2358 La Spanish Princesa
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost chassis number 2358 started life as the darling of a Spanish nobleman The Marquis de Arguelles and a good friend of Don Carlos de Salamanca who was also a notable pioneering motorist and racing driver and was also the agent for Rolls-Royce Ltd in Spain.
The Marquis de Arguelles ordered chassis number 2358 in the very early months of 1913, he ordered a car of the Colonial London to Edinburgh type, which was a car of higher performance and a higher ground clearance designed to suit rougher conditions. He instructed Barkers Ltd the noted London Coachbuilder to build him a fully enclosed cabriolet body of sporting appearance and the car was to be finished in two tone blue with a black patent leather hood. There was a large list of extras supplied with the car, horns, lamps etc all to be finished in nickel silver, no expense was to be spared and indeed even the brass and copper work round the engine including the carburettor and manifold were to be nickel silver plated which is not unique on pre war ghosts but very, very rare.
1913 was a very busy commercial and sporting year for Rolls-Royce Ltd and their efforts on the continent included a win in the first ever Spanish Gran Prix which was ran on the 13th June 1913 .Don Carlos raced in chassis number 2354 which was built to a very similar specification to 2358. This win huge created huge prestige among the Royal households of Europe, just a few weeks later on the 22nd June 1913 James Radley and his car 2260E and the three car Alpine team sent out from Derby, chassis number numbers 2260,2224 and 2212, consequently the prestigious Alpine trials had secured the reputation of the 50hp Rolls-Royce for all time.
2358 stayed in the ownership of The Marquis de Arguelles for many years and at some stage possibly after World War II, it was dismantled .In 1971 the chassis complete with its engine was acquired by a motoring enthusiast and over the next thirty years or so, he attempted the restoration.
I first heard about this car which was for sale after the death of its owner and I travelled down to Barcelona were the car could be viewed.
The elderly Spanish car restorer had been one could say less than sympathetic to the authenticity of what once had been a magnificent example of Rolls-Royce Ltd work. He had fitted the car up with a Phantom I front axle and had made a vague attempt at creating a four-wheel brake system, which on examination had never any intentions of working. The one good piece he had acquired was a fine open touring body by Henri Chaprone of Paris, however this body had been built in the early 1920s and was not appropriate for a 1913 Ghost.
A deal was struck and I had the car transported back to our workshops.
London to Edinburgh cars are rare and Colonial models rarer still, so a massive amount of research was required to ascertain the correct specification as led down by the company in 1913.
Exhaustive research is crucial to the effective restoration of an important motorcar, particularly one which had a very limited number produced. One of the very early lessons I learned when I first got involved in restoration work is to carry out effective research and don’t take anything for granted. Many of these cars had component changes and modifications virtually from chassis to chassis and we as restorers of the finest motor car in the world are indeed blessed that one hundred years ago Rolls-Royce kept impeccable records which are still available to us, along with in many cases the original blue prints which were used by the craftsmen in Roll-Royce to construct the car originally.
About midway through the restoration of this car it was acquired by Mr James and Mrs Francis Wilson of Ballinderry, Northern Ireland, who are enthusiastic vintage motorists and the car was finished to their specification. They opted for a very appropriate open touring body to be finished in a very subtle dark grey with black leather upholstery , after road testing by ourselves the car has covered many thousands of trouble free miles , in the capable hands of Mr Wilson and will give a lifetime of pleasure ahead.