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Frank Alvine Cars (Part 2)
As they say on late night television commercials, “But wait…there’s more!”
In last month’s issue of The Motor Market, I introduced you to Dr. Frank Alvine. I recounted some of Frank’s remarkable career, and showed you five cars from his most unique collection. The variety continues this month with cars ranging from 1928 to 1999, and of British, Japanese, and American origin. Let’s jump right in.
“Everyone wants to race you when you’re driving this one” is Frank’s comment regarding his blue 1963 Jaguar XKE. This Jag features a 1967 4.2-liter “Gold Head” engine, with triple Stromberg carbs, all producing 375 horsepower. Frank bought the car in 1972. At the time, it had a cracked block and needed a full restoration. He had Jerry Ross and the guys at J & L Premier Automotive in Tea do the machining, with Dennis Koehler doing the engine assembly work. The car was completely gone through – inside and out – and is now a “beautiful highway car.” It gets driven three to four times a summer, and appears at an occasional cruise night.
A Jaguar of a different style is a 1999 XJR powered by a supercharged V8. Frank bought this car in 2003 with 40,000 miles. The car has very taut suspension for high-performance road use and is a great highway car. It doesn’t get driven a lot, but Frank does get it out periodically to cruise the highways around the area.
In addition to his high regard for 1950s Oldsmobiles, Frank likes the looks of the “fin era” cars. 1960 Buicks really caught his eye. In 1990, Frank became the second owner of his 1960 Buick Electra 225, 4-door hardtop. The 4-door hardtop is one of the rarer versions of this model. When purchased, the car was in nice condition, and no one had ever sat on the back seat! The two-tone paint was badly faded, so Frank repainted the Buick in the original colors himself. The original 425ci, 325hp “nailhead” engine was solid and did not require a rebuild. Frank gets the car out for exercise, about 200-300 miles annually. A long, heavy Buick like this one makes a great highway cruiser.
Another 1960 Buick in the collection is a red LeSabre convertible. This car came out of a shelter belt by Freeman, SD. The body was “really gone.” It needed a new front end and engine, and had been sitting outside with no top. Frank did a complete “body off” restoration on this one himself, including the body and paint work. The car features the 400ci Wildcat engine. It is driven “a fair amount in the summer, with the top down all the time.” (A Johnny Cash tape is in the 8-track player!) Frank is happy to report he has “never had to walk home” with this one.
From one extreme (in size) to the other we go to the next car, a 1970 Triumph TR6. When Frank bought the car in 1982, it was reported to have a “turning problem.” The turning problem happened to be a trunk full of water which shifted sided to side during turning maneuvers! The car has since been rebuilt and repainted, with a color change from the original yellow to a traditional maroon. Impact Auto, near Hartford, did the paint work. Frank admits that this car doesn’t get driven much, but it is run regularly to keep things lubed. The engine runs great, and he never has to touch it.
Much like his 1950 Olds with the monster 650hp engine which we looked at last month, Frank’s 1973 Datsun 240Z might fool a few unsuspecting motorists. Not that a 240Z is a slouch anyway, but this one happens to be motivated by a 383ci Chevrolet small block “stroker” engine producing 435 horsepower! The car was bought at auction in the mid-1980s, and came with a tired engine. The car had been raced; the installed roll bar is evidence of that. The original 6-cylinder was “too small” and, after an engine fire, the decision was made to change to the small block Chevy crate engine. Frank claims to not be a mechanic, but he did the entire conversion himself, adding a 700R4 (overdrive) transmission to the package. The car is very light – only 2,100 pounds with Frank in it. He says it’s “real quick,” and I would bet it is!
Stepping back in time, and power a bit, we come to Frank’s 1931 Pontiac. This car has actually been “in the family” since new. A cousin, a WW I vet, bought the car new. Frank and his brother, Ken, bought the car in 1958. It had been in an old farm shed for years and was in very bad condition. In 1972, Frank obtained the car and started a total restoration. It had 86,000 miles on it at the time. The Continental 6-cylinder flathead engine was overhauled by Jerry Ross. In addition to a complete mechanical restoration, the car received all new glass, upholstery and paint. Frank brings this car, as well as the next one, a 1928 Buick, to cruise nights regularly.
The 1928 Buick 2-door is another early model on which Frank did a total restoration. This car features an overhead valve 6-cylinder engine. “Bank robbers of the ‘30s preferred this model which was quite fast and powerful for the time,” Frank shares. The car is geared very high, and cruises easily at 40-45 mph. It’s a well-appointed car inside and is very comfortable to drive. This car shows only 45,000 miles.
One of Frank’s cars, which we haven’t seen at a cruise night yet, is his 1949 Chevy Styleline Coupe Deluxe. The ‘49 is a work in progress, and it’s going to be another unique automobile. The power in this case will come from a 1963 Jaguar XKE engine. At 300 horsepower, the 3.8-liter engine will do a much nicer job powering the car than the original Chevy six. To maintain a vintage look, a 3-speed transmission will be shifted through the original column shifter. A Chevy S-10 ZR2 rear end with 3.73 gears will complete the drivetrain. A Heidts front end will provide the front suspension. The body is generally solid, but needs a trunk pan and a couple body mounts. The car will be finished in an Ice Blue color and will feature a stock style interior in gray pleather. Both the body and interior will maintain a stock look as much as possible. Koehler Brothers Auto is presently doing the mechanical conversion on the car, and spring of 2018 is the target completion date. This will be another fun car to see on the streets.
That covers some of this very unique collection of cars. In addition to being a retired orthopedic surgeon, Frank Alvine is a pilot, conservationist, farmer, hunter and fisherman. His interests and abilities are as varied as his car collection. But Frank most certainly is a car guy! Viewing these cars and learning the background on each was fascinating. I’m glad to have had the opportunity!