1938 Alvis 4.3 Litre Short Chassis by Vanden Plas
Year: 1938
Chassis No: 14812
Engine No: 15298
Factory Demonstrator
Coachwork: Original Vanden Plas
Rally Prepared
Fiva Papers


Perhaps one of the most significant British sports cars of the 1930's.

Alvis built cars of the highest quality. The 4.3 Litre short chassis tourers, of which only 12 were produced, were the culmination of the series that started in 1932 with the Speed 20.

It is said that their influence for this particular design feature came directly from serial racer and Bentley owner, Malcolm Campbell.

As new, 14812 was built by Alvis with its own definitive specifications being on the short chassis and including a special high compression engine which it retains to this day. Registered for the British roads as 'DHP233' it was used by Alvis as their Demonstrator, it would also be campaigned competitively from its earliest days.

At Brooklands on 16th July 1938 the '4.3' made its debut in a rather ignominious fashion, where piloted by G. Hartwell and R.S. Newton in the Light Car Club's 3-Hour Race for Standard Sports Cars, its 'box lost two of gears, not surprisingly the shock of which caused the drivers to put the car into a spin on a couple of occasions and setting it back down the pack. 2 months later after the Summer had passed it was back for an altogether more successful outing, at the Dunlop Jubilee International Car Races, on 24th September. Here, the car was driven by well-known racer, broadcaster and motoring personality Tommy Wisdom in two Outer Circuit handicap races. In Alvis: The Story of the Red Triangle author Ken Day quotes Tommy Wisdom:
"The car I had for test differed from standard models in that the compression ratio of the engine had been increased to 8.5 to 1, which meant that use of 50:50 benzole mixture was necessary. Top-gear ratio was higher than standard and wings, lamps and screen were removed."

Aside from these alterations 'DHP 233' remained in remarkably standard form, especially when one considers it was to share the circuit with the likes of the Pacey-Hassan 4½ Litre Bentley single seater special, Duller's monster Duesenberg and a whole host of supercharged European exotica. The drivers too were no slouches either, with the likes of greats such as Jean-Pierre Wimille and Rene Dreyfus also competing in the same events. Although the Alvis was never going to be the quickest car on the circuit the performance figures it achieved were quite exceptional for a largely standard un-supercharged road going sportscar. To quote Tommy Wisdom again: "In the 20 Miles Outer Circuit Handicap race the car averaged better than 110 mph. The standing lap was covered at 92.23 mph, three laps at 111 mph, two at 116 mph and the fastest at 115.29 mph while the maximum on the Railway Straight, according to the revolution counter, was 119 mph." If one considers that the race was won at a speed of 119.86 mph, these figures make for impressive reading.

Within the month, 'DHP 233' had completed its service for the Works and was returned to production road trim and showroom condition. It was shipped to agents Hugh Anderson Ltd. Of London and quickly snapped up by its first public owner, Mr. Edgar H. Whale of Watford, Hertfordshire, amazingly its next recorded owner, Mr. J.A. Penman of Penrith, Cumbria, would keep the Alvis until the early 1980s! After two brief sojourns in the UK trade, it emigrated to the U.S. and into one of the greatest collections of sportscars of its day, that of Henry Petronis. If one need further proof of its importance and stature, in this well-honed collection it would share a stable with a Blower Bentley, Supercharged Alfa Romeo, Mercedes S-Type and many more pre-war gems. After this collection was dispersed privately in 2011, the next owner was fortunate enough to become its fourth private owner in 70 years.
'DHP 233' has competed on a number of well-known endurance events including: The Flying Scotsman, Cape Horn Rally, The Alpine Trial and 1000 Mile Trial. No expense has been spared to ensure the reliability and usability of the car whilst retaining the originality and historical integrity of this important pre-war sports car. With full-synchromesh gearbox as standard, independent front suspension and a standard pedal layout 'DHP 233' is not only one of the fastest standard pre-war sports cars, but also one of the easiest to drive and this extremely rare and original sports car is ready to be enjoyed by the next owner on numerous international events.