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SNAPSHOT 232: Alvis 12/50

There’s just so much to enjoy in this snapshot. Firstly, it speaks of the freedom of the roads enjoyed in the 1920s, days when the motorists could park without difficulty close to any beauty spot whilst ‘out for a run’. Beyond the Alvis tourer, no other vehicle can be seen and the farm must be a quarter of a mile distant on this straight road. Today, this road is the B6160: wider, double yellow lines and a lay-by to accommodate the climbers attracted by the challenge of Kilnsey Crag’s 40-foot overhang.

So the setting is one well-known to keen motorists in northern England, between Grassington and Kettlewell in Wharfedale. Bare trees give a clue to the time of year and the lady who sits on the wall, probably the passenger of the Alvis, is well wrapped-up, and the raised hood is augmented by all the side-screens being in place. Kilnsey is limestone country, well-drained, and the stream running through the meadow to the right is normally just a trickle, additionally indicating winter-season rainfall.

First climbed in 1947, different sources quote the daunting overhang today as offering ‘160’ and ‘over 230’ routes, but you may rest assured that your contributor has no intention of making his own investigation! This view does not show the overhang to maximum effect. Nowadays, passing motorists cannot fail to see some spiderman negotiating his web beneath the awesome projection, itself hundreds of feet up a vertical rock face.

Your contributor spent his first 23 years in Bolton, where the Alvis was registered late in 1926 – or maybe just early 1927. 2019 marks the centenary of the entry into the motor industry of T G John Ltd, shortly to evolve into the Alvis Car & Engineering Co Ltd. From the start, the Alvis was a light car with a sporting aspect that was designed to appeal to the discerning motorist. BN 9491 could be either a long (110mm) stroke TG 12/50 or, despite the full width touring bodywork, a TH, which had the 1496cc, 103mm stroke engine in the touring chassis, with that chassis’s wide-ratio gearbox. The low-mounted headlights point to the earlier of the two dates mentioned above. The keen following that the 12/50 Alvis enjoyed back in the 1920s has never waned and these cars survive in large numbers and still satisfy true enthusiasts.

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