Finding an old family favourite

| 15 Jul 2012

A week or two ago, I wrote a blog about driving a Jaguar XK120 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. While that was an experience I'll always cherish, if I'm honest it wasn't the absolute highlight of the day.

Dad had also made the trip down to Sussex and, at lunchtime, I got a text from him: 'BGW 603 for sale with Red Triangle'.

At that point, I was enjoying the hospitality of Land Rover, so it seemed rude to immediately bolt for the door. Instead, I waited a good minute, maybe a minute and a half, before excusing myself and dashing the 100 yards or so up to the Red Triangle stand.

And there it was in all its glory: the Alvis Speed 20 that Dad had owned for more than two decades. It was the first time that I had seen it since he sold it in 1985, when I was only eight years old. I still have fond memories of walking up and down the running boards as the car sat in the garage, Dad working on the racing car alongside.

It's odd the things that stuck in my mind: the action of the door handle was one, plus the noise of the door as you shut it. The design of the rear lights was another. I also remember prodding the starter on one occasion. It didn't fire, but it made Dad jump...

My memories of it on the road are more faint, but I do recall sitting in the back with my head sticking out of the tonneau.

Dad bought BGW 603 for £20 in 1964, when he was 18. He didn't actually have £20: he had to borrow a tenner from a friend, who also, incidentally, ended up owning a Speed 20.

It was originally black, but he soon resprayed it blue (above) and replaced the engine with one from a Speed 25. He kept the original, however, selling it all as a package so that the car could be returned to 'matching numbers' if necessary. He was therefore somewhat dismayed when the next owner sold off the Speed 20 powerplant.

Dad used BGW 603 enthusiastically on the road, as well as campaigning it in sprints and hillclimbs. It won my mum over, too. She wasn't expecting this chap who was on the dole and retaking various exams to have such a "smashing car".

The Alvis had to be sold when Dad started his own business. The chap who bought it from him has been the only subsequent owner, so it's been sold just three times in almost 50 years.

I took the inevitable photo of Dad with the car at Goodwood (main photo), and then returned to my lunch. That done, I went back to the Red Triangle stand with wife and kids in tow. How amazing it would be for Jessica and Thomas to be able to grow up with a car like that in their dad's garage.

Sadly for the latest generation of Pages (below), their grandpa bought it at the right time. It seems that BGW 603 is worth more than £20 these days. Almost £100,000 more, in fact.