The world's oldest known surviving Rolls-Royce - a 1904 10hp two-seater bearing the licence plate U 44 - sold yesterday at auction in London to a private British collector for a cool £3.5m.
The vehicle, described by auctioneers Bonhams as the "1904 Paris Salon and 1905 Olympia Motor Exhibition Display Car", was designed as transportation for doctors, and was the fourth example of the legendary marque to be built. It is believed to be one of only four of the type to survive.
Since purring its way out of Rolls-Royce's Manchester factory, three of the centagenarian car's six owners were indeed doctors, until it was acquired by a private collector. According to the Telegraph, it had in recent years successfully completed the famous London to Brighton run.
Tim Schofield, Bonhams' head of UK motor sales, told Reuters: "It is in perfect condition after loving restoration in the 1950s. [It] is a runner. The purchaser could get in and drive it away.
"You would just need to tickle the carburettor, make sure the battery has a bit of life in it, remove the sleeve from the starter handle and give it a couple of turns."
The new owner will doubtless hope this is true, since he's stumped not only the most cash ever paid for pre-1905 car but also the most for a Roller.
For those with more modest pockets, Bonhams also auctioned off a couple of Rolls-Royce mascots for £115, a "Rolls-Royce 20-25hp deluxe sales brochure, October 1935" for £161, and the company's "20hp instruction book, April 1927" for a bargain £173. ®