Iconic Rolls Royce Armoured Car turns 100 years old

Published: 10/11/2020

The Tank Museum’s oldest running vehicle, the Rolls Royce Armoured Car, turned 100 last week.

The Rolls Royce Armoured Car, which has been used to transport H.M. The Queen, was built in 1920 and is driven regularly to this day. It was armoured at Woolwich Arsenal, London, in October 1920 and handed to the War Office in November.

To celebrate the anniversary, The Tank Museum has released a special episode about the Rolls Royce Armoured Car on its YouTube channel. 

Rolls Royce Armoured Cars were first built during the First World War, when wealthy gentlemen took their family cars with them to the front. Soon they had equipped their vehicles with weapons and armour, and proved their worth as fighting cars. The Admiralty approved a request for purpose-built vehicles.

Black and white photograph of a Rolls-Royce Armoured car in a desert landscape
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car, Egypt 1934

Although they weren’t suitable for use on the Western Front, once trench warfare began, the Army sent them to fight in the Middle East where they proved very successful. After the First World War, a new generation called the Rolls Royce 1920 Pattern were built and The Tank Museum’s Rolls Royce was one of them. The Museum’s Vehicle, saw action in Ireland, Shanghai and Egypt, before coming back to England to patrol the Norfolk coast during the Second World War.

The Rolls-Royce Armoured car in a grassy field. The Queen wears a yellow dress and hat and stands in the back of the vehicle with a uniformed soldier. In the background, are rows of uniformed soldiers and Tank Museum staff standing to attention
The Queen's 1997 visit to The Tank Museum

It has been used by The Tank Museum for events and special occasions since it came to the collection in 1947, including an appearance on the Antiques Roadshow, Annika Rice’s Treasure Hunt, the Lord Mayor’s Show in London and numerous regimental occasions. The highlight of its long career came when it drove the Queen as its passenger, on a visit to The Tank Museum in 1997.

Find out more about the Rolls Royce Armoured Car from the Museum’s historian, David Fletcher, with the Rolls Royce Armoured Car Haynes Manual and Tank Chat video.

Tank Chats #100 | Rolls-Royce Armoured Car

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