I was most amused to read your “Words of Caution” to would-be vintagents in the very appropriate edition of Motor Sport appearing on April 1st! The enthusiasm for old vehicles is, in fact, a disease for which I know of no cure. It keeps poor people poor and reduces the fortunes of the more wealthy! It takes over one’s entire way of life and often makes one an outcast from normal society.
You asked in your article, how many of us, with smaller engined vintage cars could honestly say that we cruised in our cars at 55 mph. I do! Or, more to the point, I cruise at a somewhat faster rate than 55 mph.
I have a 1926 Alvis 12/50 TE Brooklands tourer. This car has the 1,649 cc engine and is to standard specification and certainly not tuned for extra performance. It will, however, cruise at 60 mph and has a top speed of about 75 mph, giving a petrol consumption of around 30 mpg. Indeed, returning back from Grenoble last January (the car is used all year round) it covered 250 miles the first morning at an average speed of 65 mph using the Autoroute which was, in parts, deep in snow. I find that for normal long journeys or ordinary roads, a day’s average speed of 40 mph is normal.
The car is as reliable as any other car, new or old. There is no secret to this performance other than that when jobs are done on the car they are done properly and the engine was put together properly. It is regularly maintained and serviced, and used as it was intended to be used. I would think that any good 12/40 1 1/2-litre Meadows engined Lea Francis, similarly looked after, would do the same.
The Alvis certainly has the same sort of performance as a 3-litre Bentley which would cost at least twice as much to purchase and it regularly gives much more exotic machinery a surprising run for these money! It has no outstanding looks, in fact it is rather plain. It is not terribly complicated or over clever, just well built, a good basic design, and well maintained.
Malcolm C. Elder
Paines Hill, Steeple Aston