Classic Car Catalogue

Alvis 1931

FWD 12/75 - discountinued (1928-31- 142 ex.)
12/50 (TJ)  
12/60 (TK)  
Silver Eagle 16 HP (TB) - new model – this year only
Silver Eagle 20 HP (TC) - new model – this year only
Speed 20 - November

Great Britain

Motor SportOctober 1931
Alvis 16.95 HP Silver Eagle was first introduced in 1929 and continue into the thirties with detail improvements. Its six-cylinder engine has push rod-operated overhead valves and a cubic capacity of 2148 cc (67.5 x 100 mm). Wheelbase is 10 ft 3 in and the 1931/32 four/five-seater Tourer version costs £595. 20 HP Silver Eagle is basically similar to the 16.95 HP but has 73-mm bore, resulting in 2511-cc cubic capacity. Two wheelbase lengths are available: 10 ft 3 in (Model TB) and 11 ft (Model TC chassis for Limousine body). Like the 16.95 HP it features a Special Dual Ignition system, consisting of an aircraft type Polar Inductor Magneto, "adapted by the use of special switches and high-tension coil to work as coil ignition for starting, or in the unlikely event of magneto failure". The Mayfair Four-light Saloon sold at £775.
Motor SportDecember 1931
The New Alvis.

ONE of the most interesting new sports models of this year is the latest 19-82 Alvis, Introduced since the Show, it should find a ready demand. Although all the main features are already well tried and known, the layout of the chassis is a departure from normal Alvis practice. It is extremely low built, the frame being dropped from both ends giving a very low body line and seating position. The engine is based on the well known 3-carburettor sports job which has given such good performance in the Silver Eagle models. The six cylinder engine is in a unit with the gear box, and central change is employed. Coil-ignition and larger brake drums are other features. It is hoped that this model will be in full production shortly, and fuller particulars can be obtained from the make


Front Wheel drive          
2 seat sports          
4 seat sports          
sports saloon          



12/50 and 12/60

  wb: 4 cyl.
1645 cc
50 bhp
4 cyl.
1645 cc
52 bhp
2 seat sports 9 ft 4 ½ in 12/50 (TJ) -  
drophead Coupé 9 ft 4 ½ in 12/50 (TJ) -  
saloon 9 ft 4 ½ in 12/50 (TJ) -  
2 seat sports 9 ft 4 in. - 12/60 (TK) – new model
4 seat sports 9 ft 4 in. - 12/60 (TK) – new model
sports saloon 9 ft 4 in. - 12/60 (TK) – new model


WHEN a sports car firm has built a particularly enviable reputation for a certain model, one is always very sorry to see it dropped from its list. Such was the case with the Alvis concern and the famous 1½-litre 4-cylinder sports model of some five years ago, which enjoyed such remarkable and well deserved popularity. Most of our readers will remember and many will have owned, one of the old aluminium bodied 12-50 h.p. Alvis models of that time, which had some outstanding performances to its credit.
The First Famous Four.
One of the most famous of these was the winning of the 1924 200 miles race with a slightly modified standard model against some very special racing cars. The race started with a terrific burst of speed from the new supercharged Fiats. These, however, proved unable to stand the pace they had set, and retired, to give place to C. M. Harvey on the Alvis at over 94 m.p.h.
A very extraordinary feature of this run, which has always stuck in the writer's memory, is the fact that at this speed the car averaged 24 m.p.g. of fuel for the distance, showing how little freak tuning had been employed, and how efficient the engine actually was. In the hands of many private owners, notably Dykes and Macdonald, this car continued to win many events, and was famous for its reliability, and the fact that the car you could buy was definitely the same in stamina and performance with the models which appeared so successfully on the track and at other meetings.
However, fashion is fickle, or perhaps it would be fairer to say that new developments in the motoring world could not be lost sight of, and the clamour on all sides was for at least a six-cylinder engine. So Alvis, who always believe, not only in keeping abreast of the times, but of experimenting well in advance of them, set down to produce the now famous Silver Eagle series of sixes. This engine is of approximately 2-litres capacity, and has a remarkable performance, as we were able to prove for ourselves by taking over a well worn and hard used works car of this type for a test some time ago.
However, pleased as we were with this excellent car, which, incidentally, failed to show any signs of its violent existence, we could never forget that very excellent 4-cylinder model on which we had had many wonderful runs. One particular " blind " which always sticks in the writer's memory as a legacy of a violent and misspent past was a particular occasion on which it was vitally essential to travel to the Midlands from Brooklands to fetch some spares on the eve of a 200-mile motorcycle race. No train would bring them in time, so in the grim small hours of the morning of the race, a certain 12-50 Alvis, the property of a trusting friend, was taken over, and we set out with our foot hard down. The fact that the parts were duly collected from the appointed rendezvous at Wolverhampton and transported back to the track in time to be fitted and tested for a start at midday, will explain one reason for our great respect for the Alvis, and also for the fact that our passenger on that occasion will never forget the run!
This is beside the point, though, but great was our joy when at last year's show a 4-cylinder Alvis, bearing many resemblances to its famous ancestor, appeared once more. We were disappointed that it was only shown in touring form, and promptly made enquiries as to the possibilities of a sports model being produced. We were told that such was far from unlikely, but that its introduction would depend on the demand.
Why they should have been so modest it is hard to see, but sure enough, the demand became too insistent to be ignored, and the result was the 12-60 model, an example of which was recently placed at our disposal to do our worst with and report what we thought of it.
To say we were impressed would be to put things mildly, and would be too vague to be of much interest so we will endeavour to analyse our opinion in as critical a frame of mind as possible. In the matter of technical details the keynote is a simplicity and freedom from fancy points of design, which is a great relief to the owner who makes a point of seeing to the welfare of his vehicle. The resemblances to the old model are evident, and it is this fact that inspires such confidence in its reliability and long wearing properties.
In the past few years, however, a great deal of important detail research has taken place in the world of sports and racing cars, and Alvis have been well to the fore in this particular respect. The result is that the latest model incorporates many features which constitute a great improvement. The power of the engine has been increased by small details which have avoided the necessity of having it at all rough when highly tuned. The engine is extremely smooth down to the lowest speeds, largely due no doubt to the fact that a crankshaft damper is fitted at the front end to eliminate any chance of torsional vibration. Although the ignition control requires reasonably intelligent handling to get the best out of the engine, there is little tendency to pinking, and the car can be driven in a thoroughly touring manner, if one is feeling lazy.
On the other hand, it responds at once to the sort of driving that a sports car expects to get, and the engine shows a wonderful capacity for revs and good acceleration. The gearbox is really quiet on the lower ratios, giving only that smooth subdued hum which tells of first-class workmanship and robust design. The maximum speeds were 45 m.p.h. in second, 65 m.p.h. in third, and 76 m.p.h. in top. This was the speed on the level without any aid of wind or gradient, but on several occasions we touched just on 80 m.p.h. when conditions were more favourable. The comfort and steadiness at these speeds were excellent, and control was light and positive. The car has in no way been, skimped to reduce weight, and the very neat looking body is every bit as good as it looks in construction, and incorporates some very cunning features.
One which we cannot pass without mention is the concealed hood.
A sports car needs a fully protective and easily erected hood as much as any other vehicle, but the normal type does rather spoil the lines of a body of this type. On the other hand, hoods which have to be dug out of the boot and erected like Meccano are abomination, and we pleased find that the actual device in question was easier to put up than the normal unconcealed variety owing to the fact that hood envelopes and straps are abolished by the simple hinged panel which encloses the whole affair when not in use.
Hoods are, as a rule, of minor interest, but this one so impressed us that it must be referred to, and it was typical of the way the car is thought out all round. A prolonged high average speed on twisty and hilly roads can be maintained, without effort on the part of the car or driver, and the clutch stop enables very quick changes up to be made if required.
The brakes require a certain amount of pressure to operate, but are powerful and smooth. The silence of the car as a whole is a great aid to pleasant travel, while an encouragement to cover big mileages lies in the truly remarkable petrol consumption. By no means a small car, and capable of nearly 80 m.p.h., it is rather a striking tribute to the efficiency of the design that it will do well over 30 m.p.g. even when driven really hard. This was a genuine surprise to us, and a great attraction to the man who covers big distances.
In our efforts to upset the car's behaviour by violent cornering we failed, and there is no tendency to roll at any speed. When cornering at the absolute limit of adhesion, there does seem, however, to be a certain slightly dead feeling about the steering, which has, however, ample caster action in normal use. This might be due to the proportion of weight on the front axle, but is more likely to be a question of attention to shock absorbers or tyre pressures, which naturally require slightly abnormal settings for such unusually hectic treatment as that to which we subjected it.
The car as a whole is a very sound proposition and as suitable for the sober and useful occasions of life as well as the more violent and exhilarating, and we parted with it with genuine regret. At the price of £410 for such a high-class job, fitted out in detail regardless of cost, it should appeal to a large market, of old and new Alvis owners.

Motor Sport

Silver Eagle

    6 cyl.
2148 cc
6 cyl.
2511 cc
saloon 10 ft 3 in 16.95 HP (TB)      
drophead Coupé 10 ft 3 in 16.95 HP (TB)      
  11 ft.   20 HP (TC)    


Silver Eagle 20 Mayfair Four-light Saloon

Silver Eagle 16 Tourer
Motor SportJuly 1931

October '31

October '31

October '31



  Event: Entered: Raced: Finished: Best results:
8-9.05.1931 Double Twelve 1 1 0   FWD 1482 cc (s) Farley / Parker nc
03.08.1931 Brooklands First Mountain Handicap         1,991 c.c. P. Fotheringham-Parker 3rd
03.08.1931 Brooklands Second One-Lap Sprint         1,991 c.c. P. Fotheringham-Parker 3rd
03.10.1931 Brooklands 500 Miles 1 1 0     E. M. Farley dnf
17.10.1931 Brooklands Junior Short Handicap         1,991 c.c. Parker 1st
17.10.1931 Brooklands Ladies' Handicap         1,645 c.c. Miss I. C. Schwedler 3rd

Alvis Straight-Eight 1 ½-Litre Supercharged Front-Wheel Drive racer, photographed at Brooklands about 1931. The driver was Thomas Dowling and the passenger was the car's owner, Ernie Coleman.