Nostalgia – 1961 Alvis TD21

By Rob Harvey
By Rob Harvey

Marketing Manager - Bridge Classic Cars

On the 6th of September 2021, we posted on the Bridge Classic Cars Facebook page telling the story of a 1961 Alvis TD21 that unexpectedly arrived at the workshop for an urgent repair on its way to a car show.

Then, just a couple of weeks ago, Stephen Jenkins sent us a message saying he had just seen the post and instantly recognised the car. As it turns out, the car used to belong to his Father.

This is the story of Steve and a 1961 Alvis TD21 in his own words.

“My earliest memory of 867 WTF was when my father met the first owner at ‘The Bear’ Hotel in Cowbridge, Glamorgan. It was one of those ‘gentlemen’ agreements in the evening at about 7 pm. I was 10 and excited. My dad exchanged a Humber Hawk, and if I recall correctly £1100 for the Alvis TD21. The first owner was a ‘titled’ gentleman, but I cannot remember for sure, but believe he was an Earl. Needless to say, it had a big impact on me as the Alvis was just so amazing to look at.

My father decided he needed a better car after a ‘race’ with a Mini Cooper, which exposed how cumbersome the Humber was. Our parents owned a Jewellers shop in Port Talbot in the 60s and 70s and they used the car regularly, and I went whenever possible. No matter the journey.

I grew up in this car, although my siblings and I were sick in the car on a number of occasions. It was a light grey interior back then with a strong smell of leather. We often went to London as we had grandparents there, and it was the long journeys where it was worse.

I always felt special whenever we went anywhere and also sat in it to play driving whenever I could. He had the car serviced at the Alvis factory a few times, and I also had the pleasure of going to the factory and had a tour when I was about 13, enlightening me to how significant Alvis had been over the years. Seeing a pre-war ‘front wheel’ drive car, at a time I thought the ‘Mini’ had invented such a thing 😉

Experiences I remember are as below:-

On several occasions my father experienced ‘wheel shake’ through the steering, so bad he nearly lost control. I think one of the factory visits was to examine why. However, the eventual solution was fitting the ‘new’ Michelin X all around the car. It was a much better drive after that according to my dad.

The heater blower failed and it proved a major headache to find someone to fix it locally.

Being young I asked what the ‘F’ button was for. My dad told me ‘The flaps’ to help at high speed. I believed that for years, even pulling the button and looking underneath more than once. Of course, I felt silly when I discovered it was the ‘fog lights’ switch!!

Corrosion was an issue between the screen base by the A-post, and the roof base (C pillar) by the time my father decided to sell the car. He was recommended to buy a Volvo 164 3-litre. No test drives were available locally, so he bought it blind. He soon regretted this, as the Volvo was a ‘tank to drive’, his words, after the Alvis.

He sold the car to Neath Motors who gave him £180 trade-in in 1969/70. They did the repairs to the bodywork and then had it in their showroom for £800. By then I was working and would stay on the bus passing my stop, so I could get off near the garage and look at the car in their showroom, and then walk home.

So, I have not seen or heard of the car for 53 years and recently was given a video of an 8mm cine film my dad had taken in the early 60s. I took that ‘snapshot’ from the film. This gave me the reg number. This car led to a lifelong love of cars, but I have never been in the position to buy an Alvis.

It was great to get a reply on a Facebook post, informing me you had looked after the car in recent years. I already knew of you having entered some of your car competitions.

Moving memories for me.

Steve Jenkins”

Full project details of the work we completed on this 1961 Alvis TD21 can be seen here.

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