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Coachwork Terminology

This section is included because the writer found it very confusing when he first became interested in old cars - not helped by the fact that some of the terms were misapplied. Many date back to coaching days The list covers only the more common types - there is an almost infinite number of sub-sets and variations!

1938 Speed 25 Charlesworth Drophead Coupé Drophead Coupé or DHC. "Convertible" coachwork, usually 2 door, with a folding hood. It is better appointed than other open cars, with sliding glass windows in the doors, allowing better vision than the Perspex sidescreens of the tourer, especially in the wet. It is still prone to leaks, but less so than other open cars. They tend to rattle once past the first flush of youth. Nowadays fashionably referred to by its French name "cabriolet". The 4 door variant was referred to as an "all-weather" up to about 1933.

Fixed Head Coupé - FHC. As above, the roof usually looks as though it would fold but doesn't. Sometimes the front part of the roof slides back - a "sedança coupé". Some mis-describe 2 door saloons as fixed head coupés, no doubt hoping to exact higher prices, a common practice with the post-war TD 21 and its variants. French equivalent is a "faux cabriolet".

1932 Silver Eagle 20 Mayfair 6-light D-back limousine. From the sales catalogue.Limousine. A large saloon, with glass division separating the front compartment, intended for chauffeur drive. Usually six light, and splendidly formal. Normally with "D" shaped back up to about 1933, "swept tail" thereafter. The chauffeur's compartment is often cramped and upholstered in leather whilst the rear is spacious, with the seating in cloth or Bedford cord. Many have occasional seats in the rear which fold into the division or the floor. Usually the division has sliding glass or winds down. Sometimes a speaking tube facilitates communication with your lackey up front.

1932 TL 12/60 Replica Sports 2-seater Replica. This expression means that the original body has collapsed or been discarded, to be replaced by a more desirable, usually open, variant, but of a recognisable Alvis type - Sometimes anachronistic. The Club Policy is against this practice if the original body is restorable.

TA 14 Mulliner 4-light saloonSaloon. A closed car, two or four door, from about 1933 to about 1955 usually with sunshine roof. Pre - 1933 it will have a separate luggage trunk carried on a folding grid, thereafter a boot integral with the body. 'Four light' means four side windows and six light,six. "Sports saloon" just means a more rakish and compact saloon, popular early thirties onwards. "Close coupled" means the footwells for the rear seat passengers extend under the front seats.

Special. Usually found where the original coachwork has disintegrated. Frequently the chassis has been shortened and a more sporting body fitted to the owner's own design, often home-built. Other mechanical alterations, such as larger engines and multiple carburation are often found. These are often used in competition. A special may bear little resemblance to anything which left the Alvis factory as an entity. Once again the Club policy is that restorable original cars should not be turned into specials, whilst recognising that there is a long and honourable tradition of special construction. Specials are accepted in the Club, but construction of new ones should be based on ‘orphan’ components rather than the destruction of restorable cars.

1928 SD 12/50 sports 2-seater Sports 2 – seater. A "sports car”, usually with dickey seat for one. The hood, if fitted, is for the benefit of the front seat occupants only. Some variants have a "disappearing" hood, which fits under a neat metal panel when folded. May have one, two or no doors. This body style became less common after 1932, and it is difficult to fit on the later, longer chassis without spoiling the proportions.

1939 12/70 Mulliner tourer Tourer. An entirely open car, with hood and (later on) removable Perspex sidescreens, allegedly offering some weather protection. Not necessarily a sporting car, 2, 3 and 4 door variants are to be found. Some Alvises have a 2-seat tourer body with a large dickey seat intended for two occupants, colloquially referred to as the "wide 2-seater" The tourer's popularity declined rapidly from about 1926 to 1931, when it was supplanted by the saloon as the most common body style. By the late 1930s it had become uncommon and very few indeed were built after the war as original coachwork on Alvis chassis. None was catalogued as standard bodywork, the TB 14 and TB 21 being classed nowadays as sports 2-seaters.

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