Auction beckons for Rolls-Royce that served as World War I dental surgery

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A 1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost that was used as a mobile dental surgery during the World War I will join be on show at auction house BonhamsGoodwood Festival of Speed Sale on Friday 12 July.

The 1913 Rolls-Royce 45/50hp Silver Ghost London-to-Edinburgh Tourer (estimate £600,000 – £800,000) was bought by an 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.

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 World War I.

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.

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 wrote: ‘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 was awarded the Legion of Honour in 1919 and was knighted in 1921, having been granted British citizenship the previous year.

 

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