28 Nov Alvis Revival
FMM’s Mike Monk was born within a kilometre of the Alvis factory in Coventry, England, and still remembers as a child seeing the new cars and armoured vehicles running around the site. Now, the 103-year-old car company says it is making brand new vehicles using parts and blueprints from models produced 70 years ago…
Alvis started making cars in Coventry in 1920 but stopped in 1967, leaving only a company that serviced and repaired classic vehicles. But it has restarted the production of some of its most iconic designs from a base in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. “The cars are not reproductions,” says company owner Alan Stoate. “We’ve just picked up where the last cars were made and produced. You could just say it’s a long time between orders.”
The cars carry Alvis chassis numbers and engine numbers that follow on from the last in the model sequence. The company is producing a limited number of its famous models as the Continuation Series, using the same blueprints and manufacturing techniques as on the originals. The engines have been updated to satisfy modern performance and emissions criteria, says Stoate.
Peter Crowley, who started as an apprentice at the company in 1960, offers advice to current apprentices. He said the rebirth was “remarkable”. “I’m one of the last people alive who worked on Alvis car production, and then this job became available here and I thought ‘wow, that’s my job’,” he said. Crowley said going back to the company 40 years on made him feel “quite emotional”. “I was actually taking engines to pieces that I’d probably assembled back in the ’60s,” he explained.
The company archive, purchased by Stoate, includes hundreds of thousands of original Alvis parts and more than 50 000 works drawings, technical data sheets and correspondence files. “Without the drawings and archives it would be virtually impossible,” he said, “but we’re just doing what Alvis has always done.” He added that he had been “pleasantly surprised” at the interest in the cars, with customers in Japan and the UK. “They’re essentially people who are interested in motor cars, they like things that are individual to them and they like the involvement with the manufacturing process,” he said.
The firm says there is a two-year wait for the hand-built vehicles, which start at about £300 000 (approx R6-million).