Speed 20 SB

Speed 20 SB Description

The advent of the SB Speed Twenty marked a subtle shift in the market which Alvis were attacking - slightly further from the out-and-out sports car and slightly nearer to the high-performance luxury car.  In this we can detect once again the powerful influence of Charles Follett, who had already shown the sales potential of the Speed Twenty in SA form and who was aware of the improvements which would go down well amongst his moneyed clientele.

This is not to suggest that the changes incorporated in the SB were solely, or even primarily, cosmetic.  A specification which included independent front suspension, synchromesh on all four gears and rear shock-absorbers controlled from the instrument panel was advanced by any standards in 1933, all three features being new on the SB.  The front suspension changes also entailed new steering-gear and brake-linkage layouts, and chassis modifications including the addition of a deep cruciform member in the centre; this latter item, although drilled for lightness, greatly increased the rigidity of the chassis.  The engine was carried over unchanged from the SA.

Nevertheless these and other changes also had the effect of increasing the car's showroom appeal.  The ifs, all-synchro gearbox and Telecontrol shock-absorbers clearly indicated that the car would be easier to drive, even before a confirmatory road-test, and built-in jacks and centralised lubrication reduced the terrors of owner-driver maintenance.  Three other changes in specification were aimed directly at improving the attractiveness of the finished car's appearance: larger headlamps (Lucas P100 instead of Rotax 80), smaller wheels (19" instead of 20") and a sloping scuttle/bonnet line instead of the SA's vertical one.

The sales figures confirmed that Alvis were moving along the right lines.  Total production of 375 was hardly any more than the SA, but they were sold in one year instead of two.  Body styles were many: the factory standard designs were the Cross & Ellis four-door tourer and the Charlesworth saloon and drophead coupé, but the Follett cars bodied by Vanden Plas were also virtually standard - saloon, drophead coupé and two-door tourer.  In addition the Speed Twenty was now being sought after by the clients of bespoke coachbuilders, and seven such firms also bodied the SB chassis.

A total of 375 chassis were built but only 42 carried Vanden Plas tourer coachwork of which 27 survive today.

6 cylinders In line, overhead valves, pushrods

Capacity of 2,511cc

RAC rating 19.82hp (brake horsepower 87 at 4,000rpm)

Maximum speed 84 mph (today cruises at 70 mph at 3,750 rpm)

Fuel consumption 18mpg

The Speed Twenty SB offers high quality pre-war motoring in a very desirable Alvis model.

Speed 20 SB SB 19.82

The SB launched at the October 1933 London Motor Show had a new cruciform braced chassis, slightly longer at 124 in (3,150 mm), with independent front suspension using a single transverse leaf spring with a long solid anchorage in the centre. Steering was improved using new designs employed for racing Alvis cars since 1925. Road shocks were not transmitted from one wheel to the other nor did they affect the steering wheel and the gyroscopic effect was eliminated. Rear springs damped by Hartford Telecontrol dampers are long and underslung. The engine remained the same but the new all-silent gearbox, the first of its type, gained synchromesh on bottom gear and was mounted separately from the engine. A built-in jacking system was fitted as standard.

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