Racy tales of a classic car

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In 1924 a Luton man bought an Alvis 12/50.

And today, more than 90 years later and with many adventures under its bonnet, the car is still going strong.

And current owners Nick and Kate Wright of Abingdon has been doing some digging into the Coventry built vehicle.

The Luton man, Mr Butterfield, kept it for more than 25 years, before selling it to Dunstable businesman Bill Lockhart.

Bill used the car for competition in the Vintage Sports-Car Club - including racing at Silverstone - and the Bedfordshire-based ‘Sporting Owner Drivers Club’ in the early 1950s. It won several awards before Bill sold it.

While in the hands of a student at the end of the 1950s the car was crashed on a foggy evening after a rugby match.

Unable to undertake repairs, the student put the car up for sale in 1959.

It was bought and moved to Napleton Grange in Kempsey, Worcestershire (the home of Edward Elgar from 1923 to 1927), by the Hon. Jim Wallace (the current Lord Dudley), who restored it and used it for his honeymoon in 1962.

Later that year the car starred as Elgar’s car in Ken Russell’s landmark BBC film about the composer.

Owned from 1963 until 1983 by Worcester photographer Geoff Hopcraft, it then spent almost thirty years laid up in a garage in Herefordshire while its new owner resided in Canada.

Now the car - in its ninety-second year - is competing again in events run by the Vintage Sports-Car Club, and has appeared at the annual Kop Hill Climb at Princes Risborough.

The car (and its crew) won its class and a trophy at the annual Measham night rally, held earlier this month in the North Yorkshire snow.

Nick said: “I am lucky to now have quite a lot of history for the car, going back to the 1950s, but I would love to be able to find out something about this wonderful car’s first owner.

“All I know is that he was called Mr Butterfield, and that he lived in Luton.

“I strongly suspect that this was Mr Horace Butterfield, the founder of the builders merchants (now owned by a different family) that still operates in Selborne Road, Luton. 
But all this is supposition. Might it be possible to find descendants of Mr Butterfield? I’d love to think so. And the holy grail? A photo of the car taken when it belonged to Mr Butterfield!”

>If you know any more about the history of the vehicle you can contact us at the Dunstable Gazette.