The Alvis Speed 25 is posited in many motoring quarters as the finest of all pre-war Alvis models. Under the partnership of the indefatigable T. G. John and the engineering guru Captain George Thomas Smith-Clarke, the Alvis company in just a few years had acquired the reputation for designing high performance ‘fast tourers’ with graceful, sweeping lines.
The Speed 25 had evolved from a lineage that included: the Speed 20 model introduced in 1932 (boasting the world’s first all-synchromesh gearbox); the 1935 31/2-litre model (engine capacity substantially increased from the Speed 20); the Speed 25 introduced in 1936 (retaining the same-sized engine as the previous model). Many would consider this 3571cc engine to be smoother and less thirsty than the 4.3 litre model that followed later. All these models boasted impressive acceleration and speed figures for the period. In the case of the Speed 25, 0-50 mph in 11 seconds, 0-70 in under 22 seconds, with a top speed over 95 mph.
This car was a 21st birthday present to its original lady owner, who on taking delivery toured Europe and won a Concours d’Élégance 2nd prize in Salzburg. Her uncle was a director of Hooper & Co, the coachbuilders. The factory record shows that the car was delivered to Hoopers incomplete with unfitted panels supplied by Charlesworth. Although the shape is unmistakably Charlesworth, many of the interiors and fittings are unique. The upholstery is of ‘pigskin’ hide.
The second and current owner purchased the car in 1989 and commissioned a marque specialist to carry out a bare-chassis restoration which was completed in 1992. The car received new paintwork and hood in 2015. It is finished in bronze over French grey with tan interior and fawn hood. All its specification numbers match the ‘Car Record’, the only replacements being: a gearbox (the original owner’s then boyfriend destroyed the original in 1942 on a racetrack in South Africa where her family had mining interests); and a cylinder head (which was replaced in 1989, the original found to be cracked). The current owner possesses letters from the original owner confirming its wartime use in Northern France when she was a member of the Women’s Mechanized Transport Corps, even having General Montgomery as a passenger. In 1945, the car still wearing its wartime camouflage, was used to support the campaign of the owner’s husband in Parliamentary elections. [See accompanying photograph with loudspeaker attached to the hood irons.] Later her son took the car to their Irish property for several years following which the car was repatriated to their Hertfordshire estate, idling in a barn.
The car was exhibited by invitation in the ‘Cartier Style et Luxe’ at the 1995 Goodwood Festival of Speed. A video of the drive up its famous hill records the commentator Richard Sutton describing it as ‘one of the finest Alvis’s in the world!’. Just this month it won the Club Trophy at the Hampton Court Concours d’Élégance, earning a place in the main Concours next year.
Displayed courtesy of Mr George Butlin from Monday 10 September to Sunday 16 September 2018.