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Alvis Speed 25 Saloon

This review appeared in the Diecast-Collector magazine for August 2004 and was written by Richard Carlson.

A new model from this manufacturer is always notable and the latest is no exception, a fine replica of the 1938 Alvis Speed 25 Charlesworth-bodied four-door saloon.

There is a Speed 25 in the range already, the drophead coupe, also a Charlesworth bodied car, which has been very successful.  The saloon is quite different, however, having a rather different, much more 'razor-edge' body styling and disc wheels, where the convertible has wires.

The Speed 25 was introduced to the Alvis range in August 1936, being developed from the Speed 20 model.  It had a 3571cc engine which developed 106bhp, giving very good performance, with a 97mph top speed and a 0-50mph time of 10.4 seconds.  Land Speed Record holder Sir Malcolm Campbell tested a standard saloon at Brooklands racing circuit in early 1937 and was very impressed with the performance, flexibility, handling and ease of driving, for what was quite a large and heavy car - just under 16ft long, 6ft wide and weighing in at over 1¾ tons.  Priced at £885, this saloon was one of the true thoroughbred cars of the day.

The Speed 25 continued in production right up to 1940, when all Alvis' efforts were directed to military vehicles in which, of course, they played a major part since the threat of World War Two loomed.  That any cars at all were produced in the last two years is remarkable, as the Alvis car factory was virtually destroyed by Luftwaffe bombing early in the war.  However, from its introduction, some 536 examples of the Speed 25 were built, and the car helped Alvis through some difficult times.  After the War, it was replaced by the TA14, also modelled by J & M.

The Speed 25 is well up to J & M's fine standards - the company originally took over the manufacture of the Alvis range of models from Top Marques, one of the best model makers anywhere in the world - some years ago, and has managed to pull off the virtually impossible, improve yet further on quality, reduce the prices and expand the range.

Casting of the new model is first-class, with the imposing lines of the original caught to perfection and all of the body detail there.  Finish is flawless, in a choice of colours, black, maroon, British Racing Green ('Brooklands Green') or Royal Blue.  There is a wealth of plated detail to lift the overall appearance, including the radiator grille, bumpers, headlights and auxiliary lights (with the lenses in clear resin), sidelights, hubcaps, door and boot handles, windscreen wipers, petrol filler cap and rear number plate surround.  The side trim looks to be photo-etched, while the centre bonnet trim and windscreen surround look as if they have been scraped back.

Inside, there is a similar high level of detail and the interior trim is an authentic match to the body colour, and there are correct-pattern seats, four-spoke steering wheel and gear lever to be seen.  The dashboard and door cappings look very good in wood-effect finish while, of course, the dashboard has all of the instrument detail.  Underneath, the chassis members, drive-train and exhaust systems are cast into the baseplate.

Excellent value for the quality, although you have to pay for what you get, to turn the old adage around, and one of these will set you back £125 - 130.  A lovely model for collectors of fine pre-war British cars and, despite the limited numbers, your favourite supplier should be able to find you one.

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