Rolls-Royce 20/25 Balloon Car Sports Roadster
Although Charles Stewart Rolls is indelibly linked with the motor car company that bears his name, he was also a pioneering aviator and balloonist who made over 130 ascents. As a balloon’s destination was unpredictable, hauling the contraption back home was a considerable challenge – a problem that C.S. Rolls solved by outfitting a Silver Ghost chassis with a special two-seat body capable of carrying a balloon on a rear platform. The car could thereby follow the balloon’s path from the ground and retrieve the balloonist and his balloon with ease. The process, in fact, hasn’t changed much in over a century.
C.S. Rolls’ original Balloon Car was destroyed many years ago, but it was Mr. Zach’s boyhood dream to recreate it. The project began with an existing Pebble Beach award-winning Silver Ghost balloon car replica that had been purchased at auction in 1999 before its new owner separated the chassis from the body in order to replace it with four-seat coachwork. Mr. Zach later acquired the balloon car body, complete with everything from the fenders to the windscreen and, with the help of colleagues and several specialist firms, married it with chassis GPG 73, a 1935 Sports Saloon that he purchased from Mr. David Hemingway of England. The comprehensive build took over 2,000 hours and included everything from the fabrication of body panels from original photos to the fitment of brass trim and carbide lamps. The paintwork was redone in 2008. The engine does not currently run but can be recommissioned.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in May of 2010 at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.
20/25 hp, 3,669 cc overhead-valve inline six-cylinder engine, manual gearbox, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted brakes.
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Tom Wood