Book reviews, April 1989, April 1989

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Alvis — The Story Of The Red Triangle
by Kenneth Day, 375pp. 10′ x 8″. (Haynes Publishing Group, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ. £24.95).

Recent months have been a grand time on the books front for one-make followers. We have had Seaton’s pictorial Lagonda history, Styles’ Riley competition history (which, whatever some critics have against it, is packed with nostalgic photographs), and now Ken Day’s new edition on Alvis (Anthony Heal’s book on the racing Sunbeams has been delayed at the binders but, incidentally, Day tells of unofficial liaison between Sunbeam and Alvis when the latter built Grand Prix cars in 1926-27). Enthusiasts were well served when Day wrote the story of Alvis from 1920 to 1966 (followed in 1967 by Peter Hull and Norman Johnson’s book on the vintage cars and by a later work on the 12/50 engine); now this revised edition takes that story a step further, the one-time General Secretary and now President Emeritus of the Alvis OC covering the entire spectrum of cars, aeroengines and military vehicles.

He also gives interesting pen-portraits of the people who founded and controlled this successful British company, with illustrations of their non-Alvis productions. There are maintenance notes for the pre-war, and post-war 3-litre, cars, fine illustrations (including 30 in colour), and a wonderful Roy Nockolds painting of FWD Alvises in the 1927 Brooklands 200-Mile Race as the end-papers.

If any criticism is justified it is that, unlike in Seaton’s Lagonda book, a lot of the pictures have been published previously, and they are in somewhat mixed order. However, in the new larger format they have reproduced extremely well and are very worthwhile.

Appendices cover the 1948 Smith-Clarke address to the IME, his non-motoring hobbies, Alvis patents, production figures and a breakdown of the 2330 Alvises still in existence. I would have welcomed an index, however, and raised an eyebrow over a caption saying a 3-litre Alvis led an International Trophy race — it was only the touring car support race, of course! This is a book for all who are interested in Alvis Ltd’s products, although the pictures have a welcome sporting flavour, and all enthusiasts of the make who do not buy it will have sadly incomplete libraries. WB