Salute to the Rolls-Royce Merlin Engines


From a Rolls-Royce Handlye Special to a Spitfire and a high-tech speedboat, Salute to Style gathers the many applications of the original Merlin engine, a piece of British history and engineering excellence.

The trio of displays, Salute to Style, was at the Hurlingham Club, presented machines that shared the same historic powerplant to propel them on air, road and water.

A hand-built Handlye Special Rolls-Royce, sporting the 27 liter Merlin engine originally fitted to a Hawker Hurricane during WWII joins a hand-built unique Spitfire aircraft, created using original parts from other Spitfire planes and based on copies of the original Spitfire drawings from the archives of the RAF Museum, Hendon.


Both car and aircraft were displayed alongside an original Merlin engine and a newly-produced model of the Aeroboat super-yacht created by powerboat design studio Claydon Reeves, which is to be powered by the famous Rolls-Royce V12 engine.

The Rolls-Royce is a Phantom II whose chassis carries the Merlin engine, and it is usually heard before it is seen in its natural habitat, whether at Brooklands, Dunsfold or on a driving holiday to France.  It is the product of over 25 years of painstaking hand-building by its owner, Robin Beech, at his Handlye Farm workshop – hence the name.  Two engines were purchased in 1985, a Merlin 3 and a Meteor Mk1: it took Robin Beech two years to create one functioning engine out of the two, for “fast road competition” purposes.  The next 23 years were spent building the car.

In its current configuration, the Rolls-Royce produces about 900 bhp with 1550 lb ft torque and has a fuel consumption of three miles per gallon.  “However, when we are careful, we can stretch to four,” laughs Robin Beech.

The immortal lines of the famous Spitfire fighter was built from original parts over twenty years, the static display belongs to Terry Arlow of ‘Simply Spitfire’, and is inspired by the original MK805 produced by Vickers Armstrong in 1944.

Those same lines are echoed in the stern and tail of the Aeroboat model which is also displayed at Salute to Style, though the futuristic speedboat’s main materials are carbon-fiber and Kevlar instead of aluminium.

The Merlin engine stands as an engineering monument, kept alive by enthusiasts such as Handlye and Arlow.