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TF21 Description

TF21 Saloon

The final model developed by Alvis was the TF21, or Three Litre Series IV as the Sales Department insisted it be called. This was to be the fastest car produced in the history of the company and a fitting swansong. Following an unexpected improvement in sales levels for the TE21,  Board approval was granted for the construction of a final batch of 100 chassis. In the event 106 were built, 6 of which were consigned to Carrosserie Graber for the construction of unique coachwork to customer specification. The remainder were all bodied by the Rolls Royce subsidiary, the coachbuilder Mulliner Park Ward. 80 were bodied as saloons and 20 as Drophead Coupes.

The model was launched at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show. In response to market demand for more power, M.R. Dunn continued with the development of the old Three Litre unit. The experimental use of a 4 litre Aston Martin Lagonda unit, whilst endowing the car with a top speed in excess of 135 mph, was cancelled on the grounds of cost. By this time the ownership of the company had passed, by "merger", to Rover and tooling up was underway for the 3.5 litre V8 Buick engine. It is likely that such a unit was fitted experimentally to a TE, Registration Number EVC 155 C.


Triple SU carburettors were fitted to a water-heated manifold. This placed the air filters under the nearside wheel arch to be largely forgotten by owners. The compression ratio rose to 9:1, allied to revisions to valves and springs. The camshaft profile was altered to increase power at the expense of low speed torque. These changes brought about a gross power output of 154 bhp @ 4,750 rpm against 130 bhp @ 5,000 rpm for the TE unit.

The modified Graber design of the MPW coachwork was surprisingly aerodynamic for the time. This was despite the design being some 11 years old and also having been compromised by the fitting of a raised wingline and a bluffer front profile to accommodate the then-fashionable four-headlight system introduced on the TE21 in 1963. This allowed a top speed of 124 mph and a very creditable 0 - 60 time of 9.9 seconds from a 1950 engine design originally intended to produce 75 bhp.

Other changes included the fitment of a new lighter ZF five speed gearbox, the S 5-20. ZF power assisted steering was standardised after the first two chassis were built (numbers 27370/1) which went to Graber. Further mechanical alterations included a lighter to operate Borg and Beck spring diaphragm clutch; variable rate rear springs; changes to the front suspension geometry and a self-adjusting handbrake. Internal changes were confined to a long-awaited revision to the fascia; placing the instruments in a hooded binnacle ahead of the driver; a shorter gear lever and an uprated heater.

Optional equipment was carried forward from the TE21 and included Borg Warner Automatic Transmission; Reutter seats; non standard paint finish, either mono or duo tone; a radio and either enamelled or chrome plated wire wheels. Whilst power steering was standardised on the production line, it was at extra cost over list. All this resulted in a price in basic form some 30 percent ahead of the Jaguar Mark X, albeit in significantly better taste.

Chassis construction was, to all intents and purposes, completed before the end of 1966; the Drophead having been delisted in May of that year. A delay in deliveries was brought about by a renegotiation of price by MPW after 85 chassis had been bodied. The final Drophead Coupe, Chassis No.27463, was consigned to the agent on 2nd November 1966 and the last Saloon, chassis No. 27472, on 29th September 1967. The last two chassis went to Graber in November 1966 and February 1967 and were bodied as a Coupe (now in American hands and the subject of a major restoration in 1998) and a Special Cabriolet.

Ken Cameron

Past TF21 Model Secretary

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