1933 Alvis Speed 20 SA £150,000. You can buy Speed 20s for less, but not as nice as this superbly restored example, says Paul Hardiman
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This speed 20 is just out of a restoration that has left it in perfect condition. The standard open four-door body was by Cross &C Ellis, as here, but this is one of only six long-wing tourers built. It’s dead-straight, the paint is deep and lustrous and the plating to lights and radiator shell is perfect.
‘CG 4871’ was first registered on July 1, 1933 by Scotts of Southampton. It spent some time in the USA from 1968 before the current owner acquired it in 2001 and commissioned a body and frame rebuild by Tim Hastings and Brian Martin at the Old Vicarage in South Stoke, Oxfordshire, with marque specialist Earley Engineering handling the nut-and-bolt mechanical rebuild. A phenomenal file of 5000 photos documents the works.
The result is near perfection, the new leather retaining the original’s lovely embossed detail on the door trims and the steering wheel newly leather-bound. The carpets, floor mats and hood are new too, with new sidescreens stored in protective bags in the boot. It’s as good underneath as up top - there’s a new stainless steel exhaust and the rebuilt wheels wear new Firestones.
The motor, sitting in front of the most pristine example of Alvis’s trademark cast- aluminium bulkhead you’re ever likely to see, is tidy with clean fluids, coolant visible in the radiator top tank, and an added Kenlowe electric fan. The rocker cover and triple carburettor dashpots have been polished and the only minus is that one carb has lost its filter gauze - it popped out the day before we saw the car, but weirdly left its retaining circlip behind.
This Sport 20 doesn’t just look spot-on, it drives perfectly too. Starting on the button, the straight-six is silky smooth from tickover with little mechanical noise.
Though it’s only the 2.5-litre it pulls well, with direct, fast, slick gearchanges (synchromesh didn’t arrive until the SB variant) and easy 50mph cruising, generally on a par with the performance of a standard Bentley 3 Litre.
There’s no vagueness in the steering, so it goes where you point it even on bumpy Cotswold lanes, with a very tight, rattle-free structure and firm brakes that pull up well and straight. As befits a long-distance tourer, the Alvis has a knurled wheel on the driver’s floor for adjusting the brake linkage on the move. With oil pressure at 55psi at any revs and temperature steady at 60 deg C, it lends absolute confidence, and a nice touch is a pair of discreet modern dipping driving lights mounted under the original PI 00s, so you can go just as fast at night.
You might expect a Vanden Plas-bodied car for this money, but this is in exceptional condition and is effectively a new car that you feel you could plan to drive to any destination and arrive there in confidence.
CHOOSE YOUR SPEED 20
► Speed 20 is launched In 1932 to replace Silver Eagle, with emphasis on speed, handling and braking - famously ‘90bhp and 90mph\ with four- bearing 2511cc ohv straight six. Around 400 made.
► SB 19.82 model of 1933 has new all-synchro gearbox in a one-inch-longer-wheelbase chassis using independent front suspension.
► SC for 1934 has 2762cc engine using nine cluster valve springs per valve.
► SD model for 1936 has wider scuttle and option of 10ft lOin wheelbase, 7in more than original SA. Around 750 independent front suspension Speed 20s made before replacement in 1936 by Speed 25.
‘It doesn’t just look spot- on, it drives perfectly too, with slick gearchanges and easy 50mph cruising’
Car 1933 Alvis Speed 20 SA Price £150,000
Contact Cotswold Collector Cars, Oxfordshire (cotswoldcars.com, 01242 821600)
Engine 2511cc ohv straight-six Power 87bhp @ 4000rpm Torque n/a
Performance Top speed: 90mph;
0-60mph: 15.2sec Fuel consumption 17mpg Length 4230mm Width 1650mm
INSURANCE £282 COMPREHENSIVE, 5000 MILES PER YEAR, GARAGED CALL: 01277 206911