Keith sent over this photo a while ago, he took it in 1970 of a tidy Alvis TC21 "Grey Lady" for sale on a garage forecourt in London. The price Sir/Madam? 295 of your British pound notes please. The Grey Lady was introduced in 1953 as a more exciting variant of the TC21, designed in a bid to woo prospective purchasers within the ranks of sporting saloon enthusiasts.
There are a few visual giveaways that this is the souped-up version, namely the racey spoked wheels and the air intakes let into the upper bonnet panels. I wonder how many owners of standard TC21s dressed-up their cars to make them look like a Grey Lady? Sourcing the matching fog- and spot-lamp combination, standard equipment on the performance version, would have been easy enough, and fitting a more efficient exhaust system as found on the TC21/100 (100 = 100mph) wouldn't have been difficult either. To enable the magic "ton" to be achievable, the compression ratio of the Alvis' straight-six engine was increased. A taller rear axle ratio also assisted in the quest for ton-up motoring as standard. Keith's photo shows a four-door saloon version, there was also a drophead coupe.
(Please click the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)
As a higher-performance version of the TC21, the Grey Lady met the requirements, but there was no hiding its ageing roots, especially in light of competition from rival car manufacturers of the day. In all, just 757 examples of these quality, coachbuilt, vehicles in their various forms were built between 1953 and 1955.
The above car's full registration can't quite be made out, it appears to be "--X 367". Chances are then that this is car #25842, registration RLX 367, a photo of which from 1969 appears on the Alvis Archive website. Happily, the car is still in use and road-registered, photos elsewhere show it in a new colour scheme of maroon and grey although originally it was all-over mid-grey.
The garage outside of which the Alvis is displayed looks a little run down, as did most things in the 1970s it would seem if old film footage is to be believed - this photo dates to the first year in that decade, before things really went downhill. To the left is the o/s/r of a J-registration Hillman Avenger, possibly a GT, while to the right are a pair of classic Jaguars - an XK140 or 150 (with a non-standard front bumper?), and a Mk2 saloon. Peeking out from inside the showroom is a Triumph TR5.
Thanks for the photo Keith.
Alvis through the years.
The video compilation below comprises a wide range of Alvis cars, photographed over 20 years or so. Cars range from the 1920s through to the 1960s, rounding out with a proposal for a new model based around the Rover P6. A number of preserved Grey Lady versions of the TC21 are included.