old Bulletins and programmes up until recent times now is the time to do so. For an Alvis Owner Club Member you can receive the disc for a minimum donation of £25 or otherwise £50 to become a Friend of the Archive Trust. Your computer must be capable of reading a dual layer DVD, otherwise a USB memory stick can be supplied instead for an extra £10. You can use the index on this site. Also Adobe reader (free download) enables you to read the contents and search for specific items using shift+ctrl+F. Can take about an hour. Well that’s it for the tech bit!

A Jack Hawkins film features a Tickford with the number plate LPL 271. This plate is not known to us but could have been put on the car for filming. Unfortunately the film has been taken off the ‘you tube’ site as posting it up had infringed copyright. Will be interesting to see the film when located else where. The name is ‘She played with Fire’ but also called ‘Fortune is a Woman’.

Another potential Pub Quiz question would be how many Alvis Cars are estimated to still exist? See the end for the answer, maybe more than you think and they are still emerging.

Out of the blue we have information relating to a Mulliners TA 14 that had disappeared from sight nearly 70 years ago. The car is chassis 23722 and has the unusual numberplate of FF 7788, not transferable. 7788 is a good Poker hand. Evidently the car was owned by a professional gambler who arranged a garage for the car and paid the first month’s rent. He then disappeared over 30 years ago. Not Lord Lucan as far as we know. The car was last taxed in 1973. The car is in pieces and in very urgent need of a new home.

Next time you look at your sump or spare sump, see if there is a counter take off point on the nearside adjacent to the oil pump. Should you find this on a TA 14 then you have one that was made for a TB 14 that may be sought after by the owner’s of TB 14s and be somewhat more valuable.

When Factory Records were completed for our cars, many of them, including Carbodies and Mulliners showed the body number given by the Coachbuilders. Unfortunately this was not done for most of the other cars including Tickfords. We are trying to fill in as many blanks as we can so if you have a Tickford please check the body number and let me know. It will be a 4 digit number starting with 2. There is an even bigger complication in that the body numbers did not run sequentially just for Alvis but were mixed up with the other cars bodied by Tickford. The numbers were stamped on the rear of the original pram irons, written on the wood behind the dashboard and also on the back of each piece of wood trim. When checking the wooden trim pieces it is important to check two pieces of wood at least as there are instances where the wrong piece of trim was used, for whatever reason, all those years ago. Well it beats train spotting!

Fewer people fettle their own cars these days to the degree that it was done years ago. Many of our spares can be quite expensive so a description of exhaust system fettling has been quite inspirational. The recent action report below, with the permission of the author, is unedited to ensure the full experience is conveyed!

‘Adapting Toyota Yaris downpipe and front silencer box into Alvis TA14 second silencer box and tailpipe

I got the exhaust parts from EU Car parts and Exhaust Distributors (Cambridge Branch).
The part number is TY617.
It is a Yaris 13VVTI 16V HB 5/02-12/05
(All the above figures and part numbers taken from the sales invoice.)

So that’s The Ingredients…..
The Method involves two blokes, a fair amount of standing about and some head scratching.

(Tea may be drunk throughout…….)

First, measure carefully.


Offering up the new part to the existing old part which has been hung back on the car gives the best clue as to where to make the first cut.

You need to cut off the Yaris manifold flange and the curved part of the downpipe (some 4 – 6 inches…. this may vary from car to car….) and throw it over your shoulder into the long grass.

Now get a socket of appropriate size and, using some percussion engineering, (put the socket in the pipe and hit it several times very hard with a hammer), spread the short end of tube the other side of the silencer box to which you have just made the cut to accept a joining piece that will go inside the new section and inside the old section (still sound on my car…… if you need a full system, then more research and experimental work is required.)

It’s handy to have some straight tube of the right dimensions in stock.

If you don’t, either go and beg a bit from the scrap bins at your friendly local Exhaust fitters (it’s amazing how helpful some people are when what you are trying to do is explained thoroughly and politely….), or go to a steel stockholder and see what they can do (interior and exterior measurements essential so add ‘vernier caliper’ to the tool roll if you can’t face turning up with the various bits and stuffing bits of pipe on until you find one that fits……)

You now need a lot of heat. a strong, firmly mounted bench vice and a long lever.

We used a Bernzomatic gas torch for heat and, with the new part firmly held in a Record Fitter’s Vice, heated the appropriate bends up to cherry red, then levered the exhaust to where we thought it ought to be by stuffing a four foot trolley jack handle down it and tweaking gently.

This was done in two stages, with different bends getting the treatment each time.

Drink tea for a while at this point: The modified part will now be at the “effin’ ‘ot” end of the temperature spectrum and should be left to cool until safe to handle.

Here, a combination of luck and skill (the reader can supply their own ratios here…..) resulted in us getting it to line up perfectly when offered up to the car first go!

It doesn’t need that much!

The tailpipe was then fabricated from a length of straight stainless tube that we had been keeping because “it would come in useful one day”.

If you don’t have any of this, then refer back to previous comments regarding scrap bins and stockholders.

Two things to bear in mind: you will need to cut 3-4 inches off the pipe exiting the first silencer box on the TA14 side of the system to bring the Yaris silencer box away from the rear axle/diff. You will need to insert a joining piece here too.

Make your own measurements and line it all up carefully by sight , comparing it with the original back box and tailpipe, before cutting anything…..

Also we used pipe of closely fitting interior and exterior diameters throughout,, so when bolted up using exhaust clamps and a healthy dose of silicon sealer on all slip joints, it was gas tight when we ran the engine.

So it can be done…..

If attempting this yourself, remember this is just a guide: you will need to make your own measurements as no two TA14s are the same and your exhaust may have been “modified” (see also ‘bodged’ ,’buggered about’ etc ) to accept different modern parts previously.

When buying the Yaris part, I turned up at the Exhaust factors with the TA14 bit under my arm on a quiet Saturday afternoon. (Crucial this – go when they’re rushed off their feet with Trade enquiries and you’re bound to get very short shrift indeed…..) and wandered around the warehouse with the guy until we found a section that looked like it might fit, as indeed it did.

Use the Yaris part number as a starting point but be prepared to adapt and improvise.

If you think this all seems like a lot of hard work, then consider that a well known and respected bespoke exhaust supplier quoted me £700 plus Vat at 20% and carriage for a full TA14 system in stainless.

A whisker under £50 to get FFU 297 MOT-worthy in the exhaust department plus a day’s worth of sodding about seemed a good deal.

It’s all part of the fun!’

For more descriptions of the restoration project of chassis 22814 use a search engine to go to WB Pippin Alvis and read much more. The highs and lows of the restoration.

Finally as we enjoy the delights of the summer with our cars the following puts into words the enjoyment of Fourteen ownership, in this case a Fourteen Special that you may see on the Liskeard Peninsula having fun roaring around the country roads.

My jolly Alvis

You can reckon on an Alvis to be a jolly car
There are many other lesser makes that never get that far,
I’ve had my jolly Alvis for more that I can say
I had had hair, and younger, when it bore the light of day.
You could say it was my hobby, to keep it on the road,
But people in my village now, just think of me as Toad.

My Alvis is a special, and Alvis through and through
It’s only made of Alvis bits as only Alvis do,
It’s open and it’s airey , as specials tend to be,
It’s practical and cheerful and all designed by me.
I’m sure Mr Johns would like it, if he could take the wheel,
Solid engineering quality, that comes out in the feel.

For years it’s been our family hack, and taken kids to school,
Many trials and competitions and casual is the rule,
We call her Aunty Alvis, she’s always been around,
Pulling trailers full of muck or seaweed, logs, boats or anything else we’ve found,
A sunny day with her ears pricked, we’ll speed the lanes for miles,
Then return to her stable, with the driver full of smiles.

I wrestle as we all do, with the mounting cost of spares,
Some R.T. bits are such a price they bring me more grey hairs,
But Alvises are strongly made, and go from year to year,
No wonder they make tanks now , and other battle gear !
‘Running Restoration’ is the trendy catch these days,
We put things off, but lots to do in many different ways.

I use old Aunty Alvis as often as I can,
It helps to keep things going,… and not going down the pan !
The trouble is the driver is getting older too –
Modern traffic is a nightmare, not like when the car was new,
I wave my arms at junctions, but no-one seems to care,
They think, ‘ Oh silly bugger’, and all they do is stare !

I’ve been a member of our club since 1972,
The Bulletin and Pink’un I always read right through.
We gather now on SWAD. Days, to meet our friends and chat,
Swop stories and experiences and…. acting like a prat !
We all uphold the Alvis make and honour Alvis gear….
Then drive off homeward with a smile, until another year.

Rob Moor

The answer to the question above. It is believed to be 4791. Do you know where 4792 is?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s