Lot 179 - 1934 (1952 DVLA registration) Alvis Speed 20/25 SB ‘The Chris Compton Special’

Lot 179 - 1934 (1952 DVLA registration) Alvis Speed 20/25 SB ‘The Chris Compton Special’

Lot 179 - 1934 (1952 DVLA registration) Alvis Speed 20/25 SB ‘The Chris Compton Special’

Lot Number 179
Registration SPE 399
Chassis Number 15891
Engine Number H2533
Estimate £100,000 - £120,000
  • Powered by the much sort after 3½ litre Alvis Speed 25 engine
  • Hand-built by Chris Compton of Compton’s of Welshpool



As Motor Magazine opened in March 1932, "The new Alvis Speed 20 is the type of car which looks right, feels right and is right. From the driver's point of view, the controls are all just where they are required and the power, speed and acceleration provided by the 'hotted-up' but, nevertheless, silky six-cylinder engine are literally an eye-opener to anyone accustomed to driving about in a more or less sedate manner in ordinary motor cars of medium size.”

The original Alvis Speed 20 SA could be fitted with a variety of coachwork from coachbuilders such as Charlesworth, Cross & Ellis or Vanden Plas. The Speed 20 SB came along in 1933 with a new, slightly longer, braced chassis. The steering was taken from their racing models, but the engine remained the same apart from with the addition of synchromesh on first gear.

The power and flexibility of powerplants available at the time, and indeed later on in its development, opened the door for extensive modifications from specialists in the field who produced sporting models that were amongst the fastest pre-war cars on the road.

Chris Compton was one of these visionaries. Based in Wales, Compton’s of Welshpool built, restored, repaired Alvis’s for over 40 years and had an extensive group of clients who all shared the Alvis passion. During this time, he developed a reputation for craftsmanship and became a leading expert and proponent within the pre-war Alvis community.

Winding down the business in recent years, he decided to create his swansong. One last car for himself, built to his own specifications, with no expense spared and he had every intention of keeping it for himself after his retirement but, unfortunately, he passed away shortly after it was completed in October 2016. 

And so it came to be;

SPE 399 was designed as an open two-seater with facility for competition, whether that be circuit racing, hill climbs or even cross continental touring, it even has timing clocks fitted to the hand-machined dash for counting laps. Whilst it is not currently registered with the VSCC the major mechanical engine components required to make it eligible are included in the sale.

This is confirmed as a correct SB rolling chassis (although registered as 1952 with the DVLA) that includes completely overhauled period brakes, steering column, wheels, servo, axles, as well as the independent front suspension. It’s also been upgraded with an incredibly powerful Speed 25, 3,571cc engine. This was a well reputed engine in its original standard format, but Chris rebuilt this engine for his own competition car and, as such, has improved its performance dramatically. Unfortunately, we don’t have any records of exactly what works were completed on the engine, but we do know that Chris spent a great deal of time and money on this particular element of the car in order to get it to his satisfaction, as is evident with its huge performance and smooth delivery.

The lightweight, aluminium body is faultless with panels secured with stainless steel locking wire directly from a Harrier Jump Jet, but that’s another story. He also took time to painstakingly impress each louvre along the bodywork and chassis rails.

Needless to say, the all-synchro gearbox, differential and running gear are all completely rebuilt and a number of subtle upgrades have also taken place such as an overdrive unit, high-volume radiator, an external oil filter, Kenlowe fan, triple electric fuel pumps, battery isolator and a more modern 12-volt electrical system. The car also has a full tonneau cover and hood to enable it to be used in all weather conditions.

The hand built folding windscreen mechanism has to be seen to be believed. All the individual components were cast and machined by Chris Compton and fabricated to fit the body shell like a glove. It’s design allows it to be folded forward and separate aero screens can be attached to give it a true racing car look. The aero screens can also be attached to the side of the window mechanism to help direct wind away from the drivers face whilst travelling at speed.

The vendor is quoted as saying, “to say this car is fast would be an understatement!” which reflects in the overall styling of the body finishing from its racing front end through to its boattail-style rear end. 

The car has only covered 56 miles since completion and it presents in immaculate condition throughout, starts on the button and settles to an even idle. This fabulous ‘Chris Compton Special’ is a truly bespoke motorcar and occupies a very special place in the Alvis pantheon.


Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each Lot prior to the sale. Accordingly, buyers are on notice that each vehicle is offered ‘as is/as seen’ subject to the Terms and Conditions for the auction. All registration numbers, engine and chassis details are sourced from registration documents provided to Historics by the client or representative or HPI checks and buyers are to satisfy themselves as to the accuracy of these details. Buyers are advised to inspect the vehicle in person or use a professional to carry out this service. Historics will not entertain disputes over descriptions.

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