Upon its debut in 1907, the Rolls-Royce 40/50 horsepower “Silver Ghost” was considered to be the most advanced motorcar money could buy. With Henry Royce’s impressively over-built 7,428cc side-valve inline six-cylinder engine as the centerpiece, the Silver Ghost was a true engineering marvel and a great leap forward in automobile design. The magnificent engine was both incredibly strong but was also light weight thanks to the use of an alloy crankcase. While competitors struggled to achieve reliability due to their long, flexible crankshafts; Royce’s design utilized a crank that was shorter, stronger and supported by seven oversize main bearings. At the factory, Rolls-Royce mechanics assembled the 40/50hp using precise machine work and hand-polishing of mating surfaces to ensure smooth and smoke-free operation – a characteristic that was virtually unheard of for the time. Features such as pressurized oiling, fixed heads to eliminate leaks, and a twin ignition system via magneto or distributor were advancements that established the Silver Ghost as the world standard for fine motorcars. Of course, the Ghost was more than just the engine; the chassis was similarly overbuilt to withstand virtually anything an owner could throw at it. Such was its strength that a vast majority of the approximately 6,500 Silver Ghosts built over its 18 years in production still survive today. Given its remarkable quality, a Silver Ghost 40/50hp chassis would often outlive its original body. Similarly, as an owner’s tastes changed with the times, a body may be eschewed in favor of something newer and more fashionable. Our featured example, chassis 85TG (P-Series), is a rare exception in that it still wears its original five-passenger touring body by Grosvenor Carriage Co. of London. Grosvenor is best known for its close work with Vauxhall in the pre-war period, though they also supplied a handful of bodies for Daimler and Lanchester. It is not known if any other Rolls-Royces ever wore a Grosvenor body, but this is believed to be a one-off design. The coachwork is clean and charming with many interesting details such as the close-fitted wings, the low-slung body sides, dual windscreens and running board toolbox. According to copies of the Schoellkopf card and RROC historical documents, 85TG was originally delivered wearing this Grosvenor coachwork through Padden Brothers, to a French artist named Maxwell Norman. Norman soon sold the car to his family physician, Dr. Chario who reportedly used the car in Capri for two years. After its time in the Italian sunshine, it was shipped to Long Island, New York and stored for some time before being acquired by Harold Priest of Gleasondale, Massachusetts. It then passed to F.R. Schreiter also of Massachusetts and in 1947, who then sold it to William Gregor of Flint, Michigan who drove 85TG home from New England and began a complete chassis, mechanical and cosmetic freshening. The car was enjoyed regularly by Gregor in club events such as the AACA and RROC, then stored until 1960 when it was acquired by Jack Skaff, another Flint local. Mr. Skaff sold the car to Calvin T. Zahn of Ann Arbor, Michigan; an avid enthusiast and collector of important early motorcars. With Mr. Zahn, the Ghost found a long term home and was cherished by his family for the next 57 years. Today, this Silver Ghost is handsomely presented in a dark gray livery with six matching wheels, over a black interior and newly restored black top. The original Grosvenor body is in remarkably good condition, with excellent paint highlighted with polished nickel fittings and fine detailing. The body features a number of lovely details such as the polished alloy bonnet, dual side-mount spare wheels, running-board tool-boxes, a period trunk, large Klaxon horn, and fine original nickel Lucas King of the Road lamps. The included build sheets show 85TG was originally trimmed with “antique grained black leather” which is how the car presents today. It is very possible that the seats are original, as they are of this unusual correct-type material and appear to match the original door and kick panels. Original instruments include the Waltham speedometer, clock and minor instruments, as well as supplemental gauges added later in the car’s life when it was used as a trusty touring machine. An array of dash plaques are worn like badges of honor celebrating 85TG’s exploits through the years. They include one for the 1960 CCCA Grand Classic and another proclaiming 85TG as a recipient of the coveted AACA “Foo-Dog Trophy” in 1949; a prize established in 1945 by AACA President D. Cameron Peck to honor an outstanding Rolls-Royce automobile in a National Meet. Mechanically, the engine and chassis present in fine order with the car is very enjoyable out on the road, with the feel of a well-loved touring veteran. This remarkable Silver Ghost would be a compelling choice for AACA events, Rolls-Royce Owner’s Club tours and CCCA CARavan tours, as it enjoys a rich and fascinating history with all three of these storied organizations. With its high-quality and unique coachwork and handsome presentation, this Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is simply overflowing with character.
to be sold at 2018 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction The Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost motorcar is a legend and it is the car that really began the Rolls-Royce tradition. The firm Rolls-Royce Ltd., was formed in 1906 and was the result of a business partnership formed between engineer Frederick Henry Royce and the Honorable Charles Stewart Rolls, an aristocrat and influential automotive pioneer, to produce motor cars that were refined and with excellent performance. Henry Royce had a particular talent for taking a good thing and making it better and in 1903, at age forty-one and running a successful dynamo and electric crane manufacturing company, he elected to direct his attention toward his new passion – the motorcar. He decided to make three cars to his own design and with careful attention to the design and construction in addition to the general excellence of workmanship, the Royce cars were very much quieter and more flexible than others cars of the time. Once the Rolls-Royce Company started manufacturing cars in the tiny Manchester factory, it would be four models of the Rolls-Royce cars before one model, the six-cylinder Rolls-Royce 40/50, would prove so successful that it was
The Rolls-Royce 40/50hp “Silver Ghost” made its spectacular debut in 1907, recognized almost immediately as the finest motorcar money could buy. At the heart of the 40/50hp was Henry Royce’s impressively powerful and reliable 7,428cc side-valve inline-six. In its day, the inline-six configuration was considered a folly as competitors could not cope with the issue of long, flexing crankshafts. But Royce’s engine had a crank that was shorter and stronger, and which was supported by seven large main bearings. Exacting, precise machine work and hand-polishing of internal components ensured near silent, smoke-free operation – a characteristic that was virtually unheard of for the time. Features such as pressurized oiling, fixed heads to eliminate leaks, and a twin ignition system via magneto or distributor were advancements that established the Silver Ghost as the standard of the world for motorcars. Particularly when compared to other machinery of the same period, the Silver Ghost is a true marvel of sophisticated engineering and build-quality, capable of delivering near silent operation and a luxurious experience drivers and passengers alike. In Rolls-Royce’s early days, their chief competition came from Napier. Under the directorship of S.F. Edge, Napier had embraced the idea of the publicity stunt in order to drive sales and prove its machinery in the toughest of conditions. Rolls-Royce was always rather more conservative yet they relented under the pressure from their London-based rivals and in 1911, took on the RAC-sanctioned London to Edinburgh Challenge to prove they built the finest, most reliable and best performing cars in the world. The challenge was seen as the perfect venue to showcase the latest upgrades to the 40/50hp model. Chassis 1701 was the second such car to receive improved specification that included a massive torque tube sending power to the strengthened rear axle, larger carburetor and a higher compression ratio engine. Fitted with a sporting, close coupled light-touring body by Holmes of Derby, Ltd, chassis 1701 completed the entirety of the 800 miles challenge in top gear, achieving an average consumption of 24.32 miles per gallon. Later, that same car achieved 78.26 miles per hour at Brooklands. The success in the London-Edinburgh challenge led to a raft of new orders for similarly spec’d cars – heretofore known as the London to Edinburgh Ghost. Between spring of 1912 and October of 1913 (ending with chassis 2699) just 188 examples were built – a mere fraction of the total Silver Ghost production of 6,700 cars. Our featured 1913 40/50hp Silver Ghost, chassis number 2371, is one of these coveted London-Edinburgh specification cars. Original build sheets indicate this car was a direct copy of chassis 2148, which in itself was a direct copy of the famous “1701” works car. Originally clothed in a popular Torpedo style body by Barker, 2371 was delivered new to one Albert Janesich of the illustrious Janesich Jewelry family. Highly detailed notes on the factory build sheets indicate it was specified with Rudge-Whitworth wire wheels, Dunlop grooved tires, C.A. Vandervell lighting, multiple Brooks trunks, cobra horn, speedometer calibrated in KM and an additional clock. Janesich’s fabulous new Rolls-Royce was briefly registered in the UK, though very soon sent across the channel to Paris. Originally finished in silver gray with ivory lines and upholstery, it would have no doubt been a striking machine to see motoring the streets of Paris in its day. A small accident necessitated a return to the factory for a comprehensive rebuild in 1927, though from there the trail of the history is temporarily lost. As with many such cars living in Europe, 2371 was most likely dismantled and hidden from the Germans during WWII. It wasn’t until the 1990s when the chassis was discovered in Paris by two enthusiasts who were tipped off to the possible existence of a Silver Ghost in the city. Following its discovery, the chassis would pass to a noted marque enthusiast Walter Wilson of Ireland who, working with James Black, would commission a comprehensive rebuild. The original engine had long since been missing, so Wilson and Black found a comparable spec unit from 1914 carrying the number 10 K. Interestingly, the body that 2371 wears today was once fitted to the original works London-Edinburgh chassis; 1701 having been fitted with the body by Kenneth Neve in 1970. A later restoration of 1701 made that body available, becoming a fine match for our chassis 2371. As a finishing touch to the restoration, the original 1913 British registration number – R 1733 – was officially returned to the car. Walter Wilson thoroughly enjoyed his restored Ghost for the next two decades before passing it to the most recent owner in 2014. It is currently presented in white with tan leather upholstery and beautiful nickel plated fittings and it has a delightfully low-slung and sporty appearance, particularly riding on the correct spec Rudge Whitworth wire wheels. The restoration has held up extremely well; with an inviting, broken-in appeal thanks to Mr. Wilson’s time spent enjoying his motorcar. The car remains mechanically sound and would make the ideal companion for long-distance touring as it was originally intended. Mechanically and cosmetically sound, and with a fascinating history documented via build sheets as well as within the pages of the respected reference work “The Edwardian Rolls-Royce”, chassis number 2371 is a well-known, delightfully attractive and usable example of this highly desirable model.