1931 marked the inception of the Speed 20, and it heralded a new departure for Alvis. With a double beam axled chassis, longer and lower than previous models, its appearance rivalled that of Swallow Sidecar’s SS1. At its heart was an enlarged and modified 2,511cc version of the Silver Eagle’s six cylinder engine, and when a synchromesh gearbox was introduced for the 1934 model year it marked the first such fitment on a British car; previously the gearbox had also been in unit with the engine.
At the same time the Speed 20 was also improved with independent front suspension using a transverse leaf spring and wishbones, while later models boasted an increase in capacity to 2,762cc to cope with heavier touring coachwork. In either guise the Alvis Speed 20 was a formidable performer for the time, capable of 80mph, achieving 0-60mph in about 15 seconds via its four speed transmission, and was ranked as one of the best and most refined sports cars available.
It also proved popular and successful in competition with a variety of successes to its credit. Production ceased after four years, during which only 1,165 examples were built, the example on offer today being considerably rarer.
This is a unique opportunity to buy one of the last remaining Alvis Speed 20 SD Drop head coupe cars with bodywork by Vanden Plas. The chassis left Alvis on 31st October 1935 and the car was completed by Vanden Plas on 1st March 1936 and was sold through Folletts in April 1936. The car is one of 5 produced as a Model SD with drop head coupe body design by Vanden Plas. Probably only 3 remain and is the only car of its type registered in the membership list of the Alvis Owner Club. It has a matching set of chassis, engine and body numbers as confirmed by the Alvis factory build-sheet and Vanden Plas records. A complete record of owners since manufacture is documented.
Mechanically the Speed 20 SD was one of the most advanced cars manufactured in the pre-war years. It had independent front suspension and a gearbox with synchromesh on all gears. The engine was extremely powerful giving the car a top speed of over 90 miles per hour. It is fitted with a high ratio differential which enables it to cruise comfortably in modern traffic. Now nearly 80 years old, this very much still original Speed 20 has over the years had extensive refurbishment in order to keep it in the condition that it is today. The car still drives very well and performs strongly which comes as no surprise considering the vendor personally drove the car over 200 miles in one morning down to our showroom here in London. It uses little oil and has undertaken a trip to the South of France and back without any problem.
The matching numbers 2.5 litre engine was completely rebuilt some 14,000 miles ago and runs smoothly and in recent years has had restoration work carried out by Fisher restorations and Red Triangle. The car has also had an in depth inspection of the ash chassis which shows no evidence of decay. More recently the car has a new hood, carpets and trim as well as substantial re-chroming. The bodywork is the original aluminium and was resprayed in 2007 in the dark blue colour of its first registration. Together with the car is a comprehensive documentation of its restoration and accompanying invoices. There is a collection of photographs supporting any restoration.