Some cars happen to be built in the right place at the right time for the right price, and those cars go on to be enduring legends, the stuff of car collections and posters. Then there are other cars that, despite their beauty, performance, and prestige, are known to just a handful of collectors and petrolheads. These cars are often ahead of their time or are set back by circumstance, becoming a footnote to history rather than the subject of another coffee table book.
The one-of-one Alvis “Burns Special” is just such a car. Built by music product Jim Burns in the mid-1960s, Burns hoped to alter the Alvis TD21 into a low-volume British muscle car for export to America. Alas, circumstance would prevent more than one Alvis Special from ever being made, and this lone, unique car will be up for grabs at the Silverstone Auction later this month.
Burns had a simple plan: Replace the old and underpowered inline-six cylinder engine with a Corvette-sourced V8. With just 115 horsepower on tap, the ol’ six-banger was hardly up to the task of motivating the Alvin, and most people in America had never heard of such a car. After giving it an American V8 and a few other external modifications, including a chopped roof and elongated aluminum wings that replaced the stock steel bits. The result is a sleek, luxurious-looking coupe with the heart of a Corvette under the hood.
Alas, by the time Burns completed his concept, Alvis had been bought up by British Leyland, which had no interest in a low-volume American export. The car was sold for just over half what it cost to build, though today it is expected to fetch a pretty penny at auction. Estimates place the price at between $90,000 and $110,000 when the gavel falls. Just imagine what this car would be worth if they had ever built more than one?