1919 ‘When it all began’

Talk about a ‘Stafford Model Pup’ and you might think first of delightful puppies. Not so for Alvis aficionados!
The ‘Pup’ was the original motorised vehicle designed by T.G .John.
There is one of these scooters held by the British Transport Museum at Gaydon, Warwickshire.
The original firm taken over by T.G.John was Holley Bros., fortunately the Alvis name was later adopted or we should all be driving Holleys.

The Alvis Motor Car Company has loaned their example to the Coventry Transport Museum as part of the ongoing Celebrations for 100 years of Alvis. The scooter was not highly rated at the time and must have been rather difficult to ride as the engine was mounted on one side. It was intended that the rider stood up but later in the production a seat was an optional extra.

When the first car came along the name Alvis was adopted and much speculation has occurred over the years as to the origin of the name. Whilst Geoffrey de Freville was instrumental in inspiring the first car project he denied being responsible for the name. This was slightly at odds with this snippet from the 1920 Motor Magazine.

Sadly things did not develop into a long term business relationship and he found another car manufacture in Wolsey to promote his designs as is shown in this advert of June 1923 for an early ‘Fourteen’.

The Alvis badge had a slightly shaky start with the first design upsetting the Avro Aviation Company. They felt it was too close in design to their badge design and could cause confusion. Their triangle originated from the Cape of Good Hope triangular stamp that had impressed their founder. Thus the redesign of the Alvis badge to the familiar style we know today. There is a 10/30 in the showroom of the Coventry Motor Museum still bearing the original design.

As part of the Centenary Celebrations a 4.3 has been put on display at the RAC Club In Pall Mall. Full details of this are on the home page of the Alvis Archive Trust on alvisarchive.com together with photos of the ‘Great and the Good’ in the world of Alvis historical knowledge and research.

Continuing the theme of research and provenance, Clive Taylor’s Book on Alvis Cars in Competition has now been published and is available from the Alvis Owner Club Site at shop@alvisoc.org and at the time of writing there are still copies available. The TA 14 racing car is of course featured in the book which has plenty of colour photographs.

A further photo of the car racing at Le Mans, No. 32 is shown below together with a quote from the proceedings. She was really showing her paces in the early stages of the 1949 race, perhaps reflecting upon the original logo with wings.

Some years ago an owner had his chassis returned from being sandblasted and noticed some rust holes around one front spring front mounting, He was concerned to see that both front spring rear mounting brackets were extensively cracked where they were welded to the chassis. The cracking was in the chassis itself, plainly visible from the inside. He felt you would not have been able to see the cracking with the car fully assembled.
Perhaps a case of what the eye does not see the heart does not grieve over until the car is stripped down for restoration or there is a failure.

An earlier Post on this site showed the cherished Tickford Dhc. of Ron Spinks and the performance of the Bray heater fitted to the car. Ron speculated in the Article about his expectations for the car and the heater in the 21st century. Pleased to confirm that ‘Bluebell’ is still with the family and being cared for by Ron’s grandson Simon. A check is now to be made to see if the heater is still going strong. Hot money says it is

An tip for anyone needing a new steering wheel or parts to repair one.
The Riley RMA steering wheel is believed to be a direct replacement.

There is a great selection of TA 14s and TB 14 for sale on carandclassic.co.uk for those seeking a new Fourteen before the weather closes in.
One of the rare TB 14s, chassis 23513 comes up for Auction at Morris Leslie Auctions Ltd at Perth, Scotland on the 23rd November. With a guide price of
£40-£50k and full restoration details she has also had the ubiquitous ‘Cocktail Cabinet’ fitted in the door.

There is also a good selection of 6 Mulliners Saloons, 4 Dropheads and 2 Specials, everything bar a Woodie.

Spares continue to come forward on eBay and Red Triangle have ‘new old spares’, new to the market so always worth checking. You have to sift through quite a lot of ‘spares’ that do not appear to relate to Fourteens.

With the news that John Wheeley retired from the Post of TA 14 Technical Advisor for the AOC earlier in the year, we lost the benefit of John’s great experience and knowledge of our cars. Many people have come back and reported how helpful John was able to be and what a pleasure it was to deal with him. All his vast quantity of TA 14 spares now have a new home and we wish him all the best for his new life in Northumberland. The vacancy for the TA/TB 14 Technical Advisor has been filled by Colin Newby who is also the International Director for the AOC. Those who have been in the Alvis world some while may remember Colin owned Walker’s Radiators. Colin’s knowledge of fettling Fourteens is probably unsurpassed and he has owned TAs and TBs in the past. His email address and contact details are in the AOC Bulletin.

Finally we shall all be hearing much about the founding father of Alvis, Thomas George John over the next few months but not much comes over usually about the man himself. On the main Alvis Archive Site are Links to the Antipodean Alvis Clubs. An Article contained in a magazine for the Alvis Car Club of Australia written by T.G.John’s nephew gives a deeper understanding of the personal and family side of his life. The Article is reproduced here with grateful thanks to the Club. When you have a spare hour or two it is well worth exploring the links to all the other Clubs shown on the list.


Now all that remains is to hope all Fourteens are tucked up safely in their garages tonight through to the 2nd November and perhaps spare a thought for all those Fourteens who have not made it down through the years and with apologies to Loreena McKennitt for a slight change to her words.

‘I can see lights in the distance
Trembling in the dark cloak of night
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
A spectral Fourteen on All Souls night.’


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2 Responses to 1919 ‘When it all began’

  1. Ronny Henrysson says:

    Always a joy to read your post.

  2. eileen4tatb14s says:

    Many thanks Ronny. Glad you enjoy them.

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