Showpiece of the Week: Rolls-Royce 40/50HP

There seems to be a bit of a stir being caused by the imminent arrival of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. The thought of a luxury British car maker building SUVs alongside large saloon cars might have been an alien concept only a few years ago, but that dam has been well and truly breached by the Bentley Bentayga. Whilst we’re waiting for the new car though, here’s a wonderful 1909 40/50HP, a Rolls-Royce that at the time was regarded to be the best car in the world.  

Let’s tackle the biggy first; at £1.3m, this isn’t a car of the people. But Sir Frederick Henry Royce didn’t build his cars with compromise in mind. This is an expensive principle to live by and results in a hugely expensive car. On the upside, such attention to quality does pay off in other ways, as proven in 1907 when a silver 40/50HP was entered into the Scottish reliability trials, completing the event with only one minor fault - the fuel tap closed on one stage. It then set the world record for a ‘non-stop’ run, completing 15,000 miles by driving between London and Glasgow 27 times, a great PR stunt brought about by Claude Johnson, the commercial managing director of Rolls-Royce at the time.

This particular car was a winner, too. It won the Stockbridge reliability trial in May 1914 according to the advert, which is incredibly valuable history for veteran cars. As are the backstories of past owners, and this one had Hubert Scott-Paine on the title. He was an aircraft and boat designer who built and raced powerboats later in his life. He also started the first cross-channel flying boat service. He, in other words, lead an interesting life.

The current owner bought it in 1966 and it has been part of their collection ever since. Owning anything for that length of time requires a considerable amount of investment, but, since they owned not one but two Silver Ghosts, it’s safe to assume they did. And much like owning an old house, the period features remain, with gas-powered headlamps and acetylene fuelled side lights. Even the brass looks to be in great shape considering its age.

So, start buying up shares in Brasso if you want this car, and perhaps, a chauffeur to drive and clean it for you. The Cullinan might be the hot new Roller to have, but there would be nothing cooler than being driven around in a Rolls-Royce of this vintage - literally, given the lack of side windows. You’ll have people waving at you in admiration as this grand old car glides past. And the best part is you don’t have to drive it exclusively between London and Glasgow. It’s already proven itself there.

See the full ad here.





P.H. O'meter

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Comments (6) Join the discussion on the forum

  • romac 27 Feb 2018

    "The Cullinan might be the hot new Roller to have" he said, with barely the ghost of a smile! Surely you mean "hot new Royce" M'lud?
    Not really practical for my 70-mile-each-way commute, but what a grand old lady! I have like these style Rolls-Royces since being a small boy, which was <100 years ago.

  • Turbobanana 27 Feb 2018

    'Ring time? Someone had to...

    Joking aside, what a lovely old thing but the rear seat looks a little exposed, being about 4ft higher than the fronts.

  • J4CKO 27 Feb 2018

    Come listen to my story bout a man named Jed....

  • CharlesA 27 Feb 2018

    Not quite as old as the Ghost, but we had great fun hilltrialling my father’s Phantom in the 80s in the VSCC Wessex trial. We did inordinately badly but we liked to think we did it in a certain amount of style

  • sisu 27 Feb 2018

    The Brass era cars are really niche now. A great 4th car if you find a Morgan 3 wheeler as a daily driver to practical for going to Waitrose, but don't want a steam engine?

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