1937 Alvis 4.3 Litre Drophead Coupe by Vanden Plas
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a very unique and incredibly rare 1937 Alvis 4.3 Litre Drophead Coupe by Vanden Plas.
The Alvis Limited Car Record on file confirms this particular example was dispatched to Messrs. Australian Mercantile Land & Finance Co. Ltd of London for export to Australia on 21st February 1937. The Car Record confirms this is a matching numbers car where chassis number, engine number and car number all match. The Car Record confirms the original colour of the car was Thornley & Knights ‘Lactoloid Red’ X.14469. It also notes the following particulars: Connolly’s Celstra Leather C.L..21257, Hood Angoralux A.M.36, rear bumpers to be fitted, extra spare wheel to be fitted – the tyre covers are not required, single sliding type front seat – centre arm rest not required, the head fittings to be cadmium plated instead of chromium plated, wireless aerial to be fitted, an American Bosch radio fitted in London, Dunlop tyres all round, 2 Yale locks required for spare wheels, two bonnet locks to be fitted, client’s fog lamp will be fitted by Vanden Plas, uncharged batteries to be supplied with the car, gear lever to be set back 2” as arranged with Mr. Lanchester and fit independent switch to tail lamps – uncontrolled from car.
This STUNNING Australian delivered, factory right hand drive Alvis 4.3 Litre Drophead Coupe by Vanden Plas has been in the same family since 1949.
It was ordered new by Bill Fagan from Sunnyridge Station, Mandurama, near Orange NSW. The one off Vanden Plas coachwork was to the specific requirements of Mr Fagan.
The car was restored in the early 1980’s, which included a total mechanical rebuild, bodywork and upholstery. It has been used sparingly since and travelled less than 3,000 miles in almost 40 years, almost exclusively on car club rallies.
Today this car still presents beautifully. It looks amazing in the photos but has an incredible presence in the flesh. The paintwork is in very good condition, belying the fact that the car was restored some 40 years ago! The external trim is in similarly good condition, though some of the chrome is showing some very light pitting and some of the rubbers have aged. For a convertible vintage car the panel gaps are excellent, which is a testament to the build quality of these cars.
The interior is clean and well presented, though some parts are starting to show some light patina, but in a very nice way. The upholstery is in excellent condition with no rips or tears, the timber work is unmarked and the instruments & controls are all crisp, clear and in working order. Even the carpets are in good condition.
The engine bay is also very clean and its presentation is totally consistent with the rest of the car. There is a vintage Simplex fire extinguisher, wheel mallet and spare spark plugs fixed to the firewall which are a nice touch.
The car started very easily and on our short test drive it ran and drove really well. The engine was surprisingly quiet and smooth. Out on the open road it is easy to forget that you are travelling in a thirties vintage car.
Given its recent limited use, we would recommend a mechanical check over and service prior to regular use.
Without any doubt, ‘Red Ruby’ is the best known Alvis in Australia.
- Extremely rare and desirable prewar Alvis 4.3 Litre Drophead Coupe.
- Stunning Vanden Plas coachwork to special order.
- Australian delivered.
- Whilst an older restoration, the car presents and drives beautifully.
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.
- Alvis 4.3 Litre Drophead Coupe by Vanden Plas
- 70,746 miles