This car was dispatched as a purchase tax-free chassis on 20 September 1957 from Alvis Ltd, Coventry to Graber Carossier, Wichtrach, Switzerland. And the bodywork and engine upgrades to ‘Alvis Special’ specification were completed and despatched on 24 April 1958.
All series TC 108Gs, 24 in total it’s thought, wear coachwork by Graber itself or were built under licence by Willowbrook in Loughborough. All Graber -bodied chassis are unique although one cabriolet and one closed-coupé are similar in design. [chassis no. 25941, Graber number 719—the cabriolet; chassis no. 25942, Graber number 715-the special or closed-coupé] Without Hermann Graber’s contribution of providing working designs under licence, and the provision of ‘formers’ to construct the coachwork, Alvis had no other suppliers in the UK to continue Alvis production after the cessation of contracts with Tickford and Mulliners. This design concept was of great historical importance to hand-built motor cars in the 1950’s and 1960’s, as well as to the survival of Alvis Limited itself which was a major supplier of aero engines and military vehicles to UK governments for nearly a century. Graber’s designs were always innovative and influential in coachwork evolution from the late 1920’s onwards, on marques such as Fiat, Delage and Delahaye through to Duesenberg, Packard, Dodge, Rolls-Royce and Peugeot in the 1930’s to Bentley, Talbot-Lago and Alvis (TA21) in the early 1950’s.
This historic vehicle has covered approximately 175,000 km since new. It was originally painted Oyster grey with a pale grey leather interior; its second owner was not keen on the colour, however, and had it changed to the current aquamarine blue. It was repainted again in the early 1990’s with the interiors restyled blue. Though the coachwork has been lightly restored, the interior leather is highly original. It has not been modified cosmetically or mechanically since manufacture. Many will appreciate its lightness of line while at the same time here is a true 4-seater with sufficient luggage space for golf clubs and family touring. It had spent all its life in Switzerland until being purchased in May this year, driven back to the UK, and registered here. The current owner has previously owned both a TD 21 closed coupé and a TE 21 drophead-coupé while eagerly search for one of the finest designs by Hermann Graber.
Previous owners: 1 Warnery, Morges. 2 Brutschin. 3 G Michel, Interlaken. 4 Eliane Schleiffer.—carried out a restoration with ex-Graber employees. 5 Peter Fischer, Romanshorn.— who kept the car for over 20 years. Current owner: 6 Stephen Horne, Essex, who drove the car back over 2000 km from Switzerland. The goal now is to ‘preserve the car as a well-maintained example of a Graber-Alvis without over-restoration while retaining as many of the original features as possible’. Some dubious carpets fitted in the 1990s have been removed and replaced with Blue Wilton while the interior leather has been restored to Connolly blue to match the door cards replaced in the 1980’s.
First in Class (‘British Classics Late’), Best in Show, Warren Concours d’Elégance, 2018
Displayed courtesy of Steve Horne from Monday 24 September to Sunday 30 September 2018.