What else does an English car wear on its head in the Australian heat?
Some years ago we were touring up the West Coast of Australia and stayed at a small Bed and Breakfast north of Geraldtown. Over Breakfast we were chatting to a German Professor of Physics and being served by a friend of the B & B owner as a favour due to the fact that the owner was away for the weekend. Somehow the conversation turned to cars in Australia and then onto Alvis. The lady interjected and said ‘my husband’s got an Alvis, would you like to come and see it?’
Later that morning we went to the premises, lo and behold, amongst quite a few classic cars was the above TA 14. The owner was intent on moving up to Darwin as the weather was hotter up there and he was hoping to open a small Car Museum, wonder if he ever did?
Talking of Darwin and the Northern Territories go to mvec.org.au and see a film tour of the wonderful premises they have for the Members of their Car Enthusiasts Club.
As an antidote to the heat perhaps the following extract from a letter to the AOC Bulletin in 1987 will bring down the temperature? The car is a TA 14 Special rebodied from a Utility in 1970 and was doing about 6000 to 9000 miles per annum.
‘I have no weather protection whatsoever, no windscreen-only aeroscreens, and on more than one occasion have been prised from the car at the end of a longish run with my eyebrows and moustache frozen solid by sub-zero English winter weather- not to mention the 70 mph chill factor. Come to think of it I must be some kind of idiot!’
Many of the Fourteens fall into the Major Coachbuilder categories, Mulliners, Carbodies, Tickford. Over on the main Alvis Archive Trust Site, alvisarchive.com there are some very interesting Articles written about these Coachbuilders. Scroll down the index list to find your Coachbuilder.
One Coachbuilder who definitely does not fit into the category of major Coachbuilder for TA 14s is the Benson Motor Body Company Ltd.. To our knowledge only one chassis , 21889, was bodied by them. The body was aluminium with detachable rear wheel spats. Original features were arm rests fitted to the front seats, rollers to prevent the windows from rattling and the biggest difference being the rear numberplate is built into the body with the spare wheel behind. Must make for a lighter boot lid!
The photo shows the difference to the rear of the car. Fortunately this unique car is being restored prior to export to Ireland.
In 1987, famous Motor Racing driver Rivers Fletcher was made an Honorary Member of The AOC. Rivers also used to present film shows and give Alvis related talks on cars/racing. Obviously very popular as he reported crossings of the Atlantic on the QE2 as a guest of Cunard. Should any Cunard Director be reading this. I am available to give lectures on Fourteens as their guest on any of the transatlantic Queens, just to keep up the tradition of course!
Finally as we are in ‘The Dog Days of Summer’ the following seemed appropriate.
Whilst researching some material from an old Alvis Bulletin this true story was a classic example of how things can go a little wrong at times but all ended well. Hopefully a biscuit was donated to calm furry nerves.
‘A car driver stopped at a level crossing as warning lights flashed and the barrier pole descended. The driver of a van behind ran into the rear of the stationary car. The drivers both got out and began to exchange particulars. A man walking his dog on a lead stopped to offer himself as a witness. The offer was gratefully accepted by the car and van drivers. The man tied his dog’s lead to the barrier pole and joined the conference. A train passed over the level crossing after which the barrier pole rose into the air taking the dangling, strangling dog with it. To save the poor creature the first driver moved his car forward with the idea that he could stand on it and reach up to release the dog. Meanwhile the railway signalman in his box had seen the dangling dog and promptly lowered the barrier pole which came down smartly across the bonnet of the car crushing it. Happily the dog was saved and the day continued to pass fairly uneventfully.’