This car’s two-tone green finish suits the early-Fifties contours of the Alvis very well, adding a sleekness that’s retained even with the dark green hood erected. As soon as you get close to the car you’re aware of its unusually nice condition; it screams of fastidious ownership wherever you look. The Tickford body has been restored with superb door fit (and catches that shut with a silky click) and excellent panel lines throughout, so you’ll search in vain for any normal signs of fatigue common to 3.0-litre Alvises; ill-fitting spats, dropping doors and scruffy sills are all absent.
The paint finish is uniformly excellent. The chrome still looks new, not just on bumpers and grille but on hubcaps and wheel trims too. This car has the characteristic nostrils that set a Grey Lady apart from lesser Three Litres, though there’s no ‘TC21 100’ script on the bonnet side. The silver eagle mascot is non-standard but a few TC21s wear them. Its steel wheels are shod in Vredestein Sprint Classic tyres that show little sign of wear. The front spots, the sidelamps and even the trafficators are in working order, and there are useful quarterlight mirrors to complement the stick-on rear-view mirror mounted on the windscreen.
The convertible roof is ingenious if somewhat complex, with front sections that have to be folded out before the roof can be fastened to the header rail. Both fabric and frame are in splendid order. Inside, the smart cream-coloured hide is unmarked and the green carpets are a good fit. Only the elderly rubber mats, with a few bobbles worn off, take away from the as-new appearance. There is a small steel panel on the dash, mounting a switch for a claxon – fun, but not original.
The engine starts with the first touch of the button and settles to a steady, well-muffled idle. Accessing the handbrake requires a long reach under the dash to an umbrella-type handle, but it sets and releases with ease. On the road, the car’s mechanical condition imitates the presentation, feeling like a new car, with no slop and an impressively responsive throttle. The gearchange is still a tad tight, but with a confident hand it has the proverbial rifle-bolt action. The engine pulls with significantly more urge than any single-carb TA21, and the car steers and stops better than many of the Park Ward-era TD, TE and TF models. Motorway-speed cruising would be easy.
This car has a long history filling two box files, involving export to America by the current owner in 1974, strapped to the deck of the USS Enterprise. It lived a high life in California (Clint Eastwood has ridden in the passenger seat) and was restored in the States before returning the UK in 1979, eventually enjoying a spend of some £50k including a second rebuild by Tim Walker Restorations between 1998 and 2003. It’s covered about 15k miles since then, and for the £58k asked, seems a very good buy compared with the sums asked for nice TD, TE and TF dropheads – never mind what you’d pay for a Bentley R-type dhc. This is one of four cars for sale tested in the latest issue, part of 16 pages of buying tips and advice, including Quentin Willson’s Hot Tips, Ads on Test and the Buying Guide, in the latest issue of Classic Cars.
Price £58,000 Engine 2993cc ohv in-line six Power 100bhp @ 4000rpm Torque 163lb ft @ 2000rpm Top speed 100mph 0-60mph 16sec Fuel consumption 18mpg Length 4636mm Width 1676mm Weight (Grey Lady saloon) 1519kg