1936 Rolls-Royce 20/25 Open Tourer 'The Balloon Car'SOLD
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Although Charles Stewart Rolls is indelibly linked with the motor car company that bears his name, he was also a pioneering aviator and balloonist who made over 130 ascents during his lifetime. As a balloon’s destination was unpredictable, hauling the contraption back home was a considerable challenge and often involved bundling everything into the basket or ‘car’ and commissioning a local farmer to take it all to a railway station. A problem that C.S. Rolls promptly solved by fitting out a Silver Ghost chassis with a special two-seat body capable of carrying a balloon and basket on a rear platform. The car could thereby follow the balloon’s path from the ground and retrieve the balloonist and their balloon later in the day. The process, in fact, hasn’t changed much in over a century.

Reference Number 132116

as of 7/6/2011

Car 1936 Rolls-Royce 20/25 Open Tourer 'The Balloon Car'
Exterior / Interior Color      Red /      Black 
Registration EAS 349 
Mileage 3,140 miles 
Configuration Right Hand Drive (RHD) 
Transmission Manual Shift 
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Known History

Sadly C.S. Rolls’ original Balloon Car was destroyed many years ago, however we are delighted to present a slightly more recent interpretation of that first concept. Based on a 1936 20/25 chassis, it was first purchased in 1980 by Capt Henderson, a balloon pilot and instructor, and work was started straightaway. Finally, in 2000, this tribute to the balloon car used by the Rt. Hon Charles Rolls, was complete. The engine was completely overhauled by specialists, Jonathan Harley and Alan Glue as well as other work by Woodhall Nicholson Ltd, J N Harley and Ristes Motor Co. and it has a new aluminium cylinder head. The superstructure is, as you would expect, solid ash with all aluminium panels. It is a full four seater with an extremely fine quality black buttoned leather interior. It also sports rosewood cappings and a birdseye maple dashboard with a World War II aircraft clock fitted for accurate time keeping. The rear "boot lid" is removable which then allows the car to carry a two man balloon basket. This feature (if the lid is retained) gives considerable boot space.

Virtually every aspect of the car has been overhauled or replaced during its 20 year rebuild, including the carpets, chrome and many other items. With just 3,000 miles driven since completion, it really has just been ‘run in’.


Complete with full weather equipment including side screens, there really is no reason not to use this splendid vehicle for the reason for which it was designed. There is of course plenty of luggage space and it also makes for a fabulous touring car and is reported to be extremely comfortable to sit in and drive.