AX 201

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The article in the March issue that AX 201, the 1906 Rolls-Royce “Silver Ghost”, has aroused much interest and appreciation but, as seems inevitable where history is concerned, amendments and additional information have arisen. in this respect, Anthony E. Hutton and Air Chief Marshal Sir Alec Coryton have been most helpful. In the first place, when I was told that the Mr. A. M. Hanbury who purchased the car from Rolls-Royce Ltd. in 1908 was a Rolls-Royce Visiting Inspector I queried this, remarking that surely a gentleman able to acquire such a car would not be doing such a job. Rolls-Royce believe this and this misconception appears in John Oldham’s book about Claude Johnson, and is perpetuated in his later book “Ghosts, Phantoms and Spectres”. In fact the car was bought by Daniel Hanbury, who lived at Castle Malwood, near Lyndhurst. It was his cousin, Arthur M. Hanbury, who was employed by Rolls-Royce. This is correctly stated in Harold Nickolds’ original R-R history, “The Magic of a Name”.

During the First World War the car was fitted with an Auster screen, a cape-cart hood, side-curtains, CAV dynamo, and electric lighting, the last-named supplemented by a 7 in. Rushmore Autolite gas lamp mounted centrally on a crossbar. The Warland detachable rims were fitted at about the same time, with two spares carried behind the back seat. Sir Alec went to Castle Malwood in 1915, when the house was in use as a convalescent home for wounded officers, and he remembers the “Silver Ghost” being in full commission, as it had been since its purchase in 1908. The car was employed on town and country work, and for the annual visit to Mr. Hanbury’s extensive estate at Alassio, in Italy

It was one of these Italian journeys, in 1924, that a crack was discovered in the o/s side member. A large plate was bolted over the crack, for the run back to England. From that time onward, Sir Alec tells me, the “Silver Ghost” was never again used regularly, being stored at Castle Malwood but taken out for occasional shows and once to the Motor Show. The mileage by then would have been about 400,000. Sir Alec married Mr. Hanbury’s eldest daughter in 1925 and he was left Mr. Hanbury’s 1902 De Dion Bouton and the “Silver Ghost”. (Mr. Hutton’s mother was a Banbury daughter.) Incidentally, this was a great motoring family; other cars they had included a 1910 Rolls-Royce Mulliner limousine, a 1912 Coupe de l’Auto Sunbeam, a circa-1922 15 h.p. Star, a 3-speed Rolls-Royce Twenty, and a 30 h.p Renault used as a hack.

The “Silver Ghost” was far too large to be properly maintained in a private workshop and Sir Alec preferred to retain the De Dion, which he rebuilt in 1950. Rolls-Royce Ltd. wanted the “Silver Ghost” and took it back in 1949, in part-payment for a 1939 Bentley.

Incidentally the caption to one of the pictures in our article incorrectly refers to a Cowley speedometer with a clock above it. This is, in fact, a Cowley speedometer and the dial above it is a trip mileage-recorder; it seems that the silver-plated clock once carried has been removed. Lord Montagu suggested that we should photograph the “Silver Ghost” at the house where it lived from 1908 to 1949; I only hope we went to Castle Malwood and not to the nearby Malwood House! Anyway, it is nice to know that many photographs still exist of the “Silver Ghost” at its old home and on its Continental travels.

I make no excuse for returning to this subject, because this very famous British car will be much in evidence at the Silver Jubilee Celebrations at Windsor/Ascot, later this month.—W.B.

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