Supercars have a reputation for being some of the most thrilling vehicles on the road. There have been a lot of memorable supercars over the years, going all the way back to the 1930s. A vintage supercar that set the standard for future models was the Alvis 4.3-litre Short Chassis Tourer. It became one of the most important supercars of all time. We’re looking into the history of the model to see how it influenced other cars.
A new breed of car
In the years before WW2, Alvis had established itself as a leading British car manufacturer. Early success came at the 1928 Le Mans when the company secured a class win. Alvis continued to innovate, developing the world’s first all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox and pushed forward with a straight-six engine.
Based on the straight-six, Alvis announced the creation of the 4.3-litre in 1936. Designed by Chief Engineer, Captain George Smith-Clarke, the 4.3 had a lot of excitement surrounding it. The 4.3 was claimed to be the fastest un-supercharged saloon on the UK market. The car could achieve a top speed of 105 mph, making the claim a reality.
The 4.3 came with an attractive, sturdy body that added to its allure. At £1100, the car became even more desirable because of the price. Public response was extremely favourable, with The Motor Magazine calling it “a remarkable British car,” while The Autocar had high praise as well. “In the scheme of things there are cars, good cars and supercars. When a machine can be put into the last of these three categories, yet is by no means in the highest-priced class, considerable praise is due to the makers. This model is the latest 4.3-litre Alvis Sports Tourer.”
Impact of the war
Despite all the hype and interest, Alvis’ plans were hindered by the outbreak of WW2. The war exhausted the company’s assets, while the main factory suffered bomb damage during a raid by German forces. Rover took over Alvis in 1965 and the company was never quite the same.
Today, there are only a few surviving examples of the 4.3-litre Alvis. It stands out from motors from the same era because of its appearance and overall design. Aerodynamic, powerful and elegant, the 4.3 remains a highly coveted collectors item for enthusiasts.