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The “Round Door Rolls-Royce” revisited

The photos which we posted last week of the “Round Door Rolls-Royce” have really struck a chord with our readers, judging by the all of the responses and additional photos that have been sent in. The photo above appears as though it may have been taken when the car won a Prix d’Honneur at the August, 1936, Cannes Concours d’Elegance, in France. The palm trees seen in the photo are what gives one this impression, as Cannes is located in the Côte d’Azur or French Riviera.

Can any of our readers identify the country that issued the license plate and its year (above), we are also looking for someone who can date the front tire with the very distinctive sidewall, as this may tell us a bit more?

The photo (below) is also taken at an unknown location, but it is dated as being from the 1940s. The car appears to still be wearing all of the same equipment as above. Another photo taken at the very same time exists, with a man posing with the car. Both photos are courtesy of the John Weathers.

The the photos (below) show the car at the 1954 Worlds Motor Sports Show at Madison Square Garden in N.Y.C. were it was the Grand Prize Winner. The car also seems to still be wearing all of it original equipment here, other than the original wipers and windshield and is still equipped with the very distinctive painted bumpers, with what appear to be small vertical rubber bars mounted to it. The last photo (right below) shows the unique treatment on the rear of the body along with the two sun roof panels it was equipped with.


From the Billboard Cavalcade of Fairs publication (below), can be found an advertisement from the 1957-1958 period offering it for exhibition. At the time it was owned by Max and Cecile Obie of Paramus, N.J. At the top of the ad is a statement that it belonged the Duke of Windsor, but this unlikely as there is no record that we are aware of him ever owning it and is thought to be a bit of “show business”.

The earlier press photo of the car is also captioned as it belonging to the former King. That caption from 1938 lists the car as being worth $40,000 and the ad below states $100,000, both clearly many times what it was worth at the time. It is rumored to have changed hands in the 1950s for $8500.

We have also found that the car at this point in time was painted gold, as readers have mentioned, as a duplicate color postcard photo, as shown in the ad exists and clearly shows it in that color. All of the earlier photos seem to show the hood as being finished possibly in a polished aluminum finish, but all later photos show the hood as being painted. The photo (just above) and this ad (below) are courtesy of Charlie Beesley of the motor

You can also take a look back at the earlier photos of this fascinating car here on The Old Motor. If any readers can add more to the story, please let us know.

16 responses to “The “Round Door Rolls-Royce” revisited

  1. The registration plate – bizarrely – appears to be a pre-1989 Icelandic one! However, it doesn’t necessarily tie in with a 1936 date for the picture, since suggests these were introduced in 1937 and Wikipedia says 1938. Previously, I assume Icelandic cars carried Danish plates? Additionally, the illustrations on may mean it’s a post-1945 plate, although these things are of course often “open to interpretation”!

  2. Just saw this series on the Round-Door Rolls. Thought i would fill in a few blanks in the time line. Max Obie sold the car and the rig that transported it to fairs and displays to Bob Bahre in Maine in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. The car was still gold. (The Obies traveled around with the car claiming it was the Duke of Windsor’s car and bragged about all of the gold in the paint on the car and sold tickets to go into the display trailer to see the car. I actually paid the 50 cents to see the car when i was a kid at the Bloomsburg Fair in PA.) Upon acquiring the car, Bob Bahre commisioned a partial restoration to return the car to the earlier light color scheme. The car was enormous, yet rather impractical….access to the rear seat was very challenging and quite uncomfortable if you were to succeed. In the late 80’s, early 1990’s, the car was sold and very sooned ended up in a collection in Japan. I believe the Peterson Musem acquired the car from Japan. I agree the black presentation is very impressive, but i am very curious as to why the Peterson restoration removed the unique bumpers. All historic photos show the bumpers in place, and while it is understood that they are challenging aesthetically, in the interest of preseving history, should they not still be in place? I still have promotional photos of the car while under Obie ownership, photos of the car following the Bahre restoration, and a series of shots of the car actually under construction at Jonckheere in Belgium. I am travelling and will find them, scan them and share them when i return home.

    • Jeff Orwig
      I saw this automobile in the late summer of 1970 when it was in Hickory, North Carolina. As part of the display the construction pictures were near the car. I was in my late teens at the time and thought that hand pounded steel over the wood frame was amazing. To create a car that gorgeous with a hammer, however now in my 60s , I understand there was way more involved than that. I have been smitten with this car ever since. The Petersons should have left the bumpers on the car. I would love to see your scans of the construction. I would also wonder if the Petersons kept a photo record the restoration. If they did, I would love to see it and gladly pay for the privilege. A remarkable automobile indeed. Thanks Jeff…James McLean

    • Thanks for clearing this up. Saw the car on display when I was about 12 or early teens at a shopping center in High Point, NC. (1959-1961) My mother spoke to her friends for weeks about the “Duke of Windsor’s car”. LOL! However the car was fabulous and I never forgot its lavish design. The owner said it was very fast and put a mph number out there. I remember thinking that’s pretty fast for a “tank”. Also said the engine was “sealed” and only factory technicians had the expertise for repairs and tuning. LOL! Will we ever know the TRUE story on this fabulous car?


  4. A Luxembourg or Liechtenstein plate was my first thought. There is a Luxembourg series which could fit, but they were issued in the 1960s and 1970s. Pre-war Luxembourg plates were just numerals, with “LUX” in a half-circle above or below the main part of the plate. After 1945 they were just numerals – no letters.

  5. I have always had interest in this car , I even spoke to Max Obies wife about it MANY years ago . If anyone is interested in a photo of the Obies transporter that they moved the car around in check out Sports Car Digest web site ” The 20 most popular stories of 2013 ” # 9 , 1963 Sebring 12 hours
    G.P profile page 5 second photo you will see it in the background !

  6. I have snapshots of the cars transport vehicle (Open) that Max Obie used. I also have the postcard of the car they showed, when it was Gold. I would share photos, with someone that wants more info. on the car, when owned by Max Obie.
    We lived in Still water, NY. Max’s Aunt lived in a house next to us. We knew Max and Cecille quite well. We called his Aunt – Aunt Emma. We even have photos of her. She darned our mittens. And let us stand on the porch to wait for the school bus, ( out of the wind and cold) She was a sweet old lady. Max was in Fl. for the winter months, as I understand it.

  7. I saw this gold car as a kid in Norfolk, VA in the late 50’s. It was still in its traveling trailer. I recall an interior of leopard pelt pattern, thanks to the maharaja’s tastes? Surprised to learn all these years later we were hustled at the time as to its advertised provenance.

  8. We owned this car (WHITE) at the Silver Springs Car Museum (Ocala, FL) in the early 90’s, but I see no reference. Ask NHRA king, Don Garlits. How many of these Round Door Rolls are there? We sold it to a private collector in the northeast. around 1992. Most of what I read about this car is wrong. I have pictures and documentation, the collection was owned by Florida Leisure Acquisition Corporation (Silver Springs), founded by Jim Schoor, owner of the famed Sun Studios in Memphis. If there is only one, we had it.

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