1939 Alvis Speed 25 SC Charlesworth Saloon
Alvis Car and Engineering Company Ltd was a British manufacturing company in Coventry from 1919 to 1967. In addition
to automobiles designed for the civilian market, the company also produced racing cars, aircraft engines, armoured cars and other armoured fighting vehicles.
Car manufacturing ended after the company became a subsidiary of Rover in 1965, but armoured vehicle manufacture continued. Alvis became part of British Leyland and then in 1982 was sold to United Scientific Holdings, which renamed itself Alvis plc.
The Alvis 4.3-litre and Alvis Speed 25 were British luxury touring cars announced in August 1936 and made until 1940 by Alvis Car and Engineering Company in Coventry. They replaced the Alvis Speed 20 2.8-litre and 3.5-litre. They were widely considered one of the finest cars produced in the 1930s.
The Speed Twenty’s 2.5-litre, 2.8-litre or 3.5-litre engines with four main bearings were replaced in the 4.3-litre and 3.5-litre Speed Twenty-Five with a strengthened new designed six-cylinder in-line unit now with seven main bearings.
For the 3½-litre version an output of 110 PS at 3,800 rpm was claimed (and proven) along with a top speed of almost 160 km/h (100 mph). It propelled the occupants at high speed in exceptional luxury accompanied by the attractive sound of a powerful deep and throaty exhaust. Its beauty is also confirmed as it is the only car to win the prestigious Ladies Choice VSCC Oxford Concourse prize two years in a row.
The clutch, flywheel and crankshaft were balanced together, which minimised vibration. The cylinder head was of cast iron but the pistons were of aluminium. Two electric petrol pumps fed the three SU carburettors, which were protected by a substantial air filter. A new induction system incorporated an efficient silencing device.
Rear springs were 15 inches longer than in the previous model. The brakes had servo assistance.
Alvis did not make any of the bodies for the Speed 25. The cars were supplied in chassis form and firms such as Cross & Ellis (standard tourer) Charlesworth (standard saloon and Drop Head Coupé) as well as Vanden Plas, Lancefield, Offord and others would fit suitably elegant open touring or saloon car bodies. The car was built on a heavy steel chassis with a substantial cross brace. With its sporty low slung aspect, all-synchro gearbox, independent front suspension and servo-assisted brakes, this was a fast, reliable and beautifully made car, although at almost £1000 it was not cheap. The survival rate for what was after all a hand-built car is surprisingly good. Later models featured increased chassis boxing, and to reduce the car’s weight Alvis cut numerous holes in the chassis box sections, which was also a solution tried less successfully earlier in the decade by Mercedes-Benz when confronting the same challenge with their enormously heavy Mercedes-Benz SSKL.
Minor improvements to both cars announced at the October 1938 Motor Show included a dual exhaust system said to quieten the engine and improve power output.
From the show the press reported the 4.3-litre four-door sports saloon to have "a most imposing front with very large headlamps, fog and pass lights, and post horns."
A chassis for bespoke bodywork was still listed but a range of standard coachwork was made available. On the standard four-door saloon there were no running boards and the wings were streamlined. The luggage locker was lined in white rubber. Dunlopillo upholstery eased muscular fatigue. The rake of both the driver's seat and its squab were now easily adjustable. There was a system of no-draught ventilation. The double sliding roof might be opened from either back or front seat. There were twin tuned electric horns and twin electric windscreen wipers. The instrument panel included a revolution counter and there were ashtrays and a smoker's companion.
There were to be only detail changes for 1940.
Descriptions by Wikipedia pictures by PreWarCar