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The J & M Classics Alvis Speed 20

This is the latest in J & M’s Alvis series of models, and was actually developed from an earlier Top Marques replica.  The earlier model was not made in great numbers, however, and of course the J & M has been cleaned up and considerably upgraded, as well as being available at a rather lower price than its predecessor.

The speed 20 was introduced in January 1932 as a development of the earlier “Silver Eagle” Alvis, and had a 2511cc 6-cylinder engine producing 87 bhp, enough to give a sparkling performance for the day, with 0-60 mph in 18 seconds, 0-80 in 32, and 90 mph maximum.  Excellent handling and road holding were features, and with a price of £695.00 for a tourer and £825.00 for a saloon, the new Alvis was considered very good value for a car of its quality.

1933 brought independent front suspension, an all-synchromesh gearbox and a new more substantial chassis, which gave more refined driving characteristics, and in 1935 the engine size was increased to 2762 cc, though on paper, the performance was no better - perhaps because the bodies were becoming better-equipped and correspondingly heavier.

The car remained popular for Alvis through to 1936, and enabled the company to weather the depression years of the early 1930s, when many other smaller manufacturers went under.  In August 1936, the Speed 20 was replaced by the Speed 25 and the 3½ litre cars.

The J & M is a fine model, well up to their high standard.  Casting quality is excellent, and the low-slung stance of the original is caught very well.  All the plated parts of the original are there, including the radiator, bumpers, lights (the larger lights having clear lenses), the radiator mascot, bonnet centre hinge, windscreen frame with the mirror and wipers attached, the spare wheel clamp, door handles and petrol filler cap and pipe.  The running boards have treads which have been scraped back, and the excellent wire wheels are silver painted.  The windscreen frame comes as a separate fitting, which sits neatly and at the correct angle, into holes in the scuttle.

Interior detail is excellent, as it needs to be for an open tourer of course, and incorporates correct-pattern seats, four-spoke steering wheel, a very well-detailed dashboard with such details as the dials and map light neatly picked out, a separate gear lever and cast internal door handles and door pockets.  Underside detail includes the main chassis members, drive train, and exhaust system.

In all another lovely model from J & M Classics, and my only criticism is that the tyres slip off the wheels all too easily, though this is not a problem when the model is sitting on the shelf.  Not cheap at around £120-130.00, but very good value when you look at the amount of detail work that has gone into the model, and also when you consider that the original Top Marques version was some £40-50.00 more expensive about ten years ago!  Once again, have a word with your specialist dealer, who should be able to show you one.


This article appeared in The Diecast Collector - September 2007

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