1938 Alvis 4.3 Litre Saloon by Charlesworth


Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1938 Alvis 4.3 Litre Sports Saloon by Charlesworth.

The Alvis Limited Car Record on file confirms this particular example was dispatched to Messrs. Tozer Kemsley & Millbourn Ltd of London for export to Australia on the 7th April 1938. The Car Record confirms this is a matching numbers car where chassis number, engine number and body number all match. The Car Record confirms the original colour of the car was black. It also notes the following particulars:  Standard red leather 15/38, car registered to 31st Dec 1938, No. plates DHP224 fitted, “ACE” discs fitted to the four road wheels, two “ACE” metal spare wheels covers complete with two discs etc, 18” wheels & tyres in lieu of standard, usual switch on tail lamp, extra spare wheel complete – side mounted, rear single bar bumper fitted, full export equipment, complete with tyres and ebonite batteries.

This lovely car is extensively original and as such it presents with lots of patina. It has had only 2 owners from new and been in the same family since 1947.

The current owner recalled to us a fabulous story about this car. In 1952 he vividly remembers his dad driving the car from Avalon, NSW to Northbridge/Willoughby, NSW while he was sitting in the passenger seat with a drum of fuel and a small electric pump next to him! Fuel was pumped through a hose running through the windscreen aperture to the carburetors because the fuel tank had rusted through! The car was subsequently parked up for the next 62 years.

The car was awoken from its slumber in 2014 when its engine was finally reinstalled back in the car. It was rebuilt in the mid 1980’s and kept on an engine stand and regularly lubricated. Since then it has been out twice. Firstly, the car was trailered to the National Alvis Rally in Warwick in 2017 and then to the Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance in March 2021.

Today this Alvis 4.3 Litre Sports Saloon presents very well for an 80+ year old car that is extensively original. It still wears its original paint which is flaking and cracking in places, but you would not touch it! The front grill, headlights, spotlights and the horns give the front of the car a very stately appearance and they are all in very good condition. In fact, the exterior trim on the car is all very well preserved. The car is fitted with a sunroof as well as two spare wheel covers and wheels/tyres which also contribute to the unique presentation of this car.

The interior has also been very well preserved. The upholstery, roof lining and dress timber are all original. The instruments and controls are all present and in good condition. The main carpets in the car have been removed. Whilst the interior presents incredibly well for its age, it could be easily be tidied up to present even better.

Today the car runs and drives, however, it would benefit from some fettling to become a reliable driver.

Let the pictures tell the story . . .  this car would be a fabulous contender in the preservation class at a concours d’elegance.

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In 1919 naval architect TG John took over a small Coventry based carburettor manufacturer named Holly Bros and founded the company TG John and Co Ltd. The company initially focused on making stationary engines, carburettors and motor scooters. Shortly after founding the company, John was approached by Geoffrey de Freville who was looking for a company that could manufacture and potentially use his advanced designs for a 4-cylinder engine with aluminium pistons and pressure lubrication.

Many people think de Freville was ultimately responsible for the name Alvis, something he himself has always denied.

In 1920 the first Alvis was introduced to the world, the Alvis 10/30. The car was available with a range of different body styles and was powered by a 4 cylinder engine designed by de Freville with a capacity of 1,460cc.  The car was an instant success and it gained a reputation for quality workmanship and performance, something for which Alvis became famous. The Alvis 10/30 remained in production until 1923 and in total 770 were made. The Alvis 10/30 was succeeded by the Alvis 11/40, the Alvis 12/40, the Alvis 12/50 and the Alvis 12/60.

On the 14th of December 1921 the company name was officially changed to The Alvis Car and Engineering Company Ltd.

Like many car manufacturers in those days, Alvis wanted to go motor racing. Their greatest achievement came in 1928 when their team finished 1st and 2nd in class at Le Mans and a highly creditable 6th and 9th overall. The car was powered by a 1.5-litre 4 cylinder supercharged engine with a single overhead camshaft. Interestingly, it was front wheel drive. Building on their success in racing, Alvis decided to offer a production ‘Super-Sports’ front wheel drive for the ‘experienced driver’. The Alvis 12/75 was an instant success and achieved high acclaim in the press. Unfortunately, the cost of producing such an advanced vehicle was high and with the great depression looming Alvis decided to stop the production in favour of more profitable models. In the end, only 143 were produced.

In 1927 Alvis introduced their first 6 cylinder model, the Alvis 14.75. The engine in the 14.75 became the basis for a long line of luxury 6 cylinder cars. The 14.75 was succeeded by the 16.95 in 1928 which was renamed Silver Eagle in 1929. In those days Alvis didn’t produce their own coachwork, instead they relied on the many available coachbuilders in the Midlands area. Companies like Car bodies, Charlesworth Bodies, Cross & Ellis, Duncan Industries, E. Bertelli Ltd, Grose, Gurney Nutting, Hooper, Lancefield Coachworks, Martin Walter, Mayfair Carriage Co, Mulliners, Tickford, Vanden Plas, Weymann Fabric Bodies, and Arnold of Manchester.

In 1931 Alvis introduced the Speed 20. It featured a heavily modified version of the 6 cylinder engine featured in the earlier Silver Eagle. By now it had increased to 2,511cc. In October 1933 Alvis introduced the Speed 20 SB which featured a new, all-silent gearbox that featured a synchromesh on the bottom gear, a world’s first. The car also had a built-in jacking system. In 1935, with the third iteration of the Speed 20, the SC, the engine size increased to 2762cc. Later that year Alvis introduced another iteration of their 6 cylinder engine, the 3 ½ Litre. Initially, the car was named 3 ½ Litre SA, but in 1936 it was renamed Speed 25.

In 1937 Alvis introduced the 4.3 Litre. It was available as a four door saloon or as a chassis only. Both the Speed 25 as well as the 4.3 Litre were well regarded and were considered one of the finest cars on the market and a direct competitor to Bentley. The 4.3 Litre remained in production until 1940. Different sources mention different production numbers, however, it is understood less than 200 were made.



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  • Alvis 4.3 Litre Saloon by Charlesworth
  • 1938
  • Saloon
  • Manual
  • 7,082 miles
  • 4,387cc


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