ALVICACITY John Haining adds to our information on this popular marque roasts the feet in warm weather. The
IPOSSESS two ” 12/50 ” Alvis cars as well as several incomplete editions of the make. The first car, and my favourite, is a 1924 “12/50,” engine number 3512, actually a 1925 model, with an open 3-door 4-seater body, and originally it had rear-wheel brakes only. I ran this car in peace-time regularly, doing 34 miles a day to my office, and at least another 250 miles each week-end. The car was in superb condition when I bought her, but I was foolish enough to allow a learner-driver to attempt a difficult turn into my yard with her, to the detriment of the lovely slim mudguards. Then I had a smash in 1941 with an old Ford lorry, with no left lock and a very drunken driver.
On examination I found the chassis to be undamaged, except for a bent dumb-iron, and decided to rebuild the car.
ly building programme was interrupted by a quite unwanted journey to the” Dark Continent,” but has just been completed, at last, in my workshops. The chassis has been braced and strengthened—on the early Alvis the engine is carried in a sub-frame, which is apt to loosen and cause engine judder and harsh transmission. A great deal of work was put in on the engine, although the single Zenith carburetter has been retained. Considerable modifications have been made to the induction and exhaust manifold ; on the original engine the exhaust pipe is led from the rear of the manifold, and
roasts the feet in warm weather. The compression ratio is stepped up slightly and the spark department is by Scintilla. Slight alteration has been made to the timing wheel housing, in an effort to eradicate the familiar ” 1/50″ clatter. The original gearbox is retained, with the addition of a clutch-stop, not fitted on the original early model. 1 he rather wide gear ratios are a slight disadvantage. The old steering wheel has been replaced by a spring-spoked ” Brooklands ” wheel, and the hand-brake is outside—the off side has no front door. The outside lever is partly a personal fad and partly to give more room to my knee. The Hardy-Spicer fabric couplings have been retained in the transmission, although I could have used the more modern cardan shaft with metal universals. A ” 12/60″ front axle is fitted, and the brakes are coupled and compensated. The high-pressure tyres and split-rim wheels are replaced by 20″ x 5.50″ tyres and the more modern ” 12/60 ” wheels. Different axles with Rudge-Whitworth knock-offs are going to be fitted when time permits. The rather bloated and swollen back has been cut off—how those
old body-builders could build !—and a more seemly back built on, embodying a large rear tank, and trailer tow-bar coupling. A folding screen is now being fitted, and the dashboard has always been fitted up fairly lavishly. The Smith clock has just been replaced after having had a lively year in my Army Humber in various parts of the world. I have had the car on the road recently, and hope to run it during this year. I ran out of petrol in Kirkby Lonsdale recently, and poured my last 4 gallons into the bone-dry tank. I drove home, expecting to run out of petrol any moment, and arrived at my workshops near Chester with enough petrol to do a journey of 4i miles before running out—a total distance of 94 miles. I could hardly believe this m.p.g. myself, so perhaps I should not expect others to !
The old ” 12/50 ” was truly nicknamed “the poor man’s Bentley.” I know of few other cars which give such pleasure to drive and handle, as well as possessing superb workmanship. My second ” 12/50 ” is a 1927 saloon, bought, complete with built-in jacks, new Dunlops, twin wipers and two spare wheels, and in quite good condition gene
rally, in 1941, for 10s. This car is at the moment being done up and overhauled, and may be fitted with a modern 2-seater body later. I also possess an experimental ” 12/50 “engine, on which I am trying an overhead camshaft, very experimental as yet. absorbing day was recently spent
at Birmingham with Mr. Chris. Southall, who invited members of the M.M.E.C. to examine the collection of veteran cars which belongs to Garry Adams and himself. One can gather the calibre of Mr. Southall’s enthusiasm when I say that be met us at his gate in a 1902 Baker electric car, which was operating for the occasion on batteries robbed from more modern vehicles. After sounding the warning bell (which was ominously like that of an ambulance !) the Baker preceded us up the drive, considerable wheelspin in starting testifying to its good power-to-weight ratio. It has the non-sprung tubular chassis reminiscent of the Locomobile steam car, the body being of dogcart type with leather mudguards and cape hood (to be fitted later), the whole connected to the chassis by four full-elliptic springs. It is powered by a 3-ish.p. electric motor with a reverse gear and current lock, and there is also provision for electric lighting, wires being carried through to the lamp brackets. Petrol being in short supply, the remaining vehicles were not started,
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but a most interesting afternoon was spent in examining them. The oldest member of the stable was an 1899 Benz— large wire-spoked wheels, solid tyres, rear engine, obviously evolved from gasengine practice, and the usual horizontalspoked flywheel. In the same garage was a 1903 Darracq tonneau, with singlecylinder engine, gilled-tube radiator, and steering asking only one-fifth of a turn lock to lock. Needless to say, the turning circle was not very good ! In another corner was a 1912 A.C. Sociable, which Mr. Southall used for 700 miles in Birmingham when the extension of the basic ration was granted to three-wheelers. Not being a veteran expert, I had always regarded this as one of the worst cars ever made, taking into account its date of manufacture, with its bathchair seating, tiller controls, inverted village-churchbell layout of double-spoked flywheels and single cylinder, and clutch-cumepicyclic two-speed box in the single rear wheel. But Mr. Southall assures me that while the A.C. was in everyday use he found it perfectly reliable. I still suspect this to be due more to his careful rebuilding and driving than to any inherent qualities of the design, and this would appear to be confirmed by the fact that on a previous occasion the car took 18 hours to cover 25 miles. Close by was a tri-car with two sloping singlecylinder engines side by side, driving the two rear wheels by chains. Bodywork was almost non-existent, the two seats being mounted on an otherwise unadorned chassis, the passenger sitting in front of the driver. Also examined was an Alldayand-Onions, which surely must have been one of the most minute conventional cars ever made, steered by a delightful wheel of some 9 in. diameter, with a very thick rim. Then there was a wonderfully preserved 1904 Talbot 2-seater, with in these petrol-less days enthusiasts in this country still contrive to meet and talk or inspect cars. Graham C. Dix here describes some expeditions of this kind, undertaken by himself and by members of the Midland Motoring
windscreen in a wide mahogany frame and plenty of brasswork. The cycling world was represented by a bone-shaker built for Mr. Southall’s grandfather by George Tangye in 1809, after seeing a somewhat similar French machine in a Birmingham street. This is not the place to describe such a bicycle in detail, but it is worth recording that the first owner once covered 80 miles in one day’s riding. There was also an early Humber motorcycle, comprising a standard cycle frame with motor added, and a four-in-line F.N. machine, lane, though Of much later date. Among modem vehicles were Singer Nine sports 4-seater, Morgan 4/4, Standard 0/12 sports 2-seater (of dashing appearance but, we learned, poor performance and badly balanced), and a B.M.W. Type 45, which the owner praised very highly. Now disused was a 350-c.c. Lloyd car, interest
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ing in view of its all-round independent suspension and rear engine, although one gathers that it proved something of a handful on tramlines in wet weather. A Rolls Royce “Silver Ghost” 2-seater coupe, formerly the property of Fred Karno, is used for pulling a field mower, and does so with a remarkably low petrol consumption and no apparent loss of performance. Lastly, due respect was paid to a 1929 ‘rype 40 Bugatti. When this car was pushed out into the sunlight It was seen to be possessed of several special features, not least, in the writer’s estimation, being the use of two bicycle pedal-cranks as levers on the front brake back plates. Stored in the country are other veterans, including a 1904 Lagonda tri-car, a Serpollet steam car and a 1902 De Dion with its classic rear suspension. This last had done some 1,500 miles just prior to the war in veteran trials, rallies, etc. It is on record that when the crew went to collect it from an unheated hotel garage one winter morning they found the owner of a modern popular car in difficulties over starting. Before going, they attempted to help him by resorting to the handle, but without avail. Ilis amazement was a joy to watch when, having primed the engine, the De Dion fired on the first pull-up, and, with lowered goggles and caps reversed, they chugged on their way. Mr. Southall merits the thanks of the whole motoring community for the amount of time, skill and money he has devoted to the honourable task, not only
of preserving so many veterans, but also in using them as a practical means of transport. My brief acquaintance with his stable does not enable me to do it justice in this report, and I hope that one day the owner may be persuaded to relate his experiences personally. Another afternoon the writer arranged to visit Mr. P. M. Bull, who recently claimed, in The Autocar, to have owned over 60 cars in eight years. Most of these have been Continentals, and there was a long discussion upon our mutual interest in D.K.W.s. The real purpose of my visit, however, was to inspect his Zbriojevska (?), which I believe is pronounced ” Zebrofska.” This is a Czech car, of unknown bore and stroke, rated at 13 h.p., and is a 4-cylinder 2-stroke. Having regard to the size of engine, the chassis is of liberal dimensions, independently sprung at the front by a wishbone at the bottom and transverse spring at the top. The engine has an aluminium head, and the drive is to the front wheels via a 3-speed box. The pistons have no deflectors in the accepted sense of the word, but are domed, shallow recesses in the crown guiding the gases. There is a large gravity feed tank under the bonnet, the filler being surrounded by a permanent tundish which would be invaluable if recourse had to be made frequently to tins as a source of supply. The radiator header tank is simply enormous, and the car should be capable of climbing the Tatra, or any other mountains, without overheating. The body is a large two-door cabriolet reminiscent of ‘Mercedes, with red leather upholstery on the wide bench seats. The stiff gearlever, rising from a ball-joint in the footboards in the centre of the compart
ment like that in the early B.S.A. threewheelers, is obtrusive for a front-wheeldrive car, and the linkage is complex. There are two spare wheels, hydraulic brakes, and a luggage boot large enough to store a cabin trunk. Altogether a car to Stand up to much tough going and Very heavy loads. As the ::starter was temporarily out of action I did not hear the engine running. I am assured, however, that it is very smooth and gives low-speed acceleration above the -average. Maximum is about 70 m.p.h., and there is little noticeable snatch on the overrun, although no free-wheel is provided. There are twin Zenith carburetters, and an individual ignition system which has two coils and contact-breakers and which makes the plugs spark at the bottom, as well as at the top, of every stroke. The greatest thanks are due to Mr. Bull for his kindness in devoting so much time to enable me to examine the car, and still more so for his enthusiasm in collecting examples of current continental practice. The last of this series of expeditions was a 20-mile cycle ride in a biting wind, to examine an early Mercedes. It was stored at a garage, the owner being somewhere in the Middle East. The Continued on preceding page mechanic assured me that it was a 90-h.p. car which had been used in a GordonBennett race. As previously mentioned, my knowledge of veterans is small, particularly of this type of car, but my own opinion is that it is 1907 or 1908, probably the latter, and that its power is about 60-70 h.p. Perhaps the following brief details will enable a reader to identify it more closely. It was painted a light colour, probably once white, and has been fitted with flared wings. Old brass headlamps are fitted, together with modern side lights of the type used by Ford. The radiator is V-shape and has a half compression tap below. The four separately-cast cylinders have non-detachable heads, and there are two sparking plugs per cylinder, set horizontally at about 45° to each other. The crankcase is aluminium, with a drive to the camshaft between the second and third cylinders. The three valves per cylinder were operated by rockers and rather spidery push-rods of great length. Judging by the size of the exposed valve-spring, the single exhaust valve was a giant. The exhaust manifolds paired off the cylinders, two huge pipes coming through the near side of the bonnet, becoming one just
before entering the water-cooled silencer situated under the passenger’s seat. There were four forward speeds and reverse, the final drive being by enclosed chains. A rev.-counter calibrated to 2,000 r.p.m. graced the dash, the petrol tank was at the rear, and the large artillery-type wheels were not detachable. The car was in really excellent order, bearing in mind that it has been uncared for since 1939, but the casual observer is bound to express regret at some of the modernisations which the owner has evidently found necessary in order to use the car on the road.