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Small fleet of classics: Alvis 12/50, Porsche 924 S, Alvis Tickford 14, Alfa Romeo GTV6

Chris Wright: A small fleet of classics

‘My little collection started in 1973,’ Chris tells us. ‘I was working as a petrol pump attendant in my local garage and I bought the Tickford bodied drop-head Alvis TA14 from a customer there. When I owned it, I decided that I wanted to keep it as original as possible, so despite the general maintenance it’s had over the years, it’s never had a nut-and-bolt rebuild. All my cars are taxed and – theoretically – they’re all runners,’ he laughs.

Chris it the proud owner of a small fleet of classics, including a 1928 Alvis 12/50, 1949 Alvis 14 Tickford, 1985 Alfa Romeo GTV6 and a 1987 Porsche 924 S.

Porsche 924 S
Porsche 924 S
Alfa Romeo GTV6
Alfa Romeo GTV6
1928 Alvis 12/50
1928 Alvis 12/50
Front of 1949 Alvis 14 Tickford
Front of 1949 Alvis 14 Tickford

The stunning Porsche 924 S was the second car to join Chris’ collection. ‘I was actually looking for an Alfa Romeo GTV6 at the time, but I couldn’t find one. I kept seeing this Porsche standing rather forlornly in a driveway with a ‘for sale’ sign on it. In the end, I made enquiries about the Porsche and ended up buying that instead of a GTV6. I’ve had it for over ten years now and I love it. It’s been maintained regularly by a Porsche specialist (Porschembri in Hounslow) but it’s all original. It’s never been restored – the same as the Tickford!’

The third car that Chris added to his growing fleet was the Alfa Romeo GTV6, which he’d finally managed to find. ‘This is the only car I’ve ever bought which has caused me some trouble,’ he laughs. ‘I purchased it about 8 or 9 years ago. It was a solid, sound car which I was very happy to add to my collection. I’d use it for trips between Yorkshire and Twickenham quite regularly, too, but I was then involved in a rear-end shunt which meant it had to undergo a serious repair.’

Repairing the Alfa Romeo GTV6

Unfortunately for Chris, the repair wasn’t entirely what he envisioned. ‘When I got it back, it hadn’t been done the way I’d wanted,’ he explained. ‘When it comes to classic cars, it takes a lot for them to be rebuilt or restored to their original specification, and it’s important to me that my cars are as original as they can be.’

As it had was some past accident damage, Chris took his GTV6 to Alex Jupe Motorsport in Bosham, near Chichester. ‘Alex is something of a guru when it comes to these cars, so he was definitely the best choice for my Alfa. The gearbox was quite badly worn, too, so I asked him to fix that while he was working on it.’ However, there were a few more issues with the GTV6 which they had yet to discover.

‘When Alex dropped the windscreen out to treat some corrosion, we found out that the bulkhead was severely rotted down,’ Chris recalls. ‘As solid as the car appeared on the outside, it then needed quite a big restoration. It was plain sailing from there, thankfully, and the entire project was completed in 2017.

‘Since then, I’ve used it on the road and I actually think it’s probably one of the best GTV6s in the UK in virtually the original specification. A lot of people who have GTV6s make modifications like a 3.0 or 3.2 litre engine, for example. It’s quite common for owners to veer away from the specification slightly, but mine is pretty much as it would’ve come out of the factory, which is exactly what I wanted.’

Finding the final member of his fleet: an Alvis 12/50

The last addition to Chris’s small fleet was the Alvis 12/50, which he bought 7 years ago. ‘It’s a car I’ve always greatly admired,’ Chris says. ‘It’s a saloon Alvista Mark III with a fabric bodywork and a great history. I bought it from a farmer, who had picked it up in an auction with the idea of turning it into a vintage special. When he got it home, the farmer discovered it was actually in far better condition than it had been described in the auction particulars and decided it was far too good of a car to turn into a vintage special – a decision I’m very glad he made!’ Chris says. ‘As with all my cars, I’ve kept it as original as possible. Few Alvista fabric bodies survive on a 12/50 chassis and this is the only 12/50 with a Mark III body which I am aware of in the UK.’

To get his 12/50 overhauled to top working condition, Chris sent it off to Just Classics, a garage run by Alvis specialist Brian Chrimes.

The interior of the 1928 Alvis 12/50

‘I think it had stood for a number of years with the engine stripped down,’ Chris tells us. ‘I managed to acquire the missing carburettor through a friend in the Vintage Sports Car Club and had it put back together in working order.’

According to Chris, the restoration of the MKIII also turned into a bit of a detective story. ‘When Brian stripped the trim out to do some wiring, we discovered an aluminium panel behind the trim which had the cut-outs for air vents by the driver’s knees,’ Chris explains.

‘I know that the Alvista MKII had those air vents, but I never thought the MKIII had those in the original specification, so it was an odd find. It begs the question: did a MKIII Alvista actually have these vents and my specific car had been changed in its life by removing them? Or did the bodywork makers simply use up some free-cut panels thinking that it would never be found because it was behind the trim? It’s a tricky one, but that’s why I love classics; there’s always something new to find!

‘I also have a ‘modern’ for everyday use,’ Chris tells us. ‘It’s an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Cloverleaf, which is looked after by Thorobred Cars in Laleham.

‘I think my interest in classics is something I’ve always had. I was brought up in a very quiet part of the country, so if a car came past it was always a pretty big event. That was in the mid-50s, and that was probably what started my interest. I remember that my father had a van for his business and he used to tinker with it sometimes. I’d help him with it – as best as a 5-year-old can! It all came from that, really. I don’t particularly have a favourite era or a favourite marque, I just love classics in general. I think what makes it so worth it is the idea that I’m preserving a part of history.’

 

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