Letter From Reader

The 4½-litre Lagonda


In his letter in the July issue dealing with comparisons between the above car and the Alvis Speed 25 and 4.3 litre, Mr. Michael suggests that the performance figures quoted by Mr. Pollard had been chosen as the best from the point of view of the Alvis, while he himself had used the least flattering figures for the Lagonda. This, however, is not the case and the different sets of figures for the two Alvis models arises, not from differences in test figures of identical vehicles, but from the fact that both models were modified and therefore different sets of figures are available. The 3½ litre and the 4.3 litre were only made in their original forms for quite a short period and the 3½ litre modified to the Speed 25 and the 4.3 litre, also in its modified form, were built in the larger numbers. It is, therefore, reasonable to suggest that the figures which should be quoted are those for the cars manufactured in the largest numbers.

Mr. Michael states that none of the cars he owned in unmodified form would achieve their road test figures but the 4.3-litre Alvis, tested by The Motor in May, 1939, still exists in unmodified form and is well known to me. The instruments of this vehicle have just been checked by Jaegers and the speedometer is one m.p.h. fast up to 30 m.p.h. and two m.p.h. fast in the 60/100 m.p.h. range. Recently, this car has been driven at an indicated speed of 102 m.p.h. and this speed was cross-checked with the rev.-counter. At this speed the car was not completely flat out and it seems reasonable to suppose that the test maximum of 103.75 m.p.h. is still obtainable. It is hoped to take acceleration figures at some future date. The owner of this vehicle has also recently completed a journey of 540 miles in the day with no fatigue at all and it has been compared very favourably, by his passenger, with a modern disc-braked 3.4 Jaguar.

While standards of comfort have changed over the years, the riding qualities of this vehicle were highly praised in the original road test report. Nevertheless, it is true that Alvis coachwork has not tended to last so well as that on the Lagonda. Differences in weight and price of the respective vehicles must, however, be borne in mind. It has also been fairly apparent to me that, while the transverse front spring fitted to the Alvis is surprisingly supple, in many cases, shock absorbers have failed to work properly, as has the one-shot lubrication system, which can lead to seizure of the pins locating the radius arms with the chassis. It is interesting to note that Alvis used the same basic i.f.s. layout in all their larger models from May, 1933, until the War.

It is unfortunate that the Alvis withdrawal from racing in 1930, after scoring some notable successes, prevents any comparison of the two makes in this sphere. However, Alvis cars were still raced privately and, in 1935, a 2½ -litre Speed 20 lapped Brooklands at 118 m.p.h., a 12/70 (1,842 c.c.) at nearly 110 m.p.h. in 1939 while, in this year also, a 4.3 tourer lapped at 115 m.p.h. with wings and lamps removed, high back axle ratio and 8 to 1 compression ratio, which gave 170 b.h.p. Perhaps the really important point, though, is that by their withdrawal from racing and by changing the design of their production cars, Alvis continued to survive as an independent company while, by turning in 1936 primarily to the manufacture of aero engines they have, so far, remained independent, to the advantage of the private owner who, as Mr. Michael points out, may benefit from a first-class spares and repairs service.

The above is written merely to clarify a few points and I must make it quite clear that I thought Mr. Michael's original article to be one of the best of its kind which I have ever read and I myself am an admirer of the vehicle which has been the subject of this correspondence.

I am, Yours, etc., K. R. Day, Alvis Owners' Club. New Malden.