A 1911 “Experimental Speed Car” known as the 1701, which was the first 100mph Rolls-Royce, will lead a parade of 17 historic Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts on September 11, Sunday, from the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall. The historic vehicles, which date from 1911 to 1922, will be supported by a new Rolls-Royce Ghost, hand-made at the Home of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars at Goodwood, West Sussex.
The event is organized by the 20-Ghost Club and will re-enact the 1911 London to Edinburgh Top Gear Trial, which propped up the reputation of Rolls-Royce for reliability, superlative quality and refinement.
For the Edwardian cars, the 1911 RAC-observed London to Edinburgh Trial was a major test. The Trial permitted Rolls-Royce to demonstrate the economy, performance and flexibility of the Silver Ghost, specifically when it is compared to arch rival the Napier.
Meanwhile, it expanded the vehicle’s appeal to a sportier and younger clientele, without preventing the traditional upper-class customers that was Rolls-Royce production’s mainstay at that time.
The RAC observers ensured that only the highest quality gear was utilized, including pulling away from standstill, which was quite an achievement 100 years ago prior to metalled roads and motorways. There was no other vehicle at that time that could rival Rolls-Royce achievement, with 1701 driving from London to Edinburgh and back using top gear only and with fuel consumption average of more than 24mpg.
To attest that the original chassis had a normal back axle ratio and that the vehicle had obtained no mechanical alteration, the unit was then driven at Brooklands in which it achieved more than 78mph. Later on when the 1701 was fitted with a ‘wind-cheating’ single-seat body, a speed of 101mph over the flying half-mile at Brooklands driven by E.W. Hives was recorded. Hives was eventually fated to be Chairman of the Rolls-Royce company.