ALVIS (Great Britain) 1920-1967

The Alvis took its name from an aluminium piston designed by G. P. H. de Freville, who was responsible, along with T. G. John, for the design of the first model the "10/30".

Then in 1922 Captain T. G. Smith-Clarke joined the company as chief engineer and he created the famous "12/50" of 1923, along with W. M. Dunn who was chief designer. The uncertainty of the company's financial state was reflected by the appointment of a receiver in 1924, though once production of the "12/50" got under way prospects brightened considerably. This pushrod-engined car was available with long-stroke (1598cc) touring or short-stroke (1486cc) sports form being replaced by the similar "12/60".

In its turn the four-cylinder theme was continued by the 1.5 litre "Firefly". Alvis played a progressive role in the development of front-wheel-drive in Europe. In 1925 they produced a low-slung sprint car, powered by a "12/50" engine mounted back to front, and the following year a l.5 litre supercharged dohc straight-eight grand prix car. In 1928 came the Front Wheel Drive production car using an ohc four-cylinder 1482cc engine, with the option of an Alvis designed and built supercharger and all-independent suspension. Although it only remained in production for two years a few straight-eight examples were also built.

A six-cylinder Alvis of 1870cc appeared in 1928, though the following year the capacity was upped to 2148 cc the model being named the "Silver Eagle": From this power unit sprang the successful six-cylinder Alvises of the 1930s: the "Speed 20" (2.5 and:2.7 litres), "Speed 25" (3.5 litres) and the 4.3 litre, plus the touring "Crested Eagle" and "Silver Crest". These well-engineered cars were among the handsomest thoroughbreds of their day and also some of the fastest. At one time the 4.3 model was one of the quickest saloons in the British market being capable of over 100 mph. In 1933 the company's progressive technical outlook was reflected by the last-named model, which had independent front suspension and an all-synchromesh gearbox. Not that four-cylinder models were neglected. George Lanchester was responsible for the design of the "12/70" which replaced the Firebird of 1935 in 1938.

After the Second World War, Alvis adopted a one- model policy, the "TA 14" appearing in 1946, having evolved from the pre-war "12/70". Its four-cylinder pushrod engine was of 1892cc. This cart-sprung model survived until 1950, when it was replaced by the six-cylinder "TA 21", with a 3 litre engine which produced 90 bhp. This in its turn was succeeded by the "TC 21 / 100" with a guaranteed 100 mph, though this was dropped in 1956. That year the gracious Graber designed saloon appeared on what was basically a "TC 21 / 100" chassis and in 1959 it was named the "TD 21", evolving into the "TE 21" in 1964. The following year the company was acquired by Rover, private car production ceasing in the summer of 1967, though military vehicles are still being manufactured.

1959 Alvis TD 21 Graber Convertible