The Ace & The Alvis


Having reflected on the life of WWII Spitfire flying ace Douglas "Dogsbody" Bader in a previous article, we thought we'd take a closer look at how he navigated the roads when safely back on British soil. Bader became a dedicated Alvis driver, owning several models during the post-war years, including the beautiful TD21 (pictured above) that was sold at auction by Bonhams in 2017 for £91,100.00.


Sir Douglas Bader in his first Alvis

Bader purchased his first Alvis in 1954. Perhaps it was the company's guarantee that their recently released model, the TC21/100, would travel in excess of 100 mph that attracted him, or possibly the rarity of the vehicle  - with only 81 examples to have worn Drophead Coupé coachwork by Tickford.


Douglas Bader's 1954 Alvis TC21/100 Drophead Coupé

Sir Douglas Bader clearly enjoyed the thrill of open-top motoring, as all of the Alvis cars he owned were in Drophead Coupé configuration. Alvis was essentially an engineering firm that relied upon independent coachbuilders, such as Mulliner and Tickford, to supply the bodywork. For production of the TD21 in 1958, they turned to Rolls-Royce owned Park Ward, who were better able to supply them to the quantity, quality, and price required.


Douglas Bader's 1963 Alvis TE21 Drophead Coupé

Bader bought two TD21s in succession, before selling the second in order to buy the new TE21 Drophead Coupé (pictured above). This was to be his final Alvis purchase, and was ordered with extended seat runners, bonnet louvres, rope door pulls, a larger pipe-accommodating ashtray and, of course, his usual fighter-aircraft bonnet mascot.


Sir Douglas Bader in his final Alvis

Alvis developed a further model, the TF21, before finally ceasing production in 1967. Their cars had been extremely well engineered and beautifully built. For gentlemen of the time, such as Bader, who didn't care for the ostentatious Rolls-Royce or the rakish Bentley, Alvis was the perfect motorcar.

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