Up for auction: the Rolls Royce that was converted into a wartime dental surgery

The 1913 Silver Ghost London-to-Edinburgh Tourer Credit: Bonhams

A Rolls-Royce used as a mobile dental surgery during the First World War will join the impressive line-up of motor cars at this year’s Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale on Friday 12th July.

The 1913 Rolls-Royce 45/50hp ‘Silver Ghost’ London-to-Edinburgh Tourer was bought by a wealthy Englishman for £1,016 (approximately £100,000 in today’s money) in September 1913, before passing to its second owner Auguste Charles Valadier in October 1915.

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.”

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