BaT Backstory: 1953 Alvis TC 21/100 Grey Lady Drophead Coupé – $32,500

by | Jan 2024 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Topless Thursday

(To stop the slideshow and expand the pictures, click on the current photograph below)

April 4, 2024, Update – We confirmed the listing for this “ClassiFIND” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

British automobile manufacturing has a very storied past.  For all of the British marques that went through the trouble of importing their products to the colonies, they are many more lesser known brands that never officially sold in the U.S. market.  One of those brands was Alvis.  Based in Coventry England, The Alvis Car and Engineering Company produced civilian automobiles from 1919 through 1967. The company also produced racing cars, aircraft engines, and armored vehicles.

One of the more well known cars produced by Alvis was the TC 21/100 Grey Lady. Produced for only two years from 1953 through 1955, the company guaranteed the car was capable of achieving one hundred miles per hour.  To achieve this feat, Alvis engineers improved the car’s exhaust system and increased engine’s compression ratio raised from 7:1 to 8:1 to take advantage of the availability of better gasoline. They also raised the car’s final drive ratio from 4.09:1 to 3.77:1. Compared to the typical mid century modern automotive designs of the period, the Alvis TC 21/100 Grey Lady offered old world British craftsmanship comparable to Jaguars and Daimlers of the period.

It’s an extremely rare treat to come across an Alvis for sale in the U.S. Usually found for sale at traditional high end, in-person auctions, its even rarer to come across an Alvis for sale on Craigslist.  When we spotted this Burgundy 1953 Alvis TC 21/100 Grey Lady Drophead Coupe For Sale, last spotted on Craigslist in Hilton Head, South Carolina, in January 2024, we could not help but notice how the seller’s Craigslist ad read like a Bring a Trailer (“BaT”) auction description. Sure enough, a quick search on the competitive website confirmed the Alvis Grey Lady featured here was last sold in February 2023 on BaT.

Countless articles are often written these days about very successful auctions on Bring A Trailer. However, few venues right about the prices achieved in a subesequent sale. The current caretaker was the high bidder at $33,000 one year ago. That means they paid BaT a five percent Buyer’s Premium of $1,650.  The previous owner offered the car out of Bend, Oregon while the current seller lives across the country on Hilton Head Island.  It’s more than likely they likely spent an estimated $3,000 for enclosed shipping.  Add it all up, and the seller is into their Alvis for at least $37,650.

To the current caretaker’s credit, they are now offering the car for $32,500, which is five hundred less than the selling price one year earlier.  We respect the seller realizing that transportation and buyer’s premiums should not be added to the value of a classic car you purchased.

Last offered for $32,500, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask aligns with this guide’s one year results for Alvis TC 21/100 Grey Ladies produced between 1953 and 1955.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can get a sense of what comparable examples sold for recently:

The 1953 Alvis TC21/100 Grey Lady Drophead Coupé is a classic luxury car that holds a special place in automotive history. With its distinctive design, powerful engine, and advanced features for its time, the Grey Lady Drophead Coupé represents the epitome of elegance and performance.

At the heart of this masterpiece is a robust and refined powertrain. The Alvis TC21/100 is equipped with a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine that delivers an impressive 100 horsepower. This engine was a marvel in the automotive landscape of the 1950s, providing a remarkable balance of power and efficiency. The Grey Lady’s performance was enhanced by its lightweight construction, allowing it to achieve a top speed of around 100 miles per hour – a notable feat for its era.

The exterior design of the Alvis TC21/100 Grey Lady Drophead Coupé is a timeless blend of sophistication and classic charm. The car features a sleek and aerodynamic body, characterized by its flowing lines and graceful curves. The Drophead Coupé variant adds an extra touch of glamour, with a convertible top that can be lowered to enjoy the open-air driving experience. The attention to detail in the exterior design reflects the craftsmanship of the era and showcases Alvis’s commitment to creating not just a mode of transportation but a work of art on wheels.

Stepping inside the Grey Lady Drophead Coupé reveals a luxurious and meticulously crafted interior. The cabin is adorned with high-quality materials, including sumptuous leather upholstery and polished wood trim. The seats are designed for comfort, providing ample support for long drives. The dashboard is a testament to the era’s elegance, featuring a combination of analog gauges and controls, each meticulously placed for optimal accessibility.

Technologically advanced for its time, the Alvis TC21/100 incorporated features that were cutting-edge in the 1950s. The car boasted independent front suspension, a rarity during that period, contributing to a smoother and more controlled ride. The advanced suspension system showcased Alvis’s commitment to engineering excellence and set the Grey Lady Cabriolet apart from its contemporaries.

The transmission system of the Alvis TC21/100 Grey Lady Drophead Coupé was a four-speed manual gearbox, providing drivers with a direct connection to the car’s power and performance. This manual transmission was standard for sports and luxury cars of the era, allowing enthusiasts to fully engage with the driving experience.

The braking system of the Grey Lady Drophead Coupé featured hydraulic drum brakes on all four wheels, providing reliable stopping power. While modern braking systems have evolved significantly, the Alvis TC21/100’s braking technology was well-regarded for its effectiveness during its time.

In terms of handling, the Alvis TC21/100 Grey Lady Drophead Coupé showcased a balanced and responsive chassis. The combination of its lightweight construction, independent front suspension, and well-tuned steering system contributed to a nimble and enjoyable driving experience.

The legacy of the Alvis TC21/100 Grey Lady Drophead Coupé endures through its timeless design, engineering prowess, and historical significance. As a symbol of automotive elegance from the 1950s, this classic car continues to captivate enthusiasts and collectors alike. Whether cruising down the open road with the convertible top down or parked as a showpiece, the Grey Lady Cabriolet remains a testament to the craftsmanship and innovation of its era.

The previous seller on BaT still has nine videos posted of this Alvis on their YouTube Channel that were featured during the car’s auction in February 2023.  All nine videos posted can be view on the Steve Miller 2694 YouTube Channel, but here is one of the car driving around a curve:

While the latest seller of this 1963 Alvis TC21/100 Drophead Coupe fo sale relied on the February 2023 Bring a Trailer listing for thier ad’s description, they do mention what they completed during their one year of ownership. Specifically, the current caretaker tuned the ignition system, replaced the Lucas voltage regulator, boiled-out and flow tested the radiator, fixed several coolant leaks, rebuilt the generator and adjusted the valves.

If you are serious about buying this vintage Alvis Drophead Coupé, you can start the conversation by using the contact information provided by the seller in their Craigslist ad.  When you connect, please mention that you saw their TC 21/100 Grey Lady featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description, which we note was mostly copied from the Bring a Trailer auction for this car in February 2023:

“This 1953 Alvis TC 21/100 is a right-hand drive “Grey Lady” drophead coupe that was reportedly sold new in England and imported to the US some time ago. Finished in burgundy and black over brown upholstery, the car is powered by a matching numbers 3.0-liter inline-six paired with a four-speed manual gearbox. Features include a tan soft top, front driving lamps, fender-mounted side mirrors, and knock-off wire wheels. The car was acquired by the seller around a year ago. The previous owner is said to have repaired/replaced transmission leaks and replacing the freeze plugs, battery, and fluids. This Alvis is being offered at no reserve with a fitted car cover, Alvis Owner’s Club items, spare parts, marque literature, an extensive library, tools, photos from the aforementioned work, and a clean South Carolina title in the seller’s name.
The car is said to be one of approximately 81 Tickford-bodied examples produced (Same coach builder as Bentley), and is finished in two-tone burgundy and black and features a tan convertible top, rear-hinged doors, fender-mounted side mirrors, and Trafficator turn signals. Mismatched front driving lamps, removed by seller to unclutter the front view; one for Fog and the other for driving are supplied with the sale of the car. The driver-side front fender was repaired and repainted during previous ownership, and the rear wheel spats and engine vent panels were replaced. The brightwork is said to have been re-chromed at that time and aftermarket rear turn signals were added. Cracking paint is evident on the body, and the seller notes that two bolt holes in the driver-side front fender are rusted. Cracked bodywork is present ahead of the driver’s door.
Silver-finished wire wheels are secured by two-eared knock-off spinners and mounted with American Classic whitewall tires. A full-size spare is included in the sale. Braking is through hydraulically actuated drums at all four corners.
The right-hand drive cabin houses seats trimmed in brown upholstery and lighter tan replacement carpets. Lap belts are fitted for the front occupants.
A banjo-style steering wheel sits ahead of a wood dashboard housing Smiths instrumentation that includes a 100-mph speedometer with an inset analog clock (that needs repaired) as well as a suite of auxiliary gauges. The five-digit odometer shows approximately 34,603 k miles, around 918 of which have been added by the seller. Total mileage is unknown.
The 3.0L inline-six is equipped with dual carburetors and sends power to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox. The electrical system was reportedly rewired and converted to negative ground during previous ownership, and work by the former owner is said to have included replacing the freeze plugs and battery, repairing transmission leaks, and changing the oil, coolant, and differential fluid. Current owner has tuned the ignition system, replaced the Lucas voltage regulator, boiled-out and flow tested the radiator, fixed several coolant leaks, rebuilt the generator and adjusted the valves.
The seller notes that various underbody panels have been replaced and rust was repaired in the trunk floor, though 2 small areas of rust-through remain as viewable in the gallery below, along with images from work carried out during prior ownership. Extensive restoration work was carried out by previous owners and is documented in pictures and receipts. All library reference materials, service manuals, pictures and receipts are a part of this sale.
The car is titled using the 25656 engine serial number stamping shown above.

Show or go: What would you do with this restored 1953 Alvis TC 21/100 Grey Lady Drophead Coupé for sale? Please comment below and let us know!

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