THESE days the words Grey Lady may be evocative of a lonely spectre flitting around a spooky manor house, but in the 1950s they meant only one thing – Alvis.
This once truly great car maker emerged from the clouds of the Second World War with its TA14 model, roughly based on a pre-war car, but the pace of development was hastening in Britain and there were some very radical and eye-catching cars emerging to grab the hearts, minds and wallets of Britain's rich and famous.
So by the 1950s the old four-cylinder TA14 was replaced by the six-cylinder TA21 which was larger and had more sweeping lines. Then came the TC21 made between 1953 and 1955.
Available in four-door saloon and drophead versions, the style was so British with saloons being made by Mulliners in Birmingham and the dropheads by Tickford.
With these cars Alvis was getting there and pulling the fans. There was a greed for performance in the 1950s and the engine, a 3.0-litre OHV unit had been upgraded.
But it still was not quite enough and the icing on the cake came with the launch of the Grey Lady, a further upgrade with wire wheels and engine compression ratio raised from 7:1 to 8:1.
The final drive ratio was also raised, front fog lamps came as standard and the bonnet gained air scoops which did not sit well against the rather conservative line of the car.
Specification in those days was sparse. The Grey Lady came with a heater but that sought-after luxury, a radio was an extra cost option.
The 100bhp Grey Lady could swish along quite briskly and one motoring journal of the day managed to top the ton with fuel consumption of just over 20mpg.
At a cost of £1,821 including taxes, the Grey Lady only consorted with the well-heeled. But she was, without doubt a society beauty and still generates sighs of admiration at classic car shows.