Gentleman’s Racer: 1934 Alvis Speed 20 SB

This battered Alvis Speed 20 SB is a recent sale at an auction in the UK, but it’s worth discussing here for its significance and the massive undertaking ahead of the new owner. This Speed 20s were packed with engineering feats way ahead of its time and the cars were genuinely fast for the era. Perhaps that’s why someone spent almost $20K US to bring this one back to life. Check out the photo gallery here on Barons Auctions’ website.

Considering the era in which the car was made, the features are tremendous: independent front suspension; synchromesh gear box; driver-adjustable dampers; and capable of 90 m.p.h. in top gear – in 1934! I’d consider the Alvis the modern-day equivalent of something like a BMW M5 or a Lotus Carlson; seriously fast cars built for the executive who fancied himself a racing driver on the weekends. Chassis bracing was another Alvis hallmark, providing exception rigidity.

I’d love to know where this Alvis has been hiding out for years, but it’s easy to surmise that it was either outside or parked in a barn with no roof. So much of the car is rotten, looking like it was stored underwater for a time. Fortunately, included in the sale is a complete saloon body, consisting of doors, B-pillars, trunk lid, windscreen, rear end and bulkhead. That perhaps made this project a more compelling opportunity, as finding replacement panels would be a tall order.

Everything about these cars was driver-focused, right down to the big Lucas P100 headlamps which spelled “sporting pedigree” if the rest of the car didn’t clue you in. The pervasiveness of the rust is absolutely a turn-off, but it seems the rarer the car, the lower our standards become. Check out some finished photos of the Speed 20 and you’ll see why this one was purchased; they are absolutely stunning are deco creations when restored correctly.


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  1. stillrunners LAWRENCE Member

    Wanted to see the story…sad….but a beauty of a car – hope to see it at Pebble Beach !

  2. Rovinman

    Alvis (actually called Red Triangle now, after the buy-out), are still going strong, in Kenilworth, England, where they will make any parts for you, (at a price),
    I think that this is a very possible, (if expensive), restoration.
    Check their site :

    • Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

      Rovinman. They are calling themselves The Alvis Car Company Limited in the latest edition of Octane here in UK.

      • Rovinman

        You can’t keep a good dog down !

  3. Rovinman

    Alvis (actually called Red Triangle now, after the buy-out), are still going strong, in Kenilworth, England, where they will make any parts for you, (at a price),
    I think that this is a very possible, (if expensive), restoration.

  4. Mark S. Member

    This car looks like it went through a fire at some point, nothing recent though. This will take an enormous amount of work to restore which will likely happen due to its rarity.

  5. Mike

    How much are they going pay the person who’s take it .

    Like 1
  6. Peter

    Classic!… and it still has its rego plate.

  7. Peter

    Good task for the aqua blaster ( :

  8. Peter

    It would have had a large component of wooden in the coach buliding I imagine. This has rotted away?

  9. Peter

    Sold for £13,200 .

  10. Rovinman

    I was at a Repossessed and Confiscated (usually because of illegal importation), car Auction in Bangkok, about 10 years ago, and there was this Green 1934 Alvis Speed 20 (immaculate condition), being Auctioned off.
    The Owner, whose car it previously was, (before being confiscated), was trying to buy it back, but had to drop out, when the price went to ThB 13m ($US 300,000).
    Ouch !

  11. bassboy99

    USD $17,665.96
    Awesome vehicle in its day.

    Sad it met its demise so tragically. No one cared eh.

  12. Rube Goldberg Member

    If you looked up in a dictionary the meaning of “ambitious restoration”, there would be a picture of this car. Can you believe this fantastic car once looked similar to this?
    I say this is too far gone, but I suppose anything is possible with enough money.

  13. Chebby Staff

    I want this simply because it looks like the illustrations from the copy of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” I had as a kid:

    • Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

      Hi Chebby. You have a very vivid imagination heh?

    • Peter

      Very apt Chebby. A perfect description.

  14. Rovinman

    Believe me, it WILL be rebuilt, and immaculately too !
    Someone will throw upto $US 1m at it and it will be ALIVE !

  15. Rovinman

    It is still on the DVLA Computer in UK !

    • Peter

      I thought it might be

  16. Brakeservo

    This IS NOT an Alvis. It is merely a suggestion, the idea that an Alvis can exist in that space IF ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING there now is replaced and I for one get my own ideas for free – I don’t need this to visualize an automobile.

    • Peter

      Brakeservo…..It sounds like somethng from Slartibartfast in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’

  17. Vintageant

    Additionally, Alvis introduced the first production FWD cars in 1927. Two cars of this type were entered for Le Mans, in which they had no trouble, won the 1 1/2 litre class and finished 6th and 9th in the general classification. The Alvis 4.3 SWB tourer was the fastest pre-war British car. I own two Alvis.

    • mikeH

      Is that not “Alvii”?

    • Peter

      Yes “two Alvii.” ( :

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