The first 100mph Rolls-Royce, a 1911 ‘Experimental Speed Car’ known as 1701, will lead a cavalcade of 17 historic Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts from the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, on Sunday 11 September. The historic cars, dating from 1911 to 1922, will be supported by a new Rolls-Royce Ghost, hand built at the Home of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars at Goodwood, West Sussex. The event, run by the 20-Ghost Club, will re-enact the 1911 London to Edinburgh Top Gear Trial, which cemented the Rolls-Royce reputation for superlative quality, refinement and reliability.
The 1911 RAC-observed London to Edinburgh Trial was a major test for Edwardian cars. The Trial allowed Rolls-Royce to demonstrate the performance, flexibility and economy of the Silver Ghost, particularly when compared to its arch rival, the Napier. At the same time it broadened the appeal of the car to a younger and sportier clientele, without deterring the traditional aristocratic customer that was at that time the mainstay of Rolls-Royce production. The RAC observers ensured that only top gear was used, including pulling away from standstill, quite an achievement 100 years ago before motorways and metalled roads.
No other car at the time could match this Rolls-Royce feat, with 1701 driving from London to Edinburgh and back using top gear only and averaging fuel consumption of more than 24mpg. To prove that the original chassis had a normal back axle ratio and that the car had received no mechanical alteration, the car was then driven at Brooklands, achieving over 78mph. Later, when fitted with a ‘wind-cheating’ single-seat body, 1701 recorded a speed of 101mph over the flying half-mile at Brooklands driven by E.W. Hives, eventually destined to become Chairman of the Rolls-Royce company.
The 2011 re-enactment will recreate the original trial as faithfully as possible, including gear change gates being authentically sealed to show any use of intermediate gears. The event will start at 6.00am from the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall on Sunday 11 September 2011 and will follow as much of the original route along the Great North Road as possible, taking two days to get to Edinburgh. The return journey will end at the Home of Rolls-Royce at Goodwood in West Sussex on Thursday 15 September, where the drivers will be rewarded with a Grand Afternoon Tea. On Saturday 17 September at 7.30am, the cars will line up at the Goodwood Motor Circuit Grid and then join the Revival Opening Parade lap.
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said, “Rolls-Royce has always stood for the very best engineering combined with refinement, luxury and, of course, hand craftsmanship and human endeavour. These qualities are the same today as they were 100 years ago. We are delighted to support our friends at the 20-Ghost Club in this remarkably authentic re-enactment and look forward to welcoming them to the Home of Rolls-Royce at Goodwood after a successful Centenary Trial.”