Lot 244 - 1964 Alvis TE21 Drophead Coupé by Park Ward
|Odometer reading||51,583 miles|
|Estimate||£75,000 - £90,000|
At his darkest hour, an English sculptor received a powerful vote of confidence. In 2006, when Nic Fiddian-Green was diagnosed with leukaemia, things became so grim that his wife, Henrietta, phoned Britain’s Lady Carole Bamford and suggested she find someone else to create the 27-foot-tall horse head sculpture she had commissioned. Bamford declined, saying she would wait for Nic to recover. He cannot recall if his wife told him this in the hospital, but he does remember that sculpting was good medicine. “My heart rate would go up,” he says of the time he spent sitting in bed fashioning models from plaster.
Lady Bamford’s steadfastness was rewarded, her horse head, finished in 2009, now graces her Gloucestershire estate and Fiddian-Green, now cancer-free, is constructing a studio near Castello di Reschio. He forged a connection with the Umbrian estate four years ago when its owner, Count Antonio Bolza, saw the artist installing his equestrian sculptures at London’s Sladmore Contemporary gallery. Bolza extended an invitation to visit Reschio and, watching Fiddian-Green work on-site, prompted the Count to launch Art@Reschio, a program of temporary exhibitions at the estate. “It’s one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever done,” Fiddian-Green says of sculpting there. “If I could do it every day, I would.”
Latterly, Fiddian-Green is known for his famous 35ft horse head ‘sipping’ the waters at London’s Marble Arch. Family, friends and, of course, horses, are his passions but these loves also extend to classic cars and it is his beloved Alvis that is the subject of these pages.
Another master of his craft, famed coachbuilder, Graber, originally styled what was considered to be a stunningly attractive two-door, pillarless coupé on a Grey Lady chassis which could comfortably transport four people with speeds up to 110mph. Although the Swiss firm did body several chassis from Coventry, their design was reproduced by celebrated English coachbuilders, Park Ward, who produced both fixedhead and drophead versions.
With a Rolls-Royce standard of finish, the new Alvis quickly magnetised an up-market following which included Prince Philip and Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader CBE, DSO, DFC. Despite having lost both legs when he crashed his plane during a display, Bader had gone on to score 23 enemy `kills' in action. With a reputation for always demanding the best, the WWII fighter ace chose the TE21 and had his much loved `36 GLR' registered drophead modified to his own specification with extended seat runners, bonnet louvres, rope door pulls, a larger pipe accommodating ashtray and an appropriate Hawker Hurricane mascot. There is little doubt that it is the exquisite coachbuilt sweeping lines and compelling motive force that have attracted clientele the world over ever since.
The early history of this car is well documented with the earliest recorded owner of BGJ 860B, a Mr. John Deulin of Newcastle who purchased the car in July 1983. In 1985, Mr. Rodney Chesterton-North acquired it; he enjoyed the car right up until his death in 1992 whereupon his brother, Tony, took it over. He spent his time between here and Hong Kong and eventually passed away in 2008. The estate sold the car on his behalf, to the highly experienced restorer, Barry Ward. His knowledge and attention to detail is widely respected and, with his own cars, verges on the obsessive.
Detailed notes are enclosed within the history file and describe every part used and every element of the car that have received attention. The entire car was reduced to its constituent parts, the shell was then minutely inspected, repaired where necessary and prepared for restoration. Indeed there are six pages explaining the works undertaken to bring this fine example back to its current condition, suffice to say that it has been restored to an extremely high standard and sits beautifully in Royal Blue with a rich tan leather interior and total invoicing exceeding £21,000. Further mechanical works took place in 2012 by Scott Racing Services of Suffolk including the fitting of electronic ignition, power-steering, the addition of a Kenlowe cooling fan to the radiator and a full tune-up amounting to over £5,000. Supplied with full tonneau, hood-bag, an MoT test certificate valid until 2018 as well as a modern alarm system and immobiliser, this represents one of the finest T-Series Alvis's on the market today. Not only does it run beautifully, its lines are beguiling and it carries the pedigree to support the investment.
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Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each lot prior to the sale. Buyers are advised to inspect the car in person or use a professional to carry out this service.