Classic car ownership is not just about the pleasures of driving; there is a pleasure in the Heritage of the vehicle itself. With the earliest Alvis cars now approaching 100 year of age, there is considerable history in the machines and knowing that history is a key part of the ownership experience for many owners and also an important part of protecting the value of the car.
The AOC has been offering support for the heritage of Alvis cars for over 50 years. The information held on individual cars varies greatly; some are well documented and covered by pictures over the years, whereas others are known only as they were dispatched from the factory.
This is an ongoing task and we are in the process of building the Alvis Heritage Database. Every piece of information available on a car is saved for a future owner. The club has seen where cars have been passed between owners and where records built up by owners over the years have simply become lost. We are working to avoid that and through the Alvis Heritage Database provide a repository that owners can add to through the Model Secretary system. Each Alvis model has a specific Model secretary assigned to it to manage information on cars within that model.
In December 1963 the club’s internal magazine, The Bulletin (No. 124) announced that Colonel Peter Hordern, Member 2242, would take on the office of Pre-war Car Registrar.
Peter Hordern was then the owner of SB Speed Twenty registered AXL 707. His researches were collated in the form of a ledger, which has thankfully survived, consisting of a list of Members cars, listed alpha-numerically by Registration number and cross-referenced back, where known to the Alvis "Car" number.
As the years have gone by, the club has continued to build on Peter Hordern’s initial work and the number involved has grown, so that each Model that Alvis produced now has its own Model Secretary.
Alvis and the DVLA
Nowhere is this more important and relevant than when the club is asked to support an owner in providing the evidence to DVLA for the return of an original number plate. Alvis cars have long attracted international ownership and cars which started their lives in the UK often left and enjoyed long periods outside the UK. When repatriated, owners naturally want the original historic registration and the club, using its accumulated records is able to work with the DVLA to achieve this in the majority of cases.
The AOC has experienced officers formally recognised and accredited by the DVLA, the Government body with responsibility for car registration. We have taken great care in building relationships with the responsible staff at DVLA in Swansea and are able to assist members in a number of ways, where our experience and the trust built up over time can lighten the burden and provide expertise trusted by the DVLA.
With quality classic cars now commanding higher prices than some years ago, the DVLA is being more searching than earlier in acknowledging an individual car’s provenance.
Enquiries fall largely into two categories.
a. the reinstatement or retention of original registration numbers. A number of Alvis cars have been exported, only to return to the UK, devoid of their original registration number. The club is able to match the car from factory records held by the club, inspect the car if necessary, and provide the DVLA with assurance as to the credibility of the claim.
b. A second source of re-registration in recent years have been cars deemed uneconomic to restore some years ago and not registered with DVLA, but now appearing with keen restorers, bringing them back to life again. The club has helped a number of owners of these restored cars over the past year in gaining the original number, or if not possible, an age related registration. We are also able to advise owners whether their car, or intended purchase, has been restored from the remains of one car, or has been assembled from a mixture of parts from a number of different cars. The latter has been of concern to the DVLA where non-genuine cars have been attempted to be passed off with pure provenance.
In a twelve month period, the club typically assists in recovering over twenty original registrations, from each of the categories above, with reassurance to their owners that their car is properly recognised.
As ever, the club is keen to enhance the reputation of Alvis cars and their Owners.
Alvis Archive Trust
The Alvis Archive Trust was set up in 2002 by the AOC to act as a separate legal entity to hold and build upon the wider items of Alvis Heritage that had come into the club’s possession. Items held by the Trust range from drawings, catalogues and artefacts that relate to Alvis and its period as a manufacturer. While we are in the process of refining the central system much more information can be accessed on the Alvis Archive Trust website at: http://alvisarchive.com.