Almost a definition of a ‘snapshot’ is this battered survivor! These days, motorists rarely take a drive out into the countryside in their everyday car purely for the pleasure of so doing. In the 1920s and ’30s, and well into the post-WW2 era, ‘going for a run’ was a commonly-enjoyed activity for those fortunate enough to own a car. The motoring weeklies of those times regularly carried articles that were no more than illustrated accounts of such trips, spiced with a little information about the points of interest of the places visited, and comment on road conditions and perhaps hazards. To the frustration of today’s readers, observations regarding the car’s performance, handling and other characteristics are minimal, and mention of any mishap or mechanical trouble encountered en route quite definitely was taboo.
Two families from the Manchester area pause whilst the driver of the first car records this summery scene: this is one of a group of several ‘snaps’ taken at the same place and time. Lack of side-screens evidences a warm day, yet heavy outer clothes are worn and doubtless travelling rugs would have been de rigueur.
The staid appearance of the leading car belies its make: it is a 10/30hp Alvis, first registered (TB8780) on March 16 1922. The Alvis belonged to a chemist in Farnworth, a small town between Bolton and Salford. It was his second car, and replaced a Calthorpe. 11/40 and then 12/50 Alvis cars followed. The Humber behind belonged to the local butcher, the two families being good friends. An 11·4hp model, it was Manchester-registered at much the same date as the Alvis, and the performance of the two cars would have been nicely matched. Spare wheels alone were considered inadequate insurance against tyre troubles, as each car also carries a spare cover – a comment on the number of punctures experienced with high-pressure beaded-edge tyres.
A suitcase seen crammed in the rear of the Alvis hints at a picnic – a luggage grid was a useful accessory when the rear seats of a tourer were occupied. The paintwork of the Alvis in particular is dull: varnished coach-paint soon lost its gloss, and so 1925 could be a good guess as to the date this ‘snapshot’ was taken.