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1924 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Cabriolet Coachwork by Barker& Co Registration no. XT 2522 Chassis no. 135EM Engine no. S98

Sold for £264,700 inc. premium
Lot 53
1924 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Cabriolet
Coachwork by Barker& Co Registration no. XT 2522 Chassis no. 135EM Engine no. S98

1924 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Cabriolet
Coachwork by Barker& Co

Registration no. XT 2522
Chassis no. 135EM
Engine no. S98

*First owned by Lord Mountbatten
*Unique specification
*Restored by the National Motor Museum
*Displayed at HM The Queen's Sandringham residence


This Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, chassis number '135EM', was ordered new by The Rt Hon Lord Louis Mountbatten (as he then was): uncle of Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh and second cousin once removed to HM The Queen, better known by his later title: Lord Mountbatten of Burma. Lord Mountbatten had been introduced to Rolls-Royce ownership in 1922 when he was given the Barker-bodied Silver Ghost Cabriolet belonging to the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII). Before long Lord Montbatten decided that he could improve upon the design, and commissioned from Rolls-Royce a replacement that would incorporate his own ideas. These included a raised, streamlined bonnet that flowed in an unbroken line into the scuttle, and a novel mechanical headlight dipping mechanism of his own design. Much to Rolls-Royce's chagrin, he also instructed that their trademark 'Spirit of Ecstasy' radiator mascot be replaced with the figure of a naval signaller, semaphoring the letter 'M'. The company declined to issue a guarantee.

Copy chassis cards on file show that Lord Mountbatten did not keep the car for very long; one Hugh Tevis of Baker Street, London W1 is recorded as owner from 17th November 1926 and there are two further owners listed: Mrs F M Horwich of Knightsbridge, London SW1 (1928) and a Major Crossman of the Ministry of Food. The latter change is undated but must post-date the Ministry's inception in 1939.

'135EM' then disappears from the public record, reappearing in 1966 when it was rediscovered and purchased in the South if France by an Oxford dental surgeon, Captain Ralph Symmons, who was also Chairman of his local branch of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club. Interviewed by the Oxford Journal for an article published in November 1978, he recalled: 'When I got it home I took off the French number plates and found a London registration on the back. I sent five shillings to the GLC to get a new logbook and found the car once belonged to Lord Louis Mountbatten.'

Captain Symmons restored the Rolls-Royce, which had survived in remarkably original condition, and after its completion drove 'XT 2522' to Lord Mountbatten's home at Broadlands, near Romsey in Hampshire, where its first owner was reintroduced to his old car. The reunion was filmed by Rediffusion Television for its series 'The Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten: The March to Victory'.

A few years later Captain Symmons decided to sell the Silver Ghost and offered Lord Mountbatten first refusal, which he accepted. As documented by correspondence on file, Lord Mountbatten arranged for the car to be purchased by a friend (the current vendor). Dated 9th November 1978, one of his letters states: 'Although he will be the legal owner of the car, it will, in fact, be on permanent loan to me until such time as my family and I are in a position to repurchase it from him at the price he is paying for the car.'

Sadly, Lord Mountbatten got few opportunities to enjoy his old Silver Ghost; on 27th August 1979 at Mullaghmore, County Sligo he was assassinated by the Provisional IRA, which had placed a bomb aboard his boat, the Shadow V. The explosion also killed his grandson, Nicholas, and two others.

Following its purchase by the vendor, '135EM' was restored in the workshops of the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu under the supervision of Russell Bampton. The car had been repainted countless times (50lb of paint was removed from the body during restoration!) but eventually a sample of the original pale blue-grey was isolated and sent away for analysis and precise matching.

Since the restoration's completion in the early 1980s the car has been on display both at Broadlands and the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, and more recently at HM The Queen's Sandringham residence in Norfolk at HRH Prince Charles' request. It has been maintained on an irregular basis by the NMM's staff and benefits from recent re-commissioning by Ian Stanfield. We are advised that the car was found to be in good condition and ran well; nevertheless, it would be prudent to check for the presence of dirt in the fuel system before any long journeys are undertaken. If the car is not to be used, it would be wise to drain the fuel system in its entirety. A new battery has been fitted and a fresh MoT certificate obtained.

Saleroom notices

Please be advised the correct chassis number is 134EM and not as misprinted in the catalogue.

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  • 19 March 2016, 09:00 - 17:30 GMT

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