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Lot 554: Rolls-Royce 45/50hp 'Silver Ghost' Alpine Eagle Sports Tourer

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

A luxury motor car, the Rolls-Royce 40/50hp 'Silver Ghost' was not designed with motor sport in mind but that did not deter the more enthusiastic owners. In 1912 Mr James Radley privately entered his 40/50hp in the Austrian Alpine Trial only to find that the three-speed gearbox's limitations prevented him from negotiating the Katschberg Pass. As a result, Rolls-Royce prepared four cars for the 1913 event, equipping them with four-speed transmissions and more powerful engines producing 75bhp (up from 60) courtesy of a raised compression ratio and larger carburettor. These changes made for a dramatic improvement and the team cars won six awards, including the prestigious Archduke Leopold Cup. Inspired by this success, the factory began producing cars of the same specification for customers. Officially they were 'Continental' models but are better known by the evocative 'Alpine Eagle' nickname given to them by chief test driver, Ernest Hives. This particular Silver Ghost, chassis number '15TE' went on test on 23rd December 1920 and was delivered to its first owner, a Mr Hermann in Belgium, on 2nd February 1921. According to the factory build sheets, '15TE' was built to Alpine Eagle specification, complete with nickel fittings, and was to be fitted with a 'torpedo' body. The build sheets do not record the coachbuilder. However, after much research, the renowned Rolls-Royce expert, John Fasal, confirmed that the body is by Hooper. The car retains its original engine, number 'N395'. After nearly two years in Belgium, the Silver Ghost was bought by a Captain W Brass MP in December 1922 before passing to an E H S Nugent of County Down. The next (change of ownership noted in the factory records was to a T G W Haughton of Messrs Frazer & Haughton Ltd in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, who acquired the car in December 1946 and is the last owner listed. Later on, in the 1950s, '15TE' was acquired by a Mr J Harkness of Northern Ireland and spent the next 40-or-so years in storage with the rest of his collection, only re-emerging when the cars were removed by his family in the mid-1990s. Having found a new owner, the Ghost was then completely restored and repainted in rich Burgundy, with the wings being refinished in black and the original, unpainted metal bonnet left as it was. A wonderful example of the sporting Alpine Eagle model, '15TE' represents a rare opportunity to acquire a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost sold new to Belgian.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number554
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating2
Registration number
Chassis number15TE
Engine numberN395
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors