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Speed 25

Speed 25 Description

"In the Alvis Speed Twenty Five, the makers have produced a car which will delight those who appreciate fast motoring with an ample margin of safety. A very quick response to the accelerator is matched by exceptional steadiness under heavy braking conditions, light and accurate steering, and road holding of that special quality which is so rarely encountered nowadays."

Thus did Motor Magazine introduce the Speed Twenty Five on August 25th 1936. In fact, as was not uncommon throughout the history of Alvis, the Speed Twenty Five may have derived from "parts bin" engineering   the development of the Speed 20 SD chassis in it's final flowering, with the engine from the 3.5 litre car introduced in October 1935 and originally used in the longer 10' 7" chassis, as opposed to the Speed 20's 10' 4" wheelbase, to suit the needs of potential "carriage trade" coach builders.

The Speed Twenty had acquired a formidable reputation, but the later models were becoming under powered (or overbodied) by comparison with their competitors. This was particularly so when cars were fitted with the less spartan and more opulent coachwork commissioned by Charles Follett and other dealers and individuals.

The Speed Twenty Five was gradually developed and refined from the original SB series to the 1938 model SC with a price increase   of £25 for the chassis, but additional power arising from the "short stud" cylinder head, and latterly for 1939 a dual exhaust system.

As with the Speed Twenty, Charlesworth remained the factory appointed coachbuilders, using to great effect the comparatively low bonnet line to produce lithe, agile, flowing lines. However tourers were more commonly the work of Cross and Ellis.

For 1939 Saloons had double sliding sunroofs, and valences to replace running boards to give a more modern and rakish appearance.

Although the factory Charlesworth coachwork is often less appreciated than the more individual bespoke offerings of other coachbuilders, it was both extremely elegant and beautifully constructed.

The final development of the 1940 model included further improved performance through increased compression ratio, and smoother running by virtue of two adjustable tie rods to dampen vibration.

There are many contemporary, and now re published, road tests and reports praising the models design and engineering integrity   Alvis were first and foremost engineers, who, unlike other manufacturers, left coach building to others, albeit under strict guidelines.

Equally illuminating, are extracts of correspondence from Motor Sport in the 1950's and 60's, where correspondents were able to demonstrate from contemporary road tests, that the Speed Twenty Five was more accelerative, and with the same top speed as, for example, the considerably more expensive and larger engined Lagonda LG6. In terms of sheer performance the Derby Bentley, even in 4¼ litre guise, was very much an "also ran"!

George Butlin

Speed 25 Model Secretary

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