Something For The Weekend – Alvis TD-TF

| 16 Nov 2012

Think luxury British coupé and your mind is invariably drawn to the two-door machines from Bentley and Rolls-Royce, but offering much the same experience was Alvis' TD to TF series.

When others were moving towards full-injected engines, fancy suspension and complex chassis, Alvis stuck to carburettors, pushrods, leaf springs and separate chassis frames.

No matter, though, because what the comfy coupés lacked in sophistication they more than made up for in 'honest to goodness' charm. The handcrafted Graber-developed shape was the pinnacle of effortless dignity and unpretentious style. Style that shone through the Alvis' parts-bin components that came from cars such as Aston Martin's DB4,  

That ethos was carried through to the interior, which relied on the British stalwarts of a lustrous burr-walnut finish and Connolly hide, yet also borrowed bits from others, including Wolseley.

Like many of its contemporary rivals, the big Alvis was built by a coachbuilder, Park Ward. Unlike Rolls-Royces or Bentleys, Alvis' coupé was fitted with a lazy 3-litre straight-six. When Martin Buckley drove one back-to-back with a Mercedes-Benz 220SE Coupé (see C&SC June ’05) he found its near-silent idle turned into a healthy burble, "you can use 5000rpm regularly, but 3500 is normally enough and it’s almost as happy to pull away in second as it is in first", said our senior contributor.

It adds up to a desirable package that makes this car, with its £17-22,000 estimate, all the more lust worthy. It crosses the block at Silverstone Auctions on 17 November, so you had better be quick. The 1959-vintage machine comes with a lovely history that begins with its delivery to Lieutenant Colonel R Bevan, in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. By ’86 the car had been subject to a two-year body-off restoration and comes with a photo file of the work. It has had a good life since with many bills to confirm this.

Yet it is still described as a ‘rolling restoration’, likely because there’s plenty that an Alvis can be susceptible to. Critical rust spots can be found on the front and rear wheel arches, plus the chassis’ front suspension mounts and rear crossmember. The fantastic interior should be durable, but a tatty one will be costly to repair. Cars built from ’59 have an improved engine, with individual ports, and later cars' disc brakes are preferable to drums.

More help and advice can be found at the Alvis Owner Club’s website.

With what is believed to be a genuine 59,000 miles and bills dating back to the '60s, this machine should be close to worry free. It’s had a list of work carried out by Red Triangle – official holders of the Alvis production records and parts stock.  The car’s valued at £40,000 and comes weather sealed, Waxoyled and with a desirable power-steering conversion. Also crossing the block at the NEC, it’s expected to make around £28-32,000.

But if a ‘best of breed’ car’s what you hanker after this automatic convertible’s hard to fault. Up for sale in Belgium it will cost just under £75,000, but comes complete with a bare-metal respray to its original Seal Grey and an interior that looks as splendid as the day it was built.

So if opulence is your thing, but you don’t want everyone to know it, these Alvis cars are hard to fault. Our 100% free buyer’s guide gives a more than sporting chance you'll get the best for your money.