1937 Alvis Silver Eagle SG 16.95 Tourer
Cross & Ellis four-seater coachwork; the last Silver Eagle to leave the factory and believed to be an Alvis development car with various special features; original engine rebuilt and bored out; extensively restored a few years ago and only lightly used since; a most interesting Alvis in lovely condition throughout
Introduced in 1929, the Alvis Silver Eagle was much improved for 1934 with the arrival of the six-cylinder triple-carb SF and SG 16.95 versions, with 2,148cc and 2,362cc respectively and easily differentiated by the flat radiator of the former and the vee-type on the latter.
Sharing a number of design features with the sporting Speed 20, the strengthened X-brace chassis featured a double-dropped ladder-frame equipped with all-round semi-elliptic leaf-sprung suspension and powerful fourteen-inch cable-operated drum brakes.
Power came from a slightly smaller bore version of the sporting Speed 20 SC engine and in SG 16.95 form this smooth triple-carb 2.3-litre OHV straight-six put 70bhp at the driver’s disposal. Driving through a new all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox, it could cruise with ease at 60mph, putting 80mph in reach when pushed.
Available with a choice of open or closed coachwork by the likes of Cross & Ellis and Holbrook, the Silver Eagle was a strong and refined performer in the best traditions of the Coventry marque and can still hold its own in modern traffic. Replaced by the Silver Crest in 1936, just 677 of all types were made in total and good ones are highly prized today.
This particular Silver Eagle SG 16.95 Tourer has four-seat Tourer coachwork by Cross & Ellis and comes with a particularly interesting history file. It was first registered in March 1937 which is about a year after the model ceased production and well into the time that the Silver Crest had started to leave the factory. Copies of the original factory build sheets and correspondence from the Alvis Owner’s Club show that it was built in April 1936 but then retained by the works for almost a year before being sold to its first private owner in Liverpool.
Writing to a previous owner, the Alvis Club state that the most likely explanation is that the car was used for development purposes at the factory: "It is quite possible that your car [chassis no 13522; car no 18698] was used for development purposes at the factory under an earlier car number… It was quite a common practice for factory development cars to be retained for around a year, then refurbished, allocated a new car number, then despatched as ‘shop-soiled’. This is the likeliest explanation, and in any case makes your car almost certainly the last Silver Eagle to leave the factory."
Adding credence to this theory are the presence of several special features which would not normally be found on a Silver Eagle. These include the additional gauges located to the right of the driver on the dash. These two dials are specific to this car and are for a hydraulic damping system operating on both the front and rear suspension. The pipe work and the gauges are still present but it appears that the dampers themselves were subsequently replaced with conventional units.
Records on file document five subsequent owners between 1972 and 2009 when the car was acquired by a Dr Mills of Beaminster who was to keep it until 2017. During his ownership the car was treated to a body-off restoration with bills on file amounting to over £28,000, most of the work being carried out by Wheel Power of Dorset with additional work by Red Triangle.
This included: ash frame restored; bodywork repainted; brightwork rechromed; wheels refurbished and powder coated; cylinder head overhauled; carbs rebuilt; radiator recored; engine rolling road tuned; stainless steel exhaust fitted; headlamps and spot lights refurbished; electronic ignition fitted; new gearbox mountings; speedo overhauled plus much else besides.
In addition to this, there are also invoices for other work to the car between 1998 and 2001 plus notes stating that other work has been done for which there are no invoices. This includes an engine rebuild and new back axle diffs in 1998; new petrol tank and front springs reset in 2001; new tyres in 2008; new tonneau cover and front shock absorbers in 2009 plus much else besides.
Our vendor acquired the car from respected London dealer Graeme Hunt in November 2019 (at substantially more than the guide price suggested here). The advert at the time stated that since the restoration in Dr Mills’ ownership the engine had been freshly rebuilt and bored out to 2.5-litres with final tuning undertaken by Phil Smorley ("better known for Bugatti expertise") although we could not see any evidence for this in the history file. The V5C records the cylinder capacity as 2,687cc but you will have to make your own minds up on that score. The advert also stated that the car retained its original engine, gearbox and bodywork, as fitted by the factory.
Other documentation includes an original Alvis instruction book and a Red Triangle service book with four stamps, the last at 1,836 miles in November 2019 since when the car has only covered some 400 miles. Although it no longer needs one, it also has an MOT until July 2022 with no advisories recorded, an online MOT history check implying that it has only covered around 2,100 miles since 2014. A wiring diagram and a VSCC logbook from 2003 are also present along with some useful tips on starting/driving. A full set of weather gear is included (hood; sidescreens; tonneau cover), all in good condition.
Driven some 40 miles to the sale with no problems whatsoever, the car has been starting promptly and running beautifully as we have moved it around on site. Clearly a much-cherished machine that has been owned by several Alvis Club members in the past, it has some nice personal touches on the dashboard including a fob watch, a volt meter, various extra buttons and switches and a rather mysterious silver spoon fixed next to the glovebox.
A lovely car all round, with an interesting history, it is only reluctantly for sale due to a change in circumstances and is being offered here at a very tempting guide price.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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