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.


Auction: Imperial War Museum Duxford, 18th Mar, 2020

Imperial War Museum
CB22 4QR 

Tuesday 17th March 2020 from 12pm to 6pm
Wednesday 18th March 2020 - Due to the closure of Imperial War Museum, we are unable to offer viewing of the vehicles today. All documents and paperwork are available to view at The Red Lion Hotel, Whittlesford CB22 4NL.

12.5% (plus VAT @ 20%)

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