Car No. 13103
Coachwork by. Cross & Ellis
Chassis No. 8312
Engine No. 8754
Registration No. RX 7272
+44 (0)1869 244 255
The owners of a vintage Alvis may be forgiven for appearing somewhat smug in their choice of motor car. From the 10/30hp Alvis through to the 16.95hp Silver Eagle, the vintage Alvis always manages to impress on the road, combining impressive power from relatively small capacity engines with excellent road holding and braking capabilities. The 16.95hp Alvis Silver Eagle, as offered for sale here, was introduced in 1929 and by the time production moved onto the larger capacity model in 1933 some 1,357 examples had been produced, of which just 106 are known to have survived today. Ever popular with loyal enthusiasts of the marque, the 16.95hp is essentially a development of the four-cylinder 12/50hp but boasts greater touring abilities due to more comfortable top end cruising speeds afforded by the larger capacity six-cylinder engine.
Of the 123 produced, just three of the “Clubman’s” specification Silver Eagles are known to have survived. The history of this particular example, the sole surviving Clubman’s Drophead Coupé, has been extensively researched. It was purchased new by Kathleen Mary Crispe through Vincents of Reading in 1930 and registered ‘RX 7272.’ Ms. Crispe was 39 at the time and a spinster who never married. From a moneyed background, Crispe lived with her parents at Purley Hall near Pangbourne and, along with her sister, was a member of an all girl troupe named “The Impressionables,” who had toured the country entertaining the military during the First World War. Being the owner of an Alvis sports car with a triple carburettor set up and striking two-tone paintwork, Crispe must surely have been the envy of many a young gentleman during the early 1930s.
It is not clear exactly when Crispe sold the Alvis but an Alvis guarantee shows that by 1946 it was owned by a Hubert Allen Hawes living in Flamstead Hertfordshire. By coincidence a previous owner and his wife bought their first family home in the same village and were able to trace Susan Hawes the daughter of Hubert. She remembers the car well and said that it had been in “showroom condition” when her father had bought it from a lady owner (not Kathleen Crispe) who had a chauffer who would regularly exercised the car each day before returning it to its garage. Susan believes that ‘RX 7272’ was sold prior to 1953, which ties in well with the old Hertfordshire tax discs in the file. Whatever happened to the car after 1953 is unknown but it appears that it was not treated quite so well and was purchased by John Milner, in a very poor state, in March 1958. John Milner used the car sparingly due to its poor condition and excessive oil consumption. Milner did keep a notebook recording his mileage in “RX 7272” which includes one journey where he described the brakes as “negligible!” A copy of his notebook is offered for sale with the car. Eventually the car was retired from service awaiting a major overhaul but the work was never carried out.
In 2005 it was purchased by the Martin Boothman, who as well as researching the history, commissioned some of the very best specialists in the business to assist in a comprehensive yet sympathetic restoration of the car. The Cross & Ellis coachwork was handed over to Alvis enthusiast Robin Everall who did a superb job in bringing it back to life whilst retaining as much of the original framework, paneling, bulkhead and dashboard as possible. The same can be said for the upholstery, which was entrusted to one of the very best in the business, Julian Taylor, also an Alvis man. As much of the original leather as possible has been retained but with Taylor’s superb work it is very hard to see where the new leather has been stitched in. The carpets match the original and the 55 metres of pasting lace that trims almost everything was also fitted perfectly.
Graham Millard, again very well known in Alvis circles and one of the country’s leading vintage engineers, was commissioned to restore and fit the engine. This included the fitment of stronger steel connecting rods, a Jim Evans camshaft and a very special exhaust system which allows for better gas flow and cooler running. As well as the minor modifications to the engine, the car was also fitted with an overdrive system and electric fuel pumps for ease of use on long journeys. Completed in 2011 the restoration was to some extent a labour of love and the Mr. Boothman never dared add up the cost! It is nonetheless a testament to his fastidious nature and the quality of the specialists he chose to work on the project.
‘RX 7272’ was purchased by the current owner’s father, Stuart Halsall, via Robert Glover Limited in 2014. A prolific user of motor cars, including a fine Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, Stuart Halsall understood the quality of the vintage Alvis design and the sporty nature of the car, combined with the full weather equipment meant that ‘RX 7272’ was regularly exercised until his passing earlier on this year. During his ownership the swage lines and wheels were re-painted from orange to red and a slightly toned down exhaust fitted to allow for more comfortable conversation at cruising speeds. The magneto was rebuilt by Vintage Magnetos at Bicester Heritage, and various other sundry works, including the fitment of a new head gasket were carried out by Steven James Engineering Ltd. of Norwich.
As with all high-quality restorations the condition of the Silver Eagle has remained superb throughout, despite the mileage it has covered and the car is offered for sale with an extensive history file including: A current V5C, old MOTs and tax discs, a copy John Milner’s notebook, photographs of the body-off restoration, invoices for the work carried out in both Boothman and Halsall’s ownership, photographs of the car at Purley Hall in recent years, an original instruction manual and a catalogue of spare parts.
With autumn in full swing and winter closing in, perhaps now is as good a time as any to buy this sporting all-weather vintage Alvis and adopt that rather smug demeanor of one who has simply made the right choice in motor car….