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6 Cylinders

Whilst the cars with a sporting pedigree made the name of Alvis, whether through the racing cars of the 1920s and the Speed models of the 1930s, the company relied heavily on the sale of more practical cars.

In the Vintage period, the six cylinder 14.75 and the Silver Eagle sold well, keeping the company afloat during the period of challenges over the Front wheel drive cars. These cars were solid performers with their powerful, smooth 6 cylinder engines and well-appointed coachwork.

There were a myriad of organisations that needed a smart, up market limousine that could be used for official functions etc. for carrying VIPs, but without the expense of a Rolls Royce or similar. Likewise there were many private customers, successful people for whom a Rolls Royse or similar was beyond their means or their sensibility and the Alvis offered a thinking mans choice, but without choosing the more focussed Speed Models.

The Silver Eagle evolved through the 1930s across a number of models, collecting in the process some of the developments provided on the Speed 20 Model cars, such as the all synchromesh gearbox, cruciform braced chassis and the Speed 20 engines.  In the process, Alvis becoming not just the masters of the King’s highway, but also of stock and inventory control.  

Naturally taller than and more upright than their Speed cousins, they enjoyed a similar variety of coachwork, from tourers through to full on Limousines. With similar power, they were  not much slower than the Speed models and found much favour, the Silver Eagle continuing in production until 1937.

The Crested Eagle announced in 1933 was unashamedly aimed at the luxury market, with a longer chassis to carry larger coachwork, independent front suspension and initially a pre selector gearbox. These features plus a single carburettor Speed 20 2.5 L engine, made for a very accommodating form of travel during the early 1930s. It too benefited from  the development process of the Speed models, switching to a synchromesh gearbox from pre selector and eventually inheriting the 3.5 L engine of the Speed 25, again in a de tuned form.

As the 1930s progressed a further type of 6 cylinder car emerged aimed at a different market. In the same way as the 4 cylinder cars were targeting a less well healed but discriminating audience. The Silver Crest aimed to take sales away from manufacturers such as Rover, by offering the Alvis quality, achieved using parts carefully selected from 3rd party manufacturers which met Alvis’ own in house manufacturing standards.

First seen in 1936, the 2.3 L 17 RAC hp TF model was designed by George Lanchester and came at a fortunate time as sales of the larger more expensive cars were falling. The 517 Silver Crests built comparing well against the 398 Speed 25s built in the same period. The engine was bored out to 2.7 L and 19 RAC hp two years later in the TH model.

Alvis clearly viewed the Silver Crest as a key model as it was including the latest Razor edge styling to the 1940 model that never reached production.

All of the above models were highly practical and desirable cars that saw heavy use during the post war 1940s and 50s. However, lacking the appeal of the Speed models, they survived in lower numbers, either being worked to the point where they were an uneconomic old car or became a source of spares for the Speed models. In the case of the Silver Crest there was a further possible fate, becoming by virtue of its gearbox the choice for the racing special builder.

Today these are some of the rarer Alvis, especially in the full Limousine form and yet they remain some of the most practical and attractive cars of the PVT period.

Silver Eagle (PVT) Silver Crest
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