Jens Jacob 18.08.1961 – 06.11.2018

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that our long-serving and loyal employee Jens Jacob passed away recently. He will be greatly missed by his friends here at Earley Engineering. His funeral will take place this afternoon Wednesday 21 November at 4pm at Gwent Crematorium, Treherbert Road, Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran, Torfaen, United Kingdom, NP44 2BZ. Our office and workshops will be closed this afternoon, reopening tomorrow morning.

JENS UWE JACOB; ‘JENSY’ or ‘JAY’ to his colleagues.

Jens has worked with my father and I for many years, joining Bryn Engineering in the late 1980’s. He walked into the office one day looking for work. The first person he spoke to was my mother, who recalled; “he seemed a nice sort of a guy, he spoke good English and told us he had come from East Berlin and proudly proclaimed “I want to be a capitalist!”. He made an impression and how could anyone turn him away. We gave him a job and he’s worked for our businesses ever since.

He was initially hired as a car cleaner and for general duties, the only vacancy we had at the time, and later developed into many roles essential to our operation. He had a pleasant nature and carried out his work diligently. He had done military service driving Soviet army trucks and could speak Russian. There was something very likeable and willing about Jay. From occasional chats it appeared he had an interesting story and one day he explained how, disappointed with the lack of opportunity to better himself in East Berlin and thoroughly fed up with the Soviet regime he’d experienced his whole life, he had escaped from East Berlin during the time of The Berlin Wall that divided the Soviet controlled east from the free West; an amazing story emerged.

He had planned his escape by obtaining a false passport and, leaving his mother behind, (she was to join him in Wales later) went to an East/West crossing point, a bridge at around 5.00am on a wet winter morning and joined a line of East German ‘trusty’ workers who were allowed to cross to the West for certain types of work. Jens presented his papers, but the heavy rain caused the ink to run on the false passport. Sensing something was amiss, he didn’t wait for the re appearance of the official; he legged it as fast as he could across the bridge. Shots from the guards rang out around him, but he made it to the other side.

He had already made secret plans to contact some friends to meet him and he gained asylum in West Berlin. He was determined to get to the U.K. and found his way eventually to Newport, in South Wales where a small group of East Germans had settled.

He told us that as a result of his escape, the authorities in East Berlin went to his mother’s home and seized all the property he had left behind. We expected a look of regret, but this was one of the rare times he smiled; he had replaced all his assets, a motorcycle/moped, bicycle, furniture etc, etc with trash items reclaimed from the tip! He obtained lodgings in Claremont, Newport and with his own brand of determination arranged formally to purchase this house from his landlady but in a very unique way – one room at a time!

There’s an amusing story from years ago that he would not mind being re-told; he had a lady friend he wanted to impress and being a quiet type, unable to express his amour, he hired the advertising space on the side of a Newport double-decker bus that passed her house every hour, and upon which was inscribed in massive red lettering with a red heart:- ‘Jens loves ****** and the ladies name’. Needless to say, the lady was horrified, but it wasn’t just for one day! He had paid for the month and she had to put up with the hourly reminder for the entire month!  

In 1994 my father started a new business, Earley Engineering, dedicated to restoring Alvis cars and Jens transferred there to work alongside his colleagues Mervyn and Andrew. The business grew and Jens stayed with us. He was a trusted, loyal employee and was still working until just a few weeks ago.

There are many things we will miss about Jens. His very dry and clever sense of humour, his enthusiasm for his daily transport, the beloved Suzuki Jimny, his determined one man boycott of Michelin tyres and the entire Mercedes Benz corporate empire…..with very good reason as he would remind us on a regular basis!

Jens and I had many long and tiring trips to retrieve Alvis cars from all corners of the country and in all states of repair, some literally with trees growing through them. We formed an ace team and armed with a carefully thought out kit of tools, became expert at extracting cars from the most difficult situations……often to the amazement of by-standing owners. Amazingly, the last of those trips was only a couple of months ago. We got it out, loaded and Jens uttered his usual words “Ja, tis standard”, just another day’s work. I got to know Jens very well on these trips. We had long, interesting and amusing conversations and I have very good memories of him to treasure.

I was due to present Jens with his long service award later this year, alongside his colleagues and I was very sad not to be able to do this. However, I was honoured to present his well-earned award to his God-Daughter Jenny earlier today.

Jens was a lovely man who managed his life very carefully, in his own special way and achieved what he set out to do. He will be greatly missed.

Nick and Alex Simpson. November 2018.

Alvis Goodwin Special at Goodwood Revival 2018

The Alvis Goodwin Special competed in the Goodwood Trophy race this year at Goodwood Revival.  Placed 23rd after qualifying, driver Alex Simpson chased a Maserati 8CM for most of the race, finally overtaking it in the last couple of laps.  The car ran brilliantly and finished in 17th place with a strong field of 30 cars on the grid.

Photo credits: Nigel Boothman; Lee Taylor


Alvis Goodwin Special at Donnington

The 1948 Alvis Goodwin Special competed in its first race in 35 years on 24 June at the VSCC Formula Vintage Festival at Donnington.

Alex Simpson finished 3rd in class and 6th overall in the Pre-war & Pre 1961 Racing Cars event – click here for the race results VSCC Donnington 24.06.18 results

This weekend (7th-8th July 2018) you can see the car in action at the Chateau Impney Hill Climb

Aluminium cylinder heads

We now have aluminium cylinder heads for Alvis 4.3 and Speed 25 in production and available for pre-order.  Speed 25 will be ready at the end of February, and 4.3 during April / May.  Please contact us for details or to place and order.


Alvis success on the 2017 ERA Blue Train Challenge

We prepared  two Alvis cars for the ERA Blue Train Rally this year – a 1934 Speed 20 SB Vanden plas sports tourer (car 10) and a 1938 Speed 25 Charlesworth Drophead Coupe (car 26).

The Blue Train Challenge is a 5 day event crossing France from Deauville to Cannes via Fontevraud, Vichy, Lyon, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue with a mixture of touring and regularity and time control sections .  Click here to read the rally reports and view the official photos:  blue train rally reports .

Both cars performed well, with the Speed 20 winning 1st in class and the Speed 25 winning the Concourse d’Elegance trophy.  Here they are returning to Earley Engineering this week for cleaning and servicing.

Goodwin Special at Chateau Impney 2017

The Goodwin Special attended its first event in 30 years this month at the Chateau Impney Hillclimb on 8th/9th July 2017. The car ran well on Saturday but didn’t run on Sunday due to Scintilla magneto issues – the decision was taken not to risk engine damage by doing a timed run.  The problem was fixed on return to the workshops this week and the car will be out at other events later in the season.


Two Alvis to join the 2017 Rally Round Samurai Challenge in Japan

Our usual suspects Jan Woien / Jan Erik Hansen and Jose / Maria Romao de Sousa are entered on the Rally Round Samurai Challenge this year.  Rally Round describes the Samurai Challenge as “the first UK-organised competitive rally ever to visit Japan, running over 23 days in Spring 2017 – cherry blossom season – when crews will compete on a series of regularity sections along a spectacular route of 3,272km (2,033miles) from Fukuoka in the south to Lake Toya in the north.” A relatively gentle drive compared to some of the previous rallies Jan and Jan Erik have entered!

The cars

Jose and Maria Romao de Sousa are driving their Alvis Speed 20 SA.  The car was comprehensively restored by Earley Engineering in the 90’s and is still in fine order.  Enjoyed now more than ever and driven energetically for the last few years . Since Jose has owned the car, he has competed in a number of events including two ERA Flying Scotsman rallies and two HERO 1000 Mile Trials, coming 3rd in class on the 2015 Flying Scotsman and taking the Concourse d’Elegance prize at the 2015 1000 Mile Trial.

Jan Woien and Jan Erik Hansen will compete in their Alvis Speed 20/25 .  The car has competed, and achieved brilliant results, in several endurance rally events including the Rally Round Tiger Rally Malaysia 2012, ERA Vintage Cape Horn 2013, ERA Trans America Challenge 2015, and the ERA Flying Scotsman 2016.  As usual, we expect good things from this highly competitive duo in “The Black Rocket”!

The cars are undergoing final preparations and test drives this week before they are shipped out to Japan at the end of January.