When the conversation turns to what are the best vintage sports cars one model which will almost certainly be raised is Alvis’s redoubtable 12/50 as it combines pretty well all of the characteristics which appeal to people who want to drive their cars rather than have them sitting around in fields for people to gaze upon and admire!
Firstly 12/50’s just look the part with a tall radiator at the front of a longish bonnet and wearing two or four seat open touring bodies or purposeful looking sports saloon coachwork.
Secondly they have a rigid chassis which keeps the suspension parts in the right place so the car drives well with none of the directional vagueness you get in many contemporary machines. They also have good brakes and positive steering so you can enjoy your driving confident in the knowledge that it will go where you point it and stop when you want it to.
Thirdly they have a quite remarkable engine which on first acquaintance appears to be rather staid but on the open road delivers very good performance which easily exceeds what you might expect from a just over 1600 cc four cylinder pushrod engine and it will certainly give cars with bigger engines a good run for their money and the gearbox ratios are such that you can make good use of the engine’s power.
Fourthly there can be little doubt about the quality of Alvis engineering which is why they survive in good numbers.
This particular 12/50 TJ, number 13387, left the factory on the 6th December 1930 so can truly be called a vintage car. According to its Alvis record it was originally fitted with Cross and Ellis open four seater coachwork and was apparently rebodied with its current lightweight sports body in around 1947. In the file there is a rather nice photograph of it thought to have been taken at the 1963 Measham driving tests - the only significant difference is that it then had cycle wings on the front!
It has been the subject of a significant amount of fettling by its current owner which included amongst other things fitting a brand new cylinder head complete with valves and springs (a full list of recent and earlier work is available on request). He had VSCC type trials very much in mind (it has a VSCC buff form) when he did the work and the result is that it is a very sound and useable motor car which goes really well and inspires confidence that it will continue to do so.
The best thing to do is come and see it for yourself but you should be prepared to find yourself wanting to buy it!