1923 Alvis 12/40

The Vintage Alvis 12/50 is one of those cars, along with Frazer-Nash, 3 litre Bentley and Vauxhall 30/98 has become synonymous with the Vintage Sports Car Club. Founded in 1934 the original members of the VSCC wished to promote the continued use of cars which, although already a decade or so old, they considered better products in almost every way than their successors. Notable early owners included Industrial and Canal Historian and Champion and discoverer of the now World famous Prescott Hillclimb, Tom Rolt. Rolt owned his 12/50 Ducks Back for over 50 years and it is still retained by the family almost 90 years later! 12/50s had proved their metal in period competiton showing well  at Brooklands, Shelsley Walsh and the sands of Southport and owners continued to use their examples as competition machines and every day cars into the 1970s.

CX5775 is a 12/40 model dating from 1923 and is a remarkable survivor, thanks in no small part to several long term owners showing once again how these cars seem to endear themselves to their custodians reciprocating loyalty for reliability. Dispatched on 30th June 1923 and registered a day later on the 1st July it was sold via Pritchards Garage in Coventry. Interestingly it carried the most attractive Narrow Four Seater Tourer Coachwork, in this case beautifully executed by the Midland Motor Body Co. Only one other example of their work is known to survive on an Alvis and that body is on none other than the Alvis Works Racing Car No.1!

By 1929, CX5775 had come into the possession of the Perrin family of nearby Allesley and it would be retained by them for the next 30 years. A charming letter on file from Mr Perrins Daughter fondly recalls some of the foibles of the car and difficulties in maintaining a 20 plus year old car in the austere post war years. In the letter she also relates how she learned to drive on the car and fond memories of trips far and wide with rarely a hiccup. Sadly the car was taken off the road when Mr Perrins, now in his 80s, was unable to maintain it and a suitable mechanic for it could not be found.

Fortunately the car found its way to another sympathetic, long term owner, Mr Geoff Burdett who owned CX5775 until the very end of the 20th Century. By this time the car had be dismantled and a major restoration had been commenced but not completed. It was in this state of 'undress' that the car was discovered and acquired by Paul Stileman. Within a year Mr Stileman had successfully completed the rebuild and returned CX5775 to the road. In the course of the rebuild Mr Stileman was surprised and impressed by not only the unworn condition of the major components but how original the car was having retained all its original major parts. This must be thanks in no small part to having had just four owners for the previous 75 years!

The car has seen active use in a number of Alvis Club and VSCC events over the ensuing period and a subsequent owner decided to uprate the car by fitting a  tuned 12/50 engine rather than modifying with the original 12/40 unit (which still accomapanys the car in its unmolested form.) This engine swap has created perhaps the most desirable combination of early, light 12/40 frame and attractive narrow coachwork with the more powerful 12/50 power unit (in the same vein as a 3 /4 1/2 litre Bentley.)

It drives delightfully, responsive and nimble at the controls with ample power from the fresh 12/50 engine, one can begin to understand why these cars generated such a loyal following and why owners retained them for such long periods of time. Added to this, CX 5775 is a genuine matching numbers car with near unique, not to mention attractive, coachwork making it surely one of the most desirable representatives of the Vintage Alvis to have survived.

A test drive to substantiate these points is highly recommended to anyone currently considering the purchase of a Vintage Tourer.