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Car of the Month

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Silver Ghost Book

Strive for Perfection



Car of the Month - August 2018
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, 1913, #2224
Torpedo by Holmes


Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, #2212 and #2224, both Torpedos by Holmes (identical coachwork), at the start of 1913 ‘k.u.k. Oesterreichische Alpenfahrt ‘; #2212 driven by Sinclair with mechanic Parsons, #2224 driven by Hives with mechanic Hancock.

In this report no colour illustrations, no photos of good quality– and no excuse. Except that the information had never been published in this form hitherto:

Baron Friedrich Mayr von Melnhof (born 1893, died 1959) bought two Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost motor cars, both produced in 1913. Such were used well into the 1920s by the very wealthy Austrian Aristocrat (who had inherited an immense fortune). Particularly interesting is the fact these Silver Ghosts, i.e. #2224 and #2260, were from the 'Factory Team Cars' entered by Rolls-Royce in the '1913 k.u.k Oesterreichische Alpenfahrt'. The team cars did perform remarkably well and were awarded prestigious trophies. So it was a well-considered decision by young baron, who had come of age, to acquire two cars from Rolls-Royce's Depot at Tegethoffstr., Vienna, Austria, after they had earned laurels in the '1913 k.u.k. Oesterreichische Alpenfahrt'.

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, #2224, Torpedo by Holmes, with Hives at the wheel and mechanic Hancock in the passenger's sear at Conduit Street, London, en route to Vienna.

Inter alia photos of the cars did appear in illustrated reports in Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Vienna, issues from 1st August 1923 and from 1st October 1923. Two cars shown are #2224 with Holmes Torpedo coachwork and #2260 Double Phaeton/Tourer by Mulliners of Birmingham. The latter erroneously in literature had been stated as also having coachwork by Holmes. The 1923 photos show no spare wheel(s) fitted to the side(s) and wings almost for certain had been altered/substituted etc. The bulge underneath centre of the running board indicates the spare wheel(s) usually have been carried and perhaps was/were only taken off e.g. for weight reasons during competition. That could be stated for the car shown in the photo hereunder:

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, #2224, Torpedo by Holmes. Obviously the 1913 body by Holmes had remained unchanged though wings had been significantly modified (or were new?) and a box had been added to right side running board, an electric Bosch horn fixed above that and large sized electric headlamps had substituted the 1913 Azetylen-powered units. The registration D 77 denotes this car in 1923 was registered in the Borough of Salzburg, Austria.

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Obviously the main body is still that from 1913. Significant modifications are fairly high mounted electrical headlamps and a box (battery-box?) on the right-side running board just aft of right side front wing's rear edge. Above the box an electric Bosch-horn had been fitted. Almost certainly this is #2224. Rolls-Royce had ordered bodies in 1913 from different coachbuilders though to the same design, i.e. in the form of a lightweight Torpedo. Hence the cars in outward appearance were almost indistinguishable. A glimpse of a plated air vent on the scuttle in line with the bonnet’s louvres are the hint this is #2224 (because #2260, the other 1913 Silver Ghost of Baron Mayr von Melnhof with coachwork by Mulliners of Birmingham to similar design did sport an air vent on the scuttle, too – but that was at a lower position and painted, not plated).

Factory Documents as regards #2224 are proof the car had been subject to modifications from early onward in its life. In 1914 the manufacturer sent their mechanic Hancock to support James Radley's single–handed effort in the ‘1914 k.u.k. Oesterreichische Alpenfahrt’ and during that visit to Vienna he also did work on Baron Mayr-Melnhof's cars. He firstly fitted on #2224 a castellated nut to the universal joint just before the trial and then returned on 28th July 1914 to fit a complete new cross member with stays. Hancock made a rapid departure because on 28th July Austria declared war on Serbia. He returned to the UK and thus he was more lucky than the factory's other mechanic who worked at their Vienna Depot – and certainly had a hand in service of Baron Mayr-Melnhof’s Rolls-Royce cars. That has been Daniel John Mackintosh (1889-1950) who was imprisoned in Austria at the outbreak of war after on 4th August the Germans had invaded Belgium bringing Britain into the conflict. It took much time and was quite an effort to get J D Mackintosh out.

In 1913 the elder brother Baron Franz Mayr von Melnhof, too, did opt on 1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost #1844 (pre-owned) whose original Tourer by Lawton he commanded to become substituted in 1914 with a Cabriolet built by Reichelt, Vienna. In 1924 he added a further Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost to his garages when he acquired #2610 from Doro Stein, Vienna. That car by then was eleven years old, having left the factory in 1913, too.

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost