"For many small volume car manufacturers the kit car route allows them to offer the buyer something different but without the need to have a large factory and workforce to finance. Jem Marsh, the founder of Marcos, realised this throughout "
Alvis Lives On
Fancy something a bit different?
Are you sick and tired of SUVs here there and everywhere? Do many of today’s cars with their ‘samey’ looks leave you cold? Are you a lover of seriously ‘old-school’ motors? You know, the kind of characterful vehicles that were almost as individual as people?
If you are, and you have some cash to splash, then you’re in for a big treat. Why? Well, Alvis, the traditional British sports car maker, has increased its line-up of Continuation Series cars to celebrate its centenary year.
Hang on, what is this strange label ‘Continuation Series’? Let me explain. The original Alvis was set up in 1919. It was a company that made race cars and military vehicles as well as passenger cars. At one stage, the firm even employed Alec Issigonis, the man who went on to design the Mini. So, it was kind of a big deal back in the day – until 1967 when fortunes changed, and the passenger car production line stopped rolling.
All was not lost, though, because, in 1968, assets were transferred to a firm called Red Triangle. A bunch of former Alvis employees established this to restore and service Alvis cars. It was successful and still operates today.
In 2009 Red Triangle sold the rights to the Alvis moniker to a new body, the Alvis Car Company. It went on to make Alvis Continuation cars using original chassis and powerplants that’d been warehoused for more than half a century.
That brings us to the present day and Alvis’ recently announced extended range of Continuation cars. The company is offering six body styles based on a couple of chassis, called the 3-Litre and 4.3-Litre. All vehicles are assembled following original workshop blueprints. The chassis designations denote the engines they house – both units being naturally aspirated inline-6 lumps.
Thanks to ‘elf and safety’ and regulations on emissions, the cars can’t be 100 per cent replicas of their ancestors under the metal – but the recreations are as close as you can get. The brakes have been modernised, and engine management systems have been added. Fuel injection has also found its way in there. But let me stress this point again – the brand’s post-war Continuation models are built using original engine blocks and chassis, stockpiled since production ceased over fifty years ago.
What’s on offer then? There are pre and post-Second World War models, although only the cars made after the war have the original chassis. Those built with the 3-Litre chassis consist of the Graber Super Coupe, the Graber Super Cabriolet and the Park Ward Drop Head. Then there are the 4.3-Litre chassis cars – the Bertelli Coupe, the Lancefield Concealed Hood and the Vanden Plas Tourer. Each vehicle can take up to 5,000 hours to make.
It should be noted that these are genuine Continuation vehicles rather than reinterpretations. In addition to using original parts on the 3-Litre models, the 4.3-Litre engined chassis numbers carry on from the numbers given to the pre-war models.
“Our cars are what Alvis would have made had it not stopped production for more than 50 years,” says Alan Stote, proprietor of The Alvis Car Company. “The factory had planned to manufacture 150 4.3-Litre chassis in 1938. As the site suffered major bomb damage in 1940, only 73 chassis were built, so we will continue that series, with fresh chassis, made to the original drawings.”
All models are built to the owners’ requirements, and Alvis Continuation Series buyers are urged to visit the company’s Kenilworth Works in Warwickshire to look through the library of original build sheets and drawings for inspiration.
“Combining modern technology with history is a delicate job, which the marque has carried out sensitively. We offer desirable options to make the car suited for however you intend to use it,” adds Alan.
And, unlike some other continuation cars on the market, Alvis has worked with VOSA to make sure its range is fully approved and road-legal.
So, if you want to stand out for all the right reasons in the sea of motoring mediocrity, Alvis could be worth a look. I’ve got a feeling it’s not going to be cheap treating yourself to a Continuation Series car, though. But that’s a subject best reserved for you and Alvis.
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