Vintage & Prestige

1923 Maharajah of Gwalior Rolls-Royce Barker All Weather Cabriolet

£135,000 | Location: United Kingdom

The best of the best. This car was ordered new by The Maharajah of Gwalior and was shipped to India in 1923. In 1928 he sold it to the Nizam of Hyderabad, reputedly the richest man in India at the time. It was fitted when new with the current coachwork by Barker (Body Number 5055) taking the form of a very versatile all weather cabriolet: about the most expensive coachwork available at that time. Being an early car it has the 3 speed centre change gear box & rounded radiator edges.

The car comes to us with a massive history & impeccable provenance, including a hand written letter from the son of The Nizam of Hyderabad recounting his memories of taking the car tiger hunting back in the day & also driving it along the edges of rice paddies whilst hunting snipe & waterfowl.

The exterior paint is Dark Green over Black & in fine order. To the interior is dark green lightly patinated leather with the roof being lined in West of England cloth. The wind up division has angled windows & makes the front cabin quite snug when driving with the roof down.

From the history file we glean the following:

THE PRINCE'S "BABY ROLLS'

71A6 is an early 1923 2Ohp with original Barker cabriolet body. The first owner was the Maharajah of Gwalior and the car remained in India until 1967. In 1928 the car was given to H.H. of Gwalior when she bore a son: Prince Nawab Habeeb Jung the Ameer of Paigah of Hyderabad'. The prince and his family affectionately referred to the car as our Baby Rolls as it stood alongside a 1925 Silver Ghost seven-seater tourer, later sold to Bill Meredith Owens and in which Her Majesty the Queen rode during Jubilee year.

The above information was gleaned from a letter the Prince sent to a previous owner and I quote:

"l've taken this car into the jungle on Tiger Shoots and chased buck across country. She went through paddy fields on snipe and duck shoots."

I purchased the car in London in July 1980. The run home to Wiltshire down the M4 proved that perhaps the brakes needed  attention, although a new MOT came with the car! Temporary adjustments were made until the brake system was completely overhauled during the 1980/81 winter.

Although basically sound, both mechanically and bodily, much work was needed to restore the car to her former glory. Front wheel hubs, gearbox and clutch have received attention and the car runs much smoother with taut spokes.

When purchased, neither the windows~ the split windscreen or the three part
centre division operated correctly. After attention to window mechanisms and with new safety glass all round, another job was done. Door hanging has been adjusted and new hood frames made.

A visit to Cirencester Park in pouring rain, with the afternoon spent catching drips (torrents in bowls, etc), quickly convinced me that new hooding might ease frustration! Resplendent with new hood and most brightwork re-nickeled, 71A6 now looks very elegant.

The radiused front edge to the radiator and the scuttle mounted Stephen Grebe! tiger tights are unusual, likewise the silver faced instruments with nickel bezels as per original order card.

Most mechanical and bodywork has been carried out by Ashton Keynes Vintage Restorations, and Tony Cobum of Blunsdon, Swindon, was responsible for trimming; first class workmanship as usual.

More recently the engine has had a full rebulid with new pistons, a reground crank & new big & little ends along with a new aluminium cylinder head.  A new clutch has just been fitted.  As a result the car runs beautifully in perfect silence with oil pressure at 28 PSI even when hot & the temperature gauge never reading over 80 degrees even on long climbs in hot weather. The car runs readily at 45 to 50MPH up hill & down dale.

This is a rare opportunity to purchase what is possibly the best 20HP we have had the pleasure to handle with the added bonus of being a Maharajas car that escaped from India prior to the ban on exports coming into place from that country. It abounds with period details & is in superb order needing nothing having been supplied to the current onwer by the brothers P & A Wood & having covered a scant few miles since then.

There are huge & meticulous bills from Ashton Keynes restoration for a massive refurbishment of the car undertaken upon its return to these shores from India in the 1980's. An interesting Magazine article about Princess Ezra, The Nizam's descendent, comes with the car, detailing her restoration of the Nizam's Chowmahalla Palace & having to deal with the Nizam's 42 elderly concubines who were still in residence when she took over the running of the palace.

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