The Brookby countryside was inspirational - rolling hills, manicured fields, and classic wood railing fences culminating in an imposing entrance, guiding us into what could easily be mistaken for an English country estate. William Wordsworth would have been impressed with it all.
Continuing on up a kilometre of elegant drive and acknowledging two very large and hairy highland cattle bulls, our arrival was announced by several geese outside of a classic English-styled stable of the kind used to house racing thoroughbreds.
We were greeted by our host, Auckland businessman and gentleman farmer, Richard Langridge at the entrance to his “garages” and started the tour with a very rare Bristol car that Richard had purchased in London from the owner of Bristol cars. This rare beauty is housed with a Saracen armoured car, a twelve-tonne armoured personnel carrier. Apart from huge, this vehicle is awe-inspiring.
Incidentally, all of Richard's vast collection of vehicles are roadworthy, licensed, registered, and all have current warrants of fitness. On entering the garage area a touch of a button on the entrance wall simultaneously opens the doors of all the garages revealing the static beauty of some forty Rolls Royces, this was so impressive that we could have just remained there overawed with jaws dropped to boot level.
Brought back to earth by the starting of the tour proper we turned left under the arch and were introduced to two very rare vehicles nestling either side of a large Rolls Royce. My personal favourite of all time, the V12 drophead Lagonda dating from 1938 (see copy picture below).
As the tour progressed we were introduced
to each car individually with an explanation
of its history of previous owners and how it arrived at Brookby Farm. Although all of the collection is now in beautiful condition and working perfectly, many have had to be saved from a rusting demise, the costs of which have been breathtaking. For example, $30,000 for re-upholstering a 1920's Rolls. OUCH! Only a brave man takes on tasks of that magnitude.
Richard guided us around his gloriously full stable of treasured vehicles (all of which he drives on a three-monthly cycle) and we were left star-struck and more than a little envious.
Although Richard did give us a little of the life history of each and every vehicle the tales are too numerous to recount in depth in this article. Some of the more noteworthy previous owners include Elton John, the Shah of Persia, and the Marshal of the Royal Air Force during WWII. There are, of course, various film stars, politicians and actors from yesteryear including the owner of the much coveted Lagonda, Lydia. And inevitably, majesties and highnesses various have graced the seats with their regal bottoms whilst smiling and waving.
After the deeply informative viewing of the Rolls Royces in the garages, we were led to the home of our host where more Rollers unassumingly reside in the personal R.L. stable. The final cap of glory must go to the latest arrival, this being a 2022 Rolls Royce Ghost, a most apt name for this majestic but unassuming car… until you open the door and understand then what vehicular luxury is really about. The roof lining of this vehicle is the Southern Hemisphere star map. The other hemisphere of course can get the Northern Hemisphere equivalent. The seating is as luxurious as only soft Conolly leather can be, with a depth of squab that defies any to find fault with its welcoming comfort. What a car!
We came to the end of this privileged tour with a view of the very lovely garden and looking onto the farm. Mr L farewelled us with an invitation to return sometime soon when he expects to have more of these wonder cars in his collection (in fact he is already building extra accommodation for them in anticipation).
Mention should be made also of the very pleasant lunch and social exchanges in the Coffee Club and the much anticipated Tutchen Touch of humour, from our Chairman whilst underway in the most excellently driven bus ride home.
Thanks go to the generosity of our host Mr Richard Langridge, MOTAT Board member Brian Young, who suggested the tour and made the initial introductions to Mr Langridge, and also to the organisational prowess of our administrator Jodie who once again organised this visit. We look forward to the next one Jodie, thank you.
Mr Google provided me with a few interesting but brief facts about the RR company which I will share with you below:
Henry Royce, an engineer, built his first motor car in 1904 and later in May of that year met with Charles Rolls the man who became Royce's partner and whose company sold quality cars in London. An agreement was reached that Royce Limited would manufacture a range of cars to be exclusively sold by CS Rolls & Co – and that they were to bear the name Rolls-Royce.
The world's oldest surviving Rolls-Royce, which dates from 1904, was sold on 3 December 2007 by Bonhams for 3,521,500 GBP breaking two world car auction sales records.
The first Rolls-Royce was a 1500cc twin-cylinder car rated at 10HP which was made from 1904 to 1906. This was shortly followed by a three-cylinder 15HP and a four-cylinder 20HP which came in both a heavy chassis form for carrying Limousine coachwork and light chassis form for a more sporting Tourer.
The Rolls-Royce car emblem is the 'Spirit of Ecstasy' that is used as a bonnet ornament. It is a sculpture of a woman leaning forward with her arms stretched back. The Rolls-Royce emblem means grace, beauty and energy as present in the Rolls-Royce cars. The Spirit of Ecstasy remains on modern cars but due to safety regulations is retracted once the car starts moving yet another impressive detail to go with the thousand other impressive details of Rolls Royce.
Article and pictures by Henry Swan