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This wonderful Alvis Speed 20 4.3 litre carries the distinction of being the best driving, most thoroughly enjoyable 1930’s tourer we’ve had in the 27 year history of the company. DMX 829 also has a particularly interesting history and has been subject of a complete rebuild using an authentic original Vanden Plas body. Nick Szkiler, our founder came back from the appraisal and test drive of this car stating, “It’s glorious and I’ve not driven anything like it”. The fact that it is an ex-Albert Sparrowhawk Alvis rather explains it.
Back in the day, you bought a new chassis from a quality manufacturer like Alvis and clothed it with your chosen body from a number of contemporary coachbuilders, Cross and Ellis, Charlesworth and Vanden Plas for example. Almost twenty years ago, this car was rebuilt by a gifted enthusiast who really knew these cars. The chassis was originally built as a Speed 20 Charlesworth saloon in 1936. By 1965 it was in quite rough condition and was offered for sale in the Alvis Owners Club at £90. By the late 1990's the car was a rolling chassis and restoration commenced using a genuine Vanden Plas Tourer body, originally fitted to a Derby Bentley. The body is from one of five tourers built of the type, this one being documented as from RC44. The car was fitted with the more potent engine from a 4.3 litre SB Charlesworth saloon. The builder, Albert Sparrowhawk is well known in Alvis Circles as a spirited racing driver and builder. He owned the Bentley from which this body came, only buying the body back after the new owner removed it to fit a replica Bentley Le Mans tourer. Sparrowhawk had some success in motor racing:
April 1994 VSCC Silverstone:
Richard Pilkington was hopeful of repeating last year's success in the Fox & Nicholl Trophy with the Totnes Motor Museum's 1938 Talbot, but he disappeared from second place after one lap when a drive coupling sheared. That left Albert Sparrowhawk (Alvis) with the early lead from Bob Gilbert's Bentley. Arriving late on the grid, Rodney Felton was forced to start his Alfa Monza from the back but by the end of lap one he was up to 10th, and four laps later had demoted Sparrowhawk to second. The earlier Sparrowhawk Alvis, driven by David Heimann, displaced Gilbert to take third after half-distance and closed up to challenge for second, but a spirited defence by Sparrowhawk managed to retain the place to the finish.
Here he is again in May 1996:
Siverstone - Vintage allcomers race.
Bob Burrell led the first half of the Fox and Nicholl Trophy Race with his familiar 8-litre Bentley-Royce, closely shadowed by Julian Bronson's Riley 'Blue Streak' Special, but a quick spin by the Bentley allowed the Riley to seize the advantage; Burrell was almost caught by the scrapping pair of Albert Sparrowhawk (Alvis) and Bob Gilbert (Bentley), Burrell and Gilbert being so engrossed in their business that they battled on for two more laps after the fall of the flag! (extracts courtesy of Motorsport magazine)
The engine was meticulously rebuilt using high compression pistons, and the best bearings available. Once assembled it was set up by Sparrowhawk - a man who really knew how to tune them.
Eighteen years and some 5,000 smiles later, the car is a gem, thoroughly sorted and truly outstanding to drive. With its very robust early synchromesh four speed gearbox, the car is a joy to drive enthusiastically. Whilst not impossible to criticise cosmetically, we know we are never likely to surpass DMX 829 as the most exhilarating, taut and lively pre-war tourer imaginable.
Paintwork has aged well; the alloy bodywork is still top class and the leather upholstery, hood and weather gear now have a nicely aged patina. The engine bay presents superbly.
We thought carefully about price and Nick's comment was "If I owned this, I'd never want to part with it". Fortunately for someone it is now on the market - though we doubt it will be for long. It's the sort of car you'd see be thrilled to see (and hear) on the Flying Scotsman Rally. DMX 829 comes with VSCC Eligibility document, ‘buff' logbook, dating back to 1961, MOT certificates since rebuild completion in 2000 and a comprehensive file of paperwork.