The Harry Price Rolls Royce  by Paul Adams    

In his 1942 autobiography Search for Truth - My Life for Psychical Research, Harry Price stated that his three ambitions in life were to be included in Who's Who, to write for the Encyclopaedia Britannica and to own a Rolls Royce.  Happily for Harry he achieved all three and where his preferred choice of motor car was concerned he managed to do it not once but twice.  Price owned two Rolls Royce's, one of which is still in fine working order and for several years has seen good service as a wedding car carrying 400 happy couples to the altar.  The following is a brief history of Price's Rolls and I am indebted to the current owner Peter J. Henderson for the information and photographs which follow.

Roland Jennings, the fifth owner at the wheel of Price's Rolls Royce. (Photograph courtesy of Peter Henderson)

The car, a 20/25 No. GPS18 Mulliner Weyman Rolls Royce saloon with sunroof was bought new in August 1931 for £1800 by a Mr. Percy Perrin of 194 Muswell Hill Road, London, NW10.  He subsequently sold it to Harry Price in 1936 for £300.  Price kept the car for the rest of his life.  It was used for short weekly journeys and during the Second World War when a decree was passed restricting the movement of private cars it was laid up and subsequently sold off after Price's death in March 1948.  In the three years prior Price used the car little as apparently due to his heart condition he found the heavy vehicle difficult to handle.  Price's sister-in-law has recollected (in correspondence to Peter Henderson) that Price used to drive from his home in Pulborough down to Felpham near Bognor Regis in the Rolls where she and her family rented holiday houses.  This was between 1930-39 so for the main part Price must have used his first Rolls Royce car for the trips.

The fully reconditioned 3698cc engine as it is today. (Photograph courtesy of Peter Henderson)

The third owner of the car was a neighbour of Price's, a Mr. Pefitt of Skeyne House, Pulborough who kept the car for ten years after which in 1958 it was sold to Dr. Alva Benjamin, a GP who used it for his London rounds.  In 1962 the car changed hands again.  Judy and Roland Jennings, then students bought the Rolls for £175 from a dealership (actually a field containing several old Rolls Royce cars) in 1962.  After spending time as part of the Shuttleworth Collection of historic vehicles at Biggleswade, Price's Rolls was bought in 1984 by Peter J. Henderson.  An engineer by profession, Peter's says his 5 year apprenticeship at the Joseph Lucas Engineering School studying mechanical, electrical & production engineering gave him the knowledge to 'play' with such a vehicle and during the course of his ownership the car has been restored to an impressive standard, winning the Rolls Royce Enthusiast's Club's Concour Class Trophy twice in 1988 & 1991.  Rolls Royce specialists restored the engine, chassis and electrics and also renewed the interior.

After being persuaded by friends to use the Rolls successfully for their wedding day, Peter soon found himself in demand and as mentioned above has now carried out 400 weddings.  Having religiously treated the original leather seats with preservative cream Peter had to inform two bridesmaids after they had alighted at the church on one particular hot summer day that they both had matching dark oily bottoms in their matching green silk dresses.  Shortly after this the interior was fully refurbished with Wilton carpet, hide seats and the best cloth interior for the roof.  Peter would like to thank all the specialists who have helped him over the years to restore Price's car with the fine workmanship fully in the spirit of the tradition of the high standards laid down by Rolls Royce themselves.

Extract from the car's documentation showing Price's purchase date of 19th June 1936. (Photograph courtesy of Peter Henderson)

When Peter bought the car it was minus the famous Spirit of Ecstasy 'silver lady' as this had been kept by former owner Ronald Jennings who apparently still sleeps with the figurine above his bed.  Peter created a new Spirit of Ecstasy in hall marked solid silver, basing the silver lady's figure on his own wife.  The car was featured on the BBC's Several Careful Owners TV programme in the late 1990s which included a reconstruction of a visit to Borley Rectory in the car.  At the time of writing (January 2006) the car is now finally up for sale again.  Peter says that after twenty-one years "of the privilege of looking after this beautiful little car it is time to hand over to another enthusiast."  Details, including more of the trophies Peter has won with the Rolls can be found on his website.


Current owner Peter Henderson with the new Spirit of Ecstasy and photographed with the Rolls at Hagley Hall Church. (Photographs courtesy of Peter Henderson)



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