The Alvis 12/50 FWD was a real milestone in car manufacturing as it was the first series production car with front wheel drive. Alvis was very successful with this model with winning their classes in for example Le Mans. It has a 4 cylinder, 1500cc supercharged engine with overhead camshaft. Around 140 cars are made and still 35 are around. This example of the FWD is a lovely, light two-seater sportscar with a beautiful history. The car has recently undergone a large technical overhaul (new cylinderhead, pistons etc.) and this in combination with its lovely patina, makes it a must-have for every serious collector.
A small recap of the history: On 3rd November 1928 purchased by John Reginald Hornby, a junior officer of the Royal engineers, Aldershot. Registered XV 2990 in London . Next 10 years unknown but a letter exists in the works guarantee records addressed to Mr. L. D. Hay of 37 Highmoor Road, Caversham, Reading and dated 29th December 1936. In 1939, the car was acquired from a dealer by Austin Partridge of London. It was photographed on the day he bought it by a Mr. J.W.T. Lilley who bought the other FWD shown standing next to XV 2990 on the enclosed prints, copied from the originals taken by Mr. Lilley. Notice it had been ‘modernised’ with a 1930’s style radiator shell and fully valanced front wings. The car featured in an article written by Austin Partridge for ‘The Autocar’ issue of 17th April 1942, where it is pictured on page 290. Eventually Austin fitted the blown engine from the ex-Farley car, also owned by him at that time and illustrated in the article. This car had been a Brooklands winner in 1930 an its engine (number 7686) has been fitted to XV 2990 since the early forties. A further article on the ‘restoration’of XV 2990 was published in ‘The Autocar’ on 25th June 1943. Austin was quite an enthusiast and he appears to have modified the car several times.
About 1950, Austin again modified XV 2990, this time with a shortened radiator shell and dummy front dumb-iron cowling. For some reason the radiator shell was deeper than normal which necessitated a very slight shortening of the bonnet. At this time Austin fitted a front wing crossbar which passed in front of the radiator shell rather than through it. Instead of fixing the headlamps to this bar, he welded uprights to the front chassis cross-member to carry the lamps. This can be seen on the car as pictured both in 1950 and 1990. Austin wrote briefly about the car in Thoroughbred & Classic Cars, February 1977. John Nigel Sutcliffe of Bradford (son of Herbert Sutcliffe, the Yorshire cricketer) owned the car during 1960. Together with friends, he fitted a modified exhaust system, tuned the engine and raced the Alvis for a season in VSCC events, gaining second place finishes at Silverstone in July of that year. It is described variously as ‘really fast’ and ‘the noisiest car in the world’.
The car was next registered in December 1961 to Gerry Butler of Bradford, the son of a well-known scrap dealer. He taxed it until May 1962 which is the last time it was in regular use. It was sold to John Brown of Leeds in the mid-sixties and shortly thereafter to W.M. Symons of Otterburn, Northumberland. Bill Symons is a collector who simply shut up the car in a barn for a quarter of a century. It was finally acquired out of hibernation by Tony Blackham of Telford, who had the car running in 1989. After a serious illness, Tony sold it to Eddie Quelch in January 1990 and Dennis Rudkin bought it almost immediately thereafter and restored it into the original condition.
It has been undergoing restoration at Royles of Darlington for almost a year and it has received a new Le Mans body, skinned in Aluminium over a seasoned ash frame. New wheels were built up on 20 inch rims using the original, peculiar Alvis pattern necessary for the stability of the front-wheel-drive. A new radiator shell was constructed in solid nickel silver using a bettered original as a patern. The original Jaeger instruments were rebuilt and refurbished. Dennis has been researching the history of the car and spend approximately 60.000 pound on the restoration before he sold it to Dan Geoghegan, who sold it to someone in Germany and than sold it to P. Sedlmeier in 2002. The car was bought through the dealer Coupe by Mr. Sole who lives in Marbella, Spain in 2003 and has been frequently used. In October 2014, the car was bought by a young Dutchmen. The engine was at that time in a poor condition. The cylinderhead was cracked and he decided that a new one was needed as welding was not an option. The PreWar Workshop made a new cylinderhead. They also renewed a lot of other technical parts like new cylinders, pistons, bearings etc. The car was known as ‘the noisiest car in the world’ but the PreWar Workshop fitted another exhaust system for use on the road. When the engine was rebuild the whole car was fine-tuned at the dyno at BAS Tuning. It runs and drives now perfect and is ready to go.
A real car for a real Alvis enthusiastic!
1928 Alvis 12/50 FWD
Do you want to have a close look at this Alvis 12/50 FWD yourself? Please buy a ticket for the museum and visit us or make an appointment by entering your data in the contact form below. We will contact you as soon as possible.