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Preview: Bonhams classic car auction, Goodwood, 12 July

Published 28 June 2013

A Rolls-Royce used as a mobile dental surgery during WW1 will join the lot list at this year’s Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed auction on Friday 12 July.

The 1913 Rolls-Royce 45/50hp Silver Ghost London-to-Edinburgh Tourer (estimate £600,000-800,000) was bought by a wealthy Englishman for £1016 (approximately £100,000 in today’s money) in September 1913, before passing to its second owner Auguste Charles Valadier in October 1915. A wealthy French-American living in Paris, Valadier would become instrumental in pioneering the development of maxillofacial re-constructive surgery to treat service personnel injured during The Great War.

On the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 Valadier had been keen to help the war effort in some way. He volunteered his services to the British Red Cross Society in Paris, who accepted him for duty in October that year. Valadier established the first unit dedicated to the treatment of facial injuries, which helped facilitate the later progress of plastic surgery for use in facial reconstruction.
 
By the end of 1916 he was stationed at Boulogne and the Rolls-Royce – then bodied in limousine style – had been modified to incorporate a dentist’s chair in the rear. A colleague who worked alongside Valadier at the time noted: 'In Boulogne there was a great fat man with sandy hair and a florid face, who had equipped his Rolls-Royce with a dental chair, drills and the necessary heavy metals. The name of this man... was Charles Valadier.'

Valadier would serve throughout the war, attaining the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1919 and being knighted in 1921, having been granted British citizenship the previous year. After Valadier’s ownership, the Rolls-Royce was returned to limousine coachwork and later served as a breakdown vehicle, complete with jib crane at the rear.

The car was purchased by the current owner’s father Denis Flather in 1965 and rallied extensively both at home and abroad over a 25-year period. Mr Flather was a wealthy industrialist in charge of the family’s steel company in Sheffield. His grandfather William Thomas Flather had been a pioneer Sheffield steel maker and processor who developed new grades of steel to create tougher materials.

Denis Flather’s father David was a founder member of the Sheffield Motor Club in 1903, and Denis grew up with motor vehicles and competitive motorsport. He founded the BTDA – later the British Trials and Rally Drivers Association – built and raced 500cc racing cars, was chairman of BRM, an active member of the RAC Competitions Committee, and one of a trio of businessmen who bought the remains of Aston Martin from the receiver in 1975.
 
Among other cars on offer at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed auction is the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 in which five-times Formula 1 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio won two grands prix on his way to his second World Drivers’ Championship.

Other entries include the 1955 Maserati 300S Sports-Racing Spider that finished third in the 1955 Sebring 12-Hours (estimate: £3.5m-4.5m), a 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 ‘Le Mans’ Tourer (estimate £1.4m-1.8m), the 1965 Ferrari 330GT 2+2 Coupé bought by the Beatles’ John Lennon on the day he passed his driving test (estimate £180,000-220,000), and an example of the ultimate Ferrari from the 1960s – the 1966 Ferrari 500 Superfast – that is one of only six right-hand drive models made (estimate £800,000-1,000,000).

More at Bonhams' website

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