[ 1920 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost rebodied by Labourdette ] ::
Another fascinating photograph from our
regular contributor Cicos Florin in Constanta by the Black Sea (Romania)
who is interested in old cars of Romania. Do we know what
this is? Could it be a Rolls Royce? --
Another interesting piece of detective work
by our experts. The car is big and luxurious and indeed looks like a
Rolls Royce but which one. Via Rolls experts Tom Clark, and Andre Blaize
from France, advised c1920 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost rebodied
by Labourdette Paris in 1930.
Read more about the subject below the photos!
Original thoughts were indeed that it was RR and a Phantom 1
from the mudguards. Many of the photos received from Cikos Florin show
American cars so it would not be impossible for this to be a US made
Rolls Royce. This is a Tourer, very high lights with U brackets and
with a high tie badge bar. Lights do not seem US pattern. Bulky
We contacted our Rolls Expert Tom Clark who advised he was pretty sure
it is a modernised 1920s Silver Ghost. Only single spring shackles at
the front so no front wheel brakes. The petrol tank is Ghost as well.
Radiator shutters added. The tourer coachwork has a plated trim all
around the body, almost unknown in England so he thought this was a
Tom Clark contacted his fellow Rolls expert in France Andre Blaize who
came back with a positive answer. Andre wondered if the car is 1920
Silver Ghost 123BW which was rebodied by Labourdette in Paris for
" G. Grigorescu of Romania ". Tom commented that anyone going
to Labourdette for a rebody is going to get something special and indeed
it is a "hole in one" by Andre; a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost
Chassis 123BW shown below.
I in the meantime got back in touch with our enquirer in Romania and he replied that on
the back of one of the photo is a legend suggesting car involved a
" Elena Negroponte ". The number-plate is from the Bacau area of Romania (Bc).
I then looked up Elena Negroponte which linked her to a Romanian Army
General Theophilus Eremia Grigorescu, a bit of aWW1 Romanian war hero. I
wondered if " G Grigorescu " was General Grigorescu? Only
problem is that General Grigorescu died in 1919. Back of photo has dates
of 1934. Further research suggests that the General was the owner of a
massive vineyard in Ivesti. Back of the photo has also
Grozesti Fabrica, so presumably they also had a 'factory'. Grozesti is nearby, on the
boarder with Moldova. The Rolls was registered in Bacau which is in the
same general area as Investi and Grozesti. Bacau is in the historical
region of Moldavia.
A delve into Romanian genealogical records established that the General had a
son: Dan Ulysses (Eremia) Negroponte-Grigorescu; Birth 20
Nov 1917, Barlad, Romania. Father: General Eremia (Gregory)
Grigorescu; (1863-1919) Mother: Eleni (Ulysses) Negroponte (1881-1953).
Died: 19 Feb 1990, Aubervilliers, France, aged 72. So this suggests that the General was known as Gregory, hence the "
G " .
Gregory Grigorescu was a Romanian Army artillery
general, who he was minister of war in WW1, and his exploits resulted in him being
a Romanian 'national hero'. Quite a lot is written about him on various
websites. He was married twice. He divorced his first wife in 1918
and married Elena Negroponte. His son Ulysses, was born 1917 while
the General was still married to his first wife. Ulysses was borne
1917, so was only three years old when car was made, and still only 13
when rebodied by Labourdette.
The General was also linked with the Investi Vineyard which is one of
the oldest vineyards of Romania, having been first recorded in
1448. Subsequently landowner Hector Economos set up a 200-ha grapevine plantation
at Ivesti in 1914-1916. In the 1920s, the winery and the vineyard were
taken over by the family of General Eremia Grigorescu; this would have
been post the General's death and presumably organised by
Elena Grigorescu. In 1949, the
estate was nationalised, becoming a communist state agricultural
enterprise (IAS). After 1990, part of the estate returned to the
general's daughter-in-law Ariadna Grigorescu Negroponte. The wines of
Neagra and Feteasca Alba, have over the years won
numerous awards in national and international wine competitions.
Andre Blaize the French Rolls Royce expert has subsequently established
that The Rolls Royce was initially supplied to the Crown Prince George
of Greece (1890-1947) in Oct 1920 !!
The history of the Greek monarchy is quite complicated but Crown Prince
George's grandfather was assassinated in 1913 and was succeeded by
George's father Constantine I. Constantine was deposed in a coup in 1917
and went into exile in Switzerland. He was replaced as King by his other
son Alexander who reigned until 1920 when he died from septicemia
following a monkey bite. He had tried to separate a fight between his
dog and a barbary macaque in the royal menagerie. The Greek authorities
offered the throne to the younger brother Peter but he refused it.
Eventually a referendum returned Constantine I to the throne in December
1920. This was not to last and he abdicated again in 1922.
He was succeeded by eldest son Crown Prince George who had risen to
senior ranks of the army. During this time he married his second cousin,
on 27 February 1921 in Bucharest, Princess Elisabeth of Romania,
daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie of Romania. When the Turks
defeated Greece at the Battle of Dumlupinar, the military forced the
abdication of Constantine I, and George succeeded to the Greek throne on
27 September 1922. Following a failed royalist coup in October 1923, the
Revolutionary Committee asked George to depart Greece. Although he
refused to abdicate, he left on 19 December 1923 for exile in his wife's
home nation of Romania. When a republic was proclaimed on 25 March 1924,
he was officially deposed, stripped of his Greek nationality and his
property confiscated. His wife stayed in Bucharest whilst he spent more
and more time abroad visiting Britain. In 1932 he left Romania
permanently and moved to Britain. He became divorced in 1935.
Andre Blaize, the French Rolls Royce expert speculates, " that
if Crown Prince George was married in February 1921,
perhaps the Rolls Royce was a wedding present or a wedding treat!
In late 1923 he went into exile to Romania, which could explain how
General Grigorescu acquired the car, and later to Britain. Andre's information
indicates that the car was 'used in 1929 by Brown's Hotel in London'.
Did King George live at Brown's and own the car throughout? Hotels
rarely used tourers as courtesy transport. The Labourdette photo is
dated January 1930. "
Looking at the dates is seems probable that George II likely owned
the Rolls Royce until about 1930, some time after he went into exile in
Romania. It seems likely he had it with him on his visits to Britain.
It is documented that he was living at Brown's Hotel in London hence the
mention of the car being in London at Brown's. George retuned to Greece
in 1935 when the populous were pro-monarchy again. His second reign was
1935 to 1947. World War II added further complications to the monarchy
but George had returned again to Greece in 1947 to find the Royal Palace
looted, the woods at Tatoi chopped down for fuel and corpses buried in
shallow graves outside. His country faced economic collapse and
political instability. He died very soon after of arteriosclerosis on
the 1st of April 1947, many of his subjects thinking the announcement
was an April Fool's joke. He is said to have remarked before his death
that "The most important tool for a King of Greece is a suitcase!
Not all the dates of the car's history are known or tie in but it seems
evident that George owned the car from new in 1920 to just after it was
noted to being in London in 1929. It is likely he sold it to Elena
Negroponte Grigorescu on his return to Romania. Negroponte name is of Greek origin and it is believed
that family background included Greek heritage. As the Labourgette body
was put on in 1930, and as the vehicle was supplied to the Grigorescu family, it is
probable that Elena was responsible for purchasing the car and having it
rebuilt in 1930. We know from the back of the photographs (top) that the
car was in use in 1934.
Andre Blaize, the French Rolls Royce expert advises that the car has not
been heard of since. It has never resurfaced. Romania became a communist
state in 1947. Perhaps it was still at the Grigorescu vineyard in
Investi in 1949 when the
estate was nationalized and became a communist state agricultural
enterprise. Quite possible it was confiscated as decadent, and
Sometimes quite a lot of information can be unearthed
as a result of receiving a single photo!!