Top 50 cars sold/ offered so far in 2012 #1 – #10
#1 – Ferrari 250 GTO #3505GT US$35 mil.
Stirling Moss, UK 1962 LM 1962 Ireland/ Gregory Ret., Goodwood TT 1962 Ireland 1st > Gunther Philipp, Austria 1963 Club Raced > Scuderia Patria, Italy 1964 > Dan Margulies, UK 1965 > Richard Crosthwaite 1965 > Melville – Smith > Alain de Cadenet > Edward & John Harrison 1973 > Harry Leventis 1997 > Yoshiho Matsuda 2000 paid $8.0 mil. > Eric Hereema, UK 2004 > ?? > Craig McCaw USA 2012 for US$35 mil.
Not just any 250 GTO but the ex. Moss/ Ireland/ Gregory Le Mans car in great condition with a very good history.
#2 – Ferrari 250 GTO 1963 #5095 US$31mil.
Scuderia SSS 1963 TDF 1963 Abate/ Bianchi 2nd > Automobile Club de l’Ouest, France 1964 Club Raced TDF 1964 Tavano/ Martin Ret. > Pierre Bardinon 1967 > Chairman Lee, Korea 1996 > Sold fior US$ 30 Mil. > Bill Ainscough, UK 2007 > $28 mil.?? > 08 – Jon Hunt, UK > Carlos Hank Mexico 2012
Very nice Series 1 GTO all there and all good
#3 – Ferrari 250 GTO/64 1964 #5575, approx. US$30 million
Ecurie Francorchamps, Belguim 1964 Spa 500KM Bianchi Ret., Ring 1000KM 1964 Bianchi/ van Ophem 4th, LM 1964 Bianchi/ Buerlys 5th, Reims 12 Hours 1964 Bianchi/ Dumay 9th > Annie Soisbault de Monatgiu, France 1964 TDF 1964 Soisbault/ Roure 9th, Paris 1000KM Dubois/ Gosselin 13th > John Calley, USA 1965 > Chris Cord 1965 > Daniel Ward 1966 > Carle Conway 1976 > Robert Donner > via. SMC 1996 > Carlos Hank, Mexico 1996 > 1998 asking $5.5 mil ?? > Never Sold > for sale 2009 ?? > Rob Walton 2012
Not as great as a Series 1, but arguaby better racing history, pretty special.
#4 – Ferrari 250TR 1957 #0728 US$24 mil. +
SF Sebring 12 Hours 1958 Hawthorn/ von Trips NRF, Ring 1000KM 1958 Seidel/ Munaron 5th, Targa 1958 von Trips/ Hawthorn 3rd, LM 1958 Gendebien/ Hill 1st > Pedro Rodriguez, Mexico 1958 Sebring 12 Hours 1959 Rodriguez/ O’Shea Ret. > George Reed, USA > Owen Coon > Chevvy V8 fitted > Richard Merritt > Pierre Bardinon, France 1982 > 2012
A beautiful Le Mans winning Testa Rossa, its pretty much perfect
#5 – Ferrari 330P4 1967 #0858, Offered at US$20 million
SF 1000km Monza 1967 Mike Parkes/ Ludovico Scarfiotti 2nd > 1000km Spa 1967 Mike Parkes/ Ludovico Scarfiotti 5th > 24h Le Mans 1967 Mike Parkes/ Ludovico Scarfiotti 2nd > 67 – modified with Barchetta bodywork BOAC 500 Brands Hatch 1967 Williams/ Hawkins 6th > 67 – converted into a 350 CanAm Spyder Gr.7 car > 67 – William Harrah, Reno, NV, USA > 67 – David Mac Kay, Wahrooga, AUS – Scuderia Veloce > 68 – Paul Hawkins, UK – Team Gunston > 69 – David Piper, UK > 69 – Alistair Walker, UK > 71 – Walter Medlin, Orlando, FL, USA > 98 – Medlin did not accept $9,0mio, asking for $11,0mio > RM 2009 est. ?? > Talacrest 2012 asking (The 330 P4 is quite simply one of the greatest sports racing prototypes ever designed by Ferrari. Beginning in 1962, Ferrari won the prototype class of the world sports car championship for five of the first six years, running through 1967. The cars carrying the Cavallino Rampante were obviously the ones to beat!
Aggressive, sleek, aerodynamic and achingly beautiful, the P4 was the final iteration of this particular prototype series for Ferrari, substantially revised from its predecessor with a new reinforced engine block and three-valve cylinder heads. The ZF gearbox had been a particular weakness of the P3 and it was replaced by a new unit designed and built by Ferrari. The men from Maranello had their sights set on the championship, ready to take on the competition in the world’s greatest endurance races.
Only three 330 P4s were built, chassis numbers 0856, 0858 and 0860. In addition, Ferrari 330 P3 0846 was updated to P4 specifications. These four cars made up the factory team in 1967.
In the first race of the season two of the factory entries finished first and second, with an older 330 P3/4 (officially designated 412) entered by Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T.) in third. The photo of the three cars in formation crossing the finish line at the end of the race at Daytona was an epic scene that is remembered fondly by tifosi the world over. The official Ferrari team skipped Sebring and entered two P4s at Monza for the 1000-kilometre Trofeo Filippo Caracciolo (25 April 1967), with 0858 wearing race number 3, driven by Lorenzo Bandini and Chris Amon. With practice laps only three-tenths of a second apart, Bandini in the Ferrari and Mike Spence in his Chaparral were racing wheel to wheel as the race began.
Ultimately, Spence retired early leaving the Ferraris to commandeer the rest of the race. Bandini took the lead with Scarfiotti in second, Rodriguez in third for N.A.R.T. and Vaccarella in the Filipinetti car in fourth. Ferrari’s four-litre prototypes now dominated the first four positions. A failed attempt by Rodriguez at overtaking the second-place works Ferrari resulted in his retirement. In the end, co-drivers Bandini and Amon came in first driving 0858, the car offered here, on Ferrari’s home circuit, to the delight of the Italian racing fans.
Sadly, Bandini died just two weeks later as his Grand Prix car overturned in the harbour chicane at Monaco. In June 1967, 0858 was taken to France for the 24 Hours of Le Mans as one of the factory-entered four-litre 330 P4s. After just two hours of racing, three factory Ferrari P4s, including 0858 now being driven by Willy Mairesse and Jean Beurlys, were breathing down the necks of a Chaparral and two Fords. As they raced into the night, speeding down the treacherous Mulsanne straight at over 200 mph, the P4s continued running very consistently, moving up to second, third and fourth positions. Charging flat out through the morning, the stalwart Ferraris ultimately finished an excellent second with Chassis 0858, which had had a fantastic race, crossing the line after a gruelling 24 hours, in third.
Only one race remained to determine the 1967 championship – the British BOAC International 500 to be held at Brands Hatch. For this famous British circuit in the Kent countryside, Ferrari made some improvements to 0858 and lightened the P4 bodywork by removing the roof and making it into a spider – a modification that saved some 40 kg.
The starting grid was a who’s who of sports racing competition, both for drivers and constructors, with the great Jackie Stewart joining Chris Amon to drive chassis 0858. In its post-race report, Motor Sport stated, “A lot of people were hard-pressed to remember the last time we had such a fine collection of long-distance racing machinery gathered together in this country.”
The race started at noon on Sunday under grey skies. John Surtees took an initial lead before Hawkins replaced him in the third of the P4s. After the first hour, Stewart with 0858 had Spence’s Chaparral in his sights. Scarfiotti was behind him in another P4, followed by the Swiss Jo Siffert in the Porsche 908. With regular driver changes and pit stops, the running order was continually evolving over the ensuing four hours. In the final hour, Amon was in second place with 0858. With just ten minutes to go, Stewart got behind the wheel again, held the position and finished the race, securing the Manufacturers’ Championship for Ferrari, beating out Porsche. Motor Sport’s report declared, “It had been as fine a long-distance race as we have seen this season and certainly the best in England for many a year.”
After the 1967 season the international regulations were changed and there was no longer a place for the large displacement sports prototypes. Ferrari brought two of the 330 P4s (chassis 0858, the car offered here, and chassis 0860) back to the factory and converted them for use in the North American Can-Am series – an event long awaited by Ferrari’s loyal and passionate US customer base. The formula for a Can-Am car was straightforward: ultra-light body shell and lots of power. The P4s were modified as such in Maranello with notable features including a smooth front-end devoid of any lights, a more stylised rear spoiler and two air intakes curving outward to the fuel injection trumpets.
The heart of the car, however, remained pure P4. 0858’s engine was enlarged to a slightly more muscular 4.2-litres by increasing its bore to 79 mm. Greater compression resulted in an increase in power as well. Both Ferraris were designated as 350 Can-Ams. Entered by William Harrah’s Modern Classic Motors and liveried with longitudinal red and white racing stripes, 0858 ran in three races late in the 1967 season – the Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, the Riverside Grand Prix and the Stardust Grand Prix in Las Vegas, driven twice by Amon and finally by the young factory driver Jonathan Williams of Britain.
In 1968 chassis 0858 was sold to David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce in Australia and was immediately entered in its only Australian race at Surfers Paradise. Paul Hawkins secured its purchase from Australia and had it shipped immediately to South Africa for the Springbok Series. The 1968 season in South Africa proved to be extremely rewarding for 0858 with five outright victories and two second-place and one third-place finish.
In early 1969 chassis 0858 then made a brief reappearance in Europe where twice it finished first overall but did not finish at Dijon in May because of a flat tyre. 0858 was then sold through David Piper to Alistair Walker who sent it back to South Africa where it was entered in such prestigious events as the 9 Hours of Kyalami, Cape Town 3 Hours and the Laurenço Marques 3 Hours in Mozambique. Piper then bought the car back from Walker in 1971 before its current owner acquired 0858 from Piper. Since its purchase, the owner has treasured this important works Ferrari for 38 years, having only shown it at very few exclusive events in the United States. Chassis 0858 is one of just three original 330 P4s and its distinguished racing career includes a third overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1967 and a win in the 1000-kilometre race at Monza.
Ferrari P4s are considered by many to be the ultimate and most breathtakingly beautiful of all racing prototypes and this car, with its continuous and nearly four decade-long ownership, has never been offered on the market before. It is a very important and highly desirable part of Scuderia Ferrari racing history, presented today with its original Can-Am bodywork and mechanicals, ready to thrill its new owner.
If ever there was a once in a lifetime opportunity to own one of the most important sports racing cars ever built, this is it!)
Look at it, now tell me why it isnt worth US$20 million
#6 – Porsche 917K #917-023, unknown but estimated at US$16 million
917L-69 > 917K-70 > Porsche Salzburg Team Brands Hatch 1000KM 1970 Hulme/ Elford 2nd, Monza 1000KM 1970 Elford/ Ahrens DNF, Spa 1000KM 1970 Elford/ Ahrens 3rd > 4.9 litre engine fitted > LM 1970 Elford/ Hermann 1st > MARTINI Daytona 24 Hour 1971 Elford/van Lennop DNF > Vasek Polak 72 > Matsuda 1982 > SMC 99 > Julio Palmaz, USA 2000 (the 1970 Le Mans winner, was the 23rd of the 25 chassis homologated as a Group 4 Sports car on May 1st ’69 in original “Lang Heck” spec. After homologation, it was stripped of it’s mechanicals and the body chassis unit and all it’s parts were consigned to the customer spares department. There the car stayed for some time until it was finally re-built to ’70 “Kurtz” spec in early ’70. It then essentially became the System Porsche development car but entered in races as the second Ecurie Salzburg entry and up until Le Mans was always painted white.Race debut for 917023 was at Brands Hatch in 1970 for the BOAC 1000 Kms, where Elford gamely tried to hang on to Rodriguez who was in a class of his own that day. Elford and Hulme finished second in the wet conditions. At Monza the car was fitted with a full 5 litre engine, qualified third fastest and ran strongly in the race until a rear tyre exploded and wrecked the suspension and bodywork. At the Spa 1000 Kms where the conditions were wet and dry, Elford and Ahrens finished third.917023 was then totally rebuilt fresh for it’s next race, the Le Mans 24 Hours. In fact, the car looked so fresh in the Le Mans paddock pre-race, that some on lookers thought it to be a brand new car. Painted for the first time in Ecurie Salzburg red and white, Attwood and Herrmann qualified the car 15th fastest in practice, the slowest of all the 917’s in the race. Come the race though, the car ran like clockwork, like a little 911, never missing a beat in the terrible conditions, and never once leave the track or hit anyone. Apart from routine pit-stops, it needed no mechanical work and at the end of the race covered itself in glory by winning Le Mans, giving Porsche their first win in the famous race. After the race the car did the obligatory show tour but did one more race that year at the Osterreichring for the Zeltweg 1000 Kms. Driven by Elford and Attwood, the car qualified fourth and finished fourth overall.For 1971 the car was rebuilt and then consigned to the three car Martini Racing Team, who were replacing the Ecurie Salzburg as the factory “B” team. At the ’71 season opener at Buenos Aires the car was disqualified and at the next round at Daytona was crashed badly on the banking. The accident saw the tail completely ripped off and the rear suspension and chassis frame badly damaged. The car was returned to Porsche where it lay unfixed until sold to Vasek Polak at the end of ’72 still to be repaired. Polak paid $10,000 for the wrecked car, with it’s engine, in a deal which also saw Polak buy 020, complete but without an engine for $8000.Polak fixed the car, made a new wider and finned tail from his own moulds, flared the sills to match the wide tail, and painted it in Gulf colours for a TV commercial. Polak also switched the chassis plate with 917020, each chassis acquiring the others identity. This was done to protect the identity of the Le Mans winner.Polak appeared with the car at Laguna Seca in the early 80’s and then sold the car, still as 917020, to the Matsuda Collection in Japan who put the car back in its famous red and white Salzburg colours but retained the Polak made finned tail. It was sold in this trim to current owner Julio Palmaz through Symbolic Motors in 2000 with the chassis plate now correctly switched back to 917023.In 2001 the fins were removed from the tail and the paintwork redone to replicate more exactly the Le Mans winning livery. However, it still retains it’s incorrect wide rear end and flared sills. Much sought after for displays and demonstrations, the immaculate car was recently seen at the 2007 Rennsport III Re-Union at Daytona.) > Carlos Monteverde 2012
One of THE Le Mans cars, the first Porsche to win Le Mans
#7 – Jaguar C – Type 1953 #XKC051, unknown, was it even sold?, maybe US$10 million
Duncan Hamilton ??
Works lightweight,1953 Le Mans Rolt/Hamilton 1st, 1953 TT Rolt/Hamilton DNF, 1953 Prescott Walker fastest sports car > Ecurie Ecosse British Empire Trophy Oulton Park Rolt 3rd in heat, Sanderson 5th in handicap final & 2nd on road, First Easter Handicap, Goodwood Rolt 2nd, Race Two, Members Goodwood Sanderson, 3rd aiter spinning when in 2nd place, Race Four, Sanderson, crashed, Daily Express international sports car race, Silverstone, Peter Walker, 3rd and Team Prize; Aintree, Scott-Douglas, 6th; Snetterton, ScottDouglas, 4th, 8th & DNF; Goodwood, Scott-Douglas,12th & 13th; Oulton Park, Titterington 1st & Scott-Douglas 8th; Charterhall, Lawrence,1st; Silverstone GP meeting, Titterington, 6th; Zandvoort, Scott-Douglas, 2nd: 1955 British Empire Trophy, Oulton Park, Sanderson, 6th in class & 16th on handicap; Easter Goodwood, Rolt, 4th > Bill Smith Ulster Trophy Dundrod 1st, Eastern Cownties 100, Snetterton, 3rd > Geoffrey Allison (York) Mallory Park,1st > Miles Brubacher USA 1957 > 1968 sold to Briggs Cunningham > Adrian Hamilton > Europe 2012
A Le Mans C – Type, doesnt get much better than that
#8 – Auto Union D – Type 1937 #19, POA approx. US$8 – 10 million
This legendary racing car – absolutely confirmed today as chassis number ’19’ – was driven to placing finishes in the 1939 Grand Prix racing season. Handled by Auto Union factory team drivers Rudolf Hasse and Hans Stuck, this pioneering rear-engined Grand Prix projectile finished fifth in the German EifelRennen event on the North Circuit of the Nurburgring, and sixth in the Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France around the super fast public road course at Reims-Gueux.
The 1938-39 V12-cylinder Auto Union racing car – retrospectively classified postwar as the Chemnitz company’s ‘D-Type’ model – was developed to meet a new set of international regulations governing Grand Prix racing. They specified a maximum engine capacity of 3-liters and a minimum weight limit of 850-kilograms. The ‘D-Type’ Auto Union was based upon a highly sophisticated and advanced new chassis design, featuring de Dion rear suspension and its fuel load centralized in pannier tanks hung along each side, within the wheelbase. The 3-cam V12-cylinder engine developed some 420bhp in 1938 single-stage supercharged form, rising to some 485bhp at 7,000rpm when two-stage supercharging was adopted for 1939.
That final pre-war season – whose leading cars such as this Auto Union represent the absolute high-tide of ‘Silver Arrows’ period technology – then opened on May 21 with the EifelRennen, at Germany’s Nurburgring, where Nuvolari’s ‘D-Type’ finished second and Rudi Hasse fifth in chassis ’19’ now being offered by Bonhams & Butterfields.
During the 1939 racing season, Auto Union deployed 11 ‘D-Type’ chassis in the six significant Grand Prix Formula events contested. In addition to Nuvolari’s second place in the EifelRennen, Hasse finished second in the Belgian GP, before his team-mates H.P. ‘Happy’ Muller and ‘Schorsch’ Meier brought the team a wonderful 1-2 success in the French race at Reims-Gueux.
It was there that chassis ’19’ raced for the last time, driven by Hans Stuck, the veteran Austrian star. In his hands, this ‘D-Type’ Auto Union completed the works team’s day by finishing sixth.
Today, Auto Union ‘D-Type’ chassis ’19’ is the only proven surviving Grand Prix car of its type with contemporary 1939 racing history. It is one of the classic car world’s most charismatic machines, and is exquisitely well-restored to running order. In a world hungry for genuine intrinsic value, it has much to commend it.
Post-war Myth and Mystery
For nearly half a century the survival in Communist Russia of ex-works German ‘Silver Arrow’ Grand Prix cars from the 1930s seemed little more than unproven myth. The search for any such cars from Mercedes-Benz or – much more so – Auto Union – was regarded as historic motor sport’s quest for the Holy Grail. While several 1930s Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix cars survived at the Stuttgart factory and in private Western hands, the only known Auto Union was a sectioned 1936 V16 model exhibited in the Deutsches Museum in Munich.
It was known that the surviving Auto Union team cars had been expropriated by Soviet forces in the Autumn of 1945. In fact, no fewer than 13 Auto Union cars were transported by train from the company’s devastated factories in Zwickau and Chemnitz, Lower Saxony, in what was to become Communist East Germany.
They were delivered to the Soviet Union’s NAMI motor industry research institute in Moscow, where early in 1946 a working group of engineers was established to investigate these dazzlingly high-tech German designs. Four Auto Unions – one with wheel-enveloping streamlined bodywork – were dismantled and effectively destroyed during the NAMI group’s inspection and analysis.
Two sister cars were delivered to Moscow’s ZIS production car factory for parallel examination and research. One, a V16-cylinder, was subsequently scrapped. The other – which was a hill-climb car comprising a 16-cylinder-type chassis powered by the later V12 engine – escaped destruction, eventually passing into a museum in Riga, Latvia, and subsequently to Audi.
Four other Auto Unions – three 1938-39 V12 Grand Prix cars, plus one streamliner – went to the GAS factory in Gorky (now renamed Nizhniy Novgorod) where some components were cannibalized for use in GAS, Moskvich and ZIL-based competition cars. When one staffer required a trailer, a stripped Grand Prix chassis frame was cut in half to suit…!
Generally, the Soviet technicians were unable to run the cars, with the exception of one V12 ‘D-Type’ at Gorky, whose tanks were found to contain the correct sophisticated German fuel mix. This car was started successfully and tested at high speed, only for driver Leonid Sokolov to find his path obstructed by encroaching roadside crowds. He lost control under braking, and crashed into them, killing as many as 18.
Around 1950, two surviving open-wheel GP Auto Unions and one 16-cylinder streamliner were assigned to engineer Vladimir Nikitin in Kharkov, Ukraine. He cannibalized the streamliner to build his ‘Kharkov’ racing car, powered by a 4-cylinder Podeba street engine. A fellow Ukrainian engineer, Eduard Lorent, also benefited from Auto Union study in building his small- capacity ‘Kharkov L1’ and ‘L2’ racing cars.
One complete open-wheeler chassis, the trailer-frame and their major mechanical components survived surplus to Nikitin and Lorent’s requirements, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian-born American Paul Karassik – a Florida-based antique car enthusiast – spent much time in Russia hunting down the truth of the Auto Union legend. Karassik accumulated an incredible treasure-trove of pre-war Grand Prix car components, including Auto Union serial ’19’s complete, unspoiled chassis and the late-model V12-cylinder engine which powers it today. Mr Karassik entrusted restoration of this car to the renowned British ‘Silver Arrow’ specialists, Crosthwaite & Gardiner in Buxted, England, and they rebuilt it in as-original two-stage supercharged form.
A great pre – war Grand Prix car, unclear what someone could actually do with it, but even just sitting still it exudes speed and class.
#9 – Bentley 4.5 Litre Blower 1929 #UU5871 SOLD US$7.92 million
1929-31 4½-Litre Supercharged ‘Blower’ Bentley Single-
Registration no. UU 5871
Chassis no. HB 3402
Engine no. SM 3901
Sold for £5,041,500 inc. premium
Amongst all Brooklands habitués of the 1920-30s, perhaps the most glamorous and charismatic of all the historic Motor Course’s racing celebrities was the diminutive Bentley-driving Baronet, Sir Henry Ralph Stanley ‘Tim’ Birkin. He combined his ‘Bentley Boy’ high-society image with a fearless driving talent and here we offer the unique ‘Blower’ Bentley Single-Seater in which he shattered the Brooklands Outer Circuit Lap Record in 1931.
For an entire generation of British motor racing enthusiasts, ‘Tiger Tim’s’ militarily-moustachioed, be-goggled figure, in his neat wind cap, often with a polka-dot scarf fluttering in the slipstream, personified an English ideal. This so-British hero became the absolute epitome of Imperial power, speed and daring…
But ‘Tim’ Birkin in truth embodied far more than mere celebrity just flirting with motor racing. He was in fact intensely competitive, a born sportsman who relished racing for racing’s sake, dedicated to maximizing his chances on track, and committed whole-heartedly to making the absolute most of whatever natural talent he possessed.
Despite the contemporary press image of him as a fearlessly courageous daredevil, Sir Henry described himself as being “…quite small, and I do stammer…in business that does not interest me, I am hopelessly vague and inefficient but on a subject in which I am absorbed, just as hopelessly talkative and meticulous”.
With fellow enthusiast/racer Mike Couper, Birkin & Couper Ltd was established at Welwyn where it produced the prototype 4½-litre Blower Bentley in the summer of 1929. W.O. recalled: “They would lack in their preparation all the experience we had built up in (our own) racing department over 10 years. I feared the worst and looked forward to their first appearance with anxiety…”.
Birkin ran his prototype tourer-bodied car in the Brooklands 6-Hour race on June 29,1929. The car retired. At Dublin’s Phoenix Park race two weeks later the two supercharged Bentleys finished 3rd and 8th. In the RAC Tourist Trophy at Ards in Ulster, Bernard Rubin’s ‘Blower’ overturned while Birkin, who had challenged W.O. to act as his riding mechanic (the marque’s founder accepting), placed a worthy second overall and won his class. The third ‘Blower’, meanwhile, broke its engine.
Birkin then retired from the Brooklands 500-Miles and the entire team retired from the Double-Twelve race at Brooklands in May 1930. W.O., embittered – one must remember – by the collapse of his company – summed it up as follows: “The supercharged 4½ never won a race, suffered a never-ending series of mechanical failures, brought the marque Bentley disrepute and incidentally cost Dorothy Paget a large sum before she decided to withdraw her support in October 1930…”.
W.O. added the sting in the tail: “Tim managed to persuade Barnato to allow him to enter a team in the 1930 Le Mans (in which none survived) and we were obliged, in order to meet the regulations, to construct no less than fifty of these machines for sale to the public…”.
W.O. assertion that the ‘Blower’ Bentley “never won a race” is wrong. The car offered here is the exception – and it would not only become a multiple Brooklands race winner, but also holder of the Outer Circuit lap record there.
Birkin had been disappointed by his failure at Le Mans 1929 and then decided during that summer to make a firm entry for the BRDC 500-Mile race at Brooklands, using a car with the future potential to break the Outer Circuit lap record there.
Bentley Motors had been rocking in the deepening recession when Tim Birkin became attracted, unlike W.O. Bentley himself, to the notion of supercharging the 4½-litre Bentley. Those were the great years of Bentley success with consecutive victories in the Le Mans 24-Hours race, but Birkin hungered for greater power and more speed as W.O. explained: “Tim had a constant urge to do the dramatic thing, a characteristic which I suppose had originally brought him into racing. His gaily vivid, restless personality seemed to be always driving him on to something new and spectacular, and unfortunately our 4½-litre car was one of his targets… Tim used all his charm and persuasion to induce first Amherst Villiers to build a special blower for his 4½, next Woolf Barnato” – company financier as well as leading team driver – “to give it his blessing, and finally the Hon. Dorothy Paget to put up the money for a works at Welwyn” – just north of London – “and to buy and modify the chassis”.
At his Birkin & Couper Ltd works in Welwyn, this special track-racing ‘Blower’ Bentley was then developed alongside the road-racing endurance sports cars. Captain – later Lt. Colonel – Clive Gallop was largely responsible for the new track-racing car, while working under his direction on the project were foreman E.A. Jennings, the Champion English racing walker Whitcombe who was ‘Tim’ Birkin’s riding mechanic, Logan and Newcombe, who were successively Bentley’s chief engine fitters; Browning, the chief chassis fitter, and Billy Rockell, the works’ supercharger fitter.
The Bentley chassis selected as basis of the project was of 10 feet 10 inch wheelbase, chassis number ‘HB 3402’ while the selected engine number was ‘SM 3901′.
Amherst Villiers had designed the supercharger and its configuration, while the developed engine’s enlarged-diameter crankshaft, with 90mm journals, and special rods were drawn and detailed by Villiers’ chief draughtsman, Tom Murray Jamieson of later racing Austin and ERA fame before his tragic death at Brooklands – as a luckless spectator – in 1938.
The Villiers Roots-type supercharger for this ‘Blower’ Bentley ‘Track Car’ used a standard casing as on the sports cars, but housing larger rotors to increase boost. Otherwise, according to Clive Gallop at the time, the engine was the normal 4-cylinder with four overhead valves per cylinder, actuated by a single-overhead camshaft. The cylinder-head ports were of course highly polished, any engine fitter within the Welwyn works who found himself temporarily idle being put straight onto this task. As much of the cylinder head as possible was also polished, but not re-machined. Bench testing showed that fuel consumption “…of methanol mixture of 0.79 specific gravity would be 1.2 pints per bhp/hour”. On track the finished car’s actual fuel consumption figure proved to be 2.07 miles per gallon…
The body initially fitted to chassis ‘HB 3402’ was of ‘1½-seater’ form, with fabric skin stretched over a spring-steel lattice framework. The radiator was exposed while the supercharger, dumb-irons and carburettors were all partially cowled-in. This brand-new bodywork was painted in a rich mid-blue livery.
The Outer Circuit was no minor challenge at that time, in 1929. The old concrete bankings and straights were frost-heaved, patched and bumpy. Fuel tank troubles were anticipated, for the ageing Brooklands Motor Course could mete out a fearful pounding to cars running at way above one hundred miles per hour. Consequently a fuel tank design adapted from the 42-gallon Le Mans 24-Hour race type was mounted by means of a Le Mans-style cross-tube at the back which passed through the tank and which was carried within a rubber-lined trunnion on each of the two main frame rails. Clive Gallop then provided a third mounting point using a plate shaped to the match the front end of the tank, carrying a nickel-steel pin that accommodated the spider of a Hardy-Spicer universal joint.
A structure rising from the chassis then carried another spider which coupled to that on the tank, thus providing a flexible forward mounting.
Unfortunately, during practice on the eve the 1929 500-Mile race, the nickel-steel pin attached to the tank sheared due to embrittlement when it had been brazed into place – not at Welwyn, Gallop emphasized. He promptly drove the damaged Track car back from Brooklands to the Welwyn works for repair, without mudguards, lamps and starting handle and with a police car following him right into the factory yard!
It became obvious that in the time available overnight an adequately heavy new support could not be provided. Instead, the suggestion of a young mechanic named Hoffman was adopted, in which a normal steel strap packed with rubber and felt was placed round the front of the tank, and then attached to the chassis by reinforced angle plates, welded into place.
Just after dawn on race day, Clive Gallop drove the great car back to Brooklands, Birkin – who was in the process of negotiating provision of a substitute car from ‘Babe’ Barnato – having been warned that it was on the way. Clive Gallop saw, and held, 120mph along the Barnet Bypass road, and the new car was finally delivered to the Track just in time to be checked over and readied for the race start.
Incidentally, during this rushed delivery to Weybridge, Clive Gallop had found the Track car so tractable on the public road that eventually a Welwyn-to-Brooklands route was selected which included London suburban traffic. If a spark plug should oil up, Clive Gallop’s standard procedure would be to stop on the hill at Putney Vale – on the stretch passing the KLG spark plug factory – where he would fit a fresh plug and then roll-start down the remainder of the gradient there.
When the big cars were finally flagged away into that 1929 BRDC 500-Miles race, ‘Tim’ Birkin in the ‘Blower’ Bentley single-seater now offered here, immediately set the pace, lapping at over 121mph. A great duel ensued between this ‘Blower’ Bentley and Kaye Don’s V12-cylinder Sunbeam. But as it hurtled round the punishing, high-banked Motor Course, the new blue Bentley began to spray a thin mist of engine oil from its bonnet louvres, the droplets coating the aero screen, cockpit coaming and driver’s head and shoulders. Birkin soon found his hands slipping on the steering wheel rim, and his vision diminishing through coated goggles, so he tore into the pits to clean up. The Clive Dunfee/’Sammy’ Davis Speed Six Bentley took over the lead on scratch, while on handicap small-capacity Amilcars and Austin Sevens held the advantage. By 90 laps George Eyston’s Sunbeam ‘Cub’ was up into to second place and after 108 laps it led overall. Dudley Froy, partnering Kaye Don in the big Sunbeam, also led before retiring with a broken back spring – the Brooklands bumps offering no mercy – and Eyston’s Sunbeam would also break a spring.
Having rejoined, ‘Tim’ Birkin in this ‘Blower’ Bentley single-seater then encountered further trouble. The problem of compensating for expansion and movement between the exhaust manifold and the silencer body-cum-pipe had been countered by inserting a length of flexible steel tubing “as used in HM submarines” with a backing applied to the car body to insulate it from silencer heat. W.O. Bentley had advised against such a scheme and as the long race tore on the localized exhaust heat degraded both the flexible pipe material and its pipe-backing, which crumbled. This left the coils of metal to vibrate and fracture, opening a hole in the exhaust system from which violet flame blasted onto the fabric body skin and set it alight.
Birkin arrowed into the pits with his new Track car trailing flame and smoke. The fire was quickly doused, but that day the car would race no further…
For 1930, ‘Tim’ Birkin then decided to attack track racing seriously with the single-seater, which went on to establish itself as one of the Brooklands Motor Course’s most charismatic cars, campaigned by certainly its most charismatic contemporary driver.
In its 1930 form, with Villiers supercharger driven from the crankshaft nose and inhaling through two huge horizontal SU carburettors, the car’s engine developed some 240bhp on alcohol fuel mix, some 65bhp more than a standard ‘Blower’ Bentley on benzole petrol. Its rear axle featured a new nose piece housing a special pinion which provided a final-drive ratio of 2.8:1. Fuel flow at full throttle was quoted as being approximately one Imperial gallon every 74 seconds…
Reid A. Railton had been commissioned to design a new (fire proof!) aluminium body to replace the flexibly-frame fabric original, and it was hand made for the car by A.P. Compton & Co of Merton. The regulation Brooklands silencer on the car’s nearside now bolted directly to the exhaust manifold, without any flexible-pipe intervening. Front-wheel brakes were deleted and the car rode on 32-inch x 6.50 Dunlop Racing tyres.
The first Brooklands Meeting of 1930 then saw Birkin battling against his starting penalty, taking second place in the three-lap Kent Short Handicap race despite a slipping clutch and with supercharger casing cracks hastily plugged just before the start, using Plasticene… His flying lap was still clocked at 123.89mph. He then contested the meeting’s Surrey Short Handicap, setting fastest lap at 124.51mph.
In the four-lap Kent Long Handicap, Birkin then had the chance to overcome his penalty, winning by one second at 119.13mph average, and setting fastest lap at 126.73mph. This was the first race victory ever achieved by a ‘Blower’ Bentley – and while Sir Henry, car owner the Hon. Dorothy Paget and their supporters were delighted, W.O. Bentley – whose distaste for supercharging was often declared – had perhaps mixed feelings.
Brooklands’ Easter meeting then saw Birkin campaign his single-seater before a 20,000 crowd, winning the Bedford Short Handicap easily at 117.81mph and lapping at 134.24!
As the late, great Bill Boddy recalled in his definitive ‘History of Brooklands Motor Course 1906-1940′ – “Plug troubles foiled Birkin’s hopes in the Dorset Lightning Short Handicap but he turned out again for a 3-lap match race against Dunfee’s GP Sunbeam. Sadly Dunfee’s car had thrown a rod, so Birkin came out alone, to attempt to beat Kaye Don’s lap record. The Bentley was in grand trim, roaring very high round the Byfleet banking, dropping to the Fork in a puff of dust, clipping the verge by the Vickers’ sheds and going onto the Members’ banking each time with that characteristic and disturbing little snake that those who saw the car in action are not likely to forget. From the notorious bump” – where the Hennebique Bridge near the end of the Member’s Banking had subsided slightly into the River Wey – “… it leapt some 70 feet, clear of the Track, onto the Railway Straight. It was a grand sight, Birkin’s scarf flirting with the fairing behind his head as he held the car to its course. The ‘Blower’ Bentley certainly provided as great a thrill for the onlookers of the 1930s as had the V12 Sunbeam and the ‘Chittys’ for the 1920s…”.
‘Tiger Tim’s heroic driving that day had seen the Bentley Single-Seater lap in 1 minute 13.4 seconds, 135.33mph, beating Don’s existing outright record by 0.73mph. On its standing lap the Single-Seater had lapped at 133.88mph, then completed its succeeding three laps at 134.60, 134.60 and finally the new record 135.33mph.
Birkin then contested the following Bedford Long Handicap race, but with his new lap record conferring an “owes 20secs” handicap he was unplaced, despite equaling his new record on two consecutive laps…
Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin’s Blower Bentley single-seater was plainly Great Britain’s fastest track racing car of that time. After that day’s racing he promptly flew back to Le Touquet to claim the dinner that ‘Babe’ Barnato had promised him that morning if he could break the Outer Circuit lap record.
At the following BARC Club Meeting, the great car was off form, issuing clouds of smoke on the startline and Birkin lapping at a – for him – measly 126.73mph. The car ran poorly again in that day’s Racing Long Handicap before retreating to Welwyn after a poor day out.
Kaye Don first equaled the new Birkin Bentley record in his V12 Sunbeam at Brooklands’ Whitsun Meeting, and then shattered it by lapping at 137.58mph, a 2.25mph improvement.
The Hon. Dorothy Paget then entered Birkin to drive the Single-Seater again in the Brooklands August Bank Holiday meeting, only for the fuel tank to split, causing his retirement from the feature ‘Gold Star’ Handicap.
High winds and the threat of rain then made high speeds impossible in the Brooklands Autumn meeting – but Birkin and the Single-Seater reappeared for the BRDC 500-Miles on October 4. A front tyre burst at top speed during practice, which both car and driver survived despite “some astonishing subsequent gyrations”. Birkin shared the drive with George Duller but the car ran badly and neither enjoyed the experience, their car “sounding like a motor cycle” and finishing a tardy ninth. So the 1930 Brooklands season closed, with Kaye Don and his V12 Sunbeam holding the Outer Circuit lap record…
The Hon. Dorothy Paget loved being involved with competition, but only if she was on the winning side. That winter she withdrew her backing from the ‘Blower’ Bentley endurance racing team, but retained the successful Single-Seater. The BARC Whitsun Meeting in 1931 saw the great car’s return to Brooklands, but again Birkin’s best efforts with it were overshadowed, lapping at a best of 128.69mph in the Gold Star Handicap, then 131.06 in the Somerset Senior Long before retiring.
Birkin consulted George Eyston, and at his suggestion fitted a PowerPlus vane-type supercharger in place of the Villiers’ Roots-Type. Not until that year’s August meeting would the Single-Seater return to the historic Motor Course, but a gusty wind hampered attempts by both Birkin and Gwenda Stewart in the 2-litre Derby Miller to attack the Kaye Don lap record. Birkin’s best attempt running alone as part of a special record attempt feature within that August meeting was clocked at 134.97mph, but later that afternoon in the London Lightning Long Handicap race he clocked an improved 136.45mph despite the gusty wind.
‘Tiger Tim’s great friend and fellow ‘Bentley Boy’ Dr J.D. Benjafield was then entrusted with the Single-Seater for the 1931 BRDC 500-Miles, only for its engine to break a valve and the great car to be retired. Birkin wrote: “The few days before this race were not without their thrills…when I was coming off the Byfleet Banking at about 130, the auxiliary petrol tank caught fire and flames began to lick the legs of my overalls…. the cockpit certainly did become rather hot. So I switched off the engine and put on the brakes; but before the car stopped, I had to climb out of the seat and, perched on the back of the car, steer as best I could from a crouching position. I jumped off once it was safe and put out the fire. But the cockpit and my hands were both burnt…”. The original Villiers supercharger then replaced the PowerPlus.
Come that year’s Autumn Meeting and in the Cumberland Senior Long Handicap Birkin finished third after starting from scratch, after which he continued for two extra laps to attack Don’s 137mph lap record, yet again falling just short at 136.82mph.
For 1932, the Single-Seater was re-sprayed red in place of its original blue and its engine was re-bored to 100.5mm, providing a capacity of 4,442cc. The new season opened on Easter Monday, but four days prior to that meeting Birkin attacked the Kay Don Outer Circuit lap record and broke it at last – raising the mark to 137.96mph.
In the subsequent Easter meeting, John Cobb’s V12 Delage just edged out the now re-handicapped Lap Record-holding Single-Seater to win by 0.2 sec from Birkin, whose best lap was at 134.24mph compared to Cobb’s best of only 128.36.
Out again in the Norfolk Lightning Long Handicap, Birkin nearly lost control of the great car on his second lap, as it skidded viciously under the gusty wind as it shot out from beneath the Members’ Bridge. Birkin and the Bentley then won for their third time at Brooklands, averaging 122.07mph and lapping at 134.26.
The BRDC later held a 100-mile Outer Circuit race, in which Birkin held the advantage in his heat until the Single-Seater’s right-front tyre stripped and he made a pit stop, finishing fourth. He then led the Final at half-distance but only until “…the long red car came round misfiring and spluttering, took on water, boiled and retired a lap later with the cylinder block cracked”. Another retirement was then posted in the 1932 Whitsun Meeting,
At a special Brooklands day organised in aid of Guy’s Hospital, Birkin subsequently won the Gala Long Handicap and equaled his former lap record of 137.96mph. In the six-lap Duke of York’s race the Bentley threw the tread from its right-rear tyre which flailed high over the heads of spectators round the Members’ Banking…
The threat of rain at the August Meeting persuaded Birkin not to run the Single-Seater in one race, but in the 3-lap invitation event for 100 Sovereigns, Birkin in the Bentley confronted John Cobb in the V12 Delage. The French car was the faster starter, leading by 3.8 seconds completing the opening lap. But on lap 2 ‘Tiger Tim’ flashed round at 135.70mph and was just 1.2 seconds off Cobb’s tail.
Bill Boddy: “The crowd was on its toes… And round they came, the Bentley gaining, yard by yard, on the Delage. As Birkin hurtled off the banking the ‘bump’ shot his car well clear of the Track and the padded rest on the fairing behind his head came adrift, to fly, a small dark object, high into the air. In a supreme effort, Birkin caught Cobb and drew ahead, winning one of Brooklands’ most intense races by a mere one-fifth of a second, or about 25 yards. He averaged 125.14mph and that glorious last lap was run at 137.58mph (0.28mph below the record).” Out again in the Hereford Lightning Long Handicap, Birkin swept around at 136.45mph, being classified second at the finish.”
Despite his Brooklands heroics, in 1932, Birkin wrote of the Motor Course: “I think that it is, without exception, the most out-of-date, inadequate and dangerous track in the world…Brooklands was built for speeds of no greater than 120mph, and for anyone to go over 130, without knowing the track better than his own self, is to court disaster… The surface is abominable. There are bumps which jolt the driver up and down in his seat and make the car leave the road and travel through the air”. He concluded this onslaught with the line “If I could find anything true to shed an attractive blur over all Brooklands’ diseases, I would make use of it at once; but there is nothing at all…” He was a brave man, then, to unleash this ‘Blower’ Bentley Single-Seater there as fearlessly as he did…
In the sports-racing ‘Blower’ Bentleys, Sir Henry had already set a record-breaking pace at Le Mans in 1930, and that same year ran his ‘Blower’ in the French Grand Prix at Pau in southern France – describing it as being akin to “a large Sealyham surrounded by greyhounds”, yet finishing an astonishing second overall. But by 1931 Bentley Motors and the ‘Blower’ project were in collapse and Sir Henry was instead racing private Alfa Romeo 8C-2300s shared with his friend Earl Howe, actually winning the prestigious Le Mans 24-Hour race for the Italian marque. But early in the 1933 racing season ‘Tiger Tim’ burned his arm at Tripoli in Libya while running a Maserati 8C at Tripoli in the Lottery Grand Prix. Already ailing with recurrent malaria – first contracted during his World War 1 service – this British hero was quickly overwhelmed by septicaemia, despite tremendous efforts to save him by his friend and loyal supporter Dr Benjafield. And Sir Henry died in a London hospital three weeks after the Libyan incident, on June 22, 1933 – aged just 36.
His former backer, the Hon. Dorothy Paget, retained the Single-Seater, unused, until 1939, resisting all offers from would-be buyers until Bentley enthusiast Peter Robertson-Rodger blew-up the engine of his ex-Birkin French GP ‘Blower’ Bentley at Donington Park, and he managed to charm her into selling him the track car, to use its engine in the sister Birkin car. Then came World War 2. The number one ‘Blower’ engine was then returned to the single-seater, which Robertson-Rodger decided to convert into a two-seat roadster.
Bentley mechanic Bill Short did the conversion work during the war, and the project was finally completed in the late 1940s using a two-seat body designed by Robertson-Rodger and made by Chalmers of Redhill. This new body retained the single-seater’s appearance in side profile, complete with pointed tail. Bentley specialist and VSCC luminary John Morley subsequently worked on the great car, and when Peter Robertson-Rodger died in 1958 he bequeathed the Single-Seater in his will to Mr Morley.
Meanwhile, boyhood Birkin fan and Bentley enthusiast ‘Rusty’ Russ-Turner had been a long-term admirer of the car. He recalled: “I had never lost my fascination for that car and one day I was at the Bentley Drivers’ Club Hendon driving tests meeting when a fellow member mentioned rumours that the Birkin single-seater was going to be sold to America.
“I went to see John Morley who said that nobody in England seemed to want it. In fact, they all seemed afraid of it. So after long negotiations we came to an agreement and in the summer of 1964 I collected it from his garage at Colnbrook, west of London, and drove it home to Leatherhead. It carried the 2-seat body but Morley had also sold me the original track body as part of the deal. When I climbed behind that wheel it was the realization of a dream. Ha, I was wearing a white silk shirt, and by the time I got home I was soaked in oil from head to foot!”
He described how he had found that the great car’s engine bearings were badly worn and its dry-sump system scavenge pump on the nose of the supercharger had been re-piped to feed an oil-cooler under such pressure that the excess oil squirted everywhere. He painstakingly rebuilt the car and ran it for several years with its Robertson-Rodger 2-seat body in place while the single-seater aluminium shell sat on the floor of his garage.
Truly must be one of the greatest cars ever made, fabulous history, the meaning of genuine.
#10 – Rolls Royce Silver Ghost 1912 “The Corgi” #1907 SOLD US$7.4 milllion
1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Double Pullman Limousine
Coachwork by Barker
Chassis no. 1907
Engine no. 127
Sold for £4,705,500 inc. premium
Introduced in 1906, the 40/50hp Rolls-Royce soon established itself as the finest automobile in the world.
Its ruggedness, quality, power, simplicity and reliability made it the intelligent choice for motorists who could afford its prodigious cost.
While most could, and did, employ chauffeurs to maintain and drive their automobiles, the 40/50hp Rolls-Royce also appealed to forward-thinking owners who made driving a popular pastime. It was a unique combination that proved itself in long distance trials, pitting the automobile and its driver against the rudimentary roads of the day and it fostered the creation of dual-purpose automobiles.
Exclusive and luxurious, they were driven by chauffeurs during the week, then taken out by the family on weekends, to experience the joys and challenges of the countryside. Pride often earned their loyal Rolls-Royce personal names, a tradition started by Claude Johnson with the thirteenth 40/50 built, 60551, known also by its registration, AX 201, the “Silver Ghost”, an automobile so famed for its achievements and style that its name attached itself to the entire model range.
This automobile, however, had to wait a half century before it earned the name by which it is known today, “The Corgi”. Chosen by Mettoy as the basis for its Corgi brand’s classic Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost model (#9041), it represented to generations of young men and women the personification of elegant, classic quality that attached to the name Rolls-Royce.
Many other automobiles, not least Claude Johnson’s Silver Ghost and its successors, were named by their owners. But only one has acquired its name by the place it occupies in the impressions of myriad childhoods: “The Corgi.”
Frederick Henry Royce had begun successfully to manufacture automobiles well before he met and was influenced by the Honorable Charles S. Rolls, third son of Lord and Lady Llangattock of Monmouth and Rolls’ partner in importing Panhard-Levassor and Minerva automobiles, Claude Johnson. Rolls and Johnson were the ideal complement to the meticulous engineer Royce, bringing visibility to the aristocracy and commercial elite and creativity and enthusiasm to sales efforts that made the most of Royce’s innovation and attention to detail.
C.S. Rolls & Co., Rolls’ and Johnson’s London showroom, contracted for all of Royce Ltd,’s production in chassis form. They turned to London’s most established and reputable coachbuilder, Barker & Co., for bodies. Started in 1710, Barker had built coaches for Kings George III and William IV as well as no less than 24 for Queen Victoria. Coachwork by Barker brought an aura of history, quality and acceptance to the automobiles now known as Rolls-Royce.
Rolls and Johnson soon realised that the perfectionist Royce developed a continuing series of improvements in his products. Incorporating them in a range of models that shared many components added complexity to maintenance and administration. A single model upon which Royce could concentrate his brilliance and attention would resolve the organisational issues and leave Royce free to perfect his automobile. Rolls and Johnson prevailed upon Royce to design a completely new six-cylinder engine of 40 RAC horsepower.
Designated simply the 40/50hp, the new Rolls-Royce was rushed to its debut on the stand at Olympia in November 1906. Its L-head six-cylinder engine had dimensions of 4 ½” x 4 ½” giving a displacement of 7,036cc with two three-cylinder iron blocks with fixed cylinder heads on a cast aluminum crankcase.
An innovation that contributed mightily to the 40/50hp’s reliability was Royce’s decision to fit it with low pressure positive lubrication to the main and connecting rod big end bearings and gudgeon pins. Although it operated at only 10psi the pump flowed over a gallon per minute, providing both lubrication and cooling to the bearings.
The new engine produced 50 brake horsepower at 1,500rpm and sufficient torque to accelerate smoothly from 3 or 4 mph to a top speed of 60 mph in top gear of the 4-speed gearbox. It was superb in town or on the road.
Five years later Royce had put into practice his commitment to continuous improvement, implementing a long list of changes, both large and small, that cemented the reputation of the Rolls-Royce 40/50hp as “The Best Car in the World.” Early owners who had recognised the 40/50’s quality even before it established its reputation were ready to reap the harvest of their insight, loyalty and experience and began to acquire later models.
One of those insightful owners, in fact the first private buyer of the first Rolls-Royce 40/50hp, 60539, was John M. Stephens of South Croydon. He had acquired 60539 in May 1908 with clerestory roof limousine coachwork by Barker after it had served the factory in many capacities, notably as the Motor Show display car at the 40/50’s introduction at Olympia in 1906.
60539 must have been particularly satisfying because in early 1912 Stephens took delivery of this car, chassis 1907, bodied with similar, but now subtly and distinctively refined and lavishly equipped, Double Pullman Limousine coachwork by Barker.
One of a number of Silver Ghosts similarly bodied by Barker, it is the only known survivor with this coachwork. It is the only Barker Pullman known to have been built without a division window, a deliberate omission that hints at happy hours with father behind the steering wheel able to communicate freely with his family ensconced in the luxurious passenger compartment with its twenty-nine beveled glass windows. In contrast with many similarly-bodied automobiles of the period the driver’s compartment is as finely trimmed and equipped as the rear, again hinting at its regular occupancy by the owner.
Fenestration includes highly unusual curved corner glass and clerestory lights between the side windows and roof that illuminate the rear compartment even when the four side windows’ silk shades are drawn for privacy. A small hinged glass panel in the windshield directly in front of the driver opens for visibility in rain.
In addition to the beveled glass the interior appointments are exceptional particularly the dome light surrounded by an elaborate fabric rosette in the headliner. Window frames are of finely finished wood, window pulls and door panels of embroidered silk, interior fittings of silver and door pulls of ivory. The rear compartment’s footrest conceals a complete and exquisite picnic and tea service for four. The family lucky enough to tour in this Barker Double Pullman not only had china from which to take their tea but also an alcohol fueled burner and kettle to heat the water. A set of six decanters, three in sterling silver and three in carefully leather-wrapped glass, complete the setting.
An elaborate luggage grid on the roof complements the multi-faceted exterior’s elegance. A full set of instruments for the driver include a Double Elliott speedometer. The exterior is finished in cream with green accents and roof, varnished wood window surrounds and accented with red coachlining and nickel plated brightwork.
Subsequent to Mr. Stephens’ ownership it became one of the most important elements of the famed collection of J.C. Sword in East Balgray, Ayrshire. Its next owner was Mr. Denis de Ferranti in North Wales from whom it was acquired by Mr. Terry Cohn in 1986. Noted American Silver Ghost collector Mr. Richard Solove acquired it in 1992.
During all those years its special stature ensured it was carefully and consistently maintained in its original configuration and today it is one of few early parallel bonnet Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghosts never to have been separated. The complete automobile is as-delivered by Rolls-Royce in 1912. After acquiring “The Corgi” Richard Solove commissioned Rod Brown to return it to its original elegance and style. Although Brown was given great latitude “The Corgi’s” condition was such that it did not need to be disassembled, a tribute to its years in the Sword and subsequent collections.
Acquired from Richard Solove by John M. O’Quinn in 2007, its condition today continues to be magnificent.
Next only to Claude Johnson’s AX 201, the original “Silver Ghost” it is the most recognisable of all Rolls-Royce, a statement of refinement, grace and gentility that for many defines the qualities – and the Edwardian period – in which Rolls-Royce established the unsurpassed reputation it still enjoys today. It has survived a century this year in its original highly elegant configuration, complete in all important respects as delivered by Rolls-Royce and Barker & Co. in early 1912 and is the only example of this coachwork without a division window. It drives perfectly, as intended by C.S. Rolls, Claude Johnson and Frederick Royce.
“The Corgi” is a singular example not only for what it is but also for what it means to generations of collectors who grew up with its Mettoy model.
Its list of keepers now admits a new member to continue its century of preservation, enjoyment and appreciation.
Along with the “Silver” Ghost, this is the greatest Rolls ever made, worth every cent, especially to anyone that had te famous CORGI