1938 Alvis 4.3-Litre Short Chassis Tourer

One of only twelve produced, The Alvis Works Demonstrator, The Autocar Magazine Road Test Car & Ex-Brooklands, Tommy Wisdom, George Hartwell & R.S. Newton

Car No. 19424

Coachwork by. Vanden Plas Ltd

Chassis No. 14812

Body No. 3592

Engine No. 15298

Registration No. DHP 233 (UK)

+44 (0)1869 244 255


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“In the scheme of things there are cars, good cars, and super cars. When a machine can be put into the last of these three categories, yet is by no means in the highest-priced class, considerable praise is due to the makers. This model is the latest 4.3-litre Alvis Sports Tourer.” The Autocar

Entitled “The Inaudible 4.3 Litre Alvis” The Autocar magazine heaped praise on Alvis’ latest model when testing the very example offered for sale here for their Road Test Report No. 1,219 dated 26th August 1938. Later on, in May 1939, The Motor Magazine also road tested the Alvis 4.3-Litre Short Chassis tourer, describing it as “A Remarkable British Car” and displaying impressive performance figures of 0-50mph in 7.6 seconds and 105mph top speed in standard road trim, the fastest British un-supercharged pre-war sports car.

The superb example of the Alvis 4.3-Litre Short Chassis Tourer, offered for sale here, Chassis No. 14812, Registration No. DHP 233, retains its original chassis, engine, running-gear and coachwork, was used by Alvis as a works demonstrator and magazine road test car and boasts numerous competition appearances at Brooklands. To this end it must surely be one of, if not the most, original and best-historied examples of the 12 remarkable British cars produced on the short chassis and with super-stylish coachwork by Vanden Plas Ltd.

Chassis No. 14812 was fitted with a special high compression engine, numbered ‘15298’ and registered DHP 233. The first completion outing for ‘DHP 233’ was on the 16th July 1938 when, piloted by G. Hartwell and R.S. Newton, the Alvis contested the Light Car Club’s 3-Hour race for Standard Sports Cars. The Alvis had a rather eventful race, losing its first two gears for a large proportion of the event causing it to spin out on two occasions (racing driver excuses are not a modern phenomenon!) and thus, did not finish as high up the pecking order as it might have. The event was well covered by the press being of particular interest due to the cars running in completely standard road trim. The Late. Bill Boddy described the race as one of the most interesting of the 1938 season.

The Alvis returned to Brooklands for the Dunlop Jubilee International Car Races held on 24th September 1938. On this occasion ‘DHP 233’ was driven by well-known racer, broadcaster and motoring personality Tommy Wisdom in two Outer Circuit handicap races. In Alvis: The Story of the Red Triangle author Ken Day quotes Tommy Wisdom:

“The car I had for test differed from standard models in that the compression ratio of the engine had been increased to 8.5 to 1, which meant that use of 50:50 benzole mixture was necessary. Top-gear ratio was higher than standard and wings, lamps and screen were removed.” Aside from these alterations ‘DHP 233’ remained in remarkably standard form, especially when one considers it was to share the circuit with the likes of the Pacey-Hassan 8-Litre Bentley single seater special, Duller’s monster Duesenberg and a whole host of supercharged European exotica. The drivers too were no slouches either, with the likes of greats such as Jean Pierre Wimille and Rene Dreyfus also competing in the same events. Although the Alvis was never going to be the quickest car on the circuit the performance figures it achieved were quite exceptional for a largely standard un-supercharged road going sport scar. To quote Tommy Wisdom again:

“In the 20 Miles Outer Circuit Handicap race the car averaged better than 110 mph. The standing lap was covered at 92.23 mph, three laps at 111 mph, two at 116 mph and the fastest at 115.29 mph while the maximum on the Railway Straight, according to the revolution counter, was 119 mph.”

Given that the race was won at a speed of 119.86 mph these figures make for impressive reading.

Just one month after this race ‘DHP 233’ had been returned to standard road trim and showroom condition. I was despatched to Messrs Hugh Anderson Ltd. of London and was sold its first private owner outside of the works, a Mr. Edgar H. Whale of Watford, Hertfordshire. The next recorded owner of the Alvis is a Mr. J.A. Penman of Penrith, Cumbria, who retained ownership of the ‘DHP 233’ for a great deal of time until it was eventually sold in the early 1980s. The Alvis passed through two well-known UK based dealers before being sold to the collection of Henry Petronis in the USA. The Alvis Owners Club records various outings of ‘DHP 233’ whilst in The Petronis Collection, all detailed in the extensive history files offered for sale with the car. The current owner purchased ‘DHP 233’ from the Petronis collection in 2011.

During his ownership ‘DHP 233’ has been treated to a total re-paint and re-trim back to original factory specifications by Red Triangle. Tim Walker Restorations have carried out a total engine rebuild and numerous mechanical works, a detailed in the history files. A firm believer that cars are made to be driven the current owner has used ‘DHP 233’ on a number of well-known endurance events including: The Flying Scotsman, Cape Horn Rally, The Alpine Trial and 1000 Mile Trial. No expense has been spared to ensure the reliability and usability of the car whilst retaining the originality and historical integrity of this important pre-war sports car. With full-synchromesh gearbox as standard, independent front suspension and a standard peddle layout ‘DHP 233’ is not only one of the fastest standard pre-war sports cars, but also one of the easiest to drive and this extremely rare and original sports car is ready to be enjoyed by the next owner on numerous international events. Test drives and inspections are welcome by appointment.