Classic Motoring: 1927 Alvis 12/50 SD Beetleback

UPDATE – We just heard from Mark Dixon of Octane Magazine that he knows this collection and has some concerns about the eBay listing. He is going to contact the Managing Director of Bicester Heritage, which is where the photo above was taken. It’s possible that the listing is legitimate and that the seller is simply using older photos, but we would recommend proceeding with caution until we have heard back from Mark.

This evocative picture has me wanting to run down the aisle pulling off covers to expose the featured car’s stablemates, but the seller gives no explanation why they have chosen to sell NF8733, a 1927 Alvis 12/50 SD “Beetleback” roadster. It’s available here on eBay where I’m sure bidding will rise over the current $5,150. It’s located in Edison, New Jersey.

The Alvis 12/50 was one of the most successful models in the marque’s 48-year history (1919 – 1967). 3,705 were produced from 1923 to 1932 and I saw one estimate where around 700 survive today. That’s a pretty astonishing survival rate that leads me to believe the cars were good enough to be cherished from new.

This angle shows the characteristic rear styling that gives the car it’s “Beetleback” name. From the outside the car appears to be an older restoration with just the right amount of wear for me — obviously still driven but very presentable in any type of show. I was wondering if it were all original until I did my research on the car.

Wait a minute — the fenders and wheels are a different color! One of the great things about researching older British cars is that they are given the same registration number (license plate number for US fans) for life, and often an internet search on the registration number and type of car can yield gold. In this case, the search found many vintage competition entries for the car in the early 2000s through 2014, mostly in trials and hill climbs in the UK. This particular shot was taken in June of 2014. Apparently, the main body was left as it is in this shot but the fenders and wheels have been repainted. It’s easy to identify traits of this actual car in all the pictures I found; apparently, the owner at the time liked to compete with the Alvis.

Uh, how exactly do you steer this early sports car? Don’t panic, the steering wheel removes for ease to get in and out. The same nicely, slightly worn (no, I’m not going to use the P-word) look extends to the interior of the car.

You can be excused for wondering where the carburetor is at first; this is an updraft carburetor; that’s it at the bottom of the picture. I hope this Alvis finds a new home soon and that the new owner continues the competition history of this cool roadster! Could it be your garage?


  1. NotSure

    Man, what a pretty girl she is! I’m betting that this car has been getting its owners laid since 1927! This has really superior lines with the Beetleback, er, back… It would be thrilling to drive this on a track or to the State Fair any day. I’d try to make it a condition of sale that I get a peek under the covers on the rest of the collection. Unless of course the Seller is as boring as I am. In that case I would have better things to do with my time. Like taking the car out and trying to get laid!!!

    Like 6
  2. Neil G

    Built and debuted the same year my mother began life on Earth. She and the Alvis are beautiful and to my delight, both are still kicking.

    Like 12
  3. bobk

    Man, I wish my “retirement fund” looked like that garage – although I have to admit that my dream stable would all be from the 60’s, 70’s, and maybe a few from the more recent decades.

    Like 2
  4. Fred Veenschoten

    It looks like the steering column is missing as well.

    • w.c.shook

      As mentioned in the narrative, the steering wheel is removable to make it easier to enter and exit the car.

  5. ccrvtt

    “Evocative picture” speaks volumes. Jamie hit the nail on the head when he said he wanted to pull the covers back on the rest of the collection. The few exterior shots should give enough clues as to the location of this warehouse in New Jersey.

    I was thinking that eventually Barnfinds will run out of material but then a guy came into the store yesterday and mentioned that between them he and his brother had 168 cars stored away on a farm in southern Indiana. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this kind of story.

    “Do you ever show them to anyone?” I asked.


    They’re out there. I can understand the reluctance to go public because who really wants to deal with every car lunatic (and there are literally millions of us).

    I can also understand the hoarding instinct. It probably can be traced to the origins of the species when we were all wandering around wrapped in pelts and looking for our next cheeseburger. It’s safe to say that squirrels intercepted the evolutionary chain somewhere.

    Many thanks to those collectors who share with us their treasures. It takes a lot of effort on their part to bring us that enjoyment – Jay Leno, Rick Hendrick, & the Petersen Museum just to name a few.

    As long as there are pictures of cars covered up in warehouses and stories of hidden stashes, there will be fodder for our imaginations. And Barnfinds.

    Like 12
  6. Scott Marquis

    Covers obviously conceal 26 additional Alvii.

    Like 2
  7. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Looks like a great time hammering that thing around. I think they have more money invested in car covers than I have in my entire fleet!

    Like 5
  8. 71FXSuperGlide

    Neat roadster. If I were high bidder, I’d have to tack on the condition it come with a tour of the rest of the warehouse. What a tease!

    Like 1
  9. Vintageant

    Last last car visible to the far left is an Alvis Speed 25, circa 1937/8. GJ 6122 is a Bentley.

    Like 4
  10. Mark Dixon

    The ‘warehouse’ is an ex-RAF aircraft hangar in the UK, now part of the Bicester Heritage automotive centre. It’s a place I know very well, and all the pictures in the listing were taken here.

    Like 4
  11. Bob McK Member

    Wish my warehouse looked like that!

    Like 1

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