Rolls-Royce ambulance goes under the hammer at Bonhams

| 1 Jul 2013

A 1913 Rolls-Royce 45/50hp that doubled as a mobile dental surgery during WW1 is expected to make £600-800,000 at Bonhams on 12 July.

Being sold at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Silver Ghost London-to-Edinburgh Tourer was bought for £1016 by a wealthy Englishman who then sold it to Auguste Charles Valadier in 1915.

A well-heeled French-American living in Paris, Valadier helped pioneer maxillofacial re-constructive surgery (on the head, neck and face) for servicemen injured during The Great War.

He offered his and his Royce’s services to the British Red Cross at the outbreak of war in 2014 and by 1916 was stationed at Boulogne, the car by then incorporating a dentist’s chair in the rear.

Serving throughout the conflict, Valadier was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour – France’s most celebrated award – in 1919 and knighted in 1921, after being granted British citizenship a year earlier.

Having retired from frontline duty, the Rolls was returned to its limousine coachwork and, under new ownership, served as a breakdown truck, complete with hoist.

By 1963 the car was returned to the road wearing its current tourer body and by ’65 had been bought by the vendor, who rallied it extensively both at home and abroad over a 25-year period.

Christened the London-to-Edinburgh model, its specification matches the legendry machine used by Ernest W Hives when he travelled between the English and Scottish capital cities in 1911.

The car comes complete with an extensive history file including a copy of the army record of Auguste Charles Valadier.

The sale, which we previewed earlier, will also feature the ex-Juan Manuel Fangio 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 and John Lennon’s old 1965 Ferrari 330GT 2+2.

Other lots of interest include a 1960 Cadillac Series 75 that was once owned by President Tito of Yugoslavia (£50-85,000), while slightly more affordable classics can be found in the form of a 1963 Porsche 356B (£30-50,000) and a 1969 ‘General Lee’ Dodge Charger (£25-30,000).

View the full lot list on Bonhams’ website.