Rolls-Royce Reg. No. AX148 - Atlas Obscura

Rolls-Royce Reg. No. AX148

Science and Industry Museum

One of the oldest Rolls-Royce automobiles in existence, this vehicle was once driven by Henry Royce himself. 


Rolls-Royce as a company initially formed following a meeting between Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce in Manchester in 1904. Rolls, who was based in London, was primarily involved in sales, while Royce, whose facilities were located south of Manchester City Center, worked on manufacturing the vehicles.

The first model to be built and sold as part of the business arrangements between the two men was the Rolls-Royce 10 hp, where the “hp” stands for horsepower. The vehicle had a twin cylinder engine that incorporated an early version of a radiator with a triangular top that has been used as the design of the front grill of Rolls-Royce vehicles ever since. Interestingly, the body of the vehicle and the seats were not sold by Rolls-Royce, but rather installed by a third party.

Only 17 Rolls-Royce 10 hp were manufactured between 1904 and 1906, as the company decided to focus on models with higher horsepower instead. Just three of those vehicles still exist today, and the one at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester is the only one on public display.

This specific vehicle, which has the registration plate AX148, was believed to have been driven by Henry Royce himself for a brief time before it was sold in 1906 to a man named Paris Eugene Singer. Over the next three decades, the vehicle changed owners a few more times until it was re-acquired by Rolls-Royce Ltd. By that point, the company had become an established car manufacturer. The vehicle was donated to the Science Museum in London and eventually lent to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. When the two museums later merged under the management of the Science Museum, Manchester was allowed to keep the vehicle.

Among the many works of technology and engineering within the museum, this car is one of the most valued and important in the collection.

Know Before You Go

The Rolls-Royce 10 hp is currently located within the Great Western Warehouse within the Science and Industry Museum. This building also includes the main entrance to the museum, which faces Lower Byrom Street, and the gift shop and café. The vehicle has been placed in the Revolution Manchester gallery, which is the first room past the information desk when entering the building from the main entrance. The museum is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is free. The museum is also easily accessible to people with mobility issues or with children, and special assistance is available if needed. The museum stands in the southwest corner of Manchester City Centre. The location is within walking distance of all other locations within the city center and is also easily reached by public transport or by car (including by Rolls-Royce), with parking available in several places nearby.

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