Get a load of this 1951 Alvis TA21 drophead coupe

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As World War I ended, T.G. John, former manager for British motorcar manufacturer Siddeley-Deasy, bought the rights to Hillman’s Electra engine line. He also bought a foundry and a factory, and soon had 200 employees producing 1- and 2-cylinder engines. 

Almost immediately, piston producer Geoffrey P.H. de Freville showed John his designs for a 44-cylinder power plant. The pair decided not only to build the engine, but also a car around it. Their first Alvis prototype was ready by March 1920.

Image Credit: ClassicCars.com.

Alvis’ early days

Get a load of this 1951 Alvis TA21 drophead coupe

By June of 1921, John was convinced that his cars would succeed in the marketplace and quit making Electra engines. De Freville departed to run a Rolls-Royce dealership, and John reorganized the company as Alvis Car & Engineering of Coventry, England. The firm had its ups and downs, built a front-drive Grand Prix racing car, and by 1935 was producing aircraft engines for the British military. John re-named the company Alvis Limited. 

After the war, Alvis built engines for civilian aircraft as well as cars, the latter of which became popular with a variety of coach builders. A new short-stroke, 3.0-liter, 6-cylinder engine was developed to power the TA21, which launched in 1950 with independent front suspension.

Image Credit: ClassicCars.com.

Admirable characteristics

Get a load of this 1951 Alvis TA21 drophead coupe

The Alvis is well-regarded in the classic car world.

“Perhaps the best thing about it is that many of the handling characteristics of the (Alvis) sportscar have been built into the chassis which, combined with a low center of gravity and a reasonable amount of space, make this fine car something of a compromise suited to those who want both family car and sportscar features all in one,” according to a specialty dealership in Santa Barbara, California.

Image Credit: ClassicCars.com.

Driving specialties

Get a load of this 1951 Alvis TA21 drophead coupe

Auto Age magazine reported that, while conservatively designed, the TA21 was in a class all its own when it came to dynamic dexterity since “many of the handling characteristics of the sports car have been built into the (TA21) chassis.” 

One dealership noted that of 302 such convertibles, only 80 featured left-hand drive.

Image Credit: ClassicCars.com.

Quite a road trip

Get a load of this 1951 Alvis TA21 drophead coupe

The aforementioned Santa Barbara dealership harbors an Alvis whose first owner was Pia Beck, a famous Dutch jazz pianist and singer. 

“Besides being considered the ‘best Jazz pianist in the world’ and performing for such dignitaries as General Eisenhower, Walter Cronkite, the British Royal Family, and Freddy Heineken, Pia Beck owned over 47 different cars in her lifetime, with open sports cars her favorite,” the dealership added.

The dealer said that following the pianist’s ownership, the car went into a Dutch museum. In 1987, it was sold and exported to Canada, where it was restored for the owner’s wife, who had the car until 2014.

This Alvis’s remarkable journey is a testament to its luxurious appointments and elegant design. The car remains a fondly remembered and highly sought-after piece of early motoring history.

This article originally appeared on ClassicCars.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Image Credit: ClassicCars.com.

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