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the Month - June 98
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, 1913, Chassis No. 2260E,
Portholme Tourer to a Radley/Morrison design
During the 1993 re-enactment of the 1913 k.u.k. Österreichische Alpenfahrt Radley's
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, by then in the custody of J. Kennedy met another Alpenfahrt
veteran: H. Tratnik brought his Praga Grand, built by Praga in Prague/Bohemia and bodied
by Armbruster of Vienna.
A vast area of the Alpes was part of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire, which during the time before the Great War did include Northern Italy and on the
Balkans Slovenia and Croatia. The Alpine Trials, K.u.K. Österreichische Alpenfahrt,
demanded to cross the steepest Alpine passes, no smooth macadam in those days, but really
rough roads and all in all Alpine Trials were among the toughest tests for motor cars. In
the 1912 Alpine Tirals a privately entered Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost suffered from the
driver stalling his engine on the 1 in gradient of the Katschberg-Pass and being penalized
with points for this mishap. Rolls-Royce decided to enter a works team the following year
- and these Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost almost dominated the 1913 Alpine Trials. The cars'
superioty was clearly demonstrated by the most prestigious price H.I.H. The Archduke
Leopold Salvator Cup being awarded - well deseved after the cars had for example on the
tour from Innsbruck passed by the car of the official timekeepers (which had started more
than an hour previously!) and then waited patiently on the summit of the next pass for the
official timekeepers to stamp the boardbooks of the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost motor cars'
petrol tap to switch from the rear-monted petrol tank to the additional long-range extra
tank was accessible outside the frame girder.
poor chap from the year 1912, James Radley, without hesitation had entered the 1913 Alpine
Trials again and with a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost of course. He did employ this car which
is shown here. The body was by Portholme to a Radley-Morrison design. Like the cars from
the official works team his Silver Ghost sported specially tuned 'Colonial Springs' and a
long range petrol tank was fitted. The rules of the competition did ask for sealed bonnets
and radiators. F. Henry Royce, the company's chief engineer, always had a keen eye on
solution found by other leading engineers. Hence on the gearbox of 'Alpine Eagle'
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost modles a plate was to be found "The interlocking device on
this gearbox... is under license from Daimler Motoren-Gesellschaft,
Stuttgart-Untertürkheim". Similarly the column-shaped steam-separator atop the
filling orifice was an invention copied from those FIAT cars, which had taken part in the
1912 Alpine Trials. F. Henry Royce's comment as regards Radley's frivolous decision to
replace the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot by his personal mascot - a nude "Speed
Nymph" - is not known. In the Alpine re-enactment of 1993 this magnificent
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost took part with John Kennedy behind the steering wheel and after
80 years the car finished without a single problem. And again radiator and bonnet had been
instrumentation included a steering wheel column mounted level-gauge and an altimeter.
Mixture and ignition could be adjusted exactly to different altitudes.
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Mounted on the running board are boxes for tools and battery, mounted atop the radiator is
a column shaped steam separator. James Radley did prefer his personal mascot "Speed
Nymph" (see above).