1939 Alvis 12/70 SB Drophead Coupe
Fully restored between 2001 and 2012; only 1,000 miles on rebuilt engine; Mulliner body
Alvis cars have always had something special about them. The firm’s ability to produce a car far greater than the sum of its parts started with the immortal 12/50 and carried through to their final model, the fast and elegant TF21, the last of which left the Coventry factory in 1967.
Engineering integrity, powerful and reliable engines, low chassis stance and excellent choice of coachbuilders were all critical factors in establishing the Alvis reputation for making sporting grand tourers.
The superb 12/50 was tweaked into the 12/60, which in turn was facelifted into the Firefly with its synchromesh gearbox. A much-needed increase in engine capacity to 1,842cc increased output to 62.5bhp in the subsequent Firebird model which kept performance up to scratch, despite ever heavier coachwork taking its toll on the traditional sprightly Alvis performance. By September 1937, George Lanchester had significantly reworked the whole car, the resultant 12/70 model becoming one of Alvis’ most successful models, 776 finding buyers before war broke out.
Good for 80mph and up to 26mpg in normal use, it continued in production in 1946 as the 14hp, a model which served the company well with nearly 3,450 leaving the factory before they focussed on larger engined models after 1951.
Most 12/70s were bodied by Mulliner and this fine looking DHC is no exception. Copies of the factory build sheets show that it was completed in March 1939 and despatched to Messrs. Monks & Evans Ltd of Nottingham. Correspondence on file from the 12/70 register suggests that it may have been briefly registered as FTO 700 before being registered with the British Army number AT691AR later in 1939.
In February 1940 it was registered as GGK 14, the number which it retains to this day. In May 1940 it was bought by a Mr B McCall of Weybridge, a buff logbook showing that by 1949 it was resident in Uttoxeter and had five further owners until 1968 by which time it was in Maidenhead, Berkshire. There is also a b/w photo of the car as it looked in the 1950s or ‘60s.
The story picks up again in 2001 when our vendor discovered the Alvis languishing in a garage in Newbury, by which time it was in a completely dismantled state.
Over the next 11 years, aided by friends and enlisting professional help where required, he completely restored the car, the process being recorded in an album of photos and invoices on file. This included replacing much of the ash frame and a full engine rebuild with new pistons, bearings, reground crank etc. A new wiring loom was fitted, the interior was retrimmed, a new hood was made, all the brightwork replated as necessary plus much else besides.
In July 2003, when the restoration was part-way through and the engine was running again, the vendor wrote a 4-page article for The Bulletin, the Alvis Owners Club magazine, recounting the tale of the restoration up to that point (copy on file).
Once the restoration was completed in 2012, the car successfully passed its MOT with no advisories recorded and has only covered 998 miles since. It has been starting promptly and running very nicely as we have moved it around on site, with a commendably smooth gearchange and good 50psi oil pressure.
As you can see in the photos, it appears to be in generally good order throughout, although we did note that the driver’s door is difficult to close properly when the hood is up, the leading edge being somewhat tight against the windscreen pillar. Lowering the hood lessens the tension and the door works fine.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email [email protected]
Please note that at the time of cataloguing we did not have the new style V5C for this car but it has been applied for and should be with us in time for the sale - DVLA willing...
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