Wed, 18th Mar 2020 13:00

Imperial War Museum Duxford

Lot 89

1934 Alvis Speed 20 SB Charlesworth Drophead Coupe
1 of just 23 Charlesworth Drophead Coupes made

Sold for £27,000

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: Un-Reg
Chassis No: 11867
MOT: Exempt

  • Previous ownership from 1959-2017 and off the road since 1974
  • 1 of just 23 Speed 20SB chassis to be fitted with Charlesworth Drophead Coupe coachwork
  • A substantially complete and straightforward restoration project
  • A rare and desirable Post-Vintage Thoroughbred with a 2511cc straight-six OHV engine, four-speed all-synchromesh gearbox and independent front suspension
  • Offered for sale with history dating back to the 1950s and a quantity of spares

One of just twenty-three Alvis Speed 20 SB chassis to wear Charlesworth Drophead Coupe coachwork (from a total production run of 375), this particular example - chassis number 11867 – was issued with the London registration number ‘BGK 242’ during 1934. Supplied new to a gentleman in Saxmundham, the four-seater was acquired by its previous keeper twenty-five years later. Taken off the road during 1974 with a suspected engine problem, the Alvis had had part of a new frame for its missing driver’s door made and some sundry rechroming carried out but still required extensive restoration when it entered the current ownership three years ago. A change of plans means that the Speed 20 is now back on the market. Substantially complete, the four-seater has the makings of a straightforward and rewarding project. The imposing straight-six engine is said to turn over by hand easily despite not running for over forty-five years. As well as sundry spares such as a gearbox, the Drophead Coupe comes with a large quantity of paperwork which dates back to the 1950s and includes several factory invoices.

Introduced at the October 1933 London Motor Show, the Speed 20 SB was among a new breed of Alvis cars that combined high performance (long a recognised marque virtue) with luxury and refinement. Based around a sturdy cruciform-braced ladder-framed chassis equipped with sizable fourteen-inch drum brakes and 'jelly mould' wire wheels, it boasted such technological novelties as independent transverse-leaf front suspension and synchromesh on all (four) forward gears. Powered by a smooth but free-revving 2511cc OHV straight-six engine featuring dual magneto / coil ignition, triple SU carburettors and an aluminium crankcase, the model was reputedly capable of 89mph. A corollary of its low-slung stance and long bonnet line, the Speed 20 SB proved an ideal canvas for the coachbuilder's art. Although, the majority were bodied to factory-approved designs by Charlesworth and Cross & Ellis, a select few received rather more bespoke treatment.


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