﹒Body fully restored and painted ﹒Work completed by renowned Alvis restorers Fisher Restoration
﹒Over £70K spent by present owner
The Alvis Car and Engineering company was founded in Coventry in 1919 and, as its name suggests, did not confine its activities to the consumer automotive market. Alvis also produced aircraft engines, armoured cars and tanks and the name was still active in the military market through various acquisitions and mergers right up to 2004, when it was absorbed into BAE systems. Car manufacturing, however, came to an end when the company was acquired by Rover in 1965 and internal competition saw them shut down as a separate marque. In terms of car production, Alvis had well and truly left the building.
Many regarded that decision as a great shame as Alvis cars have always been held in high regard, being at the forefront of innovations such as front wheel drive (in which it was less successful) and full synchromesh gearboxes (moreso). In their early years, in common with many of their contemporaries, they did not make their own coachwork, instead relying on the network of coachbuilders in the Midlands and, being an upmarket brand, they were clothed in some very fetching designs. The Silver Eagle started life as the less snappily-titled 14.75 Six and was produced from 1927 to 1936, acquiring the racier name in 1929. Over its lifespan, some 2,690 examples were produced with its later versions, of which this is an example, featuring a wider track and lowered chassis. Well received in-period, and highly thought of as a vintage classic, the Silver Eagle is both extremely attractive to look at and very usable on the road today.
Specified by its first owner in Northern Ireland, this SG (the last) variant of the Silver Eagle still wears its first registration number, if not its original body. The build sheet details a Cross and Ellis Drop Head Coupe body in black with 3 larger carbs and P100 headlights. The carbs and headlights remain but the car was completely restored in the 1970’s and also reframed, converting the body to a 4-seat tourer. The current owner acquired the car almost seven years ago, then sporting a very seventies brown over cream colour scheme, and has since spent in excess of £75,000 on restoration work. A thorough engine rebuild saw the block vacuum impregnated, sleeved and bored (to 2.5 litres), the crankshaft reground, bearings re-metalled, new cam bearings, timing chain, pistons, valves and guides installed. There has also been work to refresh or renew as necessary the water pump, fuel pump, carburettors, radiator, dynamo, kingpins, and steering box. The body has been stripped and repainted in Birch Grey over Yukon grey (both Rover colours), in tribute to one of the owner’s previous cars.
During his time with the car, the vendor, who has a small collection of classics, has enjoyed tours around the Cotswolds and has ventured as far as the south coast. Now finding himself with too many cars and not enough space, he is offering the car for sale.
Accompanying the car is a scanned copy of the original owner’s manual and a considerable folder of history. In addition to a collection of documentation from over the years, including the original order form and log book, the current owner managed to get in contact with the son of the car’s 1970’s restorer and obtained a full photographic record of the restoration. During the more recent works the meticulous record-keeping continued and all of the invoices are on file with another set of photographs showing the engine rebuild and body stripping and repainting. The folder is a comprehensive archive and an in-depth review will surely be a fascinating exercise in itself for the new owner.
Hailing as it does from the early days of motoring, the first thing to note when you examine the interior is that the controls are a little different to those in a modern vehicle and so a certain amount of acclimatisation is necessary before embarking on your first journey. For a start, the accelerator and brake pedals are reversed and the steering wheel has some additional controls to take into account. It’s worth noting that the rod-operated brakes can be engaged either via the pedal or the handbrake lever and the brakes can be adjusted by the extra pedal in the floor. If all that sounds daunting, the current owner makes it look very easy whether manoeuvring or out on the open road and all it takes is a little practice.
The dashboard is showing some patination to the woodwork but all the dials are in good working order and the cubby holes at either end – early examples of actual glove boxes – are a nice touch. More modern conveniences include a switch for the Kenlowe fan and indicators.
The retrimmed seats are in good condition with light patination but no rips or tears and, while the carpets could perhaps use a refresh, the overall ambience retains the upmarket feel that it would have had originally. Obviously, it’s best enjoyed with the top down but if the British weather doesn’t play ball (and let’s face it, it’s not unknown) then there is a full set of weather protection. Given the remodelling of the body in the seventies, this is thought to have been made as part of the restoration but it’s seen little use and remains in good condition. There is a tonneau which covers all four seats with a zip to allow use of one or both front seats and a full folding roof with side screens which gives the profile more of a ‘gangster’ look and does actually provide decent protection from the rain. The boot is capacious enough to swallow it all, though putting it to use does require some forward planning as there is a little more to assembling it than the simple press of a button that suffices in most modern cars!
The combination of elegant, flowing lines and the clever two-tone paintwork conspire to produce a silhouette that is drop dead gorgeous. The colours really suit the car, with the darker grey helping to take some visual weight out of the rear and cleverly disguising its four-seater body. The condition of the body reflects the extensive amount of work that has been put into it recently and is immaculate, while the generous chrome is unpitted and polished to a shine.
The wire wheels are painted to match the lighter grey of the bodywork and are unmarked, with Lucas tyres showing plenty of tread, including the nearside fender-mounted spare. As an indication of the level of attention to detail that has been applied, even drum brake rear plates have been polished. If we had to criticise anything at all, it’s that the badges on the wheel centres could use some restoration of the red in the triangular logos but that’s being quite picky and really stands to highlight the fabulous condition of the rest of the car.
A Monza flip up fuel cap is a welcome period feature and the magnificent Silver Eagle bonnet mascot marks this out as a luxury car of its era. In fact it’s so easy to lose yourself in drinking in the many details that the car has appeal purely as a piece of automotive sculpture. The fact that it is fully usable only adds to the allure.
On opening the louvered bonnet you are presented with the polar opposite of the sea of black plastic that adorns most modern cars. Instead, there’s a pristine engine bay containing the triple-carburettor, 2.5 litre inline six cylinder engine which has been freshly installed and the various tools attached to the bulkhead. The engine is a work of art in itself and the various mechanical components are all available for inspection. As the thick wad of invoices will attest, it’s all in prime condition and the engine fires up on the button, hot or cold, and pulls well, changing gear slickly through the all-synchromesh gears. The car handles and stops well (in vintage terms, at least) and will happily cruise at 40mph. It is relatively long but not so wide as to be unwieldy, making country lanes its natural habitat. On a sunny summer’s day it’s a delight to be in.
One could argue that it’s possible to justify a purchase on aesthetics alone. Even stationary, it’s magnificent to behold. But to regard it as simply a static display of automotive art would be to miss out on the experience of enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of travelling on the open road in a genuine piece of history. Yes, the driving technique takes some learning, but it’s worth the investment.
Talking of investments, the current owner has clearly spent a lot to get the car to its current condition which makes this an opportunity to acquire an excellent example of a rare and highly rated vintage car with all of the hard work already taken care of. While one glance through the owner’s manual will demonstrate that it will not be maintenance-free, the oily bits have been thoroughly refreshed and the exterior condition is probably second to none which means that this is surely the best point to add your name to the carefully documented list of owners. If you want to be a part of the next chapter in this car’s storied history, then get your bid in now.
Notice to bidders
Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.
As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.
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