1936 Alvis Speed 20 Charlesworth Saloon
An original use and improve SD Speed 20; good door fit; a powerful and attractive sports saloon
Fast and handsome with tremendous performance and a low, purposeful stance the Alvis Speed 20 is the epitome of pre-war sporting elegance.
Beautifully made and bristling with technical innovations such as independent front suspension, all-synchro gearbox and servo-assisted brakes, the car went through four versions, SA to SD, between 1932 and 1936 before being replaced by the Speed 25 in 1937. The SD model (as here) came out in 1936 and had the larger 2.7-litre engine from the SC (good for an easy 90mph) plus improved steering and suspension, a stiffened chassis, larger fuel tank and slightly wider bodywork.
The low-slung chassis endowed the car with tremendous handling and grip for its day: “'When cornering it is not only free from rolling – the low build sees to that – but the layout is such that it clings to the intended path at quite unexpected speeds, and when centrifugal force does eventually produce a skid, it is of the rear wheels only and easily controlled,” observed Motor Sport's tester.
Motor magazine were equally enthusiastic: “The new Alvis Speed 20 is the type of car which looks right, feels right and is right. From the driver's point of view the controls are all just where they are required and the power, speed and acceleration provided by the silky six-cylinder engine are a real eye-opener to anyone accustomed to driving about in more ordinary motor cars.” By the time production came to an end in late 1936, just 1,165 Speed Twenties of all types had been built, of which just 149 were to SD specification - all are highly sought-after today.
Chassis 13313 retains its original engine and was one of 97 SDs supplied with Charlesworth saloon bodies. Rakish and elegant, they were the most popular coachwork choice for a reason.
The completed car was despatched to Messrs. Bambers of Sheffield Ltd on behalf of its first owner and registered BWK 779, the number it still wears today.
The continuation log book on file picks up the history in 1965, when it was owned by a gent in Leicester. It passed to Clifford England later that year, changing hands every few years until the trail goes cold again. The 14 old MOTs from the ‘80s and ‘90s indicate a move to Scotland in around 1995 and thence to Wales in 1998, the mileage increasing by just 5,000 miles over a period of 16 years.
Our vendor spotted the car for sale with Early Engineering in 2015, purchasing the car for £45,000. It’s most recent MOT (showing no advisories) was in 2017, the vendor using the car carefully if infrequently since.
These late Speed 20s certainly are handsome cars, this late model (13th from last made) retaining a great deal of originality and patina. The paintwork shows some micro-blistering on the bonnet and there are a few jobs to do in the boot area as well as the seal around the top of the screen/roof area as shown in the photos. That said, the doors open and close nicely and much of the mellow interior is original with the exception of the front seat squabs which were repaired/replaced sufficiently long ago that they blend in near perfectly.
The dash is well stocked with the correct instruments and it has been running and driving since onsite. Bidders are advised that the vendor is keeping the mascot shown in the photos which was a present from his family. The car is being sold with its correct, unadorned radiator cap.
This is a car which could be used and improved as and when funds allow and is available for approximately half the cost of a Derby-built alternative offering similar Grace Space and Pace – if you will excuse the mixed metaphor!
For more information – contact [email protected]
Reg No: BWK779
Chassis Number: 13313
Engine Number: 13763
Engine Size: 2655
Docs: V5C; Buff logbook; 15 old MOTs; copy of factory build sheet; recent bill of sale
Hammer Price (inc. buyers premium)
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