The world’s most compelling and significant Rolls-Royce ever built, ‘AX201’ is heading to this year’s Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace…
Built 114 years ago, the 1907 Rolls-Royce ‘Silver Ghost’, registration AX201 has rarely been seen in public and is recognised by many experts as the very car that gave birth to the now legendary ‘best car in the world‘ moniker, as well as the nickname ‘Silver Ghost’ that was given in hindsight to Rolls-Royce 40/50 models officially.
A truly remarkable machine dressed in silver with silver-plated fittings and showcased at the 1907 Scottish Reliability Trials, where it achieved overall victory and subsequently covered 14,371 miles without issue under RAC scrutiny, double the contemporary record. Following this event, the car was nicknamed ‘The Silver Ghost’ due to its appearance and uncanny silence. Subsequently, all 40/50 HP chassis cars adopted the Silver Ghost name.
The car remained in private ownership for many years but was later repatriated with its marque where it was given a major overhaul and subsequently used by Rolls-Royce for publicity events and corporate gatherings only.
Fast forward to 1989 and imperious the ‘Roller’ was fully restored ahead of the 1990 Silver Ghost Charity Tour between John O’Groats and Land’s End. In 1998 the car came into the ownership of Bentley Motors, and finally, in 2019, it was released to a private collector in England and will be shown to the public for the first time in over 20 years at the 2021 Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court.
Also on display will be a 1922 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost ‘Twenty’. A total of 2,885 units of the Twenty were produced, equipped with a 3.1-litre 6-cylinder engine. This new offering by the company was immediately successful, with several cars being sold to Indian royalty.
In 1927 Rolls-Royce England sent this particular car to Rolls-Royce in Bombay. In 1931 the car was sold to the Nawab of Sachin (in Gujarat) HH Haidar Muhammad Yakut Khan (1909 – 1970), who was a descendant of the Siddi dynasty which was of Abyssinian origin.
Alongside will be a 1914 Rolls Royce Alpine Eagle by Van den Plas Coachbuilders in Belgium. The car was built as a Torpedo Grand Luxe as per the November 1913 Earls Court Motor Show display cars. The coachwork was revolutionary for its time, featuring full ‘disappearing’ top, toolboxes fitted to both fenders, one-piece steel bodywork with no seams, and clock boards fitted with instruments and switches. This car is the only surviving Silver Ghost with coachwork by Van den Plas that is still in its complete and original condition.
Images: Tim Scott
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