Monday, June 1, 2015

The ‘lost’ Rolls-Royce cars of Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla

Maharaja Vijaysinhji already owned three Rolls-Royce cars in India, two Silver Ghosts and a 20 hp (Baby Rolls) in India; and a Phantom I at his estate ‘The Manor’ in Old Windsor, UK.

The first Rolls-Royce Phantom II bought by the Maharaja was in 1930, bearing chassis no. 154 XJ. It carried Windovers enclosed limousine coachwork, commission no. J7940, design no. 5690.

It was recently discovered by the Rolls-Royce expert John Fasal that Maharaja Vijaysinhji also owned Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 1924, chassis no. 103 EU, engine no. U 195, with Maythorn tourer coachwork. It originally belonged to J.A.Venn in Cambridge, from whom the Maharaja bought it in February 1933.

It was in 1934 that Maharaja Vijaysinhji won the coveted Epsom Derby, and that is what, I presume, led him to buy two Rolls-Royce cars that year. One of them was a Phantom II, chassis no. 181 RY, which is now in the Udaipur royal cars collection. The other one was a 20/25 hp, chassis no. GMD 73, Windovers tourer coachwork design no. 61920. This car was specified to have louvres to the bonnet and continuing to the dash (bulkhead) sloping at 11 degrees. It was last known to be in Ludhiana.

There is now neither a photograph nor any trace of the 154 XJ, 103 EU and the GMD 73. There are fleeting glimpses in a film of the black 154 XJ, but that is all. These three would then be the ‘lost’ Rolls-Royce cars of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla. He bought several more later, which we shall speak about soon.

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