"The Vintage Alvis"

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by Peter Hull and Norman Johnson. 400 pp. 9 in. x 6 in. (Macdonald & Co. Ltd., Gulf House, 2, Portman Street, London, W.1. 126s.)

This long-awaited one-make, almost one-model, history by Peter Hull of the V.S.C.C. and Norman Johnson of the 12/50 Alvis Register may be expensive but it comes fully up to expectations and brings Macdonald to the forefront of specialist one-make book publishers.

The Alvis car in general has been dealt with by K. R. Day in his book, so Hull and Johnson have concentrated on the vintage aspect of this famous and still popular make. They deal in great and absorbing detail with the origins of the Company, the competition successes and failures of the Coventry firm, and particularly with the advent of front-wheel-drive and how Alvis adopted this form of transmission.

Contemporary road-test reports are quoted, each model from 1919 to 1930 is described in considerable detail and given its proper perspective, and there is interesting correspondence from T. G. John of the Alvis Company about racing, and answering those who complained to him that after 1930 the quality of the product dropped.

The Foreword is by Mrs. Urquart-Dykes, who raced vintage Alvis cars so enthusiastically, the frontispiece is in colour, and the great bulk of this Alvis volume is packed with excellent pictures and line drawings. The different hare mascots are illustrated and almost half the book is devoted to maintenance notes and diagrams, reprints of articles from contemporary and more recent journals (including the late John Cooper’s article on tuning the 12/50, from Motor Sport of 1940, with subsequent erudite correspondence from Michael May), a description of Racing Alvis No. 1, and a register of all the vintage cars on the books of the 12/50 Alvis Register when the tome went to press.

The maintenance section alone will be invaluable to vintage Alvis folk and must be something like as informative, about specifications and settings as well as servicing, as the Bentley D.C.’s notable work on the construction of vintage Bentleys. We have no idea of the print run but all vintage Alvis owners should make certain of securing a copy of perhaps the most notable one-make history yet published, before the stock is exhausted. – W.B.

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