Rolls-Royce Griffon Engines Resurface in England - Engine Builder Magazine
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Rolls-Royce Griffon Engines Resurface in England

Recently, seven Rolls-Royce Griffon engines have resurfaced thanks to owner/collector Kevan Whittingham. Whittingham is the owner of Team Whittingham, a British champion tractor pulling team, and has collected these Rolls-Royce Griffon engines over the course of many years. One of the engines has never been used, but all of them will be going under the hammer via a timed online auction hosted by Cheffins from November 11-18, 2021.

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The engines, which measure on average 10-feet long and 4-feet wide, have over 2,500 horsepower and weigh over one ton each. The engines were fitted to Shackleton bomber planes, which stayed in service with the British Ministry of Defense from 1949 until 1991, after replacing the wartime Lancaster bomber. The unused engine could sell for more than $95,000.

Whittingham, who is 58, and also a Lancashire-based farmer had this to say about the engines and his collection: “I have been involved in tractor pulling since 1979, and it was my love for the motorsport which really kicked off my enthusiasm for these engines. I bought them from various places, not only from the Ministry of Defense (MOD). Lots of them had been bought from the MOD originally and then ended up in private collections or destined for the salvage yard. I always had a fascination with World War II piston engines of which the Rolls-Royce version really are the best in class.

“These engines are really very rare, and this is an unusual opportunity for someone who wants to perhaps put these back into a plane, or into a boat or car or use them for motorsport. Through the tractor pull world we have had lots of people interested in the engines, which I have had stored in the barn since the early 1990s. However, they are big old brutes and you need the capability to move or store them, which can make this slightly more difficult for would-be collectors.

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“Searching for these engines became a bit of an addiction for me, I would put on my Sherlock Holmes hat – so to speak – and go seeking them out and once we started collecting, we really started to enjoy the hunt. We have carefully preserved these important pieces of RAF history and it’s been a fascinating journey so far, but I now own more than enough engines and spares and it’s time for someone to be able to get enjoyment from them, or even buy them as an investment as there aren’t any more being made and they are a real rarity.” 

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The engines available in the sale include five Rolls-Royce Griffon Mk.58 V12 engines, with varying hours on the clock. One of these examples comes in its original packing case, mounting stand and Rolls-Royce cover and is completely brand new, with no flying hours on the clock. The Mk.58 versions have estimates from $27,000 to $95,000. The highest value engine on offer is a Rolls-Royce Griffon Mk.58 V12, which is still in its original packing case, has never been used and could achieve in excess of $95,000.

Also available is a Rolls-Royce Griffon 5900 V12 engine, estimate $13,000, and a Rolls-Royce Griffon Mk.101 V12 which has an estimate of $27,000. Also available in the sale are a number of Shackleton propellors, Rolls-Royce cylinder banks, Rotax starters, magnetos, engine valves, connecting rods, bearings in original boxed condition, and various other spares. 

“The Shackleton was a mighty airplane, built in response to the Soviet Navy, and these engines which are now on offer were built to power this most important machine in recent military history,” says Bill King, chairman, Cheffins. “The engines, as well as the various other spares on offer, will be of interest for aviation enthusiasts and also the tractor pulling fraternity.”

Kevan Whittingham and his family form Team Whittingham, one of the most successful tractor pulling teams in Europe and the USA. Team Whittingham uses large scale engines in the sport, all of which have been completely reconditioned and form ‘Snoopy 3’ and ‘Snoopy 4’ – two machines famous on the tractor pulling circuit. 

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The sale will take place online at www.cheffins.co.uk from November 11-18, with a viewing day on Friday November 12, near Preston, Lancashire, UK.

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