1935 Alvis Firebird Three Position Drophead Coupé Coachwork by Cross & Ellis Registration no. WF 7371 Chassis no. 12367
Despite the somewhat conservative image Alvis has today, T G John Ltd produced some technically innovative cars in the inter-war period, pioneering front-wheel drive technology and championing small-capacity, high-performance engines. Engineer T G John had founded the Alvis company in 1919 when he acquired the rights to an automobile engine and with it the brand name of its aluminium pistons ? 'Alvis'. The first Alvis car - the 10/30hp - appeared in 1920.
Offered for the 1935 and 1936 seasons only, the Firebird was a smaller-engined (1.8-litre) version of the Silver Eagle SG. 'Well equipped, beautifully finished and of up-to-date design, the price of £595 is moderate considering the quality of the chassis and coachwork,' was how Motor magazine summed up the new 16hp Silver Eagle saloon in April 1934. First introduced in 1929, the Silver Eagle had been revamped for '34, gaining a stronger X-braced frame and a new all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox. The sturdy and reliable Alvis six-cylinder engine was available in either 2,148cc or 2,362cc capacities and produced 60-70bhp, which was good enough for a top speed of around 75mph and comfortable cruising at 60. As one would expect, the mechanically similar but less powerful Firebird did not offer quite the same level of performance.
The Firebird offered here features three-positioned drophead coupé coachwork by Alvis's Coventry neighbours Cross & Ellis, and is one of only 97 completed with this type of body. 'WF 7371' was purchased in 1994 by the lady vendor's late husband, who proceeded to restore it. The restoration involved removing the aluminium body panels and replacing the timber framework, following which the panels were reattached and repainted. All the instruments were restored, and the interior re-trimmed by A W Midgley & Sons of Cheddar, Somerset, while a new hood and hood frame were supplied by Eddie Quelen of Luton. (Door cards are not fitted at present). Many of the more minor parts - brightwork, lamps, rubbers, seals, etc - were sourced from Norfolk Supplies. Sadly, the project stalled because of the owner's ill health. Following his death, the engine, gearbox, etc were filled with fresh fluids. The engine runs very well, displaying excellent oil pressure, although the clutch is stuck as a result of 15 years without use. Sold as seen, this rare Alvis drophead should be relatively straightforward to re-commission. Accompanying documentation consists of a V5 registration certificate, a photographic record of the restoration, and related bills. The car also comes with a copy handbook.