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Lot 414: Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer

Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia, Bonhams (19 June 2010)

In production from 1907, the Rolls-Royce 40/50hp, (only later named 'The Silver Ghost'), was powered by a 7,036cc six-cylinder engine from 1907-1909, later enlarged to 7,428cc. The 40/50hp car passed every test to which it was subjected, whether in service as a formal town carriage in the Capital, sprint racing on Saltburn Sands or competing in the arduous Scottish Trials. Royce's uncompromising engineering standards demanded only excellence of his staff in Manchester and later Derby and no chassis was delivered until it had been rigorously tested. Rolls-Royce, unlike other contemporary manufacturers, steadfastly refused to build their own coachwork, taking the view that their speciality was engineering excellence and leaving the coachwork to the exclusive group of dedicated coachbuilders who had made the seamless change from carriage manufacture to motor car body building. 206MG was ordered in December 1921 and delivered to Windovers at Huntingdon for erection of a landaulette body for their esteemed customer Mrs Gordon Bennett. Mrs Gordon Bennett, formerly Baroness George de Reuter had married James Gordon Bennett, publisher of the New York Herald, in 1914. JGB was a wealthy socialite, an acquaintance of the de Reuter family through their publishing interests, Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, polo player, backer of early motor sport including the Gordon Bennett races in Europe and, most notably, had financed Stanley's expedition into Africa to find David Livingstone. His new wife in 1914, widow of Baron de Reuter, had previously been hostess on his yachts and at his luxury homes in New York and Paris which had been frequented by the Vanderbilts, du Ponts and the Astors. James Gordon Bennett's extreme antics had been legendary in social circles  many fuelled by alcohol. His death in 1918 left the new Mrs Gordon Bennett an extremely wealthy lady and naturally a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost would be the car of choice in 1921. The guarantee for 206MG was finally issued on 21st July 1922 and the car delivered to Mrs Gordon Bennett at 18 Berkeley Street, W1, on 19th September 1922. It is thought that this car remained in her possession until the 1930s when it was traded in with Rolls-Royce in Paris and subsequently sold for £50 by Rolls-Royce in London to Jack Olding Ltd. of North Audley Street, London. From there it appears to be all downhill, the car being owned in 1936 by Ticky Snacks Ltd. of Fulham. At some stage it is thought to have been used by George Newman as a breakdown truck. After the war it was bought by Squadron Leader Money who used it on his airfield and upon his retirement stored it in a shed at Dover. It was subsequently acquired by Silver Ghost enthusiast Lennox Jamieson and it is believed at that time the recorded mileage of 41,000km was correct. Jamieson sold the car to well-known R-REC member Michael Sapsford who commissioned Bob Chamberlain of Hartley Wintney to construct replica tourer coachwork in his premises behind 'The Phoenix'. Upon completion Michael Sapsford drove the car on the testing 1973 Rolls-Royce Alpine Tour, completing that event with flying colours, with the exception of a little tyre trouble. The car subsequently passed to Rolls-Royce and Bentley aficionado Michael Chapman, (during whose ownership work was undertaken by Silver Ghost specialist Allan Glew), remaining in his hands for many years. During the present ownership by a R-REC member in Ireland the car has been actively driven covering many miles in France and in England and completing the One Thousand Miles Trial organised by the Wolseley Club around Ireland. 206MG is very smartly presented and well equipped for active rallying. It is furnished with nickel fittings including Lucas lighting, Barker lever-operated dipping headlamps, matching rear-view mirrors and two side-mounted spare wheels. CAV diver's helmet rear lamps are fitted along with very neatly executed stop lamps and indicators  a concession to modern motoring requirements. A polished wooden toolbox sits on the offside running board, a Waltham speedometer furnishes the dashboard and a new high quality tonneau cover and hood have recently been fitted. This well equipped touring car is currently registered in Ireland with ZV plates however comes with XK 5169 number plates and a photocopy of a V5C document which should enable its original number to be issued to a UK keeper. It comes also with a quantity of old tax discs, expired UK MoT certificates, copies of Factory Build Sheets and a most helpful file of technical details and driving instructions published by P & A Wood. It comes also with a handbook and an exceptionally interesting file relating to the Gordon Bennett/Reuter families. Here is a car well set up and proven for long distance motoring with an intriguing history and provenance and well able to take its place on concours d'élégance lawns.

Lot Details
Auction Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia
Bonhams, Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire
Lot Number414
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating
Registration numberXK 5169
Chassis number206MG
Engine numberO405
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors