Over 50 years later, under the ownership of Stote, the company is still restoring cars and making and distributing parts around the globe for the 4800 Alvis models that remain on the road. Around 200 pass through its workshop each year. On the day I visit, Stote greets me in the company’s large showroom, filled with Alvis models of all ages. Stote’s enthusiasm for Alvis is infectious. He soon has me cooing over a 4.3-litre Bertelli Sports Coupé. I’m more familiar with the later, more restrained Park Ward-bodied TF21 cars, and there are a few in the showroom, but the pre-war 4.3s are stunning. However, all but the earliest Alvis models on display share a graceful, perfectly proportioned, low-slung look. Unfortunately, none is available to drive, so I’ll have to imagine how they feel.
From the showroom, we walk the few hundred yards or so to the main workshop, a large three-storey building where the company’s 22-strong team of parts experts and craftsmen and women toil. It’s a fascinating place, with old Alvis heirlooms, including those original engines and even the original parts bins from 1929, rubbing shoulders with state-of-the-art production and vehicle testing machinery.
Old and new skills rub shoulders, too. For example, in one area, Daz, an expert in aluminium work, is shaping the body panel of a continuation model using an English wheel. Every so often, he places it against a full-sized wood buck of the car to determine the accuracy of the curvature he’s forming. Watching him is Alistair Pugh of A2P2 Specialists Reverse Engineering, a specialist supplier, who uses a laser to digitise the original Alvis bodies to the last millimetre in order to generate the data necessary to produce the buck Daz is referencing.
Stote now leads the way to another building containing around 20 Alvis cars in various stages of decay that he’s collected over the past 40 years and intends to restore. Elsewhere, another building is home to 40 Alvis models owned by customers and awaiting servicing. A 70-point service, Krypton tune, fresh MOT and a valuation costs £595.
As I leave, he thrusts a copy of The Autocar’s 1938 road test of the Alvis 4.3-litre Sports Tourer into my hands and indicates its conclusion: ‘There are cars, good cars and super cars. When a machine can be put into the last of these three categories, considerable praise is due to the makers. This model is the latest 4.3 Litre Alvis Sports Tourer.’
“See: it’s the first supercar!” exclaims Stote. “Autocar says so!” With an imagination like that, Alvis is in good hands.
Alvis marks centenary with extended continuation line-up