Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars

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101WO is a unique vehicle in that it is the only genuine Rolls-Royce armoured car ever likely to be available for acquisition. Serious offers are invited for this historic and important piece of Rolls-Royce and military history.

The History of Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars

Towards the end of 1914, the first Rolls-Royce armoured cars were created. These were all conversions of civilian Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce road cars, requisitioned by the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and re-bodied with an armoured superstructure. The superstructure was designed by the Admiralty Air Department and consisted of 10mm armour plate all around plus a single revolving turret to house a Vickers .303 machine gun. The vehicles proved to be invaluable in desert situations for example when fighting in Egypt against the Ottoman forces. T.E Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia stated in his book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom,

“A Rolls in the desert was above rubies…”

in reference to the armoured cars. It was a great accolade for Rolls-Royce that their chassis and engine, designed for civilian road use, was able to cope with an armoured body weighing over four tonnes, with only relatively small modifications such as a quadruple wheeled rear axle and heavy road springs.

After a lull in production of armoured cars due to Rolls-Royce concentrating their efforts on making aero engines, the War Office commissioned Rolls-Royce to produce 100 purpose built vehicles to be ready for delivery by 21 November 1920. These new armoured cars, named Pattern MK1, were upgraded from the original design by having thicker radiator armour and solid wheels. Subsequent orders were made and with each came small modifications and improvements to the design.

In 1922, at the start of the Irish Civil War, 13 of the 100 armoured cars were given to the Irish Free State by the British Government, to help fight against the newly formed Irish Republican Army. The cars represented a very powerful weapon and very advantageous for the Irish Free State. The armoured cars were used as a strong deterrent as much as they were a fighting machine. Their presence on the streets of Dublin for example, had the ability to break a gathering crowd.

The Irish Cars

“Danny Boy” / later “Tom Keogh”
Reg: YI6449
Army No: ARR1

“Sliabh na mBan”

Reg: YI6450

Army No: ARR2

“The Fighting 2nd”
Reg: YI6451
Army No: ARR3

“The Baby”

Reg: YI6452

Army No: ARR4

Reg: YI6453
Army No: ARR5

“Custom House”

Reg: YI6454

Army No: ARR6

Reg: YI6455
Army No: ARR7

“The Big “Fella”

Reg: YI6456

Army No: ARR8

Reg: YI6457
Army No: ARR9

“Flying Fifty”

Reg: YI6458

Army No: ARR10

Reg: YI6459
Army No: ARR11


Reg: YI6460

Army No: ARR12

“High Chief”
Reg: YI6461
Army No: ARR13

Rolls-Royce Armoured Car 101WO

ARR1 "Danny Boy" / later "Tom Keogh"
The very first production Rolls-Royce armoured car is chassis number 101WO, which was the number designated by Rolls-Royce for the War Office commissioned vehicles. In 1922 it was one of the 13 cars given to the Irish Free State for use in the Irish Troubles. Each of the 13 cars were given names by the Irish, Danny Boy being the new name for 101WO, as well as a registration of ARR1. This was later changed to Tom Keogh, in honour of the late Colonel-Commandant who was killed in a mine explosion in Macroom.
The car saw action in the height of the troubles in Limerick and the Vanguard as well as assisting in capturing Limerick City, Kilmallock, Bruree, Patrick’s Well, Adare, Rathkeale, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale. One particular battle at Kilworth Camp saw 101WO break through three columns of Irregulars and inflict several casualties to the enemy, all the while being hemmed in with barricades and broken bridges to navigate. The battle ended with the crew winning through despite several calls to surrender when hemmed in.
At the formation of Kerry Command 101WO took part in some notable encounters at Killorglin and Castlemaine as well as several ambushes between Tralee and Killarney. At the end of the Rolls-Royce armoured cars military service, the Irish government sold 12 of the 13 cars, including 101WO, were taken to and sold at auction. The armoured bodies were removed prior to auction, so as to decommission the car completely. The Irish government held onto one of the cars, ARR2, for historic reasons as it was the accompanying armoured car in the convoy with Michael Collins when he was killed. To read an article about Tom Keogh during its time in Ireland, click here.
101WO was bought at auction with a few of the other chassis on offer. Subsequently it was then sold to a collector who decided it would be right to remanufacture a correct and exacting body to what was originally fitted. The car underwent a comprehensive restoration which involved painstakingly taking measurements from the armoured car owned by the Irish Government, ARR2 “Sliabh na mBan”, from which new drawings were created for a body to be built exactly the same as the original had appeared. The only two exceptions are that the metal is not armour plate due to the process requiring dipping in arsenic and it sports a much more practical aluminium bonnet, enabling opening with relative ease compared to the original which weighed considerably more. The car has attended several shows and displays with the present owner, as well as a trip to Jordan in September of 1999.

Rolls-Royce Armoured Car Specification


By 21 November 1920 (101WO)


4.7 tonnes


4.93 m


1.93 m


2.54 m




10 mm

Primary Armament

Vickers .303 machine gun


Straight/In-line 6

Engine Number


Cubic Capacity



40/50hp Silver Ghost






4 forward + reverse


Leaf springs, with heavy road springs on rear

Wheels & Axle

2 front and 4 rear solid wheels, 2 axle


Rear wheels only, plus transmission brake