19th Jun, 2024 13:00

Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire

  Lot 90

1940 Alvis Speed 25 SC Charlesworth Sports Saloon
The last pre-WW2 Alvis built

Estimated at £60,000 - £70,000

Lot details

Registration No: EVC 564
Chassis No: 14689
MOT: Exempt

  • Treated to some £58,000 worth of mechanical work over the past few years by marque specialist Earley Engineering
  • The final Speed 25 completed and thus benefiting from the 'short stud' cylinder head and dual exhaust system
  • Uprated with a 3.8:1 final drive ratio for more relaxed high-speed cruising
  • Quicker in period than a Bentley 4.25 Litre of Lagonda LG6

"In the Alvis Speed 25 the makers have produced a car which will delight those who appreciate fast motoring with an ample margin of safety. A very quick response to the accelerator is matched by exceptional steadiness under heavy braking conditions, light and accurate steering, and road holding of that special quality which is so rarely encountered these days" (Speed 25 Road Test, Motorsport 1936).

Launched in August 1936, the Alvis Speed 25 SB was designed to take advantage of Britain's rapidly improving road network. Marrying sportscar-like performance to an impressive degree of refinement, the newcomer's sophisticated chassis layout incorporated independent transverse-leaf front suspension, a four-speed all synchromesh gearbox and large-diameter four-wheel drum brakes. Featuring a balanced seven-bearing crankshaft and novel spring-cluster overhead valve gear, its triple SU carburettor fed 3571cc straight-six engine was quoted as developing 108bhp @ 3,800rpm. A notably smooth and flexible unit, it endowed the model with near 100mph performance. Principally bodied by Charlesworth (Sports Saloon / Drophead Coupe) or Cross & Ellis (Tourer), the Alvis Speed 25 stole sales from both the Bentley 4¼ litre and Lagonda LG6 alike. Arriving for 1938, the SC variant brought more power courtesy of a ‘short stud’ cylinder head and (later) dual exhaust system. Running boards were replaced by valances on the 1939 Saloons, while the few cars completed during 1940 boasted a higher compression ratio and engine stabilising tie rods. A total of just 391 cars are thought to have left the Holyhead Road factory with final chassis batch being numbered from 14549 – 14689.

According to its accompanying copy build record, Chassis 14689 was fitted with Engine 15173 and clothed as a Sports Saloon by Charlesworth using Body 14748. Notable as the last Speed 25 to emerge prior to the Luftwaffe’s devastating bombing raid on the Alvis Works, it was road registered as ‘EVC 564’ and sold new to R.N. Horton Esq of Nineval Cottage, Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire on 18th October 1940. Thereafter, noted marque historian Wayne Brooks’ research has identified the four-seater as belonging to, or passing through the hands of, the following: E.G. Smith (Rotherham), Bruce L. Earlin (Milford, Pennsylvania), Glen W. Cameron (Chesapeake, Virginia), Jerry W. Brimberry (Albany, Georgia), Graham Bowkett (Wilmette, Illinois), Fred Jenns (Amersham), J. McGill (Beaulieu) and Ing Francesco Criminna (Sicily). Purchased by a friend of the vendor upon its return from Europe in 2018 for the princely sum of £60,000, the Alvis has since benefited from over £58,000 worth of improvement. Predominantly mechanical, the work was carried out by marque specialist Earley Engineering and encompassed a thorough engine overhaul (re-bore, new aluminium cylinder head, fresh big-end bearings / pistons / rings etc), new radiator core, front suspension refurbishment, fuel system flush through, sundry replacement gearbox internals, taller 3.8:1 rear axle ratio (for more relaxed high-speed cruising) and new stainless steel exhaust etc. The headlining was also replaced and some minor bodywork issues sorted. The subsequent subject of a favourable three-page report by Fisher Restoration (a copy of which remains on file), the Speed 25 started readily and ran well during our recent photography session. A lifelong enthusiast, ‘EVC 564’ became the sixth Alvis to join the seller’s stable when his friend fell terminally ill. Driven to and from last year’s Hampton Court Concours d’Elegance and said to be ‘very much on the button’, the Sports Saloon is only being offered for sale because the vendor is about to take delivery of a unique Graber-bodied Rolls-Royce that he has been chasing for decades. A distinctly handsome and imposing car in the metal, it is not hard to see why former custodian Bruce L. Earlin ranked this unique Speed 25 as his favourite ever Alvis (ahead of a 4.3 Litre Short Chassis Vanden Plas Tourer no less) in an article for the Alvis Owners’ Club Bulletin magazine. Offered for sale with V5C Registration Document and history file.

For more information, please contact:
Damian Jones
07855 493737


Auction: Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 19th Jun, 2024

An auction of classic, collector and performance motorcars held at the iconic and visually stunning Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Venue Details 

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