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.
TD 21 Graber Convertible