Formerly the property of John Allan Rolls, Lord Llangattock of The Hendre, Monmouthshire,1902 Panhard-Levassor Type B1 12hp Four-cylinder Rear-entrance Tonneau  Chassis no. 2853 Engine no. 2853
Lot 208
1902 Panhard-Levassor Type B1 12hp Four-cylinder Rear-entrance Tonneau
Coachwork by Carrosserie Labourdette of Paris Registration no. AX 57
Sold for £583,900 (US$ 968,247) inc. premium
Lot Details
Formerly the property of John Allan Rolls, Lord Llangattock of The Hendre, Monmouthshire
1902 Panhard-Levassor Type B1 12hp Four-cylinder Rear-entrance Tonneau
Coachwork by Carrosserie Labourdette of Paris

Registration no. AX 57
Chassis no. 2853
Engine no. 2853


  • There are few surviving cars with direct connections to three motoring giants who made such an indelible mark on British motoring history, and a car from a manufacturer of such undisputed stature as Panhard-Levassor. This Panhard-Levassor – described in Panhard records as a 12hp model - was invoiced to pioneer motorist Harvey du Cros, racing driver, entrepreneur and Panhard-Levassor Agent in London. History does not record whether du Cros retailed the car to a customer or traded it to a fellow dealer, however it was certainly owned in January 1904 by The Right Hon. Lord Llangattock of The Hendre, Monmouth, father and principal financial backer of his entrepreneurial, gentleman adventurer, racing driver and balloonist son, Charles Stewart Rolls.

    Factory Sales Ledgers show that this car, No. 2853, was invoiced to Harvey du Cros of 14 Regent Street, London, on 8th January 1902, suggesting that the car was surely built in 1901. This dating is arguably borne out by the fact that Car no. 2852 had been invoiced to du Cros on 12th June 1901 and Car no. 2854 had been invoiced to a Panhard-Levassor customer in Berlin in March 1901. It appears probable that Rolls bought the car from Harvey du Cros and sold it new to his father, the fabulously wealthy property magnate, Lord Llangattock of The Hendre. Rolls had commenced his car sales and service depot at Lillie Hall, London in January 1902 - the time when this car was invoiced to du Cros – and it is inconceivable that Llangattock would buy his new motor car from any other than his own son.

    Monmouthshire motor records show that AX 57, a 12hp Panhard-Levassor fitted with 'tonneau body and painted dark green (with detachable canopy)' was registered under The Motor Car Acts to Lord Llangattock on 1st January 1904, as was a 20hp Panhard-Levassor with 'wagonette body, painted dark green, (with detachable omnibus top)' and registered AX 59. AX 58 was a Wolseley wagonette which also shared the motor house at The Hendre. The Hon. John Maclean Rolls, eldest son of Lord Llangattock and also resident at The Hendre, registered his 10hp Panhard-Levassor, AX 60, too under the new Act. These cars are illustrated here in the impressive Rolls motor house.

    History does not record how long AX 57 graced the motor house at The Hendre but does relate that the car passed subsequently - (it has been suggested directly from The Hendre) - to Sir John Prestige who was later to become High Sheriff of Kent. Sir John had worked as a motor car engineering apprentice in Paris at the turn of the century and would almost certainly have known C.S.Rolls at that time. That must surely have influenced his acquisition in 1930 of the 1905 Rolls-Royce 10hp twin-cylinder car which is thought to have been Rolls's personal car in 1906 before being sold to Paris Singer. This Rolls-Royce was Sir John's first veteran car and in August 1931 he took it down to Sussex to demonstrate it to the ailing Sir Henry Royce. That same year Land Speed Record ace Malcolm Campbell drove the Rolls-Royce car, (then believed to be of 1904 manufacture), on the London to Brighton Run. In 1931 Prestige acquired his second veteran car, the Llangattock Panhard, AX 57, registering it in his name in September 1931 with a view to driving it to Brighton that year. Remarkably Prestige's motor house then contained the 1905 Rolls-Royce of C.S.Rolls himself and alongside it the Panhard-Levassor of Lord Llangattock. In 1935 both cars left the Prestige motor house, the 1905 Rolls-Royce being given to Rolls-Royce Ltd., and later destined to be given in turn to The Science Museum in London, while the Panhard-Levassor, this car, was sold for £35 to Prestige's friend, Henry Roy Pratt Boorman, Chairman and later President of The Kent Messenger Group of newspapers, sponsors of The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run from 2006 to 2008. It has remained in the Boorman family from 1935 until today.

    AX 57 was officially dated by The Veteran Car Club of Great Britain in October 1947 and awarded Certificate no. 35, quoting bore and stroke of 90x130mm and describing the car as 16hp - this model was marketed as such in England. It completed The London to Brighton Run in 1949 and since 1959 has been a regular competitor in that event, achieving a quick and complete run and collecting the coveted finisher's medal on nearly all occasions.

    Today AX 57, a powerful Type B1 four-cylinder car, is presented in tidy but not concours condition. The coachwork is finished in green livery, as selected by Llangattock, with red wheels. The Labourdette tonneau body is trimmed in buttoned red leather. Driving equipment includes Lucas King of the Road Projector headlamps, an Oldfield Dependence rear lamp, Elliott Brothers 0-50mph speed and mileage recorder and a Stepney wheel. The coachwork, which retains the brackets for the original canopy, carries Carrosserie Labourdette maker's plate, the brass step plates bear the name Rolls & Co. while the dashboard bears a C.S.Rolls & Co. plaque with the words Automobile No. 193 – Rolls's Works Number. Rally plaques show that this car participated in the Medway Towns Veteran Car Rally in 1932 and in 1935 took part in the Cheltenham Carnival and certainly in the present family ownership participated in the Kent Messenger Veteran Car Run that year.

    In recent years the car has been the subject of sympathetic restoration which has included replacement of the chassis ash frame, which had deteriorated with age, and the engine has been the subject of a major overhaul. The engine work included re-sleeving the bores to original, crankshaft reground and all new bearings, new gudgeon pins, new valves and valve springs and the camshaft was re-bushed. The original pistons were retained. The gearbox was inspected and found to be in generally good order and the drive shafts were re-aligned. It should be noted that the engine governor mechanism is currently not functioning. The original coachwork was generally strengthened and made taut and the bulkhead, which had deteriorated beyond repair, was meticulously replicated. Other work included the manufacture of two new wheels and new wheel bearings and oil seals fitted.

    AX 57 comes with a history file and a copy of the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain Dating Certificate No.35, copies of the original build records and the invoice to du Cros dated 1902, an old style continuation log book as well as a current British registration document.

    Now running well, this historic Panhard-Levassor with truly outstanding provenance is presented ready for the Brighton Road, thus maintaining its revered status and prominence in the annals of the British motoring history. Entry no. 160 and start time of 7.20am.
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  1. Sholto Gilbertson
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