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Lot 353: Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Cabriolet

The Beaulieu Sale, Bonhams (7 September 2013)

Although the 40/50hp model would have earned its 'The Best Car in the World' sobriquet in any event, 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 Henry Royce and entrepreneur the Honourable Charles 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 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. 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. Dating from the penultimate year of Silver Ghost production, long wheelbase chassis number '7AU' was despatched to coachbuilder Windovers Ltd for bodying as an 'enclosed drive cabriolet' and after completion was shipped across the English Channel for display at the Paris Motor Show. The car was first owned by one E J Mayer, Esq of London W1 followed by Countess Cartwright of Grammar House, Aynho, Oxfordshire from October 1932. In 2002 the Silver Ghost was purchased by its late owner via marque specialists P&A Wood, having previously belonged to a Mr J A Barber of Pangbourne, Berkshire. P&A Wood's accompanying sales documentation states that the car had been 'known to us for many years'. Some five years later, in September 2007, the Rolls-Royce was back at P &A Wood for various works including overhaul of the magneto, flushing the fuel tank, repairing the fuel gauge and sender, and cleaning the Autovac (see detailed invoice for 9,780 on file). Last MoT'd to May 2013, the car is offered with the aforementioned documentation; copy chassis cards and order form; a quantity of expired MoT certificates; and Swansea V5.

Lot Details
Auction The Beaulieu Sale
Bonhams, Hampshire, UK
TypeCar
Lot Number353
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£100000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£113500
Year1924
Condition rating2
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number7AU
Engine numberU6
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors