Monday, 11 July 2011

The Last Alvis

On Sunday James and I joined John Pippin for a little excursion to Ickworth, a grand Italianate palace near Bury St Edmunds owned by the National Trust. The reason? To take the Last Alvis (TM) to the Alvis Owners Club rally. 


The Last Alvis
A bit of background here. Alvis was a British company making beautiful, high-end cars from 1921 until 1967.  John is currently restoring a TA14, and although it's not ready to go to rallies yet, he is a member of the Alvis Owners Club, through which he has met a couple of local chaps who also own these fine cars. Tom lives in the next village and owns a fabulous 1967 Alvis TF. The TFs were the last Alvises to be produced and of those, this is the last one ever made! He is currently on holiday and so couldn't make the rally but wanted the car to be there, so he gave John the keys and asked him to do the honours!

We jumped at the chance to head to a lovely country house, lounge about eating a picnic, and look at old cars. John picked us up in the Last Alvis from Cambridge first thing Sunday and then we headed back to the Parish briefly. While we were still at the Parish (and therefore on private land), I had a little go at driving it. What fun. Only a very short trundle but still, it's not every day you have the chance to drive an historic car! I drove it out of the gate, and was nervous about the small gap between the posts but remembered that I was perfectly capable of steering a boat into a narrow lock and it was fine!

We met up in the village with Roger and his wife Pam who own another Alvis from 1938, so that we could travel in convoy. The two cars sped along the country roads. Traveling at 60mph in an old car is so much more exciting. The noise is different: it's louder and more exhilarating. We arrived at Ickworth and parked up with the other cars. Before picnicking, we had a look around the assembled vehicles. Here's a selection of photos. I shan't caption them because I've forgotten which car was which! If you want to know more about any of them, ask John!

Car rallies, just like boat rallies, don't perhaps make a lot of sense to ordinary people. One lady walked past, and asked her family "Is that all they do, just park up and sit by their cars?". Well, yes, but also no. Owning a historic car, or boat or indeed any type of specialist anything encourages people to seek out those who own similar things and just talk about them. It's about sharing ideas and contacts, learning new ways of doing things, and mostly just catching up with friends who you perhaps only see a couple of times a year because you live so far apart and it is these gatherings where you met and where you will continue to meet, just to talk about cars, or boats or whatever it is that brought you together in the first place.

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  1. Of course there's a canal connection here; LTC Rolt, co-founder of the IWA, owned a 1924 Alvis 12/15 two seater 'ducks back'.


  2. I don't believe it!!! Amy, ALVIS's, I grew up on Alvis's.. Dragged off to every Alvis Owner's Club rally, then held every year at Crystal Palace, along with my two younger brothers. We had a 1936 Speed 25, A TA14, a Greylady and finally a TF. I am glad to say that I actually got to drive the TF and photo's of her adorn the walls in my parents study...memories, wow!!

  3. Makes perfect sense to me - if you've got a hobby of any sort, you like to talk about it with likeminded people. Plus any excuse for a day out at a stately home with a good picnic works for me!