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Lot 428: Rolls-Royce 45/50hp Silver Ghost Drophead Coupé with Dickey seat

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

Although the 40/50hp model would in any event have earned its 'The Best Car in the World' sobriquet (actually first used by the Pall Mall Gazette in November 1911), Rolls-Royce's decision to drop all other types only served to focus attention on what would become known as the 'Silver Ghost'. Prior to 1908, when it relocated to a new factory in Derby, the company founded by engineer Frederick Henry Royce and entrepreneur the Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls had manufactured a variety of models at its Manchester premises. Cars with two, three, four and six cylinders were made, and even an abortive V8, before Managing Director Claude Johnson's decision to concentrate on the range-topping 40/50hp. The latter had first appeared at the 1906 London Motor Show and became known as the 'Silver Ghost' the following year when chassis number '60551' was exhibited wearing silver-painted tourer coachwork by Barker & Co. The heart of the Silver Ghost was its magnificent engine, a 7,036cc (later 7,428cc) sidevalve six equipped with seven-bearing crankshaft and pressure lubrication. A sturdy chassis comprised of channel-section side members and tubular cross members was suspended on semi-elliptic springs at the front and a 'platform' leaf spring arrangement at the rear, though the latter soon came in for revision. The transmission too was soon changed, a three-speed gearbox with direct-drive top gear replacing the original four-speed/overdrive top unit in 1909. In the course of its 20-year production life there would be countless other improvements to the car, one of the most important being the adoption of servo-assisted four-wheel brakes towards the end of 1923. After a successful 2,000-mile trial under RAC supervision, the factory demonstrator - chassis '60551', 'The Silver Ghost' - was entered in the Scottish Reliability Trial, completing the 15,000-mile run with flying colours to set a new World Record. From then on the car's reputation was assured, not the least in North America where the wide-open spaces placed a premium on reliability and comfort. 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. The Silver Ghost remained in production in England until 1925, 6,173 being completed at the Manchester and Derby factories, and until 1926 at Rolls-Royce's Springfield plant in the USA where a further 1,703 were made, the longest production run of any model from this celebrated company. Originally bodied by Park Ward as an all weather tourer, four-wheel braked chassis number '16RM' was supplied new to Herbert Frood, founder of Ferodo, the world's first company devoted entirely to the production of friction materials. It was next owned by Sir Christopher Nixon, of Dublin and is believed to have been re-bodied in its current drophead coupé configuration  retaining many of the original Park Ward fittings  in the late 1950s. At around that time the Ghost was acquired by David Scott-Moncrieff, the famous motoring author and collector, and used and rallied by him throughout the 1960s and '70s. We understand that the engine was rebuilt in the 1980s and that the Ghost was put into storage towards the decade's end. Recently re-commissioned, '16RM' is described as in running order but has not been MoT'd and thus is sold strictly as viewed. The car is offered with R-REC build sheets and ownership details, assorted expired MoT certificates, old-style logbook and Swansea V5.

Lot Details
Auction Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia
Bonhams, Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire
Lot Number428
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£74000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£82900
Condition rating0
Registration numberSV 9515
Chassis number16RM
Engine numberS217
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors