Oxnard is one among the more underrated seaside California cities, and, interestingly, it’s home to one of the most breathtaking collection of French cars in the world. Located just north of Port Hueneme, it’s a quick trip away from Los Angeles via Highway 101, and it’s a wonderful place to escape the Angeleno chaos. We recently paid a visit to California’s 21st most populous city—but we were there to check out automobiles of a different national flavor.
Indeed, the Central Coast British Car Club hosted its 29th annual British Car Show at Harbor View Park on the Channel Islands marina, and while the event was open to all types of vehicles, the seafront venue was dominated by sports cars. Under an appropriately overcast sky, an ensemble of bagpipers in appropriate attire bleated away as the classics crawled to their designated spaces. Austin-Healey, Triumph, MG, and Lotus models accounted for the majority of the machines on the lawn, and Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and Land Rover were conspicuously underrepresented. (Perhaps they didn’t get the memo.) For us, though, a car from none of those marques rose above the others and earned some extra attention.
1952 Alvis TB21 Sports Tourer Prototype
The Alvis Car and Engineering Company was a manufacturer of British luxury touring cars founded in Coventry in 1919; it ceased operations in 1967. Prior to getting into the car business, though, Alvis began by making stationary engines and motorized scooters. In its four-decade-plus run, the firm produced a wide range of high-quality models, including the 12/50 Sportsman Saloon, Crested Eagle drophead coupe, Speed 25, and Three Litre TC 21.
Made between 1951 and 1953 atop the TA21 sedan chassis, the Alvis TB21 Sports Tourer was an open-air two-seater designed with rear-hinged doors. Alvis hired Coventry coachbuilder AP Metalcraft to construct the body and a total of just 31 examples were produced, including this left-hand-drive prototype model made in 1952 for possible American export that could seat up to four. The remaining 30 were right-hand-drive, two-seater roadsters. Only eight are said to have made their way to the U.S., with the prototype having arrived in 2017 from Southern Germany. The TB21 used a pushrod straight-six good for 90 horsepower and 150 lb-ft, featured a four-speed manual transmission, and used an independent coil-spring front suspension.
Although the one-off 1952 Alvis TB21 Sports Tourer was our favorite at the show, there were plenty of other sweet cars in attendance—you can check them out in the photo gallery below.