1926 Alvis 12/50hp SD “Beetleback” Sports Three-Seater

The Ex-Alfred Ernest Clutterbuck, Brooklands JCC High Speed Trial and 4 Hours Race


Car No. 10182

Coachwork by. Carbodies

Chassis No. 4834

Body No. 4787

Engine No. 5163 (L201)

Registration No. TX 2177

+44 (0)1869 244 255


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Original throughout and with multiple appearances at Brooklands and a complete competition history from new, this superb 1926 Alvis 12/50 SD Beetleback is, quite possibly, the most significant and desirable Alvis 12/50 in existence.

The Alvis 12/50 has been one of the mainstays of vintage sports motoring since the introduction of the model in 1923. Ever popular with the Vintage Sports Car Club, many examples were used as daily transport up until the late 1950s, such was their performance, tractability and ease of maintenance. The popularity of the 12/50 was such that, having ceased production in 1928, Alvis re-introduced the model in 1931 for commercial reasons. Of all the various types of 12/50 produced (the nomenclature referring to the RAC HP rating and rough BHP output respectively) it is the SD Beetleback models that are considered the most sporting. The SD models featured a short-stroke 1498cc version of the four-cylinder engine enabling the cars to rev more freely and also ensuring their eligibility for the 1500cc class. The L201 engines, as they were known, also featured big port head with a larger Solex Carburettor and for the SD model were mated to a close ratio gearbox. To this end they are the most sought-after variant for competition use and this example remains one of only a handful of original 12/50s surviving in original condition throughout and with a competition history from new.

Factory records on file show that the Alvis was finished in 1926 with polished aluminium coachwork by Carbodies (Body No. 4787) and dispatched on the 14thJanuary 1927 via Howells of Cardiff to a Mr. Alfred Ernest Clutterbuck, of Penarth in Wales and was registered TX 2177. Clearly Clutterbuck had competition in mind as a rare 100mph speedometer, a rev counter and various competition upgrades to the engine were all fitted from new by the factory. The first competitive outing for the 12/50 was at Brooklands on the 24thJune 1927 for the JCC High Speed Trial. A photograph of ‘TX 2177’ competing at Brooklands at the event shows the car finished entirely in polished aluminium with full wings, flanges, under-trays and full weather equipment.

Clutterbuck returned to Brooklands in August to compete in the hard-fought JCC 4 Hours Race. By this stage he had painted the upper half of the aluminium body covering black and the car ran in the race stripped of the windscreen, wings and weather equipment and fitted with a single aero screen for the driver – a number of photographs show the car during the race. The race was  extremely well covered by the press at the time and the articles in both The Motorand Autocarmagazines in August 1927 are well worth reading. The race was held in appallingly wet conditions and Clutterbuck eventually finished 6thoverall out 20 but had, at various stages, lead the race outright. The race was won, in heroic fashion,  by C.M. Harvey in another Alvis 12/50 Beetleback , beating the likes of the Bugatti, Frazer Nash, Aston Martin, Lea Francis and Salmson.

In 1930 Clutterbuck returned the car to the Alvis works for an engine overhaul and eventually sold the car in 1934. It passed through a number of owners who are listed on a number of original log-books in the history file. In 1960 ‘TX 2177” was purchased by Thomas “Ian” Frith, who restored the car, retaining as much originality as possible. During Ian Frith’s ownership, the specific Brooklands history came to light and the car was repainted to the black over aluminium livery it had raced in at the 4 Hours Race in October 1927. During Ian Friths ownership, the car was regularly seen at both Alvis 12/50 Register and VSCC events and when the car passed to his son Adam he continued to compete in the car at Prescott and other major VSCC events. In around 2002/2003 the engine was rebuilt by Mike Morris with a phoenix crankshaft and new connecting rods and pistons and the engine still performs very well.

The current owner purchased this historically significant Beetleback from Adam Frith in 2015 and immediately commissioned Classic Performance Engineering to improve the overall driving and handling over the car and to give it a re-fresh such that it would be reliable for long distance events. The work carried out is too lengthy to list here but is recorded on file and totalled c.£16,000. Further to the mechanical work the car was totally re-wired by Winston Teague, again with reliability in mind. The current owner has enjoyed the Alvis on a number of long distance events, mainly in Ireland, driving the car to and from Ireland for the events. It is sold only to make way for the recent purchase of a four-seater tourer more suitable for the owner’s growing family.

Presented here is a genuine competition historied vintage sports car, that easily has the performance and reliability of a standard Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model for a fraction of the cost. The car remains in lovely careworn cosmetic condition and yet continues to perform well and is a comfortable car to drive in modern traffic. Not only is it a “matching numbers” example retaining its original coachwork but it has so many features specific to the car. The body number is stamped clearly in the body frame, the dealer plaque is still fitted on the original “Ivorine” instrument panel together with the competition gauges fitted by the factory. It is rare that competition-historied Alvis 12/50s survive at all, let alone in such original and unmolested condition. Viewing of the car and the wonderful history file that accompanies it are highly recommended and encouraged.