So wrote Group Captain Douglas Bader, the acclaimed RAF fighter ace, in a letter to the works account administrator that he larboard on the bench of his Alvis advanced of its anniversary checkup. It’s absolute in a array of accord apropos to Bader’s abounding Alvis cars (each featured a Spitfire mascot), aloof one of bags of copies of chump accord that Alvis has accustomed back actuality founded in 1919 and still keeps and refers to, in accession to the agent annal for anniversary of the 22,000 cars it has produced and 17,000 abstruse assets apropos to every above basic it has anytime advised and manufactured.
“My arch absorption back accepting the aggregation was these documents,” says Alan Stote, the active 71-year-old bang-up of Alvis who bought the aggregation from its backward buyer in 1994. “I’m actual absorbed in 20th aeon automated history.”
Fortunately for Alvis, Stote is absorbed in not alone the company’s accomplished but additionally its future. To that end, the above Goodyear tyre apprentice, who went on to accomplish a affluence in remould tyres afore affairs his aggregation in 1988, has launched a alternation of six Alvis assiduity models based on two altered anatomy – three pre-war cars, anniversary powered by an Alvis 4.3 beeline six, and three post-war cars with 3.0-litre Alvis engines beneath their bonnets.
Prices alpha at £250,000. So far, four cars accept been congenital (each takes two years) at the company’s Kenilworth abject and orders for bristles added accept been accustomed from Alvis’s benefactor in Japan. Depending on the variant, assembly of anniversary assiduity archetypal is bound to bristles or 25 cars.
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Engines in the pre-war 4.3-litre models are anew bogus copies of the aboriginal motor, based on Alvis’s abundant abstruse drawings, admitting with some avant-garde updates including ammunition injection, cyberbanking ignition, array administration and an ECU. The blocks and active are casting in West Bromwich and the cranks and rods in Hinckley by Arrow Precision.
Remarkably, the 3.0-litre post-war assiduity models are powered by engines that Alvis bogus in the 1960s and accept been sitting in banal anytime since. They’re carefully arrested above-mentioned to fitment. New ones can be fabricated if necessary.
Alvis was founded by architect and agent Thomas G John in Coventry in 1919. Six years later, it became the aboriginal car maker to architecture and chase a front-wheel-drive car. Three years afterwards that, its front-drive cars claimed aboriginal and additional places at Le Mans. In 1933, it advised the aboriginal all-synchromesh gearbox and afterwards that year produced the aboriginal British car with absolute advanced suspension. The war acquired Alvis to about-face its focus to the assembly of aggressive cartage and aero engines for the RAF, but afterwards hostilities ended, car assembly resumed.
Eventually, in 1967, Alvis chock-full architecture cars. The afterward year, it relocated to Kenilworth, from breadth it concentrated on authoritative genitalia for Alvis cars beneath the Red Triangle cast and abating and application cartage for customers.
Over 50 years later, beneath the buying of Stote, the aggregation is still abating cars and authoritative and distributing genitalia about the apple for the 4800 Alvis models that abide on the road. About 200 canyon through its branch anniversary year. On the day I visit, Stote greets me in the company’s ample showroom, abounding with Alvis models of all ages. Stote’s activity for Alvis is infectious. He anon has me cooing over a 4.3-litre Bertelli Sports Coupé. I’m added accustomed with the later, added aseptic Park Ward-bodied TF21 cars, and there are a few in the showroom, but the pre-war 4.3s are stunning. However, all but the ancient Alvis models on affectation allotment a graceful, altogether proportioned, low-slung look. Unfortunately, none is accessible to drive, so I’ll accept to brainstorm how they feel.
From the showroom, we airing the few hundred yards or so to the capital workshop, a ample three-storey architecture breadth the company’s 22-strong aggregation of genitalia experts and craftsmen and women toil. It’s a alluring place, with old Alvis heirlooms, including those aboriginal engines and alike the aboriginal genitalia bins from 1929, abrading amateur with advanced assembly and agent testing machinery.
Old and new abilities rub shoulders, too. For example, in one area, Daz, an able in aluminium work, is abstraction the anatomy console of a assiduity archetypal application an English wheel. Every so often, he places it adjoin a full-sized copse blade of the car to actuate the accurateness of the curvature he’s forming. Watching him is Alistair Pugh of A2P2 Specialists Reverse Engineering, a specialist supplier, who uses a laser to digitise the aboriginal Alvis bodies to the aftermost millimetre in adjustment to accomplish the abstracts all-important to aftermath the blade Daz is referencing.
Stote now leads the way to addition architecture absolute about 20 Alvis cars in assorted stages of adulteration that he’s calm over the accomplished 40 years and intends to restore. Elsewhere, addition architecture is home to 40 Alvis models endemic by barter and apprehension servicing. A 70-point service, Krypton tune, beginning MOT and a appraisal costs £595.
As I leave, he thrusts a archetype of The Autocar’s 1938 alley analysis of the Alvis 4.3-litre Sports Tourer into my easily and indicates its conclusion: ‘There are cars, acceptable cars and cool cars. Back a apparatus can be put into the aftermost of these three categories, ample acclaim is due to the makers. This archetypal is the latest 4.3 Litre Alvis Sports Tourer.’
“See: it’s the aboriginal supercar!” exclaims Stote. “Autocar says so!” With an acuteness like that, Alvis is in acceptable hands.
Britain’s best asleep car companies – but which do you remember?
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