I bought three Alvis cars in about two years, the last a Grey Lady drophead coupé body by Tickford. I paid cash, £1,850, in New Zealand, against picking the car up on arrival in England.
On arrival my mail contained a letter from the shippers informing me that my car would not be ready on the 14th but would be on the 23rd, but it would be no use attempting to pick it up until I paid their bill, some £14. This I did, but what a welcome! On arriving by train at Coventry I went to the Alvis works. An old codger said “That’s ‘er over there, I put 2 gallons of petrol in. That’ll be 6/9d.” (I am not quite sure of the amount now). This made me furious. I had bought three Alvii in two years or so, and they charged me for the lousy two gallons of petrol, I said Two gallons? What the hell is the use of that? Fill the bloody thing up.” He looked flabbergasted but did so. On enquiring the price he told me “£2 14 3-1/2d” (again, not sure of figures now, except the halfpenny). I made out a cheque and said “you don’t want the halfpenny do you?” “Oh yes,” he replied. I nearly dropped dead, but solemnly gave him the halfpenny. After leaving the works at Coventry I found that the number on the engine did not correspond with that of the papers, etc.; took the or back, and they actually filed the number off the engine and made it correspond with the registration papers. My Hat. I took the car back to Warwick and next day drove her to Birmingham. She got steaming hot, oil boiling out of every joint. I crawled home to Warwick and spent all Saturday trying to get the works on the ‘phone.
Naturally I hit the roof, and later the Sales Manager contacted me and sent a team out on Sunday morning to tow my lovely new car back to the works, “Stuck thermostat”. They fixed that. I drove to Carlisle in pouring rain, got wet to the knees With rain pouring down the scuttle joints, and there was a hell of a rattle in the driver’s door. I took it to the Agents who were co-operative. They filled the leaks up with “goo” and told me to take the car back to Tickford’s to get the rattle eliminated, “That would drive anyone mad,” the Manager said. It surely would! At Tickford’s they could not find the cause so filled the door up with oil. That cured it, until the oil ran out. I asked Tickford’s why their cars got smothered with dust inside? They said they had no complaints. I said “No, you have no bloody dust, we have.” Looking under the wheel arch we found a hole about an inch square, in each arch, “We’ve been doing that for centuries,” said the man. “You’d better stop doing it if you want to sell cars in NZ,” I said. I landed in NZ. The car had preceded me on an earlier boat, and a very angry man met me at the wharf. “What bloody sort of rattle trap have you got now?” He was wet to the knees and the rattle was worse than ever. We fixed the leak in a few minutes and as quickly found the rattle, a spot weld come adrift. Can you wonder that I bought six Porsches in a row after that lot?
E.V. Ogtherr – Havelock North, NZ.