The Legend of 20159
The auction in December 2007 of the world's oldest surviving Rolls-Royce - a 10hp of 1904 - naturally stimulated a certain amount of interest in these cars. Of the seventeen made, three are known to have survived and they were individually listed by a number of commentators at the time, a few of whom went so far as to list a fourth car - 20159 from 1905.
Further details are elusive and merely to mention it produces lowered voices and averted eyes, but the verifiable facts of the case are as follows:
Some time in 2001 a phone call was received by the late Peter Baines, in his capacity as General Secretary of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club. The voice on the other end said that the caller had come by a small collection of some three cars, one of which he could not identify but it seemed to be some kind of Rolls-Royce. From the details that followed there could be no doubt that the car being described was a Rolls-Royce 10hp. Further details, such as the registration number, enabled the car to be identified as chassis number 20159 from 1905.
There are now a number of variants on the story which need not concern us here, but to date no contemporary photograph has emerged nor has the car been put on public view: its ownership and location are simply not in the public domain - and there the matter rests.
If ever the car does come to light we sincerely hope we will be able to add further details, but until then here is a picture of the car taken before it was lost to view.