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Firebird

Firebird Description

The Firebird was produced as the successor to the Firefly and incorporated changes to keep abreast of developments. The altered brake-shoe pivot positions incorporated in the later Speed 20s, the later type of central nut for the wheels and the cast brass grease caps were all used.

A chassis modification allowed the installation of the then-new and now-legendary all-syncromesh gearbox, in fact, most of the fitting and accessories on the Firebird were in line with the other models i.e. bonnet catches, dynamo/water pump unit and pistons etc. Although typically of Alvis, certain details like the Hobson Telegauge, twist-type choke control, no fan, solid front axles, single centre engine mount and brake cross-shaft with inside adjustment handwheel were stubbornly retained.

There were, however, no fundamental changes to the model during its production and all models were designated 13.22 SA. Small changes to the exhaust system, the
clutch pedal linkage and the addition of a front bumper were about all.

The car lacked the charisma of its larger stable-mates, although it was constructed out of similar and in many cases identical parts i.e. hubs, axles, brakes, chassis (smaller in overall size but the same sections and thicknesses).

The standard issue Alvis 4-cylinder engine was expected to drag this lot about with acceptable performance – which it did very well considering a single SU carburettor
did somewhat deny the driver the ability to pour spirit down its throat as one can with big brother.

An average of 24 mpg is standard consumption for this car, although as much as 30
can be achieved under perfect conditions without leaning the engine to damage point. (Incidentally I know of a Speed 20 given a Firebird unit in the 1950’s, which for some years still returned 24 mpg with a reasonable performance).

The model was not a great market success when new; the last car was bodied at Cross & Ellis in June 1935 but not sold until December 1936 which meant that when
Alvis announced the Firebird as the continuing 4~cylinder model for 1936 every car they were able to sell through that year was at least 6 months old.

I can say from personal experience that it is a most endearing, faithful and unburstable Alvis, after all it is the final development of the T G John/Smith-Clarke original design-concept of a 4-cylinder well~built reliable machine with adequate performance. It could therefore be argued to be the last definitive Alvis ever built!

Cover photo (Register): Holbrook saloon, chassis 12351, despatched August 1935 but since rebodied as a sports special.

Production details by Dave Culshaw

Our Firebird survey commences with mention of the four hybrid Firefly Fourteens,
which were the ?rst cars to use the 1842cc engine. (See Bulletin 408 p5) The
production Firebird was constructed in ?ve chassis batches, which are listed below,
with their corresponding engine numbers.

CHASSIS                  ENGINE
150 1st Batch    12236 – 12385   12686 – 12835
100 2nd Batch   12486 – 12585   12940 – 13035
100 3rd Batch    12786 – 12885   13236 – 13335
50   4th Batch    13436 – 13485   13886 – 13935
50   5th Batch    13586 – 13635   14136 – 14185

The earliest CAR number in terms of despatch is 16669 in August 1934, and the last was 18485 in December 1936.

The total production run of 450 vehicles is easily analysed into:

324 four-door saloons by Holbrook
97 drop-head coupes by Cross and Ellis
25 tourers by Cross and Ellis
3 four-door saloons by Cross and Ellis (6-lt)
1 two-seater by Cross and Ellis

Each type had its separate body numbering system, and the apparent absence of certain numbers in each series is not at all mysterious, as the respective types of shell were also deployed on other models – particularly the contemporary Silver Eagles.

The solitary two-seater was quite odd in another respect; this chassis (no 12865) was endowed originally with valve gear incorporating the multiple (cluster) type springs
familiar on the six-cylinder cars.

Chris Taylor

Firebird Model Secretary



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