A three-year search has finally unearthed a rare Rolls-Royce steeped in Bendigo’s history.
The iconic Silver Ghost was the property of prominent businessman and politician George Victor Lansell, the son of Bendigo “Quartz King” George.
The car would have a place in history even without a connection to the Lansells, Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club of Australia member Dale O’Sullivan said.
“A Silver Ghost is the best Rolls-Royce ever made, better even than a brand new one today,” he said.
“There’s a saying going that they’ve all gone downhill ever since this one.”
Mr O’Sullivan enlisted the help of the Rolls-Royce owners’ club three years ago to search through archives.
Mr O’Sullivan had first come across mention of the car when researching the family, but could never track it down.
Two appeared on auction papers dating back to the first half of the 20th century but had been withdrawn before sale.
“Nobody could find this car. It was always mentioned. People asked where it was and what happened to it,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
The club could shed no light on the second car, but an extensive search of records proved the 1913 Silver Ghost had been the custodianship of Sir Lansell in 1929.
There had been some modifications to the car over time, but as Mr O’Sullivan said, registration details could come and go but chassis numbers were forever.
The vehicle is now owned by a club member in Melbourne.
It would be worth a cool $2-3 million today and the Lansell connection would likely make it more valuable, Mr O’Sullivan believed.
He had approached the club in the hope of illuminating a piece of Bendigo and automotive history, but it was not the first time he had appeared in the Lansell family’s history.
Mr O’Sullivan led a consortium of bidders trying to purchase the historic Fortuna Villa from the Defence Department in 2013.
The mansion and home of George Lansell had been owned by the army when it was sold into private hands in dramatic circumstances.
In the aftermath of the auction Mr O’Sullivan heard the auctioneer say there was something wrong with the bid.
It was emerging that the bidder was unable to pay for the property.
“So they went through the list. We all had the money to buy it, but ‘B’ comes before ‘O’,” Mr O’Sullivan said, referring to the first letter of his last name.
The rest was history, with Paul Banks paying $2.21 million.
“I spoke to him on the phone, as good losers always do, and congratulated him,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
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