- A truly outstanding car offering the ultimate in Edwardian touring and capability
- Originally supplied to “Colonial London to Edinburgh” specification, as were the 1913 Alpine and Spanish Grand Prix team cars
- A supremely attractive and sporting Silver Ghost
- Stunning period coachwork by Peels of Brisbane.
- Beautifully presented and in top concours condition
Rarely do such striking and exciting cars come to market as this 1913 Silver Ghost chassis No. 2583. It is one of only a handful of number-series Colonial ‘London to Edinburgh’ models that offers the ultimate chassis variant, representing the definitive sporting chassis configuration. This car is a truly rare example, built in close sequence to the winning Spanish Grand Prix cars when Rolls-Royce was most dominant.
The ‘London to Edinburgh’ Silver Ghost is widely recognised as the most desirable of all the Silver Ghost types. The model was conceived in 1911 to participate in the London to Edinburgh trial in which it remarkably completed solely using top gear. The car also obtained an average speed of 78 mph across a flying half mile at Brooklands Circuit fitted with touring coachwork. This achievement demonstrated unrivalled performance and flexibility. Subsequent duplicate cars followed that incorporated high compression engines with larger carburettors, tapered bonnets with narrow dashboards and raked steering to accept lightweight, sporting coachwork. The ‘London to Edinburgh’ cars were born, defining the ultimate sporting car for their period.
Privateer James Radley entered a London to Edinburgh Silver Ghost in the 1912 Alpine Rally, his car was poorly suited to the Alpine terrain and failed to ascend the Katschberg Pass in Austria, and so he retired. Embarrassed by this poor performance, and determined to succeed, Rolls-Royce prepared a team of cars to contest the 1913 Alpine Trial. Great care was taken to survey the route and the Alpine terrain, following which some important changes were introduced. These changes included a new four-speed gearbox offering improved gear ratios, a taller 22′” radiator and louvered bonnet to improve cooling, a larger fuel tank giving an increased range, plus larger wheels, and increased ground clearance. Cars which carried these new enhancements were known as ‘Colonial London to Edinburgh’ models or ‘Continentals’.
Famously, Rolls-Royce dominated the 1913 Alpine Trial event winning multiple prizes and awards. It was the success in this event that cemented the Silver Ghost as ‘the best car in the world’. In 1913 a Colonial London to Edinburgh also won the Spanish Grand Prix. It is these achievements which mark 1913 as a high point in the development and achievements of the Silver Ghost model.
Chassis cards confirm chassis number 2583 was on test on 20th August 1913, specified as a ‘Colonial London to Edinburgh’ chassis with D-rake steering and nickel fittings. The first owner, Mr. Lackmann Esq of Mayfair ordered the Silver Ghost with Torpedo Tourer coachwork by Connaught. However, with war pending, Mr. Lackmann made the car available to the British War Office for use by the armed forces. There are no records of what happened to 2583 during the war, but it is known that the car saw service in Berlin. Once the war was over, 2583 was auctioned by the War Ministry at Earl’s Court on the 12th November 1919 and purchased by a Doctor from Chester for £1,880.
By 1928, 2583 had been exported to Sydney where the new owner commissioned a local coachbuilder, Propert’s Body Works, to fit updated touring coachwork. Service records further indicate that during the 1930s/40s 2583’s coachwork was modified for use as a tow truck, then as a shooting brake, finally becoming a mourning coach for a funeral firm, carrying a late 20’s Cadillac body. In this form 2583’s most documented journey was in 1951 when it participated in a parade celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Federation of Australia’s Parliament.
By the mid-1960s, 2583 had been purchased by Faris Palfreyman, a renowned Canberra based collector who had amassed around 26 Silver Ghosts. Palfreyman had also acquired a large 1913 six-litre sporting Sunbeam carrying original coachwork by Peels of Brisbane, a large coachwork firm under the direction of Edward James Peel producing quality bodies. Interestingly Mr Palfreyman’s six-litre Sunbeam was delivered in Brisbane in the same month and year that 2583 had been on-test at Rolls-Royce in Derby. In 1966 Palfreyman transferred the Peels’ Sunbeam body onto 2583. When Mr. Palfreyman passed, 2583 was left to his grandson who sold it on to a Melbourne doctor during the 1990s.
In 2001 the current owner purchased 2583 and commissioned an extensive body-off restoration. Melbourne Ghost specialist Robert McDermott reconditioned the engine with high-compression alloy pistons, a new camshaft, and a new valve train. All other mechanical components were fully restored and a new set of 25-inch straight-sided rims were fitted with 35×5 tyres giving the same rolling diameter as the original 935×135 tyres that are no longer available. Most of the final chassis work was completed by Simon Elliott and Derby Works. During this restoration, the current owner travelled to examine chassis 2534 in California, and chassis 2354 in India, the winning car of the 1913 Spanish Grand Prix. He spent numerous hours photographing both chassis to ensure the detailing on 2583 was correct. When the restoration was completed in 2017, 2583 was entered into Motorclassica, the Australian International Concours d’Elegance. It went on to win Best in Show and the Vintage & Veteran class. A deserving achievement for a such a fantastic car.
The sporting prowess of 2583, combined with its stunning period coachwork and detailed restoration, make this a very exciting and special car.