ALVIS CAR CLUB of VICTORIA
CAR CLUB (Vic) was formed in the 1950's and some of its history
has been gleaned from members and newsletters.
ACCV Statement of Purposes
photo's of Alvis (mainly taken in 1950's and 60's but a few from
The list of contributors and
articles are in no particular order. Some concern the history
of the club whilst others are about people who where involved
with Alvis in Australia (or the ACCV) in some way
It is anticipated
this section will grow considerably as more information is collected.
ACCV: AS IT WAS
IN THE BEGINNING -Part 1 1953-1963 by Roy Henderson
"I bought a Speed 20. I found
there was an Alvis Club in Sydney and that it had four members
in Melbourne. John Read, O.J. Nillson, Syd Fisher and Jim May.
I obtained their addresses and found that one had gone away and
that two had sold their cars and were no longer interested. The
remaining member, believed to be Jim May, was keen, but after
a few months ran away to sea to get his Master's ticket.
I wrote to Sydney and asked
permission to form a local Club as a branch and offered to pay
to Sydney half of all subscriptions, as a levy to support such
services as "Alvibatics" which Victoria could not then afford
to produce itself. Permission granted, I placed advertisements
in various papers and, as a result, the nucleus of hoary-headed
decrepit old gentlemen got together".
Thus, says Robert B. (Bob Morrow,
founder of the Melbourne branch of the Alvis Car Club of Australia,
later to be known as the A.C.C.A. (Vic Division), and later still
as the Alvis Car Club of Victoria.
Bob Morrow joined the A.C.C.
in September 1953 and placed the advertisement in the Melbourne"Age"
and other papers on Saturday, 27th March 1954. It read: "Alvis
owners for technical information and assistance join the Alvis
Car Club. R.B. Morrow, 52 Morotai Avenue., Ashburton".
The first meeting took place
at Bob Morrow's home and was attended by Bob, Horrie Morgan -
still an active member (when this article was originally written),
and the late Basil Bowes. The early meetings slowly gathered members
and were held monthly at various homes, particularly that of Graham
Thorley, the well known artist. Graham later became famous in
motoring circles, not for his artistic achievements, but for his
ability to leap from ground level to the seat of his vintage Bentley
in two mighty bounds, while encased ina chaff bag. This momentous
event took place at the Kalorama Rally in 1958 and gained him
unofficial title of best performer of the day.
In 1955 Bas. Bowes offered the
use of a large garage on his property at Edgar Street, Glen Iris,
as a permanent home for the Branch. This was agreed to and the
members set p shop there. From 1955 to 1958 meetings were held
in the garage "as was", with members making use of any available
space for seating accommodation.
The setting was perfect. A large,
brick and dirt floored, garage cluttered with vintage machinery,
including a Talbot with a great hole in the sump, no doubt caused
by a wandering con-rod, a 1912 Hispano-Suiza, most of which was
piled up in its own back seat and "Blue Bird", a 12/50 Alvis adorned
with a rather revolting blue racing shell proverbially made in
a blacksmiths shop. In the smallish space in the middle, as central
heating, stood a split 44 gallon drum in which smouldered some
of the most obnoxious semi combustibles known to man. Through
this evil-smelling fog an odd face would appear, toss in a, usually
inane, contribution to the proceedings and then disappear back
into obscurity never to be seen again!
At one meeting in 1957 nine
motions were put without notice, discussed, accepted and promptly
forgotten as no one had thought to record them.
They were the good old days,
when we went out for a hillclimb and coudn't find the hill! And
coffee was often served in mugs we'd forgotten to wash the month
before. In the closing months of 1957 came, to quote Bob Morrow,
"The Ten Minutes That Shook the World". This was a somewhat overly
dramatic statement but at least to proved a shaky event for the
Due partly to the Geographic
isolation the two groups had been drifting apart for some time.
Communications and financial matters were deemed unsatisfactory
by many members and so, after much argument and soul searching,
a motion was passed that the baby strike out on its own.
A constitution was drawn up
under the guiding hand of Mr. Morrow, presented and accepted at
a special meeting and the Melbourne Branch became autonomous,
to be known as "The Alvis Car Club of Victoria".
Then the rot set in! Whether
in expletion of our sins, bad management, lack of experience or
whatever for the next three years, membership and attendance fell
off to a point where only a hard core of a dozen members presented
themselves at meetings and the future looked rather grim.
Two factors emerged during this
period which proved a point - that any club must have a focal
point to survive. These were the availability of a permanent clubroom
and (b) a monthly newsletter which, although sometimes just a
single sheet, went out regularly to all members, financial and
otherwise (mostly otherwise), with information on meetings, coming
events, chatter and technical data on vintage Alvis problems.
During 1958 Basil Bowes decided
that we were no longer colonials and were now civilised enough
to warrant a decent Clubroom. So during the next four years walls
were moved, ceilings lined, proper seating and lighting installed
and a kitchen of sorts organised so that by the end of 1962 the
Club rooms were set up much as they are today, with only minor
alterations to meet current needs.
This had a revitalising effect
on the club. New members slowly began to arrive seeking admission
to this "dynamic little group". Events grew from totally disorganisedf
iascos such as the 1957 Hurstbridge Hill Climb - where, after
negotiating at risk to life and limb a decidedly dangerous home
made bridge with every second plank missing, competitors found
the "hill" inclimable due to washaways.
A fine example of the new professionalism
was Ron Allen's Clarkefield Gymkhana. The intricate course was
laid out on a field where marshalls had cunningly buried a large
quantity of half ton boulders in the long grass, thereby causing
at least one cracked chassis and several near decapitations. Notable
survivors of this disaster were the outright winner, Neil Cuthbert
(VDC) in a MG TF; Barry Gough, winner of the pre 1930 section
in "Emma" a 14.75 Alvis and Roy Henderson in "Bertha", a TA 19.82
Alvis. A notable casualty was the organiser, disqualified in the
slow run for lying along the running board of his Oldsmobile and
tinkering with the carburetor in an effort to make it go even
slower. Naturally it stalled - hence the disqualification. 1958
also saw the Gundagai Interstate Rally and the near demolition
of the Troika cabaret by a hord of Red Triangles.
1959 was not our best year.
Apart from a pleasant picnic run organised by Barry Gough to Long
Island, Frankston, the Narracan Trial produced only 4 Victorian
cars. The Albury Interstate Rally was attended by only six Victorians
in 3 cars and five New South Welshman in four cars. Only 18 out
of 43 members were financial and to cap it off the founder, Bob
Morrow, was seen drinking water lightly coloured with sherry.
"Not feeding my Ulcer" he said, "drowning it".
1960 was another mixed bag.
In the U.K. the Alvis Owners' Club booked Crystal Palace for the
1960 National Alvis Day and, on a sad note, the death of Captain
G.T. Smith-Clarke, chief designer for Alvis from 1922 to '50 occurred
on February 28. In Victoria, 24,000 miles away, financial membership
stood at 12 out of 50. The Wagga Interstate Rally improved with
11 members from Victoria in 6 cars and 14 from N.S.W. in 5 cars.
Alvis Ltd. gave approval to
a club badge design for which quotes were immediately sought.
The accepted tender from K.G. Luke was £(pounds)34.0.0 for
the die and 18/6 per badge. The annual dinner was at the Savoy
Plaza at £2.2.0 per head. It was also 1960 that the Council
of Combined Vintage Car Clubs came into being and Kalorama Vintage
Rally became of age. Prior to 1960 the Kalorama Floral Festival
organisers invited vintage clubs to participate as an added attraction.
After its demise in 1959 the six major vintage minded clubs in
Melbourne: the Alvis Car Club, Bentley Drivers Club, Lancia Car
Club, Rolls Royce Owners Club, Vintage Drivers Club and the Vintage
Sports Car Club, sent delegates to the home of Ian Parfitt, where
the C.C.V.C.C. was born. Its initial duty was to organise the
first Kalorama Rally on 18 April 1960. The programme of that historic
meeting shows an entry of 17 Vintage and P.V.T. cars, including
16 Alvis, ranging from Brian Donellan's 1924 12/50 to Adrain Flere's
1939 4.3l. The oldest car at the event was Ian Parfitt's 1921
Issota Fraschini and the youngest the 4.3l Alvis.
In this year the newsletter
took a new format. Edited by David Muirden, and bearing the somewhat
unwieldy title of "The Austral Alvists Aid" it appeared as a compact
magazine complete with sketches, technical illustrations and data,
the usual jottings, calendar and classified ads.
The new format proved extremely
popular and February 1963 David M. changed the name to "Alvic"
and produced the magazine ina glossy cover. Unfortunately, by
April '64 pressure of studies forced David to relinquish the position
of editor and "Alvic" was produced only occasionally as a strictly
technical publication till December 1967, when it ceased altogether.
(A new style "Alvic " was reintroduced by John Hetherington
(then editor) in 1999 as a quarterly magazine with the normal
newsletter filling the intervening months DP).
However, the standard of content
devised by David Muirden has been maintained by succeeding editors,
each of whom has added something of himself - and if this something
occassionally shows through somewhat strongly, who's to blame
him or her? Certainly not this writer, who possesses an almost
complete library of News Letters from the day he joined in December
1956, and who often leafs through them in a nostalgic search for
The Good Old Days.
On 8 May 1963 a sad single sheet
went out to all members. Basil Bowes, ex truck driver, ex-garage
proprietor, ex-bus driver, occasional odd-ball and lover of fine
machinery, was dead.
For years, despite failing health,
and in constant pain from spinal osteo-arthritis, he had worked
tirelessly for the club. Many recreation hours were given up in
the interests of members, particularly in searching out and importing
spare parts. It was also a common practice for him to leave his
Alvis out in the weather to make room for a member's Alvis undergoing
repair in the safety and shelter of his garage.
He was many things - helpful,
friendly, selfless, also garrulous, long winded, sometimes cantankerous,
occasionally just a voice in a smoke screen from a smelly but
beloved corncob, but always "Old Bas" when a friendly ear was
The man and his many contributions
to the club have been commemorated by the annual presentation
of the "Basil Bowes Memorial Challenge Trophy" for a series of
sporting events within the club and available only for points
gained in Alvis Cars.
PART TWO CONTINUES BELOW
ACCV: AS IT WAS
IN THE BEGINNING -Part 2 1963-1965 by Roy Henderson
We left off our traditional
history with the untimely death of Basil Bowes. His death was
a great shock to all our members, many of whom were in the habit
of just dropping in at any old hour for a natter and noggin and
the cheery "what ho!" with which they were greeted.
The club was now presented with
a problem of great consequence.
The home of Basil Bowes had
become the home of the Alvis Car Club and the centre of its world
- with no thought of the future.
Suddenly, tragically, the future
was now, and so an extraordinary meeting was called in May 17
with five items on the agenda.
1) Possible relocation of the
2) Deposit and storage of club
3) Collection of members' cars
and spares stored at Edgar St.
4) Handling of G.N.S. Davies
three cars en route from the U.K., including the Le Mans FWD already
at Victoria Dock.
5) Unravelling of members accounts
and spares being handled by Bas. at the time of his death.
At the meeting, to the great
surprise of all members, it was announced that Mrs Belle Bowes,
knowing her late husband's love for the club, had consented to
Edgar St. remaining the home of the Alvis Club. Thus number one
priority problem was solved before it developed.
Swift action soon had the other
matters under control. Volunteers took over the various tasks
under president David Bamford. Notably David Muirden on spares,
Alister Cannon and David Caldwell on the Davies cars, and Derek
Holyoake on accounts. Andy Hannam, a new recruit from the U.K.,
soon took over the treasury and has, with his considerable talents,
over the years since built the club into a solvent and viable
October 20, 1963, heralded the
first Langwarrin gymkhana, held in bushland on an old army reserve.
Amenities and facilities numbered zero as was obvious by the quantities
of amber fluid and the constant treks into the scrub by various
members throughout the day.
Six events were programmed,
including the first, and to the writer's knowledge, the last see-saw
event in the clubs history. The object was for vehicles to be
driven up two planks resting on a drum, and to finish up balanced
on an even keel over the centre point. First place in this event
was gained by Alister Cannon, TA14, in the Alvis section, and
David Bamford, Holden, in the non-Alvis.
Final placings for the day were
Alvis 1. Alister Cannon TA14, 2. Andy Hannam Firebird, 3. David
Wischer TA14; and non-Alvis 1. Simon Ramsay TR3 (Triumph DP),
2. Keith Welsh Zephyr Ute., 3. David Bamford Holden.
Langwarrin became a regular
event for the next five years, the last being held in November
1968. After this, like Marooubra of yesteryear, the area was torn
up in the interests of the almighty dollar and the club moved
its gymkhana to Berwick Airfield. 1963 ended on a further sad
note. Bob Morrow's Speed 20, for which he alleged he founded
the Club, had recently been sold to a gentleman together with
the warning that the differential urgently required attention.
The warning was ignored and the car finally came to a permanent
halt outside the A.B.V studios (now Australian Broadcasting
Commission DP) in Ripponlea. Rumour had it that following
this various parts were made over to a number of people as a form
of security on money owed.
Whatever the real facts were
does not concern us here. Suffice it to say that scarcely had
the tyres become flat when bits began to disappear in the usual
manner. Later still the remaining parts were removed by various
people claiming ownership by default, one person even bearing
off the chassis lashed to a boat trailer. Thus ended the career
of a well known and much travelled car which had entertained members
on many occassions with its exciting duels with the Ron Allen
1964 began with the two day
Basil Bowes Memorial Rally to San Remo held on Feb. 22-3 in weather
reminiscent of the Great Flood. Lowering skies on Saturday Afternoon
developed into torrential downpours during the evening, followed
by squalls and high winds throughout the Sunday.
However, undeterred, the intrepid
entrants set out from Melbourne at 11 a.m. Saturday, on the first
stage, an observation rally, finishing, luckily, just before the
storm at the Bowes family home at San Remo. This was followed
by a riotous indoor barbeque and film night as 30 odd people tried
to crowd into a very small kitchen. By this time the storm
had hit with a vengeance and many and tall were the tales told
around later camp fires of its depredations. My personal experience
was sharing a tent with my son and friend Barry Gough, one Speed
20 and several hundred gallons of water. I distinctly remember
having an awful nightmare during which I woke in pain with my
nose jammed securely up the Speed 20's exhaust pipe, while the
waters slowly rose above my head.
On the Sunday use was made of
the then abandoned Phillip Island race track for a series of Gymkhana
events, including a standing quarter mile sprint which proved
that Alvis cars are no snails. Alister Cannon's TA14 was timed
at 25.2 sec. beating a Mk V Jaguar driven by Keith Welsh,
and being beaten only by two modern Valiant - Graeme Quinn in
21.4 and Simon Ramsay 23.6. As these two gentlemen are reputed
to don driving boots when driving this was quite an effort.
One event which caused some
consternation was a maneuverability test in which the blindfold
driver was directed by his navigator through a series of flags,
including two parking bays. This event was not taken kindly by
one unfortunate, whose wife skillfully directed him backwards
into a concrete wall - successfully mangling some very nice panel
The results of the Rally were:
1. Alister Cannon TA14 (first outright and Basil Bowes Memorial
trophy); Best Alvis Trial Section - Des Donnan 12/50; Best Alvis
Gymkhana - Alister Cannon, TA14; Best other make aggregate - Keith
Welsh, Jaguar Mk.V; Nearest to Secret Time (trial), John McLaod,
Other notable events of 1964
were the Interstate Rally to Mt Gambier on June 13-5 attended
by some 30 people and the tenth anniversary of the Victorian Club.
Nine Alvises and five other makes competed at the Langwarrin Gymkhana
accompanied by a number of spectators and the year finished with
a rip-roaring barbeque at the Caldwell home in Vermont.
In 1965 Alvis Club members were
able to test their skills on one of Victoria's most famous hill
climb tracks - "Rob Roy", situated on private property in the
Christmas Hills north east of Melbourne, had for many years been
the Mecca of hill climb buffs but at last the property was to
be put on the market and its future was in grave doubt (at
the moment the climb is still in use and leased by the MG Car
Club , Vic. DP). Fortunately the club was able to gain access
before the surface started to disintegrate, and so on Sunday,
July 18, members and families descended on masse for the great
event. Eighteen cars, including eleven Alvises, ran in the event,
each having four runs on the hill - excepting one Silver Eagle
which had 3.5 runs. Halfway up "the wall", a section which appears
to be almost vertical to the approaching driver, the unfortunate
competitor had his car come to a halt, then slowly slip backwards
in spite of the fact that everything under the bonnet was in a
state of "go". Investigation soon located the problem - no clearance
on the clutch throw-out fingers, causing total clutch slippage
at the crucial moment.
Winners of the day were Alister
Cannon TA14 (40.5 sec) and non-Alvis, Laurie Rofe, Type 37A Bugatti
Also in 1965 a major purchase
of the remaining Devon Motors spares was made, considerably boosting
stocks in our spares department.
As Devon Motors had now relinquished
the Alvis agency the club, through spares registrar David Muirden,
undertook the task of importing spares direct from Alvis Ltd.
on an official basis, instead of the piecemeal efforts to date.
Many cars are now successfully motoring instead of finishing their
careers on the scrap heap due to the efforts of Mr Muirden and
his successors in obtaining parts from many sources. Particularly
latterly through the efforts of Paul Bamford who has made many
patterns for castings of off the market fittings.
During the years from 1965 the
club has settled down to a steady growth in membership and roadworthy
vehicles, the main changes being in the swing from type to type
In the early days 12/50's, 16.95's
and Speed 20's were the types in evidence, these cars frequently
changing hands for minor sums of money. Then in the 1960's TA14's
and TA21's, both post war products, seemed to be in the forefront.
Now in the middle and late 70's the 12/50 has again come into
its own and some beautifully restored vehicles are now prominent
in events, both in the Alvis Club and in other vintage clubs in
Unfortunately the boom in vintage
motoring has put most vintage vehicles out of the reach of the
average member. This is a rather sad state of affairs in some
respects, as the average family man can ill afford to pay anything
up to $1,000 (remember this was the eighties could be 10 times
that now dp) for a heap of junk and then find the, at times,
staggering, amounts needed for mechanical and body restoration.
However, at least one blessing
of the high value placed on these vehicles is the fact that no
longer are these old cars bought by some addle brained idiot,
whose sole aim is to smash both car and himself into the nearest
tree. Owners of these cars nowadays realise the worth of their
charges and treat them accordingly, thus ensuring that future
generations of motoring enthusiasts will savour at least some
of the joys, and tribulations, of early motoring.
CHARLES PERCY JOSELAND
by Robert Graham
Charles was in the British Army Expeditionary
force which went to Russia in 1919 and fought alongside the
White Russians against the Bolsheviks. Charles said he was very
pleased when arrived homw in England.
In 1921 he took up the position of first
service manager with Alvis, a position he held for 3 years.
He always spoke highly of Captain Smith-Clarke and held his
engineering ability in very high regard.
The Junior car club held its annual
200 mile race at Brooklands for cars up to 1500cc in 1921, Maurice
Harvey being the top driver for Alvis in a specially modified
10/30. Charles was the second driver in a similar car but has
dreadful trouble with the floorboards and also with leg cramps
and only managed to finish 20th at an average of about 56mph.
Mind you, Harvey only finished 17th. Of special note, Charles
obviously had a soft spot for Alvis at that is the name of his
He eventually migrated to Australia
and was service manager at Worrels Motors of Toorak, the Mercedes
by Robert Graham
This is another of my mini biographies
of early members and I sincerely trust that it inspires a few
of the older members to make their own contributions. The subject
of this article is RON FOGGO, who was not a very
activer participant in club affairs but was an inspiration to
me as you will learn later.
Ron Foggo was a boiler maker by trade
and spent a lot of time in the Hunter and Latrobe Valleys erecting
those gigantic structures made by Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox.
Ron had at least 50 cars in his lifetime,
one of which was an Alvis Pheonix. This car had an Alvis radiator,
an engine which was possible Meadows, gearbox and transmission
of unknown origin and wheelcaps in which the name Pheonix was
cast. His last car was an indulgence-a Bentley Mk V1 saloon-
but his favourite car was an Alvis 12/40 tourer. This was very
fast and powerful enough for Ron, confortable and roomy, extremely
reliable and with good handling.
Ron worked for a while for Bob du Cros
of three litre overhead cam Sunbeam fame, I think Bob raced
a 30/98 Vauxhall and also had a 38/250 Mercedes. While there
Ron worked on the elite cars, Hispano Suiza, Rolls-Royce, Bentley
and so on.
I only new Ron after he had suffered
a massive stroke which paralyzed his whole left side, but this
didn't affect his very dry sense of humour or his sense of Irony.
Ron Lived in Yinnar (near Churchill
in south east Victoria) and one of his sons would drive him
to meetings and he would struggle into the clubrooms on crutches.
In his wheelchair he would tend his garden and vegie patch,
and a portion of his garden was fenced off and planted solely
with Australian Natives, which he named his Bev Graham garden.
He sold his stock of 12/40 parts and
bought a TA14 from Norm Adams (which had a 12/70 motor fitted).
He set this up in his garage and would be out there in a wheelchair
doing various little jobs, all one handed. He was always cheerful
and optimistic and never complained in spite of only half his
body working. This was an inspiration to me.
Ron spent the last couple of years ina
nursing home and passed away a few years ago.
to the Top
KEITH WELSH by
Keith Welsh was a very good member but
it must be stated at the outset that he never owned an Alvis.
I understand that Keith's brother, Harold,
owned a Speed 25 at one time and he brought Keith along to our
meetings. Keith and Harold (who was an electrical engineer with
the SEC) wired our clubrooms to a professional standard when
they were first built way back in the sixties.
Keith was an automotive electrical engineer
in his own business premises in North Richmond. He was most
helpful and generous with his skills and services in the black
arts of magnetos and electrical devices to the Club members.
Without his assistance some of our Alvises would not function
as well as they do.
Keith, with his wife Meryl, attended
many of our National Rallies (they were Interstate Rallies in
those days) driving his V8 Monaro or his little Japanese riceburner.
On one South Australian Rally, the cars were allowed onto Berri
Racecourse. He immediately commandeered a large handbag. slung
it around his neck, mounted the Bookies Stand and started calling
the odds on the cars, just like a professional bookie.
Keith closed down his auto-electrical
business about 1980 and joined (in those days) Telecom. During
this time he received three awards from management for being
the most helpful and efficient Telecom representative.
Keith maintained his workshop at home
and was always most helpful to Club members. Nothing was to
much trouble to him. Sadly Keith passed away in March 1989.
We miss him still.
Most of the articles have come
via the ACCV Newsletter and are reproduced with the club and the