Against that, in 1906 Rolls on his fourcylinder (not six-cylinder as Hough has it in his TT book) open Rolls-Royce had a top speed of only about 60 mph and he cruised at a much lower pace, averaging around 20 mph for much of his run, and although he had no speed limits to contend with until England (20 mph) was reached, whereas Allport observed the 56 mph and 81 mph (autoroute) French speed limits, Rolls was delayed at shut level crossings, even if he ate in the car. He also lost 3 hours 11 minutes waiting for the ferry at Boulogne and thus beat the previous record set by Charles Jarrott’s Crossley, in 1905 (not in 1906 as Quest has it), by a mere 1 I/2 minutes. Jarrott’s run had been from London to Monte Carlo, not in the reverse direction used by Rolls, as stated in The Rolls-Royce Motor Car by Bird and Hallows — the pitfalls historians face!
The story of these early London-Monte Carlo record runs (and those in the reverse direction) make very interesting reading, if anyone cares to turn up Baladeur’s article about them, which he wrote for MOTOR SPORT in February 1950.
After a time the RAC and The Autocar became hostile to such attempts, which gave the AA an opportunity to help over ferry sailings, etc. At the close of his article Baladeur says: “. . I wonder how long it would take someone today (1950) if reasonable facilities were available for the Channel crossing, to drive from London to Monte Carlo, if he really gave his mind to it; and I hope I am not inciting anyone to a performance which must be characterised as undesirable in every way, if I say that I should like to know how long it would take a competent driver in, say, a Mark VI Bentley”. This is partially answered in Stanley Sedgwick’s interesting book Motoring My Way, published by Batsford in 1976; for instance, the author, Patron of the Bentley DC, drove a 1951 41/2-litre Mk VI In 1989 Warren Allport provided a comparison, by driving this Rolls-Royce Spur II from Boulogne to Monte Carlo in than half the time that part of his journey taken Rolls 83 years earlier. This included and fuel stops but used the autoroute from Bentley from Le Havre to Cannes in 1954 at a running average speed of 44.7 mph. Warren Allport has proved that a modern 6.8-litre V8 Rolls-Royce is more than twice as quick at crossing France on modern roads than was Rolls’ 4-litre R-R in 1906.1t would be interesting to know how much faster such a car would be over the route James Radley used with a 40/50 hp RollsRoyce in 1913, remembering that he had to cross the Channel after driving down Piccadilly without exceeding the prevailing British 20 mph speed limit, on his 26 hour run; if we allow six hours for the first part of his journey, Radley took only 20 hours from the French coast to his destination, which makes the Spurs’ 13h 37m, spurred on at 81 mph for much of the way on the autoroute, less impressive, but Allport did stop for at least 1 h 42m for food and fuel. . . In later years it was more a matter of “beating the Blue Train”. Alas, prevailing European speed restrictions and today’s traffic congestion now conspire to make such driving pointless. WB