THE 12-60 SPORTS ALVIS
The First Famous Four.
One of the most famous of these was the winning of the 1924 2(X) 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, HIGH PER FORMANCE FOUR-CYLIN DER MODEL RE INTRODUCED BY THE WELL KNOWN COVENTRY FIRM
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
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 i hai.ze 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
like are abominaand we pleased find that actual in was easier put up the unconcealed owto the fact that hood envelopes and straps a re abolished by the simple hi nged
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.
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