1932 Alvis Speed 20
Alvis introduced the Speed 20 in 1932, and in doing so, created one of the best-loved sports cars of the Pre-War era. The all new, low slung, double drop chassis gave a sporting look that was backed up by the 2.5 litre, 6-cylinder engine which had overhead valves, triple SUs and gave 90 h.p and a top speed of 90+ mph!
‘The new Alvis Speed Twenty is the type of car which looks right, feels right and is right. From the driver's point of view the controls are all just where they are required and the power, speed and acceleration provided by the "hotted-up" but, nevertheless, silky six-cylinder engine are literally an eye-opener to anyone accustomed to driving about in a more or less sedate manner in ordinary motor cars of medium size.' - Motor magazine March 1932.
The example on offer was delivered new to Victor Davies of West London through renowned Alvis dealers Frank Hallam in Birmingham. When new the very smart livery was Dove Grey with Dark Grey wings and Blue hide. The early history from this point is unclear, however, we do have a lovely photo of the car being driven into the Mersey Tunnel entrance in the 1930’s and the picture was later made into a post card.
From here we pick up the thread of OJ 2357’s tale in 1967, at which point she has been bought by Jim Frostrom of Marietta, Georgia and shipped to the United States. Jim kept the Alvis for nearly 10 years before selling the car to Bruce Earlin of Pennsylvania, who promptly towed it the paltry 888 miles back to his home in Milford, Pennsylvania. Bruce restored the car and entered it into the Classic Car Club of America annual meet at The Inn at Buck Hill Falls in January ’78 where it took first place with 98 points. Soon after this success Bruce was approached by a dealer friend of his called Tommy Crook (a simply fabulous name for any salesman!). Correspondence with Bruce tells us that Tommy made an offer he couldn’t refuse. It would appear that soon after the deal was struck, Tommy attempted to flip the car in an auction but clearly wanted too much as it remained unsold being sold post sale to a Mr. Wally Child of Portland, Oregon, who kept the car from 1979 until 1985.
In 1985 OJ 2357 was bought by famed car collector, Richard Kughn. With over 200 cars kept in two different temperature controlled warehouses, Mr. Kughn was one the US’s largest and most respected collectors. Whilst in his ownership, OJ was entered into the 1985 CCCA concours where it won with 100 points and again in 1992 CCCA Midwest Grand Classic where it came away with 98.5 points. Much like Bruce Earlin before him, Richard decided to sell the car on the back of this concours success and it passed to Mark Johnson in 1993. Marks ownership lasted 20 years and during this time had the car restored and as you can see from the photos, they did a fantastic job. In 2012 Mark consigned 'OJ' for sale with Fantasy Junction in San Francisco, a dealer we personally know very well and who only deal in the best examples they can find. In 2013 the car was brought back to the UK by Brian Classic and was subsequently sold to the current owner.
Being a successful concours entrant for 40 years has its perks in terms of provenance but years of being trailered around had not done the mechanical side of things much good. As a result, the current owner, a true enthusiast who believes in his cars being ready to undergo any journey at any time, has spent in the order of £20,000 GBP thoroughly checking everything over. Just some of the mechanical areas that have been rebuilt include the brakes, steering, wheel bearings, kingpins, track rod ends, starter and the magneto. On the cosmetic front, a new hood and frame have been built, as well as a new tonneau covers and a set of reclining seats for longer touring. Since completion of this work the owner has taken it on a fabulous tour of Northern Spain where OJ performed faultlessly.
Today, the acquisition of another fabulous Pre-War motor car means it is time for another enthusiast to take custody of this most lovely of British sports cars and continue its already fascinating and well documented story.
The car is accompanied by full weather gear, tonneau covers, two reclining seats trimmed in dark red leather as well as a comprehensive history file and some lovely original handbooks.