Gavin McGuire, Tandridge, Surrey, UK, Tel: 01892 770310, 07770 316482, E-mail:

Alvis Speed 20 SC

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Year 1935

I think it fair to say that Alvis Speed 20s must be counted amongst the best of English sporting cars made in the 1930s. Their powerful six cylinder engines were set deep in the chassis allowing low bonnet lines which gave these cars a more elegant outline than many of their more perpendicular competitors. As well as having very good six cylinder engines which were usually fed by three SU carburettors, from 1934 onwards the Speed models came with independent front suspension and very easy to use all-synchromesh gearboxes which gave them handling and driveability which was far ahead of most of their more traditionally designed contemporaries. 

They were all supplied in chassis form to be bodied by high quality coachbuilders such as Charlesworth, Cross and Ellis and Vanden Plas so they also had looks to match their performance and this particular 2.76 litre Speed 20 SC with its close-coupled Charlesworth four door four seat saloon body would have been regarded as a very special car to own in 1930s England. Its coachwork appears to be very sound and has clearly been professionally repainted in the recent past and the interior is delightfully original with the sort of patina you can only get with age though the driver’s seat has been recovered. The door panels still have their correct sunburst pattern leather, the wood trim is all there and the original instruments appear to be correct and working.

The engine sounds very good and pulls nicely and as always the all synchromesh gearbox is a delight to use. They are so good so that quite a few owners of other cars of the period have replaced their “crash” gearboxes with Alvis units thereby transforming their cars into much more enjoyable forms of transport!!

It would be fair to say that this car is likely to appeal more to the sort of motoring enthusiast who prefers their cars to be real and ready for use rather than extensively (and expensively!) prepared for showing at concours events. There is of course nothing to stop anyone restoring this car should they want to though I think it will really suit someone who thinks it should be driven and enjoyed just as it is!